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Pleistocene amphibians and squamates from the Upper Jordan Rift Valley, Gesher Benot Ya’aqov and Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (MIS 20–18 and MIS 4/3)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2018

Rebecca Biton
Institute of Archaeology, National Natural History Collections, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel; and Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Torino, 10125Turin, Italy
Salvador Bailon
UMR 7209 Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: Sociétés, pratiques et environnements, Sorbonne Universités, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, CP55, 75005Paris, France; and UMR 7194 Histoire naturelle de l’Homme préhistorique, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, UPVD, CNRS, 75013Paris, France
Naama Goren-Inbar
Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel
Gonen Sharon
Prehistory Laboratory, Tel Hai College, East Campus, Upper Galilee, Israel1220800
Rivka Rabinovich
National Natural History Collections, Institute of Earth Sciences, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel


The Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (GBY) and the Mousterian site of Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO) are open-air sites situated on the bank of the Upper Jordan River at its southern estuary in the Hula Valley, Israel. Both sites were deposited on the shore of a paleo-Lake Hula, a shallow body of water that persisted throughout a considerable part of the Pleistocene as a fresh-water lake. Most of the amphibian and squamate taxa recovered are aquatic species related to the natural biota of the Hula Valley, alongside some terrestrial species. Twelve amphibian and squamate taxa were recovered at each site. Most of the species recovered from the archaeological contexts do not differ from extant Hula Valley amphibians and squamates, with the exception of a varanid (Varanus sp.) recovered at GBY and the possible presence of the eastern fourlined ratsnake (cf. Elaphe sauromates). The snake’s presence could indicate slightly cooler conditions during human occupation at NMO. A noteworthy continuity in species presence is observed throughout the many archaeological horizons as well as in comparison to the current Hula basin fauna. This suggests a surprising similarity in environmental conditions over a significant portion of the Quaternary in this region.

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Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2018 

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Pleistocene amphibians and squamates from the Upper Jordan Rift Valley, Gesher Benot Ya’aqov and Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (MIS 20–18 and MIS 4/3)
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