The Kebaran Site of Nahal Hadera V: An Epi-Paleolithic Research Project on the Coastal Plain, Israel

Prof. Ran Barkai         barkaran@post.tau.ac.il
Prof. Avi Gopher         gopher@post.tau.ac.il

The open air site of Nahal Hadera V is located on the coastal plain NW of the modern city of Hadera, ca. 500 m east of the present Mediterranean shore and in close proximity to the western bank of Nahal Hadera channel. The site is attributed to the Kebaran cultural complex of the Early Epi-Paleolithic period dated to the end of the last ice age, some 22,500-17,500 ka (calibrated BP). Nahal Hadera V is a large and intensively occupied site in Epi-Paleolithic standards with an estimated area of at least 500 sq m and over one meter depth of deposits. The archaeological deposit is in a sand dune lying directly on a kurkar unit. At present, the site is located on a small hilltop and slopes in all directions.

A test excavation in the early 1970s by Saxon, Martin, Bar-Yosef and Philips revealed a sequence of six stratigraphic units of which at least two were characterized as occupation levels.

During the renewed field seasons in the years 1997-99 a total of 84 sq m was excavated in the central (highest) part of the site around the 1970s’ test excavation and in a lower part of the site to the south (Fig. 1). A hut-like feature was revealed in the latest phase of the sequence as well as 4-5 consecutive living floors to the south and west of it, indicating recurring occupation (Fig. 2). Numerous flint and bone items were recovered using excavation units of ¼ sq m to a maximal depth of 5 cm. All sediments were sieved (dry and wet) through 2.4 mm and 1 mm meshes respectively. Horizontally lying groundstone tools and concentrations of flints and bones indicated activity areas (Fig. 3-4). Lithic and bone assemblages were obtained from all occupational phases, including the lowermost and uppermost levels.

The lithic assemblages include an extraordinary large number of flint items studied by R. Shimelmitz. The assemblage is dominated by microblade technology and rich in small cores, debitage and microliths (Fig. 5). The most common microlithic tool-type is the obliquely truncated backed bladelet (Kebaran point), typical of early Epi-Paleolithic industries. Minor technological and typological differences were detected between the different phases of the stratigraphic sequence, supporting a suggestion that all human occupations at the site could be attributed to the Kebaran technological complex.

The rich faunal assemblage was studied by G. Bar-Oz. The two most heavily exploited prey species at the site were mountain gazelles and fallow deer. The presence of cut marks on the bones suggests that parts of the butchering processes took place on site.

The site was dated by luminescence ages determined by using the additive-dose single aliquot (SAA) method, applied to sand-sized quartz extracts to determine past doses. The luminescence age of the kurkar at the base of the site is 40.5 ± 6.3 ka. The major human occupation at the site is dated between 21.3 to 18.0 ka (calibrated BP), according well with the middle-late part of the Kebaran sequence and with the lithic analysis of the Nahal Hadera V assemblages.

Bar-Oz, G. and Dayan, T. 2001a. “After twenty years”: a taphonomic reevaluation of Nahal Hadera V, an Epi-Paleolithic site on the Israeli coastal plain. Journal of Archaeological Science 29:145-156.

Bar-Oz, G. and Dayan, T. 2001b. Taphonomic analysis of the faunal remains from Nahal Hadera V. In (H. Buitenhuis, A. H. Al-Shiyab, M. Mashkour and A. Choyke, eds.) Archaeozoology of the Near East V. Groningen Institute for Archaeology. Groningen. (In press).

Bar-Oz, G. 2002. Cultural and Ecological Changes at the End of the Last Glacial in the Central Coastal Plain of Israel. Ph. D. Dissertation, Tel Aviv University. Tel Aviv. (Hebrew with English summary).

Barkai, R. and Gopher, A. 2001. Nahal Hadera V. Hadashot Arkheologiyot, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113:35.

Godfrey-Smith, D. I., Vaughan, K. B., Gopher, A. and Barkai, R. In Press. Direct luminescence chronology of the Epi-Paleolithic Kebaran site of Nahal Hadera V, Israel. Geoarchaeology.

Saxon, E. C., Martin, G. and Bar-Yosef, O. 1978. Nahal Hadera: An open-air site on the Israeli littoral. Paleorient 4:253-266.

Shimelmitz, R. 2002. Technological Aspects of the Flint Industry from the Kebaran Site Nahal Hadera V. M.A. Thesis, Tel Aviv University. Tel Aviv. (Hebrew with English summary).

Figure captions (figures to come)

Fig. 1: General picture of the excavated area

Fig. 2: Composite section showing the hut-like feature and consecutive living floors

Fig. 3: Locus 100 – the earliest living floor showing concentrations of bones and flints

Fig. 4: Locus 175 – the later living floor showing concentrations of bones and flints

Fig. 5: Typical microliths and bladelet cores