A series of Mousterian occupations in a new type of site: the Nesher Ramla karst depression, Israel.
We report the discovery of a new type of hominin site in the Levant, inhabited during MIS 6-5. The site, found within a karst depression at Nesher Ramla, Israel, provides novel evidence for Middle Paleolithic lifeways in an environmental and depositional setting that is previously undocumented in the southern Levant. The carbonate bedrock in the area is characterized by surface depressions formed by gravitational sagging of the rock into underlying karst voids. In one such depression, an 8 m thick sequence comprising rich and well-preserved lithic and faunal assemblages, combustion features, hundreds of manuports and ochre was discovered. Here we focus on the geological and environmental setting and present optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages for the 8 m sequence, aiming to place the site within a firm chronological framework and determine its significance for a more complete reconstruction of cultural developments in the Levantine Middle Paleolithic. To that end, preliminary results of the lithic and faunal studies are also presented.