Abundance or stress? Faunal exploitation patterns and subsistence strategies: The case study of Brush Hut 1 at Ohalo II, a submerged 23,000-year-old camp in the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Rebecca Biton, Tikvah Steiner , Dani Nadel, Florent Rivals, Rivka Rabinovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The submerged site of Ohalo II was occupied during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), between 23,500–22,500 cal BP, bridging the Upper Paleolithic/Epipaleolithic transition in the southern Levant. The site is known for the excellent preservation of its brush huts and botanical remains. This study examines the behavior of its past inhabitants through analysis of the entire faunal assemblage found on the three successive floors of Brush Hut 1. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to test differing models of prey choice and assess whether the observed resource diversification is the result of resource depression (explained by Optimal Foraging Theory) or resource abundance (explained by Niche Construction Theory). We focused on a quantitative, qualitative and spatial investigation of the more than 20,000 faunal remains, combining traditional zooarchaeological methods with microwear analysis of teeth and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) of burnt bones. Identification of faunal remains to the most detailed level possible, combined with analysis of skeletal element frequencies allowed reconstruction of a profile of the desired prey, highlighting the importance of small, expedient prey compared to larger game (ungulates). FTIR was used to identify degrees of burning and to develop a key to identifying burnt bones from water-logged environments. Availability of multiple food sources within a rich habitat may have driven exploitation of those varied local resources, rather than targeting energetically-rich large prey. The choice of a littoral habitat that could be intensively exploited is an example of niche selection. Comparison with contemporaneous and later sites contributes to the ongoing discussion about Early Epipaleolithic prey choice, and the impact, if any, of the LGM in the Jordan Valley. Ohalo II is an example of diverse prey choice motivated by abundance rather than stress, at a 23,000-year-old fisher-hunter-gatherers camp.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Abundance or stress? Faunal exploitation patterns and subsistence strategies: The case study of Brush Hut 1 at Ohalo II, a submerged 23,000-year-old camp in the Sea of Galilee, Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this