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Archaeology Human Use of Fire Geoarcheology Geophysical Survey Speleology Faunal Remains Lithic Industries

A detailed dating of the archaeological sequence is still under way.  The Th/U age of the collapsed flowstone in square P27 (> 650 ka; H. Schwarcz, personal communication 2003) is not defined and in any case can not contribute to the dating of the archaeological layers within which it was found (that were deposited prior to and during its collapse, but may considerably post-date its formation).  A single optically stimulated luminescence sample from the brecciated sediments of square O17 yielded an age of 130±33 ka, considered to be a minimum age due to signal saturation (Weinstein-Evron et al., 2003a). Likewise, the Th/U age for the calcite crust covering the lithified archaeological layers of the Middle Terrace (Th/U age 105+13 -12 ka; H. Schwarcz, personal communication 2004) is only a minimum age determinations for the underlying sediments.  The lithic analysis of the MP assemblages of Misliya Cave (Weinstein-Evron et al., 2003a, and see below) shows that they all belong to the early Levantine MP ('Tabun D-type', e.g. Garrod and Bate, 1937; Jelinek, 1982; Bar-Yosef, 1998). The same cultural phase in the nearby Tabun Cave was TL-dated to ca. 190-260ka BP (Mercier and Valladas, 2003, and references therein). At Hayonim Cave, in the western Galilee, it may have been somewhat later (230-140kaBP; Mercier et al. 2006). Preliminary TL dates on burned Middle Paleolithic flint artifacts from Misliya Cave suggest that they are older than 200 ka (N. Mercier and H. Valladas, personal communication, 2006), thus corroborating the typological date and broadly assigning the site to marine isotope stage (MIS) 7.

After Bar-Yosef 1998

The archaeological layers at Misliya Cave, spanning the end of the Lower Paleolithic and the beginning of the Middle Paleolithic are a most suitable candidate for the search of the earliest AMHS in the Levant.

Just received:  More updated, still preliminary TL dates… 

Preliminary TL results for the Misliya cave 


*Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, UMR CEA-CNRS –UVSQ, Bât. 12, F-91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France

**Laboratoire Pierre Süe, Groupe des Sciences de la Terre, CEN Saclay, Gif sur Yvette F-91191, France 

Flint in archaeological strata act as a dosimeter for the natural radiation received from internal and environmental sources during its burial time. From the thermoluminescence (TL) measurements done on burnt flint one can determine when it was last subjected to temperatures in excess of 450°C, in a prehistoric hearth, for instance (Valladas, 1992).

The TL method is currently used to date the Middle Palaeolithic layers of Misliya Cave which yielded many fragments of burnt flints. Fifty samples showing signs of firing were selected in 2004. Preliminary TL measurements showed that 26 of them were sufficiently heated to be dateable by TL. Their were recovered in the lower terrace which yielded Acheuleo-Yabrudian industrie (squares Q28-29 ; 870 cm < Z < 913 cm), and in the Mousterian layers of the upper terrace (J15, L12 and L10, 80 cm< Z <160 cm). Dosimetric investigations began in 2004 in the areas and layers which yielded the burnt specimens. The external dose-rate values were found to be rather low (<550 µG/a) and exhibited a ca 20% variability in some areas, which can be explained by the heterogeneous nature of the sedimentological filling made of fine sediment and of a variable proportion of limestone cobbles. At this time, data are available for 9 samples collected at the bottom (5 flints from squares Q28-29) and at the top of the sequence (4 flints from square L10). Each sample was treated according to the procedure described by Valladas (1992) and the paleodose determined by the additive-dose technique (Mercier et al. 1992). The internal dose-rate of each flint was calculated from its U-238, Th-232, and K-40 contents measured by neutron activation analysis at the Pierre Süe Laboratory, CEN, Saclay (Joron, 1974) and from its alpha-sensitivity (Valladas and Valladas 1982). The gamma dose-rate computed for each sample was obtained by using data from the nearest dosimeter or the average value of the dosimeters inserted in the same level. The preliminary ages for the bottom and the top of the sequence vary from 240 to 300 ka. These results will be refined during the following months as verification measurements are still to be done : the cosmic dose-rate needs to be estimated more precisely by taking into account the history of the archaeological filling. We also intend to complete the TL investigation of the whole sequence by dating the selected burnt flints collected in other layers in order have a more precise idea of how long the Misliya cave had been occupied by prehistoric people. For this purpose, new dosimeters have been inserted in the archaeological layers during the 2006 and 2007 excavation seasons and sediment samples have been collected in order to estimate the respective contribution of the different radioisotopes to the annual dose-rate and to measure the state of equilibrium in the uranium and thorium series. The investigations are carried out in collaboration with the Misliya team and, in particular, with Christophe Falguères (IPH, MNHN, Paris) who is in charge of the ESR dating of teeth. In conclusion, these preliminary results suggest that the Mousterian and Acheuleo-Yabrudian industries at Misliya Cave fall in the 240-300 ka time interval more or less within the same time range as similar lithic industries found at Tabun (Mercier et al., 1995, 2003) and Hayonim (Mercier et al., 2006).

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