"Measure for measure": a taphonomic reconsideration of the Kebaran site of Ein Gev I, Israel

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We present the results of a detailed taphonomic study of the faunal remains from Ein Gev I, a Kebaran open-air site near the Sea of Galilee, Israel. In an earlier study faunal remains were assigned to bone element and species using a rapid method technique based on the identification of teeth and epiphyses only (Davis, 1974). In this study we identified the maximum number of skeletal elements, including fragments of long bone shafts. We also employed a series of taphonomic analyses to reconstruct the depositional history of the bone assemblage and to investigate subsistence, meat procurement and bone processing strategies. We compared the results obtained by a complete bone sampling method with those derived using a rapid method. The bone assemblage is dominated by mountain gazelle (Gazella gazelle), Mesopotamian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) and bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus). The assemblage is characterized by significant density-mediated biases, caused by both human bone processing behaviours and in situ post-burial bone attrition. Our attempts to compare species abundance derived from the two different identification protocols revealed no significant difference between the two sampling methods, both in terms of species diversity (richness and evenness) and skeletal element abundance (SEA). These comparisons contrast previous studies that expected to find ubiquitous head-and-foot dominated SEA profiles in zooarchaeological studies that were based on the incomplete identification of faunal remains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-227
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ofer Bar-Yosef for making the EGI faunal assemblage available to us, and Ofer Bar-Yosef and Anna Belfer-Cohen for kindly supplying us with information about the excavation and the site. We are also indebted to Daniel Kaufman for discussion and encouragements throughout the development of this research, to Simon Davis for offering useful comments on the manuscript, and two anonymous referees for their thoughtful comments. The study was funded by the Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, and by a research grant from the ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant 147/04).


  • Epipalaeolithic
  • Gazelle
  • Kebaran
  • Levant
  • Minimum number of elements
  • Shaft fragments
  • Skeletal element abundance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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