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Dissecting palimpsests in a Late Lower and Middle Paleolithic flint acquisition site on the Madaba Plateau, Jordan

Conference Paper


Abstract


  • WZM-2, a flint-source on the edge of the Madaba Plateau, Jordan, exemplifies many of the problems archaeologists confront in investigating open-air sites. This site has a complex history of alternating episodes of deposition, erosion and colluvial movement of sediments, as well as bioturbation and recent plowing, that has altered the spatial relationships of artifacts, creating a cumulative palimpsest on the surface, but with limited stratigraphic integrity below surface. Techniques for investigating these types of sites are discussed, including transect surface collections with finds recorded by hand-held GPS units, systematic total collection of grids, and the use of geological and archaeological test trenches. The assemblages obtained by these methods were subject to statistical analysis of technological attributes combined with the identification of typological specimens and techniques of manufacture known to have chronological significance in order to identify the parts of the Paleolithic sequence present. Potentially time-sensitive types were also subject to spatial analysis. With the exception of a spatially limited and un-diagnostic Holocene chipping area at the northeastern end of the site, WZM-2 is primarily a Middle Paleolithic lithic acquisition and processing site, probably dating to MIS-5, with limited evidence of exploitation during the preceding Late Lower Paleolithic Acheulo-Yabrudian and also possibly the Early Middle Paleolithic. This site also extends the known geographical distribution of the Acheulo-Yabrudian to the south and east. Although the disturbed nature of open-air sites such as this limits the types of behavioral information that can be obtained by archaeologists, their location on the paleo-landscape as well as the aggregate characteristics of their assemblages can provide important clues to early hominin land-use, economies including provisioning strategies, and settlement patterns. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Bisson, M. S., Nowell, A., Cordova, C., Poupart, M., & Ames, C. (2014). Dissecting palimpsests in a Late Lower and Middle Paleolithic flint acquisition site on the Madaba Plateau, Jordan. In Quaternary International Vol. 331 (pp. 74-94). doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2013.05.031

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84899901661

Start Page


  • 74

End Page


  • 94

Volume


  • 331

Abstract


  • WZM-2, a flint-source on the edge of the Madaba Plateau, Jordan, exemplifies many of the problems archaeologists confront in investigating open-air sites. This site has a complex history of alternating episodes of deposition, erosion and colluvial movement of sediments, as well as bioturbation and recent plowing, that has altered the spatial relationships of artifacts, creating a cumulative palimpsest on the surface, but with limited stratigraphic integrity below surface. Techniques for investigating these types of sites are discussed, including transect surface collections with finds recorded by hand-held GPS units, systematic total collection of grids, and the use of geological and archaeological test trenches. The assemblages obtained by these methods were subject to statistical analysis of technological attributes combined with the identification of typological specimens and techniques of manufacture known to have chronological significance in order to identify the parts of the Paleolithic sequence present. Potentially time-sensitive types were also subject to spatial analysis. With the exception of a spatially limited and un-diagnostic Holocene chipping area at the northeastern end of the site, WZM-2 is primarily a Middle Paleolithic lithic acquisition and processing site, probably dating to MIS-5, with limited evidence of exploitation during the preceding Late Lower Paleolithic Acheulo-Yabrudian and also possibly the Early Middle Paleolithic. This site also extends the known geographical distribution of the Acheulo-Yabrudian to the south and east. Although the disturbed nature of open-air sites such as this limits the types of behavioral information that can be obtained by archaeologists, their location on the paleo-landscape as well as the aggregate characteristics of their assemblages can provide important clues to early hominin land-use, economies including provisioning strategies, and settlement patterns. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Publication Date


  • 2014

Citation


  • Bisson, M. S., Nowell, A., Cordova, C., Poupart, M., & Ames, C. (2014). Dissecting palimpsests in a Late Lower and Middle Paleolithic flint acquisition site on the Madaba Plateau, Jordan. In Quaternary International Vol. 331 (pp. 74-94). doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2013.05.031

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84899901661

Start Page


  • 74

End Page


  • 94

Volume


  • 331