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New Data from Shovakh Cave and Its Implications for Reconstructing Middle Paleolithic Settlement Patterns in the Amud Drainage, Israel

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Friesem, David E. 
Malinsky-Buller, Ariel 
Ekshtain, Ravid 
Gur-Arieh, Shira 
Vaks, Anton 


Abstract: This study presents the geoarchaeological and geochronological aspects of Shovakh Cave and the first comparative context to the nearby Amud Cave (~ 500 m downstream), providing an exceptional opportunity to explore the range of human behaviours within a small geographic area. Sediment samples from two newly excavated areas at the rear and entrance of the cave were analysed using infrared spectroscopy, micromorphology and phytolith analysis and dated through uranium-thorium and luminescence techniques. The rear of the cave shows carnivore activity and low artefact concentrations. It also exhibits a shift in sedimentation from wind-blown deposits to colluviation of terra rossa. Direct dating of the deposits associated with the Middle Palaeolithic (MP) occupation at this area could not be obtained due to the breccia forming at the lower part of the excavation area. However, the later phases of the Middle Palaeolithic occupation at this area gave an age estimate of 45.5 ± 3.7 ka. At the entrance of the cave, there are relatively more residues associated with human use of fire. Post-depositional processes in this area include decalcification of the upper layer, cementation of the lower layer and phosphatisation due to guano decomposition, which indicates that this area was probably roofed. The ages obtained in this area range between 67.5 ± 5.5 to 56.2 ± 5.9 ka, overlapping with the occupation time of Amud cave. The evidence from Shovakh Cave presents lower intensity of occupation compared to Amud, indicating variable modes of site use by humans in the Amud drainage during the Late Middle Palaeolithic.



Article, Middle Palaeolithic, Site formation processes, Geoarchaeology, Levant, Amud drainage, Caves

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Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology

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Springer International Publishing