Ran Barkai

Ran Barkai
Tel Aviv University | TAU · Aracheology

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164
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Publications (164)
Article
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Prepared Core Technologies, often considered a hallmark of the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian, have recently been observed, to some extent, in many late Lower Paleolithic Acheulian sites. This may indicate a Lower Paleolithic origin of the Levallois method, although the circumstances leading to its emergence, spread and assimilation are still debate...
Chapter
Humans consumed megaherbivores, including proboscideans, throughout the Pleistocene. However, there is a high potential for underappreciation of their relative importance to humans’ economy due to their potential relative underrepresentation in Paleolithic archaeological sites. Relying on our previous work, we discuss the critical importance of lar...
Article
Full-text available
The Lower Paleolithic Late Acheulian in the Levant marks a fascinating chapter in human cultural and biological evolution. Nevertheless, many aspects of the Late Acheulian are still undeciphered, hindered by the complex nature of each site on the one hand, a scarcity of wide, multidisciplinary studies on the other, and by difficulties in obtaining...
Article
Full-text available
Flint tools exhibiting modified patinated surfaces (“double patina”, or post-patination flaked items) provide a glimpse into Paleolithic lithic recycling, stone economy, and human choices. Different life cycles of such items are visually evident by the presence of fresh new modified surfaces alongside old patinated ones (according to color and text...
Article
Qesem cave is a Middle Pleistocene site located close to Tel Aviv, Israel, assigned to the Acheuleo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC) of the Lower Palaeolithic. The site provides rich assemblages of knapped flint, animal remains and some human teeth making it of particular interest. Its location in the Levantine corridor confers a major interest to...
Article
Full-text available
The life cycle of a successful technological innovation usually follows a well-known path: a slow inception, gradual assimilation of the technology, an increase in its frequency up to a certain peak, and then a decline. These different phases are characterized not only by varying frequency of use but also by degree of standardization and distinguis...
Article
Recent techno-functional studies of the lithic assemblage of Layer C3 in Late Acheulian Revadim (Israel) have demonstrated the variability in tool production and use in this layer. Here we present the results of a techno-functional and residue analysis of two central categories of artifacts found in Layer C3: side-scrapers and cortical flakes. We i...
Article
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We analyze the influence of hearth location and smoke dispersal on potential activity areas at Lower Paleolithic Lazaret Cave, France, focusing on archaeostratigraphic unit UA25, where a single hearth was unearthed, and GIS and activity area analysis were performed by the excavators. We simulated smoke dispersal from 16 hypothetical hearth location...
Article
Multiple large-bodied species went extinct during the Pleistocene. Changing climates and/or human hunting are the main hypotheses used to explain these extinctions. We studied the causes of Pleistocene extinctions in the Southern Levant, and their subsequent effect on local hominin food spectra, by examining faunal remains in archaeological sites a...
Article
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The behaviour and mobility of hominins are dependent on the availability of biotic and abiotic resources, which, in temperate ecosystems, are strongly related to seasonality. The objective of this study is to establish evidence of seasonality and duration of occupation(s) of specific archaeological contexts at late Lower Palaeolithic Qesem Cave bas...
Chapter
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The recurrent appearance, in Lower Palaeolithic sites, of lithic industries characterized by the production and use of small flakes alongside butchered elephant remains is the focus of this paper. Recent technological, use-wear and residues analyses, as well as experimental protocols, have shed light on the relevant role lithic items of small dimen...
Chapter
Full-text available
Humans consumed megaherbivores, including proboscideans, throughout the Pleistocene. However, there is a high potential for underappreciation of their relative importance to humans’ economy due to their potential relative underrepresentation in Palaeolithic archaeological sites. Relying on our previous work, we discuss the critical importance of la...
Book
Full-text available
In recent decades, a significant number of Pleistocene (ca. 2.6 million years–10,000 years ago) open-air and cave sites yielding elephant or mammoth bones in direct association with hominin remains and/or lithic artifacts have been discovered in Eurasia, Africa and America. Many of them show strong evidence of acquisition and processing of probosci...
Article
Handaxes, the hallmark of the Acheulian cultural complex, were occasionally recycled at the end of the Lower Paleolithic period as cores for the production of predetermined blanks. It appears that Late Acheulian flint knappers were well acquainted with both handaxe manufacture and the application of prepared core technologies. Following previous su...
Article
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In this paper, we present a novel hypothesis as to what led humans in the Upper Paleolithic to penetrate and decorate deep, dark caves. Many of the depictions in these caves are located in halls or narrow passages deep in the interior, navigable only with artificial light. We simulated the effect of torches on oxygen concentrations in structures si...
Article
Lower Paleolithic bifaces are one of the most ubiquitous and persistent stone tools in prehistory, proliferating from Africa through Eurasia from as early as 1.75 Mya and remaining in use for over 1.5 million years. Numerous studies have thus far focused on Acheulean handaxes’ technological characteristics, underlining their relevance in terms of e...
Article
The human trophic level (HTL) during the Pleistocene and its degree of variability serve, explicitly or tacitly, as the basis of many explanations for human evolution, behavior, and culture. Previous attempts to reconstruct the HTL have relied heavily on an analogy with recent hunter‐gatherer groups' diets. In addition to technological differences,...
Article
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We hypothesize that megafauna extinctions throughout the Pleistocene, that led to a progressive decline in large prey availability, were a primary selecting agent in key evolutionary and cultural changes in human prehistory. The Pleistocene human past is characterized by a series of transformations that include the evolution of new physiological tr...
Article
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Indigenous hunter-gatherers view the world differently than do WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) societies. They depend—as in prehistoric times—on intimate relationships with elements such as animals, plants and stones for their successful adaptation and prosperity. The desire to maintain the perceived world-order and e...
Article
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Chopping tools/choppers provide one of the earliest and most persistent examples of stone tools produced and used by early humans. These artifacts appeared for the first time ~2.5 million years ago in Africa and are characteristic of the Oldowan and Acheulean cultural complexes throughout the Old World. Chopping tools were manufactured and used by...
Article
Prehistoric archaeology focuses on innovations, transformations, and turnovers. We focus instead on persistency, suggesting that technological persistency in prehistoric hunter-gatherers was triggered by the stability of prey. The technological persistency-faunal stability nexus was not only crucial to human prosperity but also provided safe ground...
Article
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This paper presents the results of a flint type analysis performed for the small assemblage of bifaces found at the Acheulo-Yabrudian site Qesem Cave (QC), Israel (420–200 kya), which includes 12 handaxes, three bifacial roughouts, one trihedral, and one bifacial spall. The analysed artefacts were measured and classified into flint types based on v...
Article
Estimates of the human trophic level and dietary quality during the Paleolithic are the basis for many hypotheses and interpretations regarding human evolution and behavior. We describe an additional factor that could have significantly influenced human evolution and behavior, the availability of large prey animals. Given the importance of large pr...
Article
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The presence of shaped stone balls at early Paleolithic sites has attracted scholarly attention since the pioneering work of the Leakeys in Olduvai, Tanzania. Despite the persistent presence of these items in the archaeological record over a period of two million years, their function is still debated. We present new results from Middle Pleistocene...
Article
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For indigenous hunter-gatherers, dependent for their subsistence and well-being on prey animals, animal extinction had significant and multifaceted effects, only some of which are reflected in the archaeological record. Contemporary hunter-gatherers often view animals as equal partners in a shared habitat, where these animals are simultaneously hun...
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Flin items exhibiting modified patinated surfaces (usually known as "double patina") have become a criterion in assesing lithic recycling. These recycled items are patina-covered flakes items that were collected and modified again. They show "old" (original) flakes patinated surfaces alongside "new" surfaces with the "old" patina removed. We call t...
Chapter
This book was funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme (7FP), TropicMicroArch 623293 Project (http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/187754_en.html). The book will be Open Access, thanks to FP7 post-grant Open Access (https://www.openaire.eu/postgrantoapilot).
Chapter
Early humans and elephants roamed the Pleistocene landscapes of Asia and shared habitats for hundreds of thousands of years. Many Paleolithic archaeological sites in Asia, and especially in the Middle East and China, contain abundant elephant remains that clearly demonstrate that early humans were capable of obtaining these mega herbivores. The sig...
Article
Revadim is a multi-layered Late Acheulian site in the Levant which has yielded rich lithic assemblages comprising dozens of handaxes, as well as many thousands of other items, mostly flakes. The techno-functional study presented here focuses on Layer C3, the densest layer at the site in terms of flint artefacts and animal bones. The lithic assembla...
Article
Full-text available
Bone marrow and grease constitute an important source of nutrition and have attracted the attention of human groups since prehistoric times. Marrow consumption has been linked to immediate consumption following the procurement and removal of soft tissues. Here, we present the earliest evidence for storage and delayed consumption of bone marrow at Q...
Article
The presence of fast-moving small game in the Paleolithic archaeological faunal record has long been considered a key variable to assess fundamental aspects of human behavior and subsistence. Birds occupy a prominent place in this debate not only due to their small size and to the difficulties in capturing them (essentially due to their ability to...
Article
Full-text available
Stone tools provide a unique window into the mode of adaptation and cognitive abilities of Lower Paleolithic early humans. The persistently produced large cutting tools (bifaces/handaxes) have long been an appealing focus of research in the reconstruction of Lower Paleolithic survival strategies, at the expenses of the small flake tools considered...
Article
CT-scan analyses were carried out on limb bones of straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus)from the Middle Pleistocene site of Castel di Guido (Italy), where bifaces made of elephant bone were found in association with lithics and a large number of intentionally modified bone remains of elephants and other taxa. CT-scans show that marrow...
Article
The purposeful production of small flakes is integral to the lithic variability of many Middle Pleistocene sites. Inhabitants of the Acheulo-Yabrudian site of Qesem Cave, Israel, systematically recycled ‘old’ discarded blanks and tools, using them as cores for the production of small sharp tools with distinct technological features. These recycling...
Article
Recent research has demonstrated that the Eocene Timrat formation in northeastern Israel, which appears as an extensive land “strip” west of and parallel to the Rift Valley, was a major source of prehistoric flint. This supposition is supported by three large‐scale extraction and reduction (E&R) complexes identified within this region, which offer...
Article
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The Acheulean represents one of the most widespread cultural complexes spanning from Africa to Eurasia between 1.8 and 0.2 Mya. The site of Revadim, located on the southern coastal plain of Israel, represent one of the rare opportunities allowing to perform detailed functional analysis of stone tool assemblages from such old contexts. This paper pr...
Article
Full-text available
The multi-layered Lower Paleolithic Late Acheulian site of Revadim has yielded rich lithic assemblages, including dozens of handaxes. These lithic assemblages are for the most part dominated by flake-production technologies and flake tools, as is the rule of thumb at many other Acheulian localities. This study presents the results of an analysis of...
Article
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One of the unsolved ‘paradoxes’ in prehistoric archaeology is that of the gap between the considerable advances in human biological and cultural evolution during the Lower Palaeolithic period, and the over one million years of ‘stagnation’ of the Acheulean handaxe. Most of the research on this topic has focused on innovation – why it was delayed or...
Article
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This paper presents a new techno-typological analysis of a sample of small flakes that were produced through recycling from discarded blanks at the late Pottery Neolithic and Early Bronze Age site of Ein-Zippori, Lower Galilee, Israel. This study shows that the systematic production of small flakes from previously discarded blanks was not related t...
Article
A microwear analysis of recycled lithic artefacts from late Pottery Neolithic Wadi Rabah and Early Bronze Age layers at Ein-Zippori, Israel included cores-on-flakes (COFs) which are discarded blanks made into cores, and the flakes detached from them. COFs may have microwear traces that formed before they were recycled. The focus here is on how blan...
Article
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Proboscideans and humans have shared habitats across the Old and New Worlds for hundreds of thousands of years. Proboscideans were included in the human diet starting from the Lower Paleolithic period and until the final stages of the Pleistocene. However, the question of how prehistoric people acquired proboscideans remains unresolved. Moreover, t...
Article
This paper reports on a recently discovered Middle Paleolithic and Neolithic/Chalcolithic open-air flint extraction and reduction complex at Mt. Achbara in Israel's Eastern Galilee. Lithic assemblages recovered from a few of the hundreds of tailing piles documented in a field survey indicate a combination of Middle Paleolithic finds including Leval...
Article
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This paper describes the techno-typological affinities of a specific Acheulo-Yabrudian lithic assemblage dated to over 300 ka years ago from Qesem Cave, a middle Pleistocene site in central Israel. Aspects of blade production, knapping trajectories, and lithic recycling are examined in detail, demonstrating that this assemblage, notwithstanding its...
Article
Full-text available
Qesem Cave is a Middle Pleistocene site in Israel occupied between 420 and 200 ka. Excavations have revealed a wealth of innovative behaviors most likely practiced by a new hominin lineage. These include early evidence for the habitual and continuous use of fire, the repeated use of a central hearth, systematic flint and bone recycling, early blade...
Article
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Scientific Reports 6 : Article number: 37686; 10.1038/srep37686 published online: 25 November 2016 ; updated: 03 May 2017 . In the Supplementary Information file originally published with this Article, Figure S3 was elongated and of poor quality.
Article
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For a long while, the controversy surrounding several bone tools coming from pre-Upper Palaeolithic contexts favoured the view of Homo sapiens as the only species of the genus Homo capable of modifying animal bones into specialised tools. However, evidence such as South African Early Stone Age modified bones, European Lower Palaeolithic flaked bone...
Article
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Israel is part of a corridor connecting Africa and Euro-Asia that has also been a major migratory route of birds throughout the Quaternary. Very few Middle Pleistocene sites have a large enough record of avian species to provide a taxonomic composition of ornithic paleocommunities to explain their geographic distribution and the human uses of birds...
Article
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The results of a microwear analysis of samples of fan scrapers and fan scrapers spalls from late Pottery Neolithic (PN) and Early Bronze Age (EBA) occupation layers at Ein Zippori, Lower Galilee, Israel are presented. The goal of the microwear analysis was to determine the function of the fan scrapers and compare the visible usewear on the scrapers...
Article
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A unique Pottery Neolithic context corresponding to the Wadi Rabah culture was found at the multi-layered site of Ein Zippori, Israel. Given the significant amount of flakes, cortical flakes, thinning flakes, and bifacial tool rejects, it was classified as a refuse pit in which bifacial knapping waste from a nearby workshop was disposed. In this pa...
Article
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Recently found open-air flint extraction and workshop sites in the Eastern Galilee, Israel, are the focus of this paper. Lithic assemblages from among a few of the thousands of tailing piles documented in a field survey, indicate mostly late Lower Palaeolithic/Middle Palaeolithic and rarely Neolithic/Chalcolithic affinities. These discoveries subst...
Article
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The Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC) of the late Lower Paleolithic Levant consists of three major industries, one of which is the blade-dominated Amudian. This paper provides an in-depth comparison of the Amudian blade industry from three major AYCC sites in the Levant - Qesem Cave, Tabun Cave and Yabrud Rockshelter I. The results demonstr...