Rethinking Emireh Cave: The lithic technology perspectives

Omry Barzilai, Natalia Gubenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Emiran is the earliest technocomplex within the Levantine Upper Palaeolithic sequence. It was defined after biased lithic assemblages from el-Wad and Emireh caves by Dorothy Garrod. The term Emiran was further adopted and was incorporated into a broader definition known as the Initial Upper Palaeolithic (IUP) that is commonly used as a proxy for identifying human migrations during the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic interphase. More specifically it is conceived to represent the first arrival of modern humans to the Levant from Africa/Arabia, as well as being the forbearers for post-Mousterian entities in south and central Europe. In this study, we reanalyzed the same lithic assemblage from Emireh Cave that was published by Garrod in 1955 as the typical Emiran site. Our technological study shows the assemblage contains at least three distinctive knapping methods: Levallois, broad-base blades (non-Levallois), and narrow-base blade/lets. In addition, there is a substantial number of endscrapers that could not be technologically defined. We suggest the assemblage indeed contains an 'Emiran' component, including Emireh points, but it also bears Mousterian, Ahmarian and Aurignacian components. Thus, the Emireh cave lithic assemblage is assorted. We propose that the scenario at Emireh Cave in which Emiran and other industries are included in the same layer is likely to be the case in other southern Levantine sites where Emireh points were noted (i.e. el-Wad, Kebara, Qafzeh). It is suggested that the mixture is due to the ephemeral nature of the Emiran occupation at these sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-105
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA


  • Ahmarian
  • Aurignacian
  • Emiran
  • Emireh Cave
  • Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition
  • Mousterian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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