The Middle Paleolithic ground stones tools of Nesher Ramla unit V (Southern Levant): A multi-scale use-wear approach for assessing the assemblage functional variability

Eduardo Paixão, João Marreiros, Laure Dubreuil, Walter Gneisinger, Geoff Carver, Marion Prévost, Yossi Zaidner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the archaeological record, Ground Stone Tools (hereafter GST) represent an important tool group that provides invaluable data for exploring technological development and changes in resource exploitation over time. Despite its importance, Lower and Middle Paleolithic (MP) GST technology remains poorly known and understudied. The MP record of the Levant constitutes a compelling case study for exploring the nature and character of GST technology. Especially the site of Nesher Ramla (Israel, end of Marine Isotope Stage 6/beginning of 5) has provided one of the world's largest GST assemblages from MP contexts. Aiming at evaluating the variability of tool types at the site from a technological and functional perspective, this study follows an analytical approach which integrates different scales of analysis. Our workflow seeks to generate and combine qualitative and quantitative data allowing: 1) the identification of damage areas, and 2) functional analysis, based on the location, distribution, and characterization of use-wear traces. This study shows a substantial level of diversification in resource exploitation (e.g., mineral, hard animal material and likely perishable components). Results show the presence of several tool types on which diagnostic use-wear can be associated with different activities. Importantly, our analysis indicates the presence of various hammerstone types showing distinct wear characteristics. The variability observed within the hammerstones likely reflects different functions, including in some cases the processing of distinct worked materials. Ultimately, this study contributes to our understanding of the significance of GST technology for the ecological dynamics of MP populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-106
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is part of a PhD project funded by the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) , member of the Leibniz Association. The authors would like to thank to Irene Levi Sala Care Archaeological Foundation for an individual research grant to E.P. that supported artifact analyses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Project Title: The Ground Stone Tools of Nesher Ramla: Unrevealing Ground Stone Tools from the middle Paleolithic of Levant). The Authors also would like to thank Ariel Malinski-Buller for the comments on the earlier draft of the paper. Lastly the authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for the comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA


  • Experiments
  • Ground stone tools
  • Levant
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Quantification
  • Use wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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