Heinrich Event 2 (ca. 24 ka BP) as a chrono-climatic anchor for the appearance of Epipaleolithic backed bladelets microlith industries in the Southern Levant

Itay Abadi, Adi Torfstein, David E. Friesem, Dafna Langgut, Minji Jin, Rivka Rabinovich, Tikvah Steiner, Debora Zurro, Shira Gur-Arieh, Ahiad Ovadia, Adrian Nigel Goring-Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Early Epipaleolithic (EEP) of the Southern Levant, roughly dated to 25-18 ka BP, is characterized by microlithic industries with highly variable synchronic and geographic techno-typological characteristics, the chronology of which remains poorly understood. Here, we present the results from excavations at Idan VII, a well-preserved site amongst a cluster of newly discovered EEP occurrences in the hyper-arid Arava Valley, Israel. The finds are embedded within the Late Pleistocene Lisan Formation lacustrine sediments, an extensively studied paleo-hydroclimatic archive in the Rift Valley. This unique situation enables contextualization of the archaeological finds within the detailed paleo-climatic chronology. The data presented include the stratigraphy (geomorphology and micro-geoarchaeology), relative (related to paleo-lake curve) and absolute (radiocarbon and U–Th) chronology, and archaeological (lithics, faunal and botanical) remains. The results demonstrate that the Idan EEP occurrences are situated within a localized relatively short-lived paleo-wetland area adjacent to Lake Lisan, during or immediately after the extremely cool and locally dry Heinrich Event 2 (H2), ca. 24 ka BP. The results are critically examined with respect to available radiocarbon dates from EEP archaeological sites in the Southern Levant. These, together with the geomorphological evidence, indicate that the Idan VII assemblage, while superficially resembling the so-called ‘Late Kebaran’ industry, actually significantly predates its most pertinent techno-typological analogs, highlighting the necessity of re-evaluating the “Kebaran complex”. Rather, it is coeval with the local, but unrelated ‘Masraqan’ and ‘Nebekian’ industries at the very onset of the EEP, demonstrating the high degree of Last Glacial Maximum hunter-gatherer cultural diversity then present in the Levant. In contextualizing the results within the Northern Hemisphere chrono-climatic framework, we conclude that within the Southern Levant, the H2 provides a solid chrono-climatic anchor for the appearance of fully-fledged backed bladelets microlithic industries, which probably reflects a technological change in composite projectile hunting gear that occurred during the EEP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108649
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 15 May 2024


  • Anthracology
  • Archaeozoology
  • Heinrich Event 2
  • Lake Lisan
  • Microgeoarchaeology
  • Microlithization
  • Paleogeography
  • Paleowetland
  • Radiometric dating
  • Southern Levant

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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