Persistent Neanderthal occupation of the open-air site of ‘Ein Qashish, Israel

Ravid Ekshtain*, Ariel Malinsky-Buller, Noam Greenbaum, Netta Mitki, Mareike C. Stahlschmidt, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Nadav Nir, Naomi Porat, Daniella E. Bar-Yosef Mayer, Reuven Yeshurun, Ella Been, Yoel Rak, Nuha Agha, Lena Brailovsky, Masha Krakovsky, Polina Spivak, Micka Ullman, Ariel Vered, Omry Barzilai, Erella Hovers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Over the last two decades, much of the recent efforts dedicated to the Levantine Middle Paleolithic has concentrated on the role of open-air sites in the settlement system in the region. Here focus on the site of ‘Ein Qashish as a cases study. Located in present-day northern Israel, the area of this site is estimated to have been >1300 m2, of which ca. 670 were excavated. The site is located at the confluence of the Qishon stream with a small tributary running off the eastern flanks of the Mt. Carmel. At the area of this confluence, water channels and alluvial deposits created a dynamic depositional environment. Four Archaeological Units were identified in a 4.5-m thick stratigraphic sequence were dated by Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to between—71 and 54 ka, and probably shorter time span–~70-~60 ka. Here we present the diverse material culture remains from the site (lithics, including refitted sequences; modified limestone pieces; molluscs; faunal remains) against their changing paleogeographic backdrop. Skeletal evidence suggests that these remains were associated with Neanderthals. The large-scale repeated accumulation of late Middle Paleolithic remains in the same place on the landscape provides a unique opportunity to address questions of occupation duration and intensity in open-air sites. We find that each occupation was of ephemeral nature, yet presents a range of activities, suggesting that the locale has been used as a generalized residential site rather than specialized task-specific ones. This role of ‘Ein Qashish did not change through time, suggesting that during the late Middle Paleolithic settlement system in this part of the southern Levant were stable.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0215668
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 26 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Derekh Eretz Inc. (E.H., O.B., R. E., A.M.-B.), National Geographic Society grant #8943-11 and The Leakey Foundation, (E.H.), Irene-Levi Sala CARE Foundation (E.H., R.E.); Israel Science Foundation Grant #1232-2015 (E.H.); Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, Weizmann Institute of Science (R.S.-G.); David Gita & Michael Hoffman Memorial Scholarship and the Palumbo Carasso Scholarship Fund in Archeology, the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (N. N.); Athene programme of the University of T?bingen (M.C.S.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Ekshtain et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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