University of Cambridge > > PalMeso Seminar Series > Prehistory of the Upper Jordan River – the first Million Years

Prehistory of the Upper Jordan River – the first Million Years

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Abstract: On its course south of the Hula Valley, the Jordan River cuts through sediments ranging in age from the Early Pleistocene to the Holocene. A combination of tectonic movements, volcanism, and massive drainage activity exposed a uniquely long archaeological sequence documenting nearly 1,000,000 years of human presence in this northern segment of the Dead Sea Rift Valley. The Hula Valley has always flourished with water and the sediments now exposed on the banks of the Jordan River had been covered by water since their accumulation, creating anaerobic conditions. These unique conditions resulted in exceptional preservation of organic remains, particularly botanic remains, such as pollen, wood, seeds, and fruits. These remains hold important clues not only about prehistoric human subsistence strategies but also about the paleoclimate of the region. This talk will describe the current knowledge regarding the prehistory of the Jordan River by describing the latest finds from excavations of the important archaeological sites along the river. These sites include the key Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (GBY), dated to c. 780,000 years before present, and nearby contemporary Acheulian locations, the Middle Paleolithic hunting site of Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO), dated to 60,000 years BP and finds from the Epipaleolithic site of Jordan River Dureijat (JRD). JRD is a fishing site whose layers date from 10,000-20,000 years BP, a period of dramatic shift from nomadic hunter-gatherer groups to permanent settlement. The Jordan River prehistoric sites are among the most important sites in the prehistory of the Middle East and are under constant threat from drainage and development work. The aim of the talk is to rouse awareness of these unique sites, their contribution to our cultural heritage, and the importance of their preservation and protection.

This talk is part of the PalMeso Seminar Series series.

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