Beiner & Rabinovich, 2014: BONES AND SEDIMENTS
INTRODUCTION
Efforts at standardizing the assessment of
archeological
bone
have
been
made
(Chavagnac et al., 2007), but they are
complicated by the great variety of factors
governing
taphonomic
processes.
Current
approaches generally tackle geological research
and bone preservation as separate entities.
This paper aims at considering the possibility of
a practical working relationship between these
two aspects. Such relationships may be found
by looking into the information gained from
archeological sites, seeking to understand how
Jerusalem
they affect bone condition, and in turn
considering
the
implications
for
bone
conservation. Four sites in Israel are presented
as examples for this kind of approach,
representing different cases of excavation and
conservation: long-term excavation, seasonal
excavation, renewed excavation and one-day
exposure. We will discuss their context and its
effect on the condition of the finds. Though
spanning a very large time scheme Miocene
to Upper Pleistocene we will concentrate on
the special conditions prevalent in these sites,
coupled with modes of conservation and
Figure 1: Map of the sites: Revadim Quarry, Nahal
exposure. Most of the material from these sites
Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO), Erq el Ahmar (EEA) and Ein
is under study and the actual identification is
Yahav.
incomplete. We will take into account the
is difficult conditions for bone survival. Very
ongoing nature of the work, and will try to
little organic matter, if any, survives under
pinpoint possible issues of conflict and suggest
such conditions. The state of the finds from
ways of reconciliation.
these
sites
varied
according
to
the
Present day Israel enjoys a relatively high
environment, the soil type and the action of
diversity of animal and plant species per square
water, as well as the type of excavation. The
meter. Israel has a small land area, although
latter factor is the main difference in terms of
the country is only about 470 kilometers long,
conservation work.
biotopes, topography and climatic elements in
it are exceptionally diverse (e.g., Tchernov,
CASE I: LONG TERM EXCAVATION -
1999:390). Israel is the meeting place of four
R
out of the six phyto-geographical zones
EVADIM QUARRY (CA. 300-500 kYA)
existing on our planet: Mediterranean, Irano-
Turanian (Steppe), Saharo-Arabian (Desert),
Although this was a salvage excavation, the
and Sudanian (Extreme desert). As such,
last season had been planned in advance and
important landmarks of the hominin species
lasted for several months (Marder et al., 2011).
dispersal and exploitation of the environment
Seasonal changes are complex due to rainfall
(hunting,
gathering,
domestication),
are
and the location near a confluence of rivers,
evident in the local archeological sites and
with the ongoing work in an active stone quarry
form an integral part in discussions on issues
adding to the mix. Even the type of sediment
such as how and when hominins started
from which the bone finds were salvaged, a
hunting , fishing, burying their dead, and when
quartzitic sandy grey loam, is representative of
domestication of plants and animals became
change. This layer was deposited in two stages,
part of human society.
the first more humid and the second much
The following sections will present finds from
drier (Gvirtzman et al., 1999; Marder et al.,
four prehistoric sites in Israel (Figure 1): Ein
2011).
Thus, environmental changes were
Yahav, Revadim Quarry, Erq el Ahmar (EEA)
characteristic of this site from the very
and Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO). The
beginning, and affected the condition of the
sites we will discuss are all open-air sites.
finds.
Under the current climatic system, with short
Some of the most remarkable finds in Revadim
cool winters and long hot summers, the result
included elephant remains. No conservator was
20
Journal of Paleontological Techniques