New radiocarbon dating of the transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic in Kebara Cave, Israel

N. R. Rebollo, S. Weiner, F. Brock, L. Meignen, P. Goldberg, A. Belfer-Cohen, O. Bar-Yosef, E. Boaretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition (MP-UP transition) is considered a major technological and cultural threshold, at the time when modern humans spread " out of Africa" , expanded from the Levant into Europe and possibly into central and northern Asia. The dating of this techno-cultural transition has proved to be extremely difficult because it occurred sometime before 40,000 radiocarbon years before present (14C years BP), which is close to the end of the effective dating range of radiocarbon. Other dating methods such as Thermoluminescence (TL) or Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) are not sufficiently precise to date the recorded archaeological MP-UP transition in the Levant. Here we report a consistent set of stratified radiocarbon ages on freshly excavated charcoal from Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel (Israel), that span the late Middle Paleolithic (MP) and Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) This study applied novel strategies to improve sample preparation techniques and data analysis to obtain high-resolution radiocarbon models. From this study it is proposed that the MP-UP transition for this site can be placed immediately after 45,200 ± 700 14C years BP and before 43,600 ± 600 14C years BP or from 49/48 to 47/46 radiocarbon calibrated years before present (years Cal BP).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2424-2433
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume38
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank F. Berna, D. Dumarché, J. Berg, E. Mintz, C. Bronk Ramsey and T. Higham for their contributions to this project. This research was funded by Israel Science Foundation grant no. 05/1040 . Financial support was also obtained from the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the American School of Prehistoric Research (Peabody Museum, Harvard University), as well as a generous gift from the late Mr. George Schwartzmann. S.W. holds the Dr. Walter and Dr. Trude Borchardt Professorial Chair in Structural Biology.

Keywords

  • Human evolution
  • Levant
  • Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition
  • Paleolithic Archaeology
  • Radiocarbon dating

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