The exploitation of plant resources by Neanderthals in Amud Cave (Israel): The evidence from phytolith studies

Marco Madella, Martin K. Jones, Paul Goldberg, Yuval Goren, Erella Hovers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations

Abstract

The depositional environments of Amud Cave indicate that phytolith assemblages retrieved from the cave's sediments are an integral part of the Middle Palaeolithic sequence. As such, they provide direct evidence for plant use. The Amud Neanderthals emphasized both wood and grass exploitation. Ligneous parts of trees and shrubs were used mainly for fuel. Herbaceous plants were used for bedding, possibly fuel, and for food. There is clear and repetitive evidence for the exploitation of mature grass panicles, inferred to have been collected for their seeds. These findings suggest that, as with the pattern recently discerned for faunal resources, a broad spectrum of plants has been exploited from at least the end of the Middle Palaeolithic. Phytolith analysis now provides a tool for testing models explaining subsistence and mobility patterns during the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic and for better understanding the role of vegetal resources in shaping these patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-719
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amud Cave
  • Broad spectrum
  • Economy
  • Levant
  • Neanderthal
  • Phytoliths
  • Plant resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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