Plant-food preparation area on an Upper Paleolithic brush hut floor at Ohalo II, Israel

Ehud Weiss, Mordechai E. Kislev, Orit Simchoni, Dani Nadel, Hartmut Tschauner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While a division of domestic space into separate sectors dedicated to different activities has been suggested for a number of Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherer sites, it has never been demonstrated based on plant remains from this period. Moreover, due to the usual scarcity of plant macrofossils in archaeological deposits, only animal food preparation activities associated with hearths have been reported in the literature on Near Eastern prehistory. Ohalo II (Israel) is the first Upper Paleolithic site where such a patterned use of interior space and plant processing are evidenced by the distribution of plant remains on a sealed floor of a brush hut. This paper describes and interprets the distribution of almost 60,000 identified seeds and other plant remains on that floor, proposing a reconstruction of three activity areas in the interior of the 12-m2 hut: processing of food centered on a grinding stone; a flint knapping area; and an access area in between. Finally, it is suggested that these activity areas might represent male-female division of labor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2400-2414
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Ofer Bar-Yosef and Wilma Wetterstrom (Harvard University), for their comments and improvements of earlier versions of this paper. This Center of Excellence (No. 300/06) was supported by the Israel Science Foundation. The Ohalo II project was generously supported by the Irene-Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, the Israel Science Foundation (NO. 831/00), the Jerusalem Center for Anthropological Studies, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, the Stekelis Museum of Prehistory in Haifa, the MAFCAF Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Israel Antiquities Authority.


  • Archaeobotany
  • Division of labor
  • Food preparation
  • Ohalo II
  • Spatial analysis
  • Upper palaeolithic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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