Revadim Project

Revadim Quarry, a Late Acheulian site, is located at the southern coastal plain, 40 km south of Tel-Aviv, near Kibbutz Revadim, on a ridge 71-73 meters above sea level (Fig. 1). Uranium series dating performed on carbonate coating archaeological flint items indicated that the site is at least 300-500 thousand years old and paleomagnetism tests indicate that the site is no older than 780,000 years ago (normal polarity).

 

Fig. 1. The site of Revadim Quarry, and its location.

Fig. 1. The site of Revadim Quarry, and its location.

 

Four excavation seasons were conducted at the site (Figs. 2-3). The last excavation season was a salvage excavation, held in summer 2004, under the direction of excavation director Prof. Ofer Marder. The excavations at the site focused primarily on Areas B and C. In total, seven archaeological layers were exposed, labelled A through G. The stratigraphic sequence in area B is divided into two archeological layers: B1 and B2. Layer B1 represents separated clusters of finding, rather than a continuous horizontal layer. In contrast, layer B2 is a continuous layer, which is rich in finds. Area C was divided into two sub-areas: C East and C West, located 8 m apart. In Area C West, which covers an area of 33 m2, five superimposed archaeological layers were exposed, labelled C1 to C5, from top to bottom. While layers C1 and C4 are probably the result of post-depositional processes, layers C2, C3 and C5 are rich in finds and represent continuous layers. Layer C3 in Area C West, the layer used in this current study, is the densest layer at the site, in terms of both flint artifacts and bones. The density of lithic artifacts in Layer C3 is 5,316 items per 1m3.

 

Fig. 2. The excavation at Revadim, a general view.

Fig. 2. The excavation at Revadim, a general view.

Fig. 3. Area C west, looking north-east.

 

Fig. 3. Area C west, looking north-east.

 

 

The geological sequence at the site is 20 meters thick and is composed of six layers: dark brown grumusol, quarrzic gray-brown paleosol, red paleosol (Hamra and Husmas) and loose dune sand. The archeological layers are in the quarrzic gray-brown paleosol (unit II) and in its contact with the red paleosol, Hamra and Husmas.

 

The site’s lithic assemblages are dominated by flakes and flake-tools, with a notable handaxes component (Figs. 4-5). Also of note are chopping tools (Fig. 6), which were used mainly for the chopping of bones, and the systematic production of small flakes from "parent" flakes by means of lithic recycling (Figs. 7-8). Functional and residue analyses have shown that these small flakes were used for fine cutting activities of animal carcasses, providing one of the earliest direct evidences for meat carcass processing and consumption in the Levant. In addition, fat residues and use-wear traces were observed on a biface and a scraper, found in association with the remains of a butchered elephant (Fig. 9-10). Based on the lithic and faunal assemblages, and supported by the radiometric dates, the entire anthropogenic assemblage was assigned to the Late Acheulian of the Levant.

 

Fig. 4. Handaxes, Area B.

Fig. 4. Handaxes, Area B.

Fig. 5. A handaxe and an anvil from Area B.

Fig. 5. A handaxe and an anvil from Area B.

Fig. 6. Chopping tools, Area C.

Fig. 6. Chopping tools, Area C.

 

Fig. 7. "Parent" flakes used for the production of small flakes by means of lithic recycling.

Fig. 7. "Parent" flakes used for the production of small flakes by means of lithic recycling.

Fig. 8. Small flakes produced from "Parent" flakes by means of lithic recycling.

Fig. 8. Small flakes produced from "Parent" flakes by means of lithic recycling.

 

Fig. 9. A handaxe with residues of animal fat.

Fig. 9. A handaxe with residues of animal fat.

Fig. 10. A scraper with residues of animal fat.

Fig. 10. A scraper with residues of animal fat.

 

 

The site's lithic assemblages are diversified technologically, and includes primary element flakes, flakes, primary element blades, blades, broken flakes, cores, core trimming elements (CTE), core on flake, tools, special spall, microflakes, chips and chunks, flaked pebbles, and unknapped nodules. The items in the Revadim Quarry are made from a wide variety of flints, and very diversified in shape, size and properties.

 

The faunal assemblages of the site are rich. In each layer hundreds of animal remains were found, including remains of straight-tusk elephants, deer, red rams, Carmel rams, fallow deer, wild oxen, wild hog and horses. The prominent faunal remains in Revadim are elephant bones, including pelvis, jaw, tusk, ribs, vertebra, large appendages bones and teeth (Figs. 11-13). The elephant bones from Revadim Quarry represent one of the largest assemblages in the southern Levant so far. Several bones flaked and shaped as stone tools were observed as well (Figs. 14-15).

 

Fig. 11. An elephant rib, found in Locus 21 in Area B.

Fig. 11. An elephant rib, found in Locus 21 in Area B.

Fig. 12. A pelvis and a jaw of an elephant.

Fig. 12. A pelvis and a jaw of an elephant.

Fig. 13. Cutmarks on a scapula of an elephant.

Fig. 13. Cutmarks on a scapula of an elephant.

Fig. 14. A wedge-like tool found in Revadim, made of an elephant bone.

Fig. 14. A wedge-like tool found in Revadim, made of an elephant bone.

Fig. 15. A bifacially flaked bone of an elephant, found in Revadim.

Fig. 15. A bifacially flaked bone of an elephant, found in Revadim.

 

The association between the faunal remains and the flint items, the presence of specific tools associated with skin and meat processing, the absence of specific elephant body parts, broken and scattered bones that were not found in association with their anatomical position, signs of bone cutting, and bones utilization in tools production – all imply that butchering of great mammals took place at the site, possibly involving the hunting of elephants (rather than scavenging).

 

 In layers B1 and B2,14 flint and bones concentrations were detected and defined as locus which may represent areas of specific activity. These areas are well-defined stratigraphically and spatially, with a high density of finding, compared to the surrounding areas. Some of these concentrations (loci 20 and 21 and loci 5, 23 and 24) may be defined as “Living floors”, a layer well-defined stratigraphically, found in a defined and limited area, with items in an unrolled, “fresh” condition, a clear association between items (preferably through refitting), and the presence of small items that imply a primary and original deposition context.

  

The Revadin Quarry site provides exceptionally rich lithic and faunal assemblages, that demonstrate a set of complex human behaviours. These include aspects of space organization, preplanning of specific activities, systematic lithic recycling, advanced animal carcasses processing procedures, and more.

 

 

 

General View

The lithic assemblages of areas B and C from salvage excavation of 2004 are being analyzed at the Institute of Archaeology, Tel-Aviv University, under the direction of Excavation Director Prof. Ran Barkai.

 

Natalya Solodenko

Ph.D, Ph.D topic: Use-wear Analysis of Two Late Lower Paleolithic Lithic Assemblages: Case Studies from Revadim Quarry and Qesem Cave; M.A. topic: On Tools and Elephants: An Analysis of a Lithic Assemblage from Area B of the Late Acheulian Site Revadim Quarry

Aviad Agam

Ph.D., topic: An Analysis of a Lithic Assemblage from Layer C3 from Area C of the Late Acheulian Site Revadim Quarry

Avraham Cohen

M.A., topic: Handaxes from Late Acheulian Site Revadim Quarry: Similarity and differences in time and spice

Tamar Rosenberg-Yefet

Ph.D. candidate, topic: Lithic analysis of layer C5, and the Acheulian origins of the Levallois technique

 Flavia Venditti

 Post-doc researcher., topic: Use-wear analysis of small flakes and chopping tools from Area C

 

 

 

 

Reference:

  • Agam, A., Barkai, R. 2018. Small flake Acheulian: Further insights into lithic recycling at late Acheulian Revadim, Israel. Tel Aviv, 45(2), 170-192.
  • Agam, A., Marder, O., Barkai, R. 2015. Small flake production and lithic recycling at Late Acheulian Revadim, Israel. Quaternary International, 361, 46-60.
  • Cohen, A. 2018. The handaxes from Late Acheulian Revadim Quarry: Similarities and Differences in Time and Space. M.A Thesis, Tel Aviv University.
  • Gvirtzman, G., Wieder, M., Marder, O., Khalaily, H., Rabinovich, R. and Ron, H., 1999. Geological and pedological aspects of an Early-Paleolithic site: Revadim, central coastal plain, Israel. Geoarchaeology: An International Journal14(2):101-126.
  • Malinsky-Buller, A., 2008. Site Formation Processes in Area C East in the Lower Palaeolithic Site of Revadim Quarry.M.A. thesis, Institute of Archaeology theHebrew university of Jerusalem.
  • Malinsky-Buller, A., Hovers, E. and Marder, O., 2011. Making time: ‘Living floors’, ‘palimpsests’ and site formation processes – A perspective from the open-air Lower Paleolithic site of Revadim Quarry, Israel. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology30(2):89-101.
  • Marder, O., Gvirtzman, G., Ron, H., Khalaily, H., Wieder, M., Bankirer, R., Rabinovich, R., Porat, N. and Saragusti, I., 1999. The Lower Paleolithic site Revadim Quarry, Preliminary finds. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society 28:21-53.
  • Marder, O., Milevski, I. and Matskevich, Z., 2006. The handaxes of Revadim Quarry: Typo-technological consideration and aspects of intra-site variability. In: Goren-Inbar, N. and Sharon, G. (eds). Axe Age: Acheulian Tool-making from Quarry to Discard.Equinox Publishing: London.
  • Marder, O., Malinsky-Buller, A., Shahack-Gross, R., Ackermann, O., Ayalon, A., Bar-Matthews, M., Goldsmith, Y., Inbar, M., Rabinovich, R. and Hovers, E., 2011. Archaeological horizons and fluvial processes at the Lower Paleolithic open-air site of Revadim (Israel). Journal of Human Evolution 60(4):508-522.
  • Rabinovich, R., Bar-Gal, G. and Marder, O., 2005. Taphonomy of elephants from the Lower Paleolithic site of Revadim Quarry (Israel). In: Agenbroad, L.D. and Symington, R.L. (eds). The World of Elephants, Proceedings of the 2nd InternationalCongress. Hot Spring, SD, Pp. 142-144.
  • Rabinovich, R., Ackermann, O., Aladjem, E., Barkai, R., Biton, R., Milevsky, I., Solodenko, N. and Marder, O., 2011. Elephants at the Middle Pleistocene Acheulian open-air site of Revadim Quarry, Israel. Quaternary International276-277:183-197.
  • Solodenko, N., 2010. On Tools and Elephants: An Analysis of a Lithic Assemblage from Area B of the Late Acheulian Site Revadim Quarry.A. thesis, Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures, Tel Aviv University. (Heb)
  • Solodenko, N., Zupancich, A., Cesaro, S. N., Marder, O., Lemorini, C., & Barkai, R. (2015). Fat residue and use-wear found on Acheulian biface and scraper associated with butchered elephant remains at the site of Revadim, Israel. PloS one, 10(3), e0118572.
  • Venditti, F., Agam, A., Barkai, R. 2019. Techno-functional analysis of small recycled flakes from Late Acheulian Revadim (Israel) demonstrates a link between morphology and function. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 28, 102039.
  • Venditti, F., Cristiani, E., Nunziante-Cesaro, S., Agam, A., Lemorini, C., Barkai, R. 2019. Animal residues found on tiny Lower Paleolithic tools reveal their use in butchery. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-14.
  • Wieder, M. and Gvirtzman, G., 1999. Micromorphological indications on the nature of the Late Quaternary Paleosols in the southern coastal plain of Israel. Catena35:219-237.
  • Zupancich, A., Solodenko, N., Rosenberg-Yefet, T., Barkai, R. 2018. On the function of Late Acheulean stone tools: new data from three specific archaeological contexts at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Revadim, Israel. Lithic Technology, 43(4), 255-268.

 

 

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