The Negev desert is a part of the northern Saharo-Arabian desert belt, a major physical barrier between Africa and southwest Asia. Its location at the crossroads of the two continents makes it a perfect region to trace the presence of early hominins on the route from Africa to the Levant in major dispersal events. Geomorphological mapping in the central Negev region allows a reconstruction of the Plio-Pleistocene landscape, and the processes that shaped the Negev desert. Features that characterize this arid to hyper-arid region are the sequences of alluvial surfaces and wetland deposits, covering the last 2 Ma, now evident in the present-day landscape as a series of abandoned alluvial terraces standing 100-5 m above the active stream channels, containing conglomerates, fine silty sediments and travertines. In this study we integrate alluvial terraces with scattered outcrops of travertines and wetland deposits, marking the locations of past water resources in the central Negev. The environmental reconstruction enabled us to conceive a conceptual model and produce a detailed map that predicts the preferable locations for archaeological sites from the Lower and Middle Paleolithic periods. The outcome of this study is a validated model for tracing Paleolithic sites in their geomorphological contexts and a better understanding of the role of the Negev in Middle Pleistocene hominin dispersals. Likewise, the prediction model for the Negev could be applied to other desert regions globally.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
- Alluvial terraces
- Landscape evolution processes
- Lower Paleolithic
- Luminescence dating
- Middle Paleolithic
- Quaternary geology