Artifact densities and assemblage formation: Evidence from Tabun Cave


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June 2015


Archaeological assemblages are fundamentally records of discard behavior. Lewis Binford’s pioneering ethnoarchaeological research focused attention on the differing pathways that lead to artifacts being abandoned in different locations on the landscape. Recurring relationships between artifact density and assemblage content at Middle and Upper Paleolithic sites reflect simple behavioral dynamics pertaining to artifact production and discard. In the very long archaeological sequence from A. Jelinek’s excavations at Tabun Cave, Mousterian assemblages show the expected pattern, but earlier Acheulean, Amudian and Yabrudian assemblages do not. In combination with evidence that different classes of artifacts were discarded at different rates, these results suggest that land use and raw material provisioning in the later Middle Pleistocene were organized differently than they were among later populations of Neanderthals and modern humans.


Artifact, Discard, Behaviormousterian, Assemblages, Tabun Cave Israel, Middle Pleistocene, Land Use, Raw Material Procurement

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