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2018-02-09 18:28:31   •   ID: 1722

What’s the Nubian Levallois-core technology got to do with Boker Tachtit in the Negev

Figure 1
Figure 1: These are two Nubian Levallois cores from the Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev, found by Professor Levenstein 60 years ago.

60 years later open-air Nubian-Complex sites from the Negev highlands (H2 surface collection, Har Oded and North Mitzpe Ramon) were published and tentatively dated to a humid phase during MIS5. Other Nubian assemblages from Israel were already known, for example from Tirat Carmel.

It is interesting that the "Nubian-Complex" Ensemble from open-air site of Aybut Al Auwal in Oman with a TL-date of 106 k.a. fits into the same time interval. Contemporaneous Nubian ensembles were found in the Nil- Valley and adjacent areas (Sodmein cave and Sai Island upper strata).

Figure 2
Figure 3: Another Nubian core from the ensemble. The geographic extent for the “Nubian Complex” was initially recognized in Upper Egypt/Northern Sudan and the surrounding Eastern Sahara.

It was later shown, that some ensembles in the oases of the western desert had affinities to the Nubian complex, too. In Africa discoveries of Nubian cores have been reported from Kenya, Ethiopia and the Libyan Desert, while reports from findings from the Arabian Peninsula proliferated during the last 15 yrs.

In the Negev during MIS5 the presence of Nubian Cores would point to second Core-shaping technological system, different to what we know from contemporaneous "Tabun-D and C“ Sites in the Negev and Carmel. These ensembles show the classisc, recurrent uni and bipolar technique with only minor platform preparation.

Looking for antecedents of the Boker-Tachtit ensemble, the oldest Upper Paleolithic, at least in the Levant, dated to 45-50 k.a., researchers focus on older sites in the Arabian peninsula, the Nil valley and the Levant with either similar traits.

These are: - elongated Levallois points (Tabun D Ensembles, some Nubian ensembles) and/or Levallois ensembles produced by

-bipolar technology  and/or dorsal cresting (some undated Nubian ensembles, some Tabun D ensembles).

  • Tabun D ensembles are characterized by recurrent Levallois cores with unidirectional and bidirectional parallel preparation. The blanks are usually elongated with minimal striking platform preparation.

    One interesting example is  'Ain Difla. Excavations since 1984 at this  rock-shelter (Wadi Hasa Survey Site 634) in west-central Jordan produced a Tabun D lithic assemblage dominated by elongated Levallois points with very few retouched tools.

    The 'Ain Difla sample is dominated by elongated Levallois points. Blanks were obtained from uni- and bipolar convergent Levallois cores that show evidence of bidirectional flaking. TL and ESR dates from 'Ain Difla show a wide range of age estimates between 90- 180 k.a.

    Although Tabun D Ensembles could be techno-typologically antecedents to Boker Tachtit, they are usually too old (250-90 k.a.) with a gap of at least 40 k.a. to the first IUP in the Levant. All attempts to find younger Tabun D-sites were unsuccessful until recently.

    Anyhow, new radiometrical data from Rosh Ein Mor - see 1004
  • in the Negev, a "Tabun C" like ensemble was occupied during MIS 4 and possibly into MIS 3 give further impetus to the idea of an in-situ evolution in the Negev (Mae Goder-Goldberger 2019).

    In addition, during the last years research has detected much more Techno/typological Variability during the late Middle Paleolithic in Israel, than suggested under the Tabun B Label before-including open air sites in Israel between 70-50 k.a.

  • Typologically the Wadi Surdud Complex  in Yemen, where two assemblages dating between 63 and 42 k.a. were found inter-stratified within a six-meter fluvial accretion, fits under the broad Tabun D umbrella.

    Over 5,000 artifacts were excavated, and in both archaeological horizons, the most prominent reduction system was, by far, a simple unidirectional convergent strategy producing elongated pointed flakes and blades.

    The excavators noted that the makers of these ensembles followed  primarily a non-Levallois strategy, since most striking platforms (>70%) are either non faceted or cortical, and less than 10% exhibit any kind of faceting.

    Elongated pointed blank production was flexible, grading from occasional instances of preferential, unidirectional convergent Levallois preparation to the more frequent use of recurrent “frontal” or “semi-tournant” core exploitation.

    Some researchers argue, that an undated Arabian Nubian Complex ensemble (the “Mudayyan”) with bipolar technology from Dhofar may provide the missing link to the Levantine Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition at Boker Tachtit

Research is going on and discussions about settlement dynamics are still thrilling in the Near East....

Provenance: Collection Levenstein (ISR)