The Epi-Paleolithic period (20,000–10,000 YBP) is characterized by a microliths – tiny flint tools occurring in a variety of shapes. The morphological and technological variability of the microliths serves as a basis for the division of the period, both chronologically and spatially. Non-geometric microliths, such as arch-backed bladelets, truncated backed bladelets and micro-points characterize the Kebaran (20,000–15,500 YBP), the main culture of the early phase of the Epi-Paleolithic period in the Mediterranean region. The Geometric Kebaran (15,500–13,000 YBP) is characterized by trapeze/rectangles – backed microliths with two truncations comprises the main culture of the middle phase of the Epi-Paleolithic. The Natufian culture (13,000–10,000 YBP) defines the final phase of the Epi-Paleolithic period in the region and is characterized by lunates – geometric microliths with curved back.
Several archaeological finds and experimental studies have shown that the microliths were used to compose weapons, arrows or spears. The morphological change of the microliths over time actually reflects changes that occurred in the design of the weapons (Yaroshevich et al. 2010).
Three squares (2.5×2.5 m) were opened in an area slated for development. Two main sedimentological layers were exposed: a layer of sand (thickness c. 0.25–0.30 m; Fig. 2) and below it a layer of reddish orange sandy hamra (thickness in excess of 3 m). Knapped flint items were discovered in the hamra layer (c. 0.5 m below the surface; thickness of the horizon c. 0.2 m). All the sediments were dry sieved using a 2 mm mesh.
The flint assemblage consisted of 1,570 items, of which 1,002 are chips (flakes, max. length 1.5 cm), 53 chunks (unidentified knapped pieces), 439 debitage items and 76 tools. The debitage comprised flakes (38.8%), bladelets (18%), core debris (18%), primary items (8%) blades (7%), cores 5%; Fig. 3) microburins (5%; Fig. 4:13–16) and burin spall (0.2%). Non-geometric microliths (61.8%; Fig. 4:1–10) constitute the predominant group in the tool assemblage. Of the forty-seven non-geometric microliths, 10 complete items were found, all truncated backed bladelets with turncation fashioned on the proximal or distal part of the bladelet; the rest of the items are truncated fragments (distal or proximal) or medial fragments. Five lunates (6.6% of all the tools; Fig. 4:11, 12), mostly broken, were found together with the non-geometric microliths. Scrapers and retouched flakes (18.4% and 14.5% respectively; Fig. 5) are the second and third largest groups making up the tool assemblage. The scrapers were knapped on blades, flakes and primary items; some of them can be defined as carinated scrapers. The assemblage includes two side scrapers (2.6%), two retouched blades (2.6%), a burin (1.3%) and a denticulate (1.3%). The raw material used for the industry is of fine quality, homogenous and gray brown in color (Figs. 6–8); it was probably derived from wadi pebbles.
When the site was first described, the use of the micro-burin technique in the Mediterranean region was mainly identified with the Natufian culture (Bar-Yosef 1970); therefore, it was proposed to ascribe the site to this culture or other industries that are chronologically similar, namely of the Late Epi-Paleolithic period. This suggestion was primarily based on the presence of lunates and the use of the micro-burin technique. Epi-Paleolithic sites that were excavated subsequent to the publication of Gat Rimmon have shown that this technique was employed from the beginning of the period and is characteristic of several cultures (Goring-Morris 1995), among them the Kebaran culture, for example at Nahal Hadera V, on the coastal plain c. 30 km north of Gat Rimmon, where similar artifacts were discovered (Saxon el al. 1974). Similarly, the presence of several lunates in the flint assemblages that represent an early and middle phase of the period is a phenomenon known from Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran sites, e.g., at Hefziba (Ronen et al. 1976). These examples raise the possibility that the Gat Rimmon site represents an early phase in the Epi-Paleolithic period, namely the Kebaran culture.