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The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya'akov, Israel: 1, The Wood Assemblage - Gesher Benot YaAEaqov Monograph Series 1 (Hardback)
  • The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya'akov, Israel: 1, The Wood Assemblage - Gesher Benot YaAEaqov Monograph Series 1 (Hardback)
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The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya'akov, Israel: 1, The Wood Assemblage - Gesher Benot YaAEaqov Monograph Series 1 (Hardback)

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£45.00
Hardback 137 Pages / Published: 01/06/2002
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Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, located in the Dead Sea Rift valley, is one of the oldest non-African sites to have yielded evidence for the activities of groups of hominin hunter-gatherers. The excavations recovered thousands of Acheulian period stone tools and animal bones that had accumulated in and around an ancient lake about 780, 000 years ago. The deposits have remained waterlogged virtually ever since, and this unusual circumstance resulted in the preservation of plant macrofossils, including pieces of wood and bark that can be identified to the level of individual plant species. Most of the pieces probably accumulated naturally around the lake, but a few show signs of hominin modification - making them the oldest wooden artefacts yet discovered. The unique contribution of the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov palaeobotanical assemblage, however, lies in its value for the palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of a pre-agricultural age - an age that predates changes induced by intensive human activity. This monograph describes the geological and archaeological context of the ancient wood, the criteria for its identification, and its implications for the woods surrounding Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in Lower to Middle Pleistocene times. They include detailed descriptions of the different wood taxa, discuss the present habitats of the identified species, and consider the possible mechanisms by which the wood was deposited. They also provide a survey of the wood fragments that have occasionally been found at other ancient Palaeolithic sites. This volume is the first in a series of monographs which will focus on different aspects of the multidisciplinary investigations at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov.

Publisher: Oxbow Books
ISBN: 9781842170724
Number of pages: 137
Weight: 640 g
Dimensions: 280 x 216 x 13 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
It is wonderful to have this superb monograph shortly after the late Desmond Clarks detailed publication of the wooden objects from his seminal excavations at Kalambo Falls. The authors and Oxbow Books are also to be congratulated on the high technical quality of the first volume in the projected GBY monograph series.'--Lawrence Guy Straus "Journal of Anthropological Research, 59, 2003 "
An Archaeologist, even a specialist in the Acheulian, might ask why fragmented wood, most of it not worked, deserves a whole volume to itself. In turning the pages of this well produced volume, they will begin to find an answer.'

'In Chapters 4-7 the wood comes centre stage. It is hard to grasp its survival for so long through waterlogging, with cellular structure well enough preserved for identification of over 600 of the 916 pieces examined. The photos of the thin sections of the different taxa and species, together with their descriptions, are a valuable and rare corpus.'--Bryony Coles "Antiquity, Vol. 77, 2003 "


In this volume, Goren-Inbar et al. offer an exhaustive analysis of the waterlogged wood assemblage retrieved from the excavations at the early Palaeolithic site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (GBY) in northern Israel. The book represents a unique contribution to our knowledge of Early Pleistocene vegetation environments in the Eastern Mediterranean.'

'Impressive are the presentation of the wooden artefacts recovered from the excavations (accompanied by the appropriate drawings and photographs) and the consideration of the charcoal remains, which are likely to indicate a much more direct and long-term hominin involvement with prehistoric woodland vegetation (Chapters 6-7). Equally impressive is the detailed analysis and description of the various taphonomic aspects of the wood assemblage in Chapter 5 (depositional context and contextual associations, consideration of sample composition, fragment size attributes, fragment orientation, etc.). The authors present in this chapter a very convincing case for the contemporaneity of elements of the wood assemblage with the excavated archaeological layers and also for the causes of wood deposition and accumulation (the "driftwood hypothesis").'

' ... this first volume in the GBY series represents a study of high quality and it is of outmost importance for investigating the early prehistory and palaeoecology of the Eastern Mediterranean. The authors should be applauded for the prompt and professional publication of their results. Minor weaknesses in layout and (occasionally) argument presentation should not distract the readers from the highly original and extremely informative content of this volume. The significance of such early palaeobotanical assemblages for understanding the origins and evolution of Mediterranean ecosystems cannot be overstated. Currently accepted palaeoecological models suggest that throughout the Pleistocene the Mediterranean area was host to much more complex and diverse ecosystems than at present, which offered southern refugia to retreating plant and animal species during glacial periods, and biodiversity "hotspots" from which plant and animal species migrated northwards during interglacials (Blondel and Aronson 1999). Future publications of the full analyses of other classes of evidence (seeds and fruits, animal bone, geomorphology and dating, stratigraphy, archaeology) and their integration with the evidence provided by the wood assemblage and independent palaeoclimatic studies, will undoubtedly establish the site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov as one of the most important stepping stones towards a data-informed understanding of the origins and evolution of the Mediterranean world.'--Eleni Asouti "Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, 2003 "


.... this book is an excellent example to students and researchers alike on how to approach the analysis of waterlogged wood assemblages with regards to taphonomy and vegetation history. The volume is well written and explains in some detail the many pitfalls encountered in the interpretation of such assemblages. Also, it may prove helpful to conservators working in the field faced with the conservation of wood in unfavorable conditions.'

'... if the following volumes are as clear, concise, and well researched as this one, the series will provide a very useful resource for students of palaeobotany and palaeoecology.'--Alan J Clapham"Before Farming" (03/01/2002)

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