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2021-04-14 15:42:39   •   ID: 2248

Trihedral Handaxe and Flint Quariing in the Menashe Hills / Israel.

Figure 1
The inhabitants of Israel did a lot displaying the country's rich archaeological treasures in regional museums. The Paleolithic is not neglected, which is rather uncommon compared to many other countries.

A good example for such local museums is the Upper Galilee Museum of Prehistory, founded by Amnon Assaf, which offers a wide variety of prehistoric artifacts from 780-6 k.a. BP, collected in the Hula Valley and on the grounds of a Kibbutz, mainly by one man and his non-professional collaborators: Amnon Assaf.

Figure 2
A very fine and newly renovated Archeological Museum is located at Ein HaShofet, a Kibbutz in the Menashe Heights region around 25 km southeast of the city of Haifa.

It was founded by Shlomo Kurtz, an Archaeologist and Holocaust surviver, who came from Hungary to the Ein Hashofet Kibbuz soon after WW II.

The Handaxe, shown here is typical for the Menashe area and similar examples are shown in the museum, which displays local artifacts from the early Paleolithic until Roman times.

Figure 3
The Menashe area and its Stone Age have already introduced into Aggsbachs Blog-see: 1460 and 1596

Usually the Handaxes are knapped by, what I call a specific “Menashe” style, they are small (around 4 to 9 cm), rather broad and thick, often backed and made from small pebbles.

They rarely offer straight cutting-edges and seem to be focused on their tips- anyhow their functions remain a mystery.

Shimelmitz et al. (2019) recently published a paper (see external links) about Flint quarrying at Nahal Shelef, a Holocene Quarry and Workshop Site in the Menashe Hills.

Large quarries and lithic workshop sites have been detected by systematic prospection throughout the southern Levant and formed an important element of land use and structuring the landscape since the Early Paleolithic until the Bronze Age- see for example the publication about a middle Paleolithic and Neolithic extraction and reduction complex at Mt. Achbara in Eastern Galilee, Israel.

Figure 4
Similar sites in the Menashe area are characterized by hard, karstic limestone, in with flint nodules in various dimensions are protruding from the eroded surface. Here they can be easily recognized and extracted. Interestingly they were also knapped still embedded within the limestone, probably to test their properties.

I suggest, that the general use of smaller pebbles during the Early Paleolithic reflects a conscious choice of their makers. Possibly their dimensions are an expression of the maximum possible transport capacity of their manufacturers, in their movements across the landscape.

On the other hand, Menashe Flint nodules were sometimes heavy weighted with diameters up to 50 cm. During the Neolithic they were used as cores, mainly for the production of larger bifacial axes and long blades (maybe preforms of sickles) as shown by two broken examples in Figure 4.