Complexity and sophistication of Early Middle Paleolithic flint tools revealed through use-wear analysis of tools from Misliya Cave, Mount Carmel, Israel

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Abstract

The Early Middle Paleolithic (EMP) is a less-studied phase of the Levantine Middle Paleolithic, attributable to the small number of sites discovered. Drawing on the dense archaeological accumulations at Misliya Cave, Mount Carmel, Israel, the present study seeks to trace EMP daily activities and behavioral patterns through the prism of use-wear analysis. The emergence of the laminar and Levallois technologies that form the EMP toolkit is investigated to reveal other dimensions of tool novelties. Through microscopic analyses, integrated with experimentation, the most outstanding aspect revealed in this study is the extensive evidence of hafting, which included the use of binding together with various techniques for tool design. A unique treatment was identified, never reported before, entailing the abrasion of cortical surfaces and protruding dorsal ridges. Other aspects include the clear preference for pointed tools as a leading morphological trend and the use of retouch as a mean to create durable working edges and facilitate grip arrangements. The analysis demonstrates the venue of use-wear to trace a wide variety of practices, including consumption-related (processing hunted game and edible plants) and craft-related (hide processing, woodworking, and perhaps stone working) activities that otherwise hardly leave a trace in the archaeological record. By exploring these features, the research provides important insights into early hominin behavior and way of life during the EMP, emphasizing the novelties brought by the earliest Homo sapiens out of Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102955
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume154
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is part of a special issue entitled: ‘The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: Evolutionary Threshold or Continuum?’ (Guest Editors: Mina Weinstein-Evron, Yossi Zaidner, Steve Kuhn, and Marie-Hélène Moncel). The volume follows a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017) organized by Mina Weinstein-Evron and Yossi Zaidner: ‘The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East,’ funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation ( ISF 341/17), Dan David Foundation , Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753), Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa and Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa. Thanks are also due to the Hof-HaCarmel Regional Council and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for their assistance and help. Thanks are also due to Reuven Yeshurun for his remarks on an early version of this article. We thank Guy Bar-Oz and Roee Shafir from the Zooarchaeology Laboratory for allowing the use of the lab and helping in the butchery experiments.

Funding Information:
The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation , Leakey Foundation , Irene Levi-Sala CARE archaeological foundation, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12, to MWE). Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations: G16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, and G-50/2010.

Funding Information:
This article is part of a special issue entitled: ?The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: Evolutionary Threshold or Continuum?? (Guest Editors: Mina Weinstein-Evron, Yossi Zaidner, Steve Kuhn, and Marie-H?l?ne Moncel). The volume follows a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017) organized by Mina Weinstein-Evron and Yossi Zaidner: ?The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East,? funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 341/17), Dan David Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753), Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa and Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa. Thanks are also due to the Hof-HaCarmel Regional Council and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for their assistance and help. Thanks are also due to Reuven Yeshurun for his remarks on an early version of this article. We thank Guy Bar-Oz and Roee Shafir from the Zooarchaeology Laboratory for allowing the use of the lab and helping in the butchery experiments. The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation, Leakey Foundation, Irene Levi-Sala CARE archaeological foundation, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12, to MWE). Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations: G16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, and G-50/2010.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Composite tools
  • Early Middle Paleolithic
  • Hafting
  • Hominin daily activities
  • Misliya Cave
  • Use-wear analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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