Prehistoric Cultural Ecology in Southern Jordan

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Science  15 Jul 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5170, pp. 336-341
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5170.336


Research in the mountains of southern Jordan resulted in the discovery of 109 archaeological sites that are from the Lower Paleolithic to the Chalcolithic period [150 to 6 thousand years ago (ka)]. Beginning with the Middle Paleolithic (70 ka) two site types (long-term and ephemeral camps) are recognized. Long-term sites have larger areas, thicker deposits, higher artifact densities, and more abundant archaeological features than ephemeral sites. Their natural settings (elevation and exposure) and associated seasonal evidence (phytolith and cementum increment data) indicate that long-term sites were occupied during the winter, wet season and ephemeral sites during the warm, dry season. These differences in site use and seasonality likely reflect an adaptive strategy of transhumance that persisted to modern Bedouin times. At the end of the Pleistocene, the onset of warmer, drier conditions induced a shift of the long-term winter camps from relatively low (800 to 1000 meters above sea level) to high (1000 to 1250 meters above sea level) elevations and largely reversed the earlier transhumant pattern.