Geological setting and age of the Middle Paleolithic site of Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (Upper Jordan Valley, Israel)

Johannes Kalbe, Gonen Sharon, Naomi Porat, Chengjun Zhang, Steffen Mischke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this paper we present the sedimentary features and the luminescence chronology for Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO), an archaeological open air site at the southern margin of the Hula Basin (Northern Jordan Rift Valley, Israel). The site is characterized by a lithic assemblage ascribed primarily to the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian tradition, and by an excellent preservation of floral and faunal remains.Six geological units forming the stratigraphic sequence of the site were distinguished: (Unit 6) archaeologically sterile, light-colored limnic carbonates; (Unit 5) conglomerates of rounded basalt boulders and cobbles forming a hill-like topography; (Unit 4 and Unit 3) a sequence of similar dark silty sediments, attached to and overlaying the conglomerates, containing the archaeological horizons of the site; (Unit 2) a number of channels cutting into the top of Unit 3, filled with coarse sand and rounded basalt and limestone gravels of fluvial origin; and (Unit 1) a thin sand layer laid down by the present-day Jordan River covering another unconformity as a result of heavy machinery drainage operations in 1999.The OSL age for Unit 6 yielded a minimum age older than 460ka. Sedimentary features and the embedded fossils suggest that Unit 1 can be linked to the Early Pleistocene Gadot Chalk. Unit 5 represents a local geological feature and could be an indicator for a period of increased erosion with formation of coarse grained sediments. The archaeological horizons form the lower parts of Unit 4 and yielded OSL-ages between 55 and 65ka, indicating an affiliation to the sediments called "Ashmura Formation" with an Upper Pleistocene age for the site. The channel fills of Unit 2 can be dated by the recovered artifacts. These range in age from the Upper Paleolithic (Aurignacian) to historic times. Unit 1 is recent.The study of the complex NMO stratigraphy, combined with coherent OSL chronology, has enabled us to reconstruct parts of the geological history of the Hula Basin during the Late Pleistocene. It is this history that forms the background for the human migration and utilization of natural resources in the Upper Jordan Rift Valley.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 8 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


Field and Laboratory work at NMO was supported by grants from the CARE Foundation , The Leakey Foundation , National Geographic Society , The Wenner-Gren Foundation and in particular by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (Grant #645-09 ) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) . We thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments to the manuscript and their constructive suggestions.

FundersFunder number
CARE Foundation
Wenner-Gren Foundation
Leakey Foundation
National Geographic Society
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Israel Science Foundation645-09


    Dive into the research topics of 'Geological setting and age of the Middle Paleolithic site of Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (Upper Jordan Valley, Israel)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this