Continual fire-making by Hominins at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel

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This paper presents the culmination of an extensive study of fire-use at the Early and early Middle Pleistocene site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov. Using software available in the GIS package, we have examined the spatial distribution of burned and unburned flint microartifacts from eight Acheulian archaeological horizons. The results of this study demonstrate that the burned microartifacts are never evenly distributed and dense concentrations are observed. The circumstances that introduced these burned flint artifacts to the archaeological layers are examined, suggesting that anthropogenic rather than natural fires are responsible for the observed patterns. As the evidence for the use of fire is recorded throughout the long stratigraphic sequence, it seems that fire was continually used by the Acheulian hominins of the site. This repetitive use of fire indicates that the hominins of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov had a profound knowledge of fire-making, enabling them to make fire at will.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1733-1739
Number of pages7
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This center of excellence was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 300/06). The study of burned flint microartifacts was supported by grants from the German–Israeli Foundation (GIF I-896-208.4/2005), and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 886/02). The author wishes to thank the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for scholarships granted during work on the PhD thesis on which this manuscript is based. Special thanks are due to Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar, who allowed access to the data from GBY. I thank the GBY staff and students at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for sorting of sediments and microartifacts. Thanks are due to Adi Ben-Nun, head of the GIS center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Special thanks to Prof. Ilan Sharon and Prof. Isaac Gilead, who greatly assisted in constructing the methodology for this study. I am grateful to Sue Gorodetsky, Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar, Dr. Erella Hovers, and two anonymous reviewers for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


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