Middle Paleolithic Settlement Patterns in the Levant

Liliane Meignen, Ofer Bar-Yosef, John D. Speth, Mary C. Stiner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

67 Scopus citations


Drawing on a variety of lithic and faunal data from Hayonim, Kebara, Amud, and other well-documented sites in the Levant and adjacent areas, as well as information on numbers of sites, intensity of occupations, and internal structure of occupations, this paper explores broad changes in the nature of settlement patterns over the roughly 200,000 years of the Levantine Middle Paleolithic. The most readily visible differences between the early and late Mousterian are about numbers of people on the landscape—rates and timing of visitation and, perhaps, the sizes of the social groups present. From the point of view of site structure, we see substantive contrasts between Hayonim and Kebara caves and the successive phases of the Mousterian that they represent. Hayonim seems to be characterized by redundant, spot-specific use of domestic space, whereas Kebara displays a more rigidly partitioned and persistent spatial pattern, probably in response to higher rates of debris generation and more frequent visitation. Convincing indications of more people in the later Mousterian appear as two spatial aspects of the archaeological record: internal differentiation in site structure during the later Mousterian and, on a geographic scale, greater numbers of sites that may also be richer in material. Our principal conclusion, best viewed at this stage as a working hypothesis, is that the changes in settlement patterns between the early and the late Middle Paleolithic reflect an increase in regional population, as well as shifts in forager mobility in response to seasonal and eventually long-term changes in resource distribution and abundance. We believe that these settlement changes are most parsimoniously accounted for by reference to a combination of demographic and paleoecological factors rather than by positing a change in the cognitive capacities of local or intrusive populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameInterdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology
ISSN (Print)1568-2722


  • Fallow Deer
  • Mobility Pattern
  • Modern Human
  • Settlement Pattern
  • Stone Tool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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