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A New Epi-Paleolithic Site in the Northeast Mediterranean Region: Direkli Cave (Kahramanmaraş, Turkey)
Cevdet Merih EREK*
Anatolian Plateau lies between the Near East and the Caucasus as a bridge. Of course, this plateau helps people who have African origin spread. When the general results of the Anatolian Prehistoric researches carried out from the beginning of 1900 to the researches carried out today are considered, we can see that there is cultural sequences, which can be seen between lower Paleolithic and Epi-Paleolithic. Generally, artifacts belonging to lower Paleolithic cultures are obtained from the surface findings, Middle Paleolithic artifacts from both the surfaces and sediment in the cave and Upper Paleolithic findings from the sediments in the cave. Epi- Paleolithic cultures between the end of Paleolithic Age and the Neolithization period are reached by the researches carried out since 1990 however, it hasn’t been clear yet. The most important well-known site is Öküzini Cave. Öküzini Cave whose excavations are carried out comprehensively and defining the Epi-Paleolithic with its findings points out cultural structure, belonging to its feature. The second Epi-Paleolithic site which shows the similarities between the Anatolia and the Near East hasn’t been known until the start of excavation in Direkli cave. Naturally, expecting the identical cultural structure is not right. However, it is important to find the similarities in respect of the basic features. The findings from Direkli cave seem to have the basic similar features with the Near East Epi-Paleolithic sites and especially the Early Natufian cultures. Carbon 14 dating hasn’t been ended yet, however, the distribution among the general materials, chipped lithic tools and animals bones points out the cultural phase which can be dated by Younger Dryas.
Direkli Cave is located in the Northeast Mediterranean Region of Turkey, 70km northwest of the city of Kahramanmaras in a limestone ridge at the foot of Höbek Mountain. The preliminary report by Kökten (1960) described, for the first time, a dated sequence with microlithic components referred to as Aurignacian, but recent work has recharacterized it as Epi-Paleolithic based on similarities with lithic assemblages from the Levant.  The new excavations at Direkli Cave were started in 2007 by the author.  The results of the new excavation have revealed that the cave was occupied by microlith-producing foragers. The only well known Epi-Paleolithic sequence in Anatolia is from Öküzini Cave in Antalya while the northern Levant which borders the arc of the Taurus is less known. In this point Direkli Cave is considerably important   because its microlith-rich deposits date to this poorly known period. Based on analysis of the archaeological material, Direkli Cave industries more closely resemble Levantine Epi-Paleolithic microliths than those further east of the Zarzian tradition. This is strongly supported by the presence of lunates and backed bladelets, and the lack of triangles, trapezoids etc.

* Yrd. Doç. Dr. Cevdet Merih Erek
Gazi Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Teknikokullar Kampüsü, Beşevler - Ankara
E-mail: cevdeterek@gazi.edu.tr

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