cover image

Epipalaeolithic Near East

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Epipalaeolithic Near East designates the Epipalaeolithic ("Final Old Stone Age", also known as Mesolithic) in the prehistory of the Near East. It is the period after the Upper Palaeolithic and before the Neolithic, between approximately 20,000 and 10,000 years Before Present (BP).[1][2] The people of the Epipalaeolithic were nomadic hunter-gatherers who generally lived in small, seasonal camps rather than permanent villages. They made sophisticated stone tools using microliths—small, finely-produced blades that were hafted in wooden implements. These are the primary artifacts by which archaeologists recognise and classify Epipalaeolithic sites.[3]

Epipalaeolithic Near East
Reconstruction of Near East Paleolithic cave shelter. Şanlıurfa Museum, Turkey.
Reconstruction of Epipalaeolithic temporary tents. Şanlıurfa Museum.

The start of the Epipalaeolithic is defined by the appearance of microliths.[2][4][5] Although this is an arbitrary boundary, the Epipalaeolithic does differ significantly from the preceding Upper Palaeolithic. Epipalaeolithic sites are more numerous, better preserved, and can be accurately radiocarbon dated. The period coincides with the gradual retreat of glacial climatic conditions between the Last Glacial Maximum and the start of the Holocene, and it is characterised by population growth and economic intensification.[2] The Epipalaeolithic ended with the "Neolithic Revolution" and the onset of domestication, food production, and sedentism, although archaeologists now recognise that these trends began in the Epipalaeolithic.[5][6]

The period may be subdivided into Early, Middle and Late Epipalaeolithic: The Early Epipalaeolithic corresponds to the Kebaran culture, c. 20,000 to 14,500 years ago, the Middle Epipalaeolithic is the Geometric Kebaran or late phase of the Kebaran, and the Late Epipalaeolithic to the Natufian, 14,500–11,500 BP.[7] The Natufian overlaps with the incipient Neolithic Revolution, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A.