Monday, 5 March 2012

20,000 yr old huts from Jordan

This report on Kharaneh IV, published in PLoSone  a couple of weeks ago, has a lot of people excited: well-preserved hut features from the early epipalaeolithic of the southern Levant, over 20,000 years old, are a pretty uncommon archaeological find. Most sits of such age provide a bunch of chipped stone, some animal bones and if one is lucky some wood charcoal. Of course, this period has already produced the remarkable Ohalo 2 over in Israel, with amazing plant preservation in burnt down huts of similar age, partial details of which were published in J. Arch Science by Ehud Weiss et al in 2008. One of the problems of Ohalo 2 has been there is so little to compare it with, apart from sites of much later periods. Now there is the opportunity. No plant evidence from Karaneh IV has been reported yet, although colleague here in London are working on it, Sue Colledge on the flotation samples, and a PhD student Monica Nicolaides is working on phytoliths and starch samples. We can expect some important results id due course, although it is unlikely to come close to Ohalo in terms of quantity and preservation in macros, but supplemented by much more systematically collected micros. Other exciting work on the faunal remains is taking place down the hall here, by Lousie Martin, Liz Henton, and Anna Spyrou, which will provide insights into mobility and seasonality.

The archaeology of this site has received plenty of media attention on-line already, and a useful summary at

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