Systematic Mn fluctuations in laminated rock varnish developed on coeval early Holocene flint artifacts along a climatic transect, Negev desert, Israel

Yonaton Goldsmith*, Yehouda Enzel, Mordechai Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study presents an assessment of the potential application of Mn content in rock varnish laminae as a paleoclimate indicator. To investigate the environmental controls on varnish formation, we determined Mn composition in rock varnish formed on flint artifacts produced during the earliest Holocene from eight coeval prehistoric sites in the Negev desert, Israel. These sites lie along a north-south annual rainfall transect ranging between 120 and 30mmyr -1. The varnish is ~100 times enriched in Mn relative to the content in the desert dust source material. Chemical profiles across the varnish display 4-6 distinct Mn peaks in all sampled sites, pointing to systematic fluctuations within the varnish along a wide range of environmental settings. The mean Mn contents in the various sites range between 10.7 and 15.6at.%, yet within this range, the Mn content in the Negev varnish does not show a correlation with mean annual rainfall. As moisture is needed for Mn mobility, wetting cycles by dew or light rain, which are not adequately represented by the mean annual rainfall amounts but control the number of wetting-drying cycles may explain the variance within the results from the arid and hyperarid Negev varnish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-485
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. T. Liu and Prof. W. S. Broecker for their openness, help and guidance in the fundamental aspects and laborious techniques involved in preparing and analyzing rock varnish; Prof. B. Lazar for his constructive advice throughout the research; Prof. A. N. Goring-Morris and Prof. E. Hovers for their help in the archeological aspects of the work; Dr. Y. Weiss, D. Greental and Dr. O. Yoffe for their help with the chemical analysis. Prof. A. Gillespie, Prof. L, McFadden, Prof. J, Quade and an anonymous reviewer for their enlightening comments which greatly improved this manuscript. Funding was partially provided by grants from the Israel Science Foundation ( ISF 146/08 ) and by the U.S. Army Research Office ( DAAD19-03-1-0159 ).


  • Dust
  • Holocene
  • Mn fluctuations
  • Negev desert
  • PPNB
  • Paleoclimate
  • Rock varnish

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Geology -- Israel -- Negev


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