Online ISSN : 1884-1392
Print ISSN : 0473-3851
ISSN-L : 0473-3851
SPECIAL ISSUE: Paleolithic and Neolithic Archaeology in the Near East: Recent Achievements by Japanese Expeditions
Epipaleolithic Hunting in an Arid Area of the Levant: Faunal Remains from Tor Hamar, Southern Jordan
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2022 Volume 57 Pages 21-42


This paper analyzes the Mushabian (ca. 15000 cal BP) animal bones newly obtained from Tor Hamar, one of the Epipaleolithic sites located in the southern marginal arid regions of Jordan. We evaluate diachronic trends in the faunal compositions by comparing four sub-regions in the southern Levant. Although the taxonomic composition of Tor Hamar fauna was slightly different from previous reports, the general trend was similar to the previous one. Numerically, NISP (n = 447) was dominated by small and medium ungulates (90.8%) including Gazella sp. and Capra sp. while small games such as hares, tortoises, and birds were rare. In contrast to the Mediterranean coastal region, the taxonomic composition fit the trends observed in the Negev and the inland Jordanian steppe, where the proportions of small ungulates and small animals do not clearly increase over time.

We examined the culling profile of gazelles by constructing survivorship curves based on bone fusion data. The results indicated that the Mushabian people occupied the site in winter. Furthermore, the gazelle fusion rate of the site is consistent with a gradual increase in the relative abundance of gazelle juveniles. A trend observed from the Early Epipaleolithic to the Late Epipaleolithic in the arid to steppe area, consistent with the finds from the Mediterranean region. This might suggest an increase in hunting pressure on gazelles in the areas of the southern Levant during the Epipaleolithic.

The Mushabian faunal composition at Tor Hamar, characterized by the low proportion of small ungulates and small games with a slightly higher proportion of juvenile gazelle individuals, is comparable the Epipaleolithic faunal assemblages in the Negev. Thus, geographic variability is a key aspect that requires more investigations for deeper understanding of the changes in Epipaleolithic faunal exploitations in the southern Levant.

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