The emergence of the Levallois technology in the Levant: A view from the Early Middle Paleolithic site of Misliya Cave, Israel

Yossi Zaidner, Mina Weinstein-Evron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Early Middle Paleolithic (EMP) lithic assemblage of Misliya Cave, dated to 240–150 ka, is associated with one of the earliest occurrences of Homo sapiens outside Africa. Our research provides a detailed technological study of the lithic assemblage of stratigraphic unit 5–6c of the site, using the chaîne opératoire approach, to characterize the technological behavior of the early H. sapiens. Our results indicate that both Levallois and laminar volumetric concepts were used. The Levallois reduction strategy involved preparing subtriangular cores with steep distal edges that allowed producing a series of triangular/subtriangular Levallois blanks using a unidirectional convergent method. Laminar débitage constitutes a semirotating/rotating method. The results of our study and comparisons with other Levantine sites indicate that the EMP represents a distinct entity within the Levantine Middle Pleistocene record that can be distinguished by the earliest occurrence of a full-fledged Levallois technology in the region, laminar technology, and a distinct tool kit dominated by elongated retouched points. The level of core management involved in producing convergent Levallois products and in preparing laminar cores points to a major conceptual change from the preceding Acheulian and Acheulo-Yabrudian. This suggests a break in knapping strategies between the Lower and the Middle Paleolithic. The finding of a H. sapiens maxilla at Misliya Cave in association with the EMP industry supports the hypothesis that the introduction of the Levallois technology in the Near East was associated with an early dispersal of H. sapiens from Africa. A comparison between the Levantine EMP and other regional records indicates that different Levallois methods were routinely used by hominins from the beginning of the Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102785
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume144
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is part of a special volume titled: ?The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: Evolutionary Threshold or Continuum?? (Guest Editors: Mina Weinstein-Evron, Yossi Zaidner, Steve Kuhn, and Marie-H?l?ne Moncel). The volume follows a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017; organized by M.W.E. and Y.Z.): ?The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East,? funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 341/17), the Dan David Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753), the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa. Misliya Cave is located in the Mount Carmel Nature Reserve, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa, and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12). We thank the regional council of Hof-HaCarmel and the Israel Nature and Parks Reserve Authority for their assistance and help. Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations are as follows: G16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, and G-50/2010.

Funding Information:
This paper is part of a special volume titled: "The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: Evolutionary Threshold or Continuum?" (Guest Editors: Mina Weinstein-Evron, Yossi Zaidner, Steve Kuhn, and Marie-Hélène Moncel). The volume follows a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017; organized by M.W.E. and Y.Z.): "The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East," funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation ( ISF 341/17 ), the Dan David Foundation , Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753), the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa , and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa . Misliya Cave is located in the Mount Carmel Nature Reserve, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation , the Leakey Foundation , the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation , the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa , and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12 ). We thank the regional council of Hof-HaCarmel and the Israel Nature and Parks Reserve Authority for their assistance and help. Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations are as follows: G16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, and G-50/2010.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Homo sapiens
  • Lithic technology
  • Lower Paleolithic
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Out-of-Africa dispersals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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