A blade for all seasons? Making and using Amudian blades at Qesem Cave, Israel

R. Barkai, C. Lemorini, R. Shimelmitz, Z. Lev, M. C. Stiner, A. Gopher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Qesem Cave prehistoric sequence consists of one dominant lithic industry - the Amudian, a part of the Acheulo-Yabrudian (late Lower Paleolithic) cultural complex. The Acheulo-Yabrudian complex comprises three major lithic industries - Acheulo-Yabrudian, Yabrudian and Pre-Aurignacian/Amudian. While the first two industries are dominated by typical Lower Paleolithic lithic traditions, namely flake production technologies, hand-axes and scrapers, the Amudian presents an innovative blade industry. This relatively poorly known industry is of importance being stratigraphically situated between the Lower Paleolithic Acheulian and the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian. The available radiometric dates for this entity indicate a range from ca. 400 to about 200 kyr. The Amudian in the Levant is characterized by systematic blade production and a major component of shaped blades. At Qesem Cave the majority of the lithic artefacts belong to the Amudian industry with distinctive blade-dominated assemblages throughout a stratigraphic sequence of 7.5 meters. During the 2006 excavation season a scraper-dominated Yabrudian assemblage was discovered, indicating variability and more complex human behaviour at the cave rather than specialized blade-related activities only. The Amudian at Qesem Cave is a very early blade production industry and it reflects technological choices of the artisans as well as specific modes of resource exploitation and subsistence activities. This paper will summarize the current state of research on the Qesem cave lithic assemblages, focusing on the composition of the rich Amudian assemblages, the reconstruction of Amudian blade production and the functional interpretation of Amudian blades. A short survey of the new Yabrudian assemblage will be provided as well. We finally discuss interpretations of Acheulo-Yabrudian lithic variability and the meaning of late Lower Paleolithic blade production as a technological, functional and cultural phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Acheulo-Yabrudian
  • Amudian
  • Blade production
  • Late Lower Paleolithic
  • Yabrudian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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