In October–November 2015 and 2016, excavations were conducted at the Boqer site in ‘En ‘Avdat Nature Reserve in the Negev (License Nos. G-26/2015, G-87/2016; map ref. 17844–50/52790–2). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Max Planck–Weizmann Joint Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology and the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Barzilai (flint tools) and E. Boaretto (radiocarbon dating), with the assistance of M. Goder-Goldberger and M. Shemer (area supervision and photography), V. Caracuta (archaeobotany), C. Amit (studio photography), L. Wienblum and L. Regev (excavation program), T. Tsuk and Y. Haimi (planning and consultation) and E. Heims (guidance and logistic assistance).
The Boqer site (Fig. 1) lies c. 150 m northwest of the Boqer Tahtit site (Boker Tachtit), on the opposite side of the Nahal Zin stream-bed. The site was excavated in the past by A. Marks and nine Upper Palaeolithic levels were revealed (Marks 1983). The earliest level in Marks’s excavation was discovered in Area D, which was excavated in a very limited area; a subsequent excavation in Area A uncovered a well-preserved archaeological level containing flint items from the Early Ahmarian techno-complex: narrow blades produced from unipolar cores, el-Wad points, burins and end scrapers. No absolute dating was performed in Area D, and the level in Area A was dated using an outdated radiocarbon method (decay counting, which provided dates without a lower limit or with a very wide standard deviation). The dating method used by Marks cannot be used to estimate the exact dates of the levels or integrate the site into the chronological and cultural sequence of the Upper Paleolithic period.
The renewed excavation was conducted in levels of Areas D and A in order to determine their exact chronological age with radiocarbon and luminescence (OSL) methods. Two levels were revealed in Area D (1 and 2; Fig. 2). In upper Level 1, a few non-diagnostic flint items were found, most of which were burnt. Level 2 yielded a concentration of knapped flint items, a hammer and an anvil made of limestone (Fig. 3). The flint items are mainly blades produced from unipolar blade cores using a hard hammer (Figs. 4, 5). The assemblage is similar to that found in Level 4 at the Boqer Tahtit site (Barzilai and Boaretto 2016). The level in Area A (Fig. 6) yielded a concentration of blades, knapping debris and a hammer
stone (Fig. 7) showing that knapping was carried out at the site. Such flint items are known from the Early Ahmarian culture in the Negev (Gilead 1991) and include mainly narrow blades produced from unipolar blade cores using a soft hammer, and tools including el-Wad points and retouched blades (Fig. 8). Both areas yielded charcoal remains of Phoenician Juniper (Juniperus phoenica
) and Tamarisk (Tamarix cf. aphylla
). Carbon samples from the excavation will be analyzed with radiocarbon dating and will help determine the site’s chronology.
Barzilai O. and Boaretto E. 2016. Boqer Tahtit (Boker Tachtit). HA-ESI 128.
Gilead I. 1991. The Upper Paleolithic Period in the Levant. JWP 5(2):105–154.
Marks A.E. 1983. Prehistory and Paleoenvironments in the Central Negev, Israel: The Avdat/Aqev Area, Part 3. Dallas.