The Ohalo II Prehistoric Camp (19.5 Ky): New Evidence for Environmental and Tectonic Changes at the Sea of Galilee

Shmuel Belitzky, Dani Nadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combined archaeological data, shore surveys, and aerial photos of submerged sediments in the Sea of Galilee provide new insights into environmental and tectonic events, their dating, and their impact on the Ohalo II prehistoric camp (ca. 19,500 yr B.P.) and its surroundings. The Ohalo II waterlogged campsite contains excellently preserved brush hut remains and other in situ features, all embedded in late Pleistocene lacustrine strata. The findings indicate relatively short occupation of the site, not more than months or several years at a time. The high quality in situ preservation of delicate organic materials, as well as the short occupation period, suggests a quick and gentle burial by fine sediments. The evident fast submergence (water level rise of the Sea of Galilee) could have been the result of climatic fluctuations towards the end of the last glaciation and/or small-scale tectonic subsidence. The site is located on a tectonic block formed in the western fault belt of the Dead Sea Rift. We present new evidence of post-occupational folding of the late Pleistocene strata and recent tilting and faulting. A westward tectonic tilt may have caused the blockage of the old Jordan River outlet after A. D. 1106. Excellent preservation of the fault traces to the east of the site is attributed to the young age of the displacement on the fault. The last displacement apparently postdates the blockage of the old Jordan River.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-464
Number of pages12
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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