Formation processes and spatial patterning in a late prehistoric complex cave in northern Israel informed by SLAM-based LiDAR

Micka Ullman*, Ben Laugomer, Ido Shicht, Boaz Langford, Shemesh Ya'aran, Ido Wachtel, Amos Frumkin, Uri Davidovich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A SLAM-based Zeb Horizon LiDAR system is used for high-resolution 3D mapping of Har Sifsof Cave (HSC) in the Upper Galilee, northern Israel. Located within a dense karst province, HSC is a subterranean system featuring a composite morphology, the result of prolonged aging processes of a large hypogenic chamber. With a total length of 518 m, it is one of the largest caves in the Galilee district. The cave contains diverse archeological remains from the early fifth millennium BCE associated with ritual activities. In the current project the scanned point cloud contains over 884 million measured points, captured in two days along 10 scanning routes. One scan was conducted by a drone recording surface topography above the cave, and nine scans were conducted manually, carrying the scanner through the cave, with an average of 1850 points per m2, and measurement accuracy of 10 cm. We address the cave 3D documentation strategy and methods in the context of site formation process and spatial distribution of archeological deposits. The study shows that by the fifth millennium BCE the subterranean system already assumed its present configuration, indicating that ancient human activity in the cave involved overcoming multiple environmental obstacles and hazards. In tandem, changes in the configuration of voids and shafts in the upper part of the subterranean system led to secondary deposition of external flint-bearing sediments alongside the primary deposited remains in the cave, and to blockage of other conduits. Since the cave is located in a rapidly-developing rural area, high-resolution documentation of the subterranean system and its surroundings is a valuable tool not only for research purposes, but also for promoting statutory protection of the cave and its natural and archeological legacies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103745
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cave Formation Processes
  • Early Chalcolithic
  • Har Sifsof Cave
  • Levantine Caves
  • Portable LiDAR
  • SLAM-based Mapping
  • Upper Galilee


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