Raw material exploitation at the Middle Paleolithic site of Nesher Ramla, Israel

Ravid Ekshtain, Yossi Zaidner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The affordance of raw materials around prehistoric sites can affect knappers’ decision-making process regarding raw material procurement. The Levant presents a rich flint affordance area in which a case study on the organizational decisions of hunter-gatherers regarding raw materials can be tested. Here we examine Unit IIb from the Nesher Ramla site (MIS 5), located in central Israel, in an area rich in potential flint sources. An ArcGIS model was used to create a predictive model for daily exploitation territories (DETs) around the site. We present a three-stage study: (a) a pedestrian survey to locate flint sources; (b) establishment of visual similarities between flint artifacts and potential sources; and (c) a geochemical analysis (obtained through inductively coupled plasma (ICP) mass spectrometry and ICP atomic emission spectrometry); of both geological and archaeological flint that confirms the visual analysis. The results show a uniform pattern of using mainly local flint material from abundant and rich Senonian outcrops that was brought and knapped on site. In addition, the use of less available Eocene material was found, mainly in tools and debitage, suggesting that this type was used as personal gear. We suggest that the unique uniform pattern of the raw material procurement strategy at the site is related to the site's function as a series of short-term camps, task-oriented towards hunting activities and animal consumption and processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-48
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research in Nesher Ramla site was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 1773/15 to Y.Z.) and by the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation . The raw material sources survey was supported by the Ruth Amiran Fund , the Institute of Archaeology , the Hebrew University of Jerusalem . We would like to thank Professor Naama Goran-Inbar, Ron Lavi, Laura Centi, Francesco Valletta, Marion Prévost, Netta Mitki, Amit Segev, Uri Schattner, Dan Hochberg, Oz Varoner and Ronit Lupo for contributing field days and information about flint outcrop in the area. We would like to thank Professor Erella Hovers for her useful suggestions and for providing useful advices in different stages of the manuscript preparation. We are also grateful to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA


  • Flint sources
  • Middle paleolithic
  • Mousterian
  • Personal gear
  • Raw material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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