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2020-01-31 18:39:36   •   ID: 2149

Early Upper Paleolithic at Kebara Cave (Israel)

Figure 1
Kebara cave, located on the western escarpment of Mt Carmel, was one of the first sites on the levantine coast that was excavated in the last century. First digs in 1932 by Turville-Petre were followed by the more methodological work of Stekelis (1951– 1965) and finally by meticulous excavations of Bar-Yosef after 1982. 

At Kebara (Kabara) a rich late Levantine Mousterien is followed by upper Paleolithic layers (Ahmarian and Levantine Aurignacian), Kebaran and Natufian.

The artifacts shown here are typical pointed blades are most probably from the early Ahmarian Units (Early Upper Paleolithic). Similar specimens are known from  Quafzeh Cave (Niveau E) and further north from Ksar Akil (Phase B; 20-15; Lebanon) and Üçağızlı Cave (Turkey).

Excavations at Kebara in the 1990s identified an early Upper Paleolithic occupation, originally dated between 41 and 35,6 k.a. BP. Recent redating of this component suggests that the IUP occupation likely dates between 45 and 46 k.a.  BP (47-49 cal. BP), reducing the gap between the Middle Paleolithic (60 and 48 BP) and Upper Paleolithic occupations of Kebara cave to just nil.

If the appearance of the IUP is interpreted as an argument for a population exchange in the Levant, these data could indicate the the movement of AMHs into the Levant. One the other side the Late Levallois-Mousterian at the site and at other localities in the Levant may have enough technological variability to ensvisage a stepwise evolution from a flexible Levallois-Technique to a Volumetric approach with the aim to produce elongated and pointed blades (Meignen and Bar -Yosef 2019)

The Ahmarian is the oldest fully Upper Paleolithic entity in the Levant and may be older than the European Upper Paleolithic. Anyhow, this chronology has been heavily questioned by results of refined C-14 dating and calibration from some key sequences around the Mediterranean since 2014. These discussions are still going on.

Suggested reading:

Ofer Bar-Yosef and Liliane Meignen: Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel, Part I The Middle and Upper Paleolithic Archaeology 2008

Ofer Bar-Yosef and Liliane Meignen: Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel, Part II The Middle and Upper Paleolithic Archaeology 2019

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