The stratigraphy and paleogeography of the Middle Paleolithic open-air site of 'Ein Qashish, Northern Israel

N. Greenbaum, R. Ekshtain, A. Malinsky-Buller, N. Porat, E. Hovers

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11 Scopus citations


The Middle Paleolithic site of 'Ein Qashish is located on the floodplain of the Qishon stream, northern Israel, which drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is located at the inlet to a narrow water gap between Mt. Carmel and Tiv'on Hills. The excavation and 3 trenches up to 5m deep provide the stratigraphy and allow a reconstruction of the paleogeography and depositional environments. The archaeological layer, OSL dated to about 64±4ka, is composed of carbonate gravel and overlies 66±4ka (MIS4) black, heavy alluvial clays deposited by the Qishon Stream, which represents marsh environment. The site is covered by another clay unit, representing a second marsh period between 50±3 and 41±3ka (MIS3). This sedimentary complex is unconformably covered by coarse gravel and reddish clay matrix, dated to between 15.1±0.7 and 10.5±0.5ka, which is derived from Wadi Qashish - a steep mountainous stream of Mt. Carmel. The mineralogical analyses of the clays indicate high quartz concentrations and smectitic IS, which support the interpretation of Qishon basin origin, versus illitic IS from Mt. Carmel slopes.The duration of the prehistoric human activity is estimated at <10kyr, during which the Qishon stream transported fine clay by relatively low-magnitude flows over a relatively stable floodplain. The site is located over the toe of the gravelly alluvial fan of Wadi Qashish. During the end of the Pleistocene to the Holocene, the site was covered by coarse gravel from Mt. Carmel alternating with fine clay sediments of the Qishon stream.Sea level during the occupation period was between 100 and 60mb.s.l. and the coastline was located 10-7km westward. The proposed mechanism for the marsh development is: (a) repeated episodes of blockage of the Qishon stream outlet at the narrow water gap by aeolian sand transported by westerly winds inland over the exposed continental shelf. The accumulation of sand and sandstone over the coastal plain during this period supports this idea.(b) Based on hydrological correlation with the Lake Lisan Levels the flows in the Qishon stream were low with large component of baseflows characterizing warmer and wetter periods that could not cut through the sand blockage and forced the water upstream into marshes. The marshes drained during the colder and drier Heinrich events H6/H5a and H4 which were characterized by higher frequency of large floods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-215
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 8 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


This research was supported by grants to EH from the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation , National Geographic Society (grants # 8793-10 and # 8943-11 ), and the Ruth Amiran Fund for Archaeological Research at the Institute of Archaeology , The Hebrew University of Jerusalem , and a grant to RE and EH from the Irene-Levi Sala Care Foundation . Noga Yoselevich from the Cartographic Laboratory, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa drew the figures. We thank Z. Dolgin for preparing samples for OSL, and D. Shtuber for chemical analyses.

FundersFunder number
Irene-Levi Sala CARE Foundation
Leakey Foundation
National Geographic Society8793-10, 8943-11
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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