Biẓat Ruḥama

By Avraham Ronen


The Lower Paleolithic site of Biẓat Ruḥama (Ruḥama Swamp), located in the Coastal Plain of the northern Negev, was first described following the survey conducted in 1977 by M. Lamdan and others, and excavated in 1996 by A. Ronen of the University of Haifa and J. M. Burdukiewicz of the University of Wroclaw.


The stratigraphy of the site is comprised of the following layers, from top to bottom:

A. Yellowish loess, 1–2 m thick.

B. Brown clay, c. 10 m thick.

C. A dark gray hydromorphic clay, 1–3 m thick, with small iron-manganese concretions indicating humid conditions.

C1. Finely laminated silty sand, 20–30 cm thick. This layer contains the archaeological horizon of Biẓat Ruḥama.

D. A reddish sandy loam (ḥamra soil), 2–3 m thick.

E. Sandstone.

This stratigraphy reflects a gradual onset of wet conditions in the area. Human occupation took place during the initial stage of the wet conditions, during the accumulation of layer C1. This thin habitation layer probably reflects a single occupation. The finds include numerous flint artifacts (c. 1,200 specimens recovered from c. 10 sq m), pebbles, and a few well-preserved animal bones and shells. Later, when hydromorphic conditions fully developed, the site was covered by the quasi-sterile dark clay of layer C and occupation ceased.

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