Chrono-sequences of alluvial terraces and fossilized water bodies as a predictive model for detecting Lower and Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Negev desert, Israel

Yoav Avni, Maya Oron, Eli Cohen-Sasson, Naomi Porat, Omry Barzilai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107114
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume268
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Alluvial terraces
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Landscape evolution processes
  • Lower Paleolithic
  • Luminescence dating
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Prehistory
  • Quaternary geology
  • Travertines

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