Rethinking Occupation Intensity during the Levantine Middle Epipalaeolithic: The use of Space and Site Formation Processes at the Geometric Kebaran site of Neve David, Israel

David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zachary C. Dunseth, Shira Gur-Arieh, Dani Nadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The open-air Epipalaeolithic (Geometric Kebaran) site of Neve David (Mount Carmel, Israel) has played an important role in reconstructing scenarios of sedentarization in the Levant since its initial excavation in the 1980s, and has been seen as heralding later Natufian socioeconomic adaptations. However, little was known about the site’s formation processes and spatial organization, hindering the testing of this view. Employing new field data from Neve David, we present a combined macro- and microscopic analyses of the spatial and temporal distribution of lithics, faunal remains, phytoliths and wood ash, interpreted with the aid of ethnoarchaeological data and comparison to other Palaeolithic sites in the region. Post-depositional disturbance seems to be minimal at Neve David and we therefore suggest that the spatial distribution of the finds mostly represents human use of space. Throughout the thick sequence of occupation episodes, distinct division of space and well-preserved trampled occupation surfaces are generally lacking. We suggest that this pattern represents reduced mobility, as prolonged human activity blurs the primary depositional signal of the activity remains. The density of the finds generally increases in the upper layers of the site. Accordingly, we hypothesize that at the beginning of activity, the duration of occupation was longer and only later in the sequence of events was there an increase in group size. Our findings further highlight the position of the Geometric Kebaran as a pivotal stage in understanding the gap between the preceding highly mobile societies and the succeeding sedentary and demographically-larger Natufian societies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

Keywords

  • Epipalaeolithic
  • Fabric analysis
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Mount Carmel
  • Occupation intensity
  • Site formation processes
  • Spatial analysis

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