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Rebecca Biton

Rebecca Biton


Ph.D. Dissertation topic: Pleistocene- Holocene Paleo-herpetofauna in the Hula Valley

Advisors: Dr. Rivka Rabinovich


Osteological remains of amphibians and reptiles (i.e., herpetofauna) make up substantial components of faunal assemblages recovered from most archaeological sites where fine-mesh sediment sieving has been undertaken. Herpetofauna fossils hold great potential, especially for providing significant information on a variety of environmental and anthropological-related topics:

  1. Amphibians and reptiles are highly sensitive to environmental factors in their immediate surroundings because they are ectothermal. Therefore, within their chronological contexts they well reflect conditions of archaeological deposits and their surroundings.
  2. Amphibians and reptiles have been shown to have been subjected to human exploitation for both mundane and ritual purposes, with various species used as food throughout the globe and for ritual purposes
My Ph.D. dissertation will focus on sites in a restricted geographical area, the Hula Valley, which has yielded important archaeological records of human occupation dating from the Lower Paleolithic. That research will concentrate on four excavated, well-dated sites:
  • Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (GBY) – a Lower Paleolithic site (Early-Middle Pleistocene, ca. 780,000 B.P.) excavated by Prof. N. Goren-Inbar
  • Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO) – A Mousterian site (Late Pleistocene, ca. 70,000 B.P.) still under excavation by Dr. G. Sharon
  • Ain Mallaha/Eynan – A Natufian site (Late Pleistocene, ca. 12,000 B.P.) excavated by Prof. F. Valla
  • Beisamoun – A Neolithic (Holocene, ca. 8,000 B.P.) site still under excavation by Dr. F., Bocquentin
The study has three main objectives:
  1. Taxonomic identification of amphibian and reptile species present in the Hula Valley from the Lower Paleolithic to the Neolithic period.
  2. To shed light on the nature of the human-herpetofauna relationships throughout the different periods and cultures within those chronological contexts.
  3. To shed light on climatic and environmental changes in the Hula Valley throughout the Pleistocene–Holocene, as indicated by species identified and the ranges of their geographic distributions.

Areas of interest and Projects:

  • Amphibians and reptiles as paleoenvironments and paleoclimates proxies
  • Amphibians and reptiles bones as a marker of past human behavior
  • Taxonomic study of amphibians and reptiles assemblages from sites in the southern Levant
  • Collection manager of the Osteological herpetofauna collections at the National Natural History Collection at the Hebrew University Jerusalem.

Curriculum Vitae