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ARCH 21908: Archaeology of the Ancient Near East : Upper Paleolithic (UP)

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Upper Paleolithic (UP)

This period roughly corresponds to 50–20,000 BCE and witnessed the arrive anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, to the Near East. These hominins occupied all of the Near East, but primarily residing in the mountainous areas. This period largely corresponds with the Last Glacial Maximum, a period of great, when the ice sheets were at their greatest extent. The Near East, however, was not covered with ice, but it was an extremely cold and dry place. The first humans were primarily hunter-gatherers and resided in temporary camps, including caves. Their material cultural package is often called Aurignacian in the Levant and Baradostian in areas of western Iran and eastern Iraq.

Key Sites

Amud Cave (Israel)

Hayonim Cave (Israel)

Kebara Cave (Israel)

Qafzeh Cave (Israel)

Skhul Cave (Israel)

Yafteh Cave (Iran)

Key Citations

Gilead, Isaac 

1991  The Upper Paleolithic Period in the Levant. Journal of World Prehistory 5: 105-154

Rabinovich, Rivka 

2003  The Levantine Upper Paleolithic Faunal Record. In More than Meets the Eye: Studies on Upper Paleolithic Diversity in the Near East, edited by Nigel Goring-Morris, pp.33-48.  Oxbow Books, Oakville, Connecticut. 

Yasur, Gal, Avner Ayalon, Alan Matthews, Tami Zilberman, Ofer Marder, Omry Barzilai, Elisabetta Boaretto, Israel Hershkovitz, and Miryam Bar-Matthews

2019  Climatic and environmental conditions in the Western Galilee, during Late Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods, based on speleothems from Manot Cave, Israel. Journal of Human Evolution:102605. DOI:10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.04.004.

Bar-Yosef, Ofer and Anna Belfer-Cohen

1988 The Upper Paleolithic in Levatine Caves. In The Early Upper Paleolithic in Levantine Caves, edited by Joh F Hoffecker and C.A. Wolf, pp. 23-41. British Archeological Reports International, Oxford. 

Ghasidian, Elham, Saman Heydari-Guran, and Marta Mirazón Lahr

2019 Upper Paleolithic cultural diversity in the Iranian Zagros Mountains and the expansion of modern humans into Eurasia. Journal of Human Evolution 132:101–118. DOI:10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.04.002.

Stiner, Mary C., Natalie D. Munro, and Todd A. Surovell

2000  The Tortoise and the Hare: Small‐Game Use, the Broad‐Spectrum Revolution, and Paleolithic Demography. Current Anthropology 41(1):39–79. DOI:10.1086/300102.

Olszewski, Deborah

2001  Ruminations on the Early Upper Paleolithic and a Consideration of the Zagros Aurignacian. In Questioning the Answers: Re-Solving the Fundamental Problems of the Early Upper Paleolithic, edited by M.A. Hayes and P.T. Thacker, pp. 79-90. Archaeopress, Oxford.