Seeing colors: Collecting and modifying painted flaked items at middle pleistocene Qesem Cave, Israel

Bar Efrati, Yoni Parush, Dana Ackerfeld, Avi Gopher, Ran Barkai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flint items exhibiting modified patinated surfaces (usually known as “double patina”) have become a criterion in assessing lithic recycling. These recycled items are patina-covered flaked items that were collected and modified again.
They show “old” (original) flaked patinated surfaces alongside “new” surfaces with the “old” patina removed. We call these Post Patination Flaked items (PPF items). The goal of this paper is to present the scale and characteristics of these items in three distinct archaeological contexts from Qesem Cave, Israel (420–200 kyr) and to discuss the behavioral and
technological aspects of collecting and modifying PPF items by the cave’s inhabitants. In addition to other recycling trajectories identified thus far, these items may reflect another specific trajectory of lithic recycling practiced at the site. PPF items constitute over 10% (n=903) of the studied assemblages (total n=7,574). As similar items were reported
from several other Old-World Paleolithic sites, it appears that we might be dealing with a pan-Paleolithic phenomenon.
We suggest that these “old” modified, patinated, items from Qesem Cave were selected outside of the cave according to specific criteria regarding their suitability to anticipated technological requirements. We further argue that these
items reflect a profound acquaintance of the environment by the cave’s inhabitants, their technological capabilities, their possible attraction to colorful items and a possible appreciation and relatedness to people who had lived in the area before them.
Translated title of the contributionרואים צבעים: איסוף ועיבוד מחדש של פריטי צור מסותתים ומכוסים פטינה ממערת קסם, ישראל
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-62
Number of pages31
JournalMitekufat Haeven: Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society
StatePublished - 2019


  • Qesem Cave
  • Recycling
  • Lithic technology
  • Double patina
  • Acheulo-Yabrudian
  • Late Lower Paleolithic

IHP Publications

  • ihp
  • מערת קסם
  • Qesem Cave (Israel)
  • ארץ ישראל -- ארכיאולוגיה -- לפני תקופת המקרא (עד 2200 לפנה"ס)
  • Eretz Israel -- Antiquities -- To Biblical period, 1200 B.C
  • ארכיאולוגיה פרה-היסטורית
  • Antiquities, Prehistoric
  • כלי צור
  • Stone implements
  • תרבות אשלית
  • Acheulian culture
  • מיחזור פסולת
  • Recycling (Waste, etc.)
  • תעשיית כלי צור
  • Flint industry
  • שימוש חוזר בחומרי בנייה ממקור קדום


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