Making time: 'Living floors', 'palimpsests' and site formation processes - A perspective from the open-air Lower Paleolithic site of Revadim Quarry, Israel

Ariel Malinsky-Buller*, Erella Hovers, Ofer Marder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


The recognition of the dynamic role of site formation processes led archaeologists to recognize a behavioral dichotomy between 'living floors' and palimpsests', Yet the archaeological proxies of 'living floor' and 'palimpsest' were never defined formally, and therefore have been used variably. We use archaeological criteria mentioned in the archaeological literature to model types of formation processes. The case study of the Lower Paleolithic open-air site of Revadim Quarry, Israel is used to test the model. Two types of palimpsests, differing in the rate of accumulation and thus in their effects on the anthropogenic remains, were discerned. Based on these results we review some other Lower Paleolithic instances. A sliding scale of formation processes provides a much needed middle ground between the scales of coarse, time-averaged formation processes and short, " near real-life" behavioral episodes and is an appropriate archaeological frame of reference.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Field and Laboratory research in Revadim Quarry was supported by grants to OM from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Yad Hanadiv Foundation, and by the Irene Levi-Sala CARE foundation. We thank Yanir Milevski, Hamoudi Khalaily, Omry Barzilai, Ronit Lupo for their help during fieldwork and laboratory analysis. Noah Lichtinger prepared Fig. 1 for digital publication. We are grateful to Nira Alperson-Afil, Alexandra Sumner and John Speth for their critical reading of earlier versions of this paper, and to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Needless to say, these individuals do not necessarily share the opinions expressed here.


  • Living floor
  • Lower paleolithic
  • Palimpsests
  • Revadim quarry
  • Site formation processes


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