Routine quarrying activity at the Nesher-Ramla Quarry, in the Judean Lowlands, Israel, has recently exposed a new Early Holocene archaeological site located in a small natural sinkhole, one of many dolines scattered in the area, dated to the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (EPPNB). It is the first site of this period to be uncovered in the narrow strip of land between the Judean Mts. and the coastal plain. This site, dubbed NRQN, contains lithic artifacts, groundstone tools, shells and beads as well as botanical and faunal remains. Here we combine data from a series of studies on the site's stratigraphy and radiometric dating, paleoenvironment, sediments and material culture, with the aim of understanding the role of the site in the EPPNB sphere. Various human activities took place in or immediately adjacent to the sinkhole, predominantly domestic in nature, including stone-tool making and food consumption. However, some of the sediments deep within the sinkhole underwent intense in situ combustion, possibly associated with episodes of lime-plaster production. The filling of the sinkhole appears to have occurred rapidly, not exceeding a few hundred years (ca. 10,500–10,300 cal. BP) and was driven by both geogenic and anthropogenic sedimentation processes. Good preservation of microvertebrate, macrovertebrae, short-lived plants and wood remains at the site, provides a unique opportunity to study the environmental characteristics of this geographical area during the Early Holocene, which appears to have been of an open grassy landscape with patchy Mediterranean forest, resembling the current environmental conditions. Studying the characteristics of Early Holocene human activity at the site, its paleoenvironment, and the site formation mechanisms, also provides useful comparisons with the nearby NRQ Middle Paleolithic site (this issue).
- Site formation processes
- Southern levant