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2016-08-31 17:38:33   •   ID: 1494

The Initial Upper Paleolithic of Boker Tachtit (Boqer Tahtit)

Figure 1
Figure 1: This is a Y-shaped "Levallois blade" with faceted platform, seen in Figure 2, from the  Negev (near Boker-Tachtit, Avdat/Aquev Area). The point was one part of the Levenstein Collection, later sold by the Family legally to Europe. At Boker-Tachtit, a special form of the Levallois technique that shifts over time (Level 1-4) to an upper Paleolithic blade Technology, is present.

The aim of the operational sequences in all levels was the production of convergent blades that are shaped like elongated Levallois-points. Technologically, upper Paleolithic tools (Endscrapers and Burins) are common in all levels, while Levels 1 and 2 are also characterized by the occurrence of Emireh points (“Emirian”).

Figure 2 shows the finely Faceted base of the IUP-Blade: a strong recall on the Levallois technique. An almost identical point can be seen here: Boker Tachtit

Anyhow, The antecedents for this technological evolution have not been identified up to now.

Marks originally described the Boker-Tachtit sequence as a gradual technological transition in situ between Level 1 (terminal Mousterian) and fully Upper Paleolithic (Level 4), while other archaeologists suggest that this succession essentially represents four fully Upper Palaleolithic occupations. This is also my position in the discourse.

Figure 2
The oldest Level 1 was dated by C-14 to 50-48 k.a. Cal BP, the youngest Level 4 to c 39 k.a. Cal BP. Anyhow these early data from the 1980ies needed the confirmation with refined methods.

Therfore the reexcavation of the site was of major interest- not only for reevaluation of the technology, but more important for a new dating program (C-14, OSL, TL).

Renewed excavations at Boker Tachtit (2013-2014) were carried out as part of a broader collaborative study titled 'Timing of Cultural Change' in the frame of the Max Planck–Weizmann Joint Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The results were published in 2021 and conform with the initial datings.

"Here, we provide 14C and optically stimulated luminescence dates obtained from a recent excavation of Boker Tachtit. The new dates show that the early phase at Boker Tachtit, the Emirian, dates to 50 through 49 ka, while the late phase dates to 47.3 ka and ends by 44.3 ka. These results show that the IUP started in the Levant during the final stages of the Late Middle Paleolithic some 50,000 y ago.

The later IUP phase in the Negev chronologically overlaps with the Early Upper Paleolithic Ahmarian of the Mediterranean woodland region between 47 and 44 ka. We conclude that Boker Tachtit is the earliest manifestation of the IUP in Eurasia.

The study shows that distinguishing the chronology of the IUP from the Late Middle Paleolithic, as well as from the Early Upper Paleolithic, is much more complex than previously thought
“ (Boaretto et al 2021).

Other sites within a similar geographical and chronological context, such as Taramsa 1 in the Nile Valley and Tor Sadaf in Jordan, reflect a similar, although not identical, trend indicating a shift from a blade technology with Levallois elements to a true blade technology.

Taramsa 1 is in this context is of special interest.  During the Tarmasan “ there was a clear tendency towards blade production from large cores, where, instead of obtaining a few Levallois flakes from each individual core, a virtually continuous process of blade production made it possible to create a large number of blades from each core”  (Vermeersch and Hendrickx 2000, p.23).

A child burial was found at Taramsa-1 dating to this time (c.55 k.a BP): “The poorly preserved bones were those of a subadult ‘anatomically modern human’ similar in appearance to the Mechtoid populations of the north African Epipalaeolithic.

The position of the body, as well as the depth of the pit in which it was found . . . suggest that the child had not died in this location but had been deliberately brought here to be buried (Midant-Reynes 1992/2000 p.37).

Ensembles similar to Boker-Tachtit 1 were found not only in the Levant, but also in Bulgaria (Temnata  TD2/6, Bacho Kiro 11), near Brno (Bohunician at Brno Bohunice, Stránská skála Ss-IIIa-4, Brno Líšeň , Tvarožná, and Želeč), in Moravia (Rataje, Ondratice, Mohelno) in the eastern Slovakia (Nižný Hrabovec), in the Ukraine, at Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, situated 100 km northeast of Tashkent in the Republic of Uzbekistan and in the Altai (Kara Bom). These ensembles date roughly between 45-32 k.a. BP.

Until recently, there is a broad agreement that in the Levant, the Emirian evolved to the Ahmiran at about 42-35 k.a. BP (Ksar ‘Akil Rockshelter, Üçağızlı Cave, Kebara Cave) and may have consecutively diffused to Europe as early as 43-42 k.a. Cal BP (the Bachokirian“ and the so called “Protoaurignacian” of Southern Europe).

The new data from Bacho Kiro (45 BP) and Boker Tachtit (50 k.a. BP) may indicating that two overlapping traditions (the Ahmarian and Emiran) evolved synchroniously and soon entered Europe via the Levantine Corridor. But these are only two possible scenarios. Some elements of the Ahmarian / Protoaurignacian lifestyle may also re-entered from Europe to the Near East and other Parts of Asia.