Flint procurement strategies in the Late Lower Palaeolithic recorded by in situ produced cosmogenic 10Be in Tabun and Qesem Caves (Israel)

Giovanni Verri, Ran Barkai, Avi Gopher, Michael Hass, Peter W. Kubik, Michael Paul, Abraham Ronen, Steve Weiner, Elisabetta Boaretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The in situ produced cosmogenic beryllium isotope, 10Be, in flint artifacts from different layers in prehistoric caves can provide information on flint procurement. The buildup of 10Be in a flint matrix is related to the exposure time of the flint to cosmic rays. Although this exposure history can be complex, the 10Be content of flint assemblages can show whether the raw material was obtained from shallow mining and/or surface collection as opposed to sediments two or more meters below the surface. Flint artifact assemblages from two Palaeolithic caves in Israel, Tabun and Qesem, were analyzed. In Tabun cave the flint artifacts from Lower Layer E (Acheulo-Yabrudian, around 400 000-200 000 yr) contain very small amounts of 10Be, which is consistent with flint procured from sediments two or more meters deep. Artifacts from above and below Tabun Lower Layer E show a more complex distribution, as do artifacts from all layers of Qesem cave (Acheulo-Yabrudian). This is probably due to the fact that they were surface collected and/or mined from shallow (less than 2 m) depths. We show here that artifact assemblages have different concentrations of 10Be, indicating different raw material procurement strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the Minerva Foundation and an Israel Science Foundation grant to S.W. S.W. holds the Dr. Walter and Dr. Trude Borchardt Professorial Chair in Structural Biology. S.W. also gratefully acknowledges the generous financial help from Mr. George Schwartzman. G.V. was a recipient of a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University. The Qesem Cave project is supported by the Israel Science Foundation (820/02), the Leakey Foundation and the Irene Levy Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation.


  • Acheulo-Yabrudian
  • Be
  • Cosmogenic isotopes
  • Flint mining
  • Lower Palaeolithic


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