Ein Aqef: Upper Paleolithic from the Negev

These are Upper Paleolithic tools from a very small Surface Scatter at Ein Aqef (Negev desert).

Until some 30 years ago Upper Paleolithic ensembles in the Levant postdating the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and predating the Epipaleolithic were related in one way or another to various stages of the “Aurignacian” sensu lato.

This view was early established by Zumoffen, who worked in the Lebanon early in the 20th century. He excavated Upper Paleolithic deposits at the Antelias cave in the Valley of Antelias, which was named after a small coastal town some kilometers north from Beirut.

 Later researchers (Garrod 1953; Neuville 1934; Rust, 1950) reconstructed the Levantine Upper Paleolithic sequence as a unilinear evolution of Aurignacian variants finally evolving to the Epipaleolithic. This paradigm was challenged since the late 1980ies by creating two independent “phyla“ of evolution:

 The “Leptolithic lineage” which stretches from the transitional Emiran at ca. 45 k.qa. BP right through to the onset of the Late Epipaleolithic Natufian. This Leptolithic lineage comprises the:

  • Emiran;
  • An as yet unnamed industry beginning in Boker Tachtit 4
  • The Early Ahmarian (ca. 37-30 k.a. BP)
  • The Late Ahmarian (Masraqan; ca.27-25 k.a. BP)
  • The Pre-Natufian Epipaleolithic complex.

 The Levantine Aurignacian sensu strictu which is identified with ensembles that encompass nosed and carinated scrapers, strangled blades with lateral retouches dihedral and truncation burins, Dufour bladelets (some twisted, some incurvate), and (small) el-Wad points. Bone tools, if present, include points and awls, and split base points, which are so well known from the European Aurignacian.

 It should be pointed out that the European Aurignacian” is rich in tools on blade and bladelet blanks as well as blade/bladelet cores, while in the Levant, the local Aurignacian is considered primarily as a flake-based industry. Nevertheless, there are considerable numbers of blade/lets in those assemblages assigned to the Levantine Aurignacian sensu strictu which were fashioned into scrapers, burins, retouched blades and bladelets. The best documented Radiocarbon dates for these sites scatter around 34-36 k.a BP.

Actually it is debated if there further technocomplexes, that should be differentiated both from the Ahmarian and Aurignacian. Concerning the small collection of artifacts (carinated scraper, thick scrapers on short blades, burin) , shown here, I am not sure if I should call them “Aurignacian”.

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4 Responses to Ein Aqef: Upper Paleolithic from the Negev

  1. Daniel Schyle says:

    Actually your list of tools doesn’t really sound like Ahmarian, because an Ahmarian assemblage should contain a lot of thin blades with punctiform butts, at best including some larger, straight/curved, but not twisted El Wad points.
    However, small assemblages like your’s are always difficult to classify – by example there are some later Epipalaeolithic assemblages (“Ramonian”) which apart from backed microliths also may contain carinated scrapers.
    The only way to confirm the classification: Go to the site and get more artefacts….

  2. Katzman says:

    These tools are certainly not Ahmarian and you are right to suggest even an Epipaleolithic age for them. The artifacts were found about 40 years ago and come from the collection of a passed Israelian Professor of Medicine like many other tools from Israel shown in this Blog.

  3. Serlik says:

    Dear Katzman: A very good 2012, and please conuinte this unique (sic) , sophisticated (sic) , rich (sic) and rewarding (sic) Paleo-blog! But, if I may ask, could you from now on add dimensions (or approximate dimensions) to the artifacts you picture and discuss, thus making it easier for us, who follow you, to gaudge them and comment? Cheers Ber

  4. Katzman says:

    Dear Ber,

    I will do my very best.

    All the best for the new year!

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