Microvertebrates from unit G/layer 17 of the archaeological site of Hummal (El Kowm, Central Syria): Preliminary results

Lutz Christian Maul, Krister T. Smith, Georgy Shenbrot, Angela A. Bruch, Fabio Wegmüller, Jean Marie Le Tensorer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We present a first look at the microvertebrate fauna of the Middle Pleistocene site of Hummal in Central Syria. Some 2000 microvertebrate remains (1200 mammalian; 230 reptilian; 600 unidentified) were found in unit G/layer 17 by screen-washing sediments in an area of 4m2. The following taxa have been identified: Reptilia: Agaminae indet., Gekkota indet., Lacertidae indet. (2-3 taxa), Eryx sp., Natricinae indet.; and Mammalia: Crocidurinae indet., Chiroptera indet., Lepus sp., Arvicolinae indet., Ellobius sp., Microtus sp., Murinae indet. (large form), Mus sp., Meriones sp., Gerbillus sp. The presence of Ellobius indicates a Middle Pleistocene age of the fauna. This genus does not occur in Syria today, but is recorded in Israel in Late Acheulean to Early Mousterian sites. In North Africa, the occurrence of this genus is restricted to the early part of the Middle Pleistocene. The ecological requirements of the nearest living relatives of the recorded taxa indicate mainly open habitats, but also the presence of vegetation and wet conditions, at least close to the site. Lepus, Ellobius, Meriones, Gerbillus, and Eryx live to various extents in steppes, semi-deserts, and deserts. Various extant species of large murids that come into consideration occupy a variety of wooded habitats, grassland and savannah and require the presence of water. Hummal offers the most detailed Pleistocene portrait yet of hominin palaeoenvironment in an area that, at the end of the Pleistocene, became known as part of the Fertile Crescent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-686
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • El kowm
  • Hummal
  • Levant
  • Microvertebrate fauna
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Unit G

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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