Pleistocene Forager Mobility in the west-central Jordanian Highlands –a Landscape Approach

Geoffrey A. Clark

Abstract


This paper uses the incidence of retouch to assess the relative degree of mobility and duration of landscape occupation characteristic of Stone Age foragers in west-central Jordan based on survey lithic data. The incidence of retouch offers a measure of residential stability, and retouch scaled to artifact density gives some indication of the relative importance of curated and expedient assemblages. A higher incidence of retouch indicates greater residential mobility, smaller groups, shorter occupations, and low overall lithic densities. It is expected to occur during dry periods when resources were less predictable in terms of location. A high incidence of cores and débitage and few retouched pieces indicates a reduced need for conserving behaviors, greater residential stability and larger groups during wet periods when resources are more predictable and when raw material sources are known. Data from five subdivisions of the Paleolithic are cross-classified against three phytogeographic zones. Results indicate a complex pattern of mobility shifts over the past 1.5 million years in which alterations between mesic and xeric climatic regimes are the most important factor driving changes in site types and distributions.

Keywords


surveys, foragers mobility, lithic scatters, Paleolithic of Jordan, Retouched tools, settlement patterns.

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