Middle Paleolithic Subsistence Ecology in the Mediterranean Region

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

17 Scopus citations


The assertion that Middle Paleolithic humans were large game hunters is almost certainly true, but this statement reveals little about subsistence organization, land use, and demography, some of which was unique to the period. In addition to hunting large game, Middle Paleolithic humans made considerable use of small animals in the Mediterranean region, but only those species that were relatively easy to collect. These early humans maintained remarkably narrow diets, even in habitats characterized by high species diversity. Few subsistence trends are apparent within the Middle Paleolithic, with the possible exceptions of (a) somewhat greater use of highland taxa (ibex), (b) mild harvesting pressure on slow-turnover prey populations after about 50,000 years ago, and (c) accelerated debris build-up in later sites. Middle Paleolithic populations were small, experiencing only minor increases at the close of this period. Hominid niche boundary shifts cluster at 500 thousand years ago (KYA), at 250 KYA with the onset of the Middle Paleolithic, and in rapid succession between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago. A categorical shift in human predator-prey dynamics in concert with human demographic expansion occurred around the time of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic cultural boundary in the eastern Mediterranean area between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago and somewhat later to the west.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameInterdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology
ISSN (Print)1568-2722


  • Large Game
  • Narrow Diet
  • Prey Type
  • Small Game
  • Spotted Hyena

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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