2016-09-04 16:44:58 • ID: 1500
The Carmel caves, Dorothy Garrod and the Backdirt from old Excavations
These are some Levallois points and Levallois blades from the backdirt of D. Garrods excavations at Mount Carmel.
Dorothy Annie Elizabeth (D.A.E.) Garrod (1892–1968) was the first woman to be appointed to the Disney Chair of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, mainly through her pioneering work on the Palaeolithic period.
Between 1925 and 1926 she excavated in Gibraltar and in 1928 led an expedition through South Kurdistan with the excavation of Hazar Merd Cave and Zarzi cave. Her most important contribution to world prehistory was the excavation of the Mount Camel caves of the Nahal Mearot (Wadi El-Mughara ; Valley of the Caves) beginning in 1929.
As a the pupil of the Abbe Breuil, Dorothy Garrod advocated a worldwide approach to prehistory, taking prehistory beyond Europe, and excavated throughout her career across a large geographical area.
She excavated twenty three sites in seven countries, across two continents: in Britain, France, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Anatolia, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon.
Through her approach, Garrod highlighted south-west Asia as an important area for prehistoric research, developed a framework of chronology for Levantine prehistory - the basis of which is still in existence today- and investigated connections between and within continents and cultures.
Garrod’s approach was an interdisciplinary one, as can be nicely shown in her publications about the Stone Age of Mount Carmel.
In total, excavations in, what is now Israel, were carried out in several caves, mostly at Mt. Carmel (Tabun, El Wad, Skhul, Shuqba) by Garrod and her team and Kebara together with Turville-Petre over a period of almost twenty two months, over seven seasons, recording, as Garrod suggested, an almost unbroken Palaeolithic succession from the end of the Lower Palaeolithic to the Epipaleolithic. During the analytical work, Garrod classified and analyzed about 92,000 artifacts.
Her excavations at the cave sites in the Levant were conducted with almost exclusively women workers recruited from local villages, although she worked with fellow archaeologist Francis Turville-Petre at Kebara Cave, the type-site for the Kebaran culture.
The results from Mount Carmel were unprecedented. Garrod recognized the presence of local forms which seemed indigenous to the area and were not encountered in Europe. Garrod ascribed them new names, and noted that some cases resembled African artifacts.
Through this, foundations for the Levantine prehistoric sequence were established. The chronology for the prehistory of the Levant has inevitably altered through time, but it is Garrod‘s groundbreaking research in Palestine, combined with that of Rene Neuville‘s in Palestine and Alfred Rust‘s in Syria, that provides the basis of the Levantine prehistoric sequence that exists today.
Beside Neanderthal remains assigned to Tabun B, at Skhul remains of early modern humans (EMH) were discovered. These remains were suggested to be the consequence of interbreeding between Neanderthals and EHMs in the Levant and only later assigned to Homo Sapiens.
The Skhul sample comprises the remains of seven adults and three children, some of which (Skhul;1, 4, 5 and 9) may have been deliberate burials. Skhul Layer B has been later dated to an average of 81-101 k.a. BP with ESR and to an average of 119 k.a. ago with the thermo-luminescence method.
Garrod‘s handling of the Mount Carmel material has later been heavily criticized, saying, that she was not interested in any details and painted the prehistory of the Levant in “broad brush strokes”.
Anyhow such excavation techniques were common during the 1920/1930ies not only in the Near East, but also in Europe- see for example 2265
Regarding that the stratigraphy of the caves was broken down by her to only a few entities and that much of the lithic material was thrown away as useless “doublets”, this may be true, but the entities (Acheulo-Yabrudian, Levallois-Mousterian, Kebaran, Natufian) are still valid today and Garrod was very successful in establishing a structured frame for further research.
Her pioneering work helped later generations to recognize the enormeous potential of the Levant in Paleolithic studies, and stimulated non-Eurocentric approaches in Paleolithic research.
This being said, Tabun is still the basic model for the Levantine Levallois-Mousterian in the costal woodlands, although excavations of the last years have detected much more variability, especially in non-cave sites, than this model suggests.
Early Levantine Levallois-Mousterian (Tabun D) dates to between 100 and 250 k.a., [MIS 7–5). Early Levantine Levallois-Mousterian core technology at Tabun and Abu-Sif was dominated by recurrent unidirectional-parallel and bidirectional-parallel preparation.
The resulting debitage includes many Levallois blades and allied laminar artifacts. The most diagnostic artifact-type associated with Early Levantine Mousterian assemblages is the elongated Mousterian point (or “Abu Sif knife”). Endcrapers, burins, and backed knives are common among Early Levantine Levallois Mousterian retouched tools.
Early Levantine Mousterian sites are known from coastal cave sites (e.g., Tabun, Hayonim) and desert oases (El Kowm/Hummal, Azraq). These sites are also found in the Negev Desert and western Jordan at roughly equivalent latitudes. Maybe the “Hummalian” assemblages from El Kowm (Syria) are also a referable part of this entity.
Interglacial Levantine Mousterian (Tabun C): Interglacial Levantine Mousterian assemblages date to MIS 5, roughly 71–128 k.a.
Among Interglacial Levantine Mousterian assemblages, Levallois technology is dominated by radial-centripetal modes of core surface preparation. The resulting flakes include many large oval and sub-rectangular Levallois flakes and smaller pseudo- Levallois points. Sidescrapers are relatively common among retouched tools. Backed blades, end scrapers, and elongated points are relatively rare.
Interglacial Levantine Levallois-Mousterian assemblages are found mainly in northern Israel, north-western Jordan, Lebanon (Ras-el-Kelb), and western Syria. Interglacial Levantine Mousterian contexts furnish clear evidence for complex symbolic behaviour, including shells transported inland from the coast, the use of red ochre, and mortuary practices, including possible grave goods (a boar mandible with Skhul 5 and red deer antler with Qafzeh 11).
Late Levantine Mousterian (Tabun B): Most reliably dated Later Levantine Mousterian contexts occur between 71–45 k.a., after the sharp turn toward early glacial conditions in MIS 4 and early MIS 3. Their core technology emphasizes recurrent and preferential modes of unidirectional- convergent core preparation, with variable frequencies of recurrent radial-centripetal core reduction.
Both large and small Levallois points, pseudo-Levallois points, blades, and naturally backed knives are common. Width/thickness ratios for whole flakes tend to be high (mean and median values >5,00) (see Jelinek 1982). Retouched tools vary widely, but in general, simple sidescrapers are relatively common and elongated points, burins, and end scrapers are present but relatively rare. (Data from Shea, Bar-Yosef, Howers and Meignen- modified)
Figure 4: Levallois Points (from elongated to short, broad based examples) personally taken from the Museum’s Diorama of the Carmel Caves (Israel Museum with permission).
Suggested Reading: The Stone Age of Mount Carmel by D. A. E. Garrod and D. M. A. Bate discusses the excavations at the Wadi El-Mughara and Mount Carmel in Palestine. Part I covers the description and archaeology of the expedition, and part II includes the paleontology and fossil fauna of the area.
Surf the Blog: 1501 , 1500 , 1422 , 1361 and here 1166