This project explores the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic periods to understand changing social organization and human-environment interactions through the analysis of a large hunter-gatherer aggregation site, Kharaneh IV. Through this analysis, we aim to reconstruct the broader social and economic relationships between people at this site and others in the surrounding hunter-gatherer world. To address long-term changes and explore the nature of hunter-gatherer behavior at the cusp of agriculture, this research examines the high-resolution archaeological record of multi-season, prolonged, and repeated habitation of the region’s largest and densest hunter-gatherer aggregation site in Jordan. At Kharaneh IV, ~20,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers congregated from across the region, leaving traces of architectural structures, human burials, and symbolic artifacts, hinting at emerging village settlement, economic intensification, and ritual behaviors associated with dwelling and intensive landscape use almost 10,000 years earlier than previously known from Neolithic farming villages.
Continuing on research begun by Dr. Musheisen in the 1980’s, our project renewed excavations at Kharaneh IV in 2008 to further explore the occupations at the site. Kharaneh IV is an exceptionally large Epipalaeolithic site, approximately 21,000 m2 in size, making it one of the largest Terminal Pleistocene occupations in the Levant. The site’s large size and dense artifact accumulations indicate that it was a hunter-gatherer aggregation locale during occupation and a focal point for interaction in the region. The site contains some of the regions earliest evidence of structures, marine shell traded from the Mediterranean and Red Seas, as well as a wealth of lithic and faunal data. Excavations at Kharaneh IV are ongoing as we continue to learn more about the inhabitants of the site and the people of the Epipalaeolithic.