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Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic Lithic Technologies at Raqefet Cave, Mount Carmel East, Israel

György Lengyel


Raqefet cave is found on the south-eastern side of Mount Carmel, in a wadi (called Raqefet) running north-west to south-east, 0.5 km upstream from the confluence with wadi Yoqne’am. This valley provides a major access route between the coast and the Plain of Jezreel, dividing the Cenomanian – Turonian limestones of Mount Carmel from the Eocene chalks of the Menashe Hills in the south. Excavations were conducted between 1970 and 1972. The excavation procedure, using wet sieving, collected a quantitativelycomprehensive sample of artefact remains without bias for size or other factors. Therefore the lithic assemblages of Raqefet are fully suitable for wide-ranging technology study. This work views lithic assemblages as a product of technical behavioural phenomena. The method used in this analysis derives from French lithic studies, reconstructing operational sequences (chaîne opératoire) of past stone knapping activities. The reconstruction leads to the recognition of operational schemes that guided the stone knapper in the making of tools: thus both theoretical and practical components of stone knapping are features of the technology. The lithic technologies from Raqefet, in comparison to other Levantine sites, show that the Early Upper Palaeolithic non-Aurignacian industries represent a wide inter-site variety of knapping strategies, while the Levantine Aurignacian is technologically uniform. The Levantine Aurignacian lithic technology, in terms of a fixed tradition maintained over a wide geographical range, does not characterize any other Upper Palaeolithic assemblage, and thus this behaviour is better fitted to the Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian or the transitional Emiran-Bohunician periods, which also adhered to a consistent lithic technology across continents.