Mammal remains at Rantis Cave, Israel, and Middle-Late Pleistocene human subsistence and ecology in the Southern Levant

Ofer Marder, Reuven Yeshurun, Ronit Lupu, Guy Bar-Oz, Miriam Belmaker, Naomi Porat, Hagai Ron, Amos Frumkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rantis Cave is a recently discovered filled cave in central Israel, displaying a rich faunal accumulation of micromammals, ungulates and carnivores. U-Th dating assigns the beginning of accumulation to ca. 140ka. The accumulation is culturally assigned to the late half of the Middle Paleolithic (MP) period. Single-grain optically stimulated luminescence measurements attest to a complex sedimentological history. We present the cross-disciplinary results of taphonomic and geomorphological analyses, which point to the cave serving as a natural pitfall trap for the large fauna, with little human or carnivore activity. The fauna is dominated by Dama among the ungulates and by Microtus among the micromammals. These data in conjunction with ungulate tooth mesowear analysis suggest a xeric Mediterranean environment on the eastern margin of the southern Levantine foothills. The relative taxonomic abundance of ungulate taxa shows some differences from anthropogenic MP sites, possibly reflecting the prey choice patterns of MP hunters. Overall, the natural accumulation scenario for Rantis Cave provides a rare paleoenvironmental and paleoeconomic reference to the rich anthropogenic MP faunas of the Southern Levant, enabling the reconstruction of a rich and diverse environmental setting for this important human dispersal route.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)769-780
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • Levantine Middle Paleolithic
  • Middle-Late Pleistocene
  • Paleoenvironments
  • Taphonomy
  • Zooarchaeology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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