“Tabun D type” Ensembles in the Levant

The Levantine Levallois-Mousterian is quite variable. As the longest and most complete stratigraphy, the Tabun sequence serves as a model for Middle Paleolithic lithic technological variability, the 3 entities (Tabun B type, Tabun C type and Tabun D type) representing different phases in a chronological scale suitable for the Levant.  The oversimplification of the tripartite scheme does not fully fit with the diversity recorded in the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic. The research of the three last decades and the increase in the number of well-published and dated lithic assemblages demonstrated that the overall picture is more complex. The advent of technological studies has shown that a wider range of variability of reduction strategies was adopted by Middle Palaeolithic groups than previously thought; this variability is expressed not only in the presence of several modalities within the Levallois concept but also in different debitage concepts.

As established by Boëda (1994), the Levallois method comprises an internal variability expressed in the morphologies of the end products (flakes, blades, and points), and in the different reduction processes (“preferential” and “recurrent” methods; by unidirectional, bidirectional, or centripetal flaking). Due to its internal structure the unique feature of the Levallois method, regardless of the chronological position of a given assemblage, is the capacity to produce a non-monotonous standardized series of blanks, with a wide array of different products, which thus differs from the monotonous standardized series of blades known in the Upper Palaeolithic production. Several of these Levallois variants were always used concurrently by the makers of the same lithic assemblages, in different combinations. The intra-assemblage technical variability could be expressed also by the use of different modes of Levallois flaking successively on the same core as exemplified by the assemblages from Kebara. Additionally, in some Levantine Middle Palaeolithic assemblages, different core reduction strategies were aimed at the production of almost fully developed blades. This means that the concept of blade production through the laminar method, was already part of the Middle Palaeolithic technological body of knowledge, and could have been later adopted during the Upper Palaeolithic.

The assemblages characterized by the production of elongated blanks, commonly called “Tabun D type”, are the earliest Middle Palaeolithic complex. They are stratigraphically located at the base of the Middle Palaeolithic sequence in multi-layered sites (Tabun , Hayonim Lower E and F, Douara IV), and dated between roughly 150-250,000 years (OIS 7-8) in TL chronology. The Negev sites such as Rosh Ein Mor and Nahal Aqev were originally identified as late Mousterian age ca. 80 Ka. Later dating by U-series on ostrich eggshell gave an age of around 210 Ka. for Rosh Ein Mor. The dating of Nahal Aqev is still open to revision.

The laminar phenomenon during  OIS 7-8 in the Levant  is not only confined to Tabun-D-ensembles, with a predominant Levallois character but has also been identified at the Syrian site Hummal (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/10/hummalien-at-el-kowm/). Here the “Hummalian” sequence is subdivided in to stratified layers which are intercalated between the Yabroudian and Levallois-Mousterian – levels. The dating of Hummal layer 6 is on average around 200 kya and the complete sequence lies between 160 and 220 kya. This dates are comparable with those of the laminar phenomenon high lightened recently at Hayonim-Cave, Israel (180-200 kya).  The Hummalian is technologically characterized by a high blade index of 52.6 to 81.6. These blades were predominantly detached from prismatic cores with single- and opposed-platforms by a hard hammer. Cresting was utilized as one of the techniques for core preparation. Evidence of Levallois core-preparation is very low in frequency, but not absent.

A good example for a Tabun D-type assemblage was recently excavated at at Misliya Cave. The lithic material is rich in Levallois items, especially elongated Levallois points and blades. The points were generally made by the convergent unipolar method, while blades often were made by the bipolar method. Levallois flakes are less common product. Some of them have a triangular shape, and technologically and morphologically they are very similar to Levallois points. Alongside Levallois methods, non-Levallois laminar technologies are one of the most distinct features of the assemblage. The non-Levallois blades are generally narrower and thicker than Levallois blades and exhibit a triangular cross-section. Crested blades found during the excavation show that one of the methods of blade-cores preparation included narrowing of the flaking surface.

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About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
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