Hearth-side socioeconomics, hunting and paleoecology during the late Lower Paleolithic at Qesem Cave, Israel

Mary C. Stiner, Avi Gopher, Ran Barkai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

The late Lower Paleolithic archaeofaunas of Qesem Cave in the southern Levant span 400-200 ka and associate with Acheulo-Yabrudian (mainly Amudian) industries. The large mammals are exclusively Eurasian in origin and formed under relatively cool, moist conditions. The zooarchaeological findings testify to large game hunting, hearth-centered carcass processing and meat sharing during the late Lower Paleolithic, not unlike the patterns known from Middle and Upper Paleolithic caves in the region. Well-defined hearth features are rarely preserved in Qesem Cave, but the heterogeneous distributions of burned bones indicate areas of frequent hearth rebuilding throughout the occupation sequence. The hominins delayed consumption of high quality body parts until they could be moved to the cave, where hearths were hubs of processing activities and social interaction. Paradoxically, the cut marks on the Qesem bones are both more abundant and more randomly oriented than those observed in Middle and Upper Paleolithic cases in the Levant. These results suggest that several individuals were directly involved in cutting meat from the bones and that the social mechanics of meat sharing during the late Lower Paleolithic at Qesem Cave differed from those typical of both the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-233
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of human evolution
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Acheulo-Yabrudian
  • Amudian
  • Fire
  • Levant
  • Mammal community turnover
  • Site formation processes
  • Social brain hypothesis
  • Taphonomy
  • Tool marks
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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