Palaeolithic Human Subsistence in Mount Carmel (Israel). A Taphonomic Assessment of Middle and Early Upper Palaeolithic Faunal Remains from Tabun, Skhul and el-Wad


  • A. B. Marín-Arroyo

    Corresponding author
    1. Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain
    2. Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
    • Correspondence to: Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, The Henry Wellcome Building, Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge CB21QH, UK.


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Detailed archaeozoological studies of Middle and Early Upper Palaeolithic (250–40 kya) faunal assemblages from Tabun, Skhul and el-Wad caves, located in Mount Carmel (Israel), are presented here, expanding on the previous palaeontological analyses carried out by Garrod and Bate in the 1930´s and by Garrard five decades later. Despite the well-known excavation bias of the older excavations, this study makes greater use of modern taphonomic techniques and statistical procedures, providing new palaeoeconomic insights into the subsistence behaviour of modern humans, Neanderthals and their predecessors in the Levant. The results show that anatomically modern humans (AMH) were more efficient at hunting and foraging in terms of human mobility as well as an incipient prey specialisation. In addition, different uses of the Tabun cave through time have been identified. Tabun B, initially considered as a palaeontological accumulation, was also occasionally accessed by Neanderthals in order to exploit naturally trapped ungulates, and there were sporadic and logistic occupations in Tabun D, one of the oldest Middle Palaeolithic assemblages in the area. Contrastingly, Tabun C showed a comparatively more residential use, which coincided with the new mobility capabilities of AMH. Whereas the intensity of human occupation at el-Wad varied through time, levels G and F showed very brief occupations in comparison with levels D and E, which showed abundant evidence of human activity. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.