Diachronic trends in occupation intensity of the Epipaleolithic site of Neve David (Mount Carmel, Israel): A lithic perspective

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The shift from mobile hunting-gathering lifeways to sedentism has been frequently studied, and the Natufian culture is commonly recognized as the earliest sedentary society in the Levant. Historically, the remarkably rich Natufian material remains, combined with certain research biases, turned it into a “scene-stealer” in the Levantine Epipaleolithic sequence. However, data from earlier Epipaleolithic sites suggest a more complex scenario. Accordingly, we hypothesize an increase in occupation intensity even before the Natufian. The new excavations at Neve David (ND), a key site of the Middle Epipaleolithic Geometric Kebaran entity, located in Mount Carmel, enables us to test this by tracing variations in the lithic assemblage from a 185 cm deep section. Drawing upon the models of cultural transmission and technological organization, we employed six proxies: lithic volumetric density, burnt artifacts volumetric density, lithic fragmentation rate, microlith shape variation, relative frequency of bladelet cores, and tool/blank ratio. The first five proxies suggest that the settlement dynamics at ND are characterized by increasing occupation intensity through time. Overall, this case study sheds new light on the tempo and mode of evolution in land use strategies during the Middle Epipaleolithic, which is pivotal to better understanding the Neolithization processes in the Levant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101223
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The renewed excavations at Neve David are generously supported by the Irene Levi-Sala Care Archaeological Foundation and the Israel Science Foundation grant no. 804/2016. The materials reported here correspond to IAA Licenses G-5/2015 and G-48/2016. This research has also been supported by the Asian Sphere master student scholarship. The figures of lithics in this paper were created with the assistance from Catherine Barshay and Svetlana Matskevich. We would also like to thank the Neve David field crew members: S. Bar-Giora, G. Bermatov-Paz, E. Crater Gershtein, K.M. Crater Gershtein, M. Seymore and M. Kaporovski.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cultural transmission
  • Levantine Epipaleolithic
  • Lithic assemblage
  • Neve David
  • Site occupation intensity
  • Technological organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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