Mousterian vegetal food in Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel

Efraim Lev, Mordechai E. Kislev, Ofer Bar-Yosef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reconstructs the vegetal diet of the Middle Paleolithic humans in Kebara cave (Mt. Carmel, Israel) on the basis of a large collection of charred seeds and other vegetal food remains uncovered during the excavations. The human choices of mainly legumes reflects the gathering activities during springtime when often the common hunted species (gazelle and fallow deer) were fat depleted. Minor fall activities are indicated by the collection of acorns and pistachio nuts. This vegetal dietary information adds another aspect to the range of subsistence activities of the late Mousterian occupants of Kebara cave, and sheds further light on the semi-sedentary use of the cave as revealed from analysis of animal bones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The excavations at Kebara cave were funded by the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Exploration Society, and the American School of Prehistoric Research (Peabody Museum, Harvard University). We had the benefit of considerable aid from the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University through the years. We are grateful to all these institutions, and to all our colleagues who took active part in the excavations and the study of the finds: B. Arensburg, A. Belfer-Cohen, M. Chech, P. Goldberg, the late Henri Laville, Liliane Meignen, Y. Rak, the late Eitan Tchernov, A.M. Tiller, S. Weiner, and B. Vandermeersch. The authors of the paper would like to thank Y. Melamed and M. Marmorstein for their help with the identification process, and J. Langzam for the SEM pictures. Special thanks go to D. Nadel, M. Jones, and in particular to J.D. Speth and E. Weiss, for their helpful comments and editorial suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


  • Levant
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Mousterian
  • Neanderthal
  • Plant remains
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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