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Near East Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Emireh Culture (Upper Palaeolithic) (Near East)
c.100,000 / 40,000 - 30,000 BC

The Near East's Emireh (or Emiran) was an Upper Palaeolithic (Late Old Stone Age) culture in the Levant. It developed from the local Mousterian but, unlike that culture, it has no recognisable African cultural influences, potentially making it the Levant's first home-grown culture.

IndexThis culture is especially interesting as it charts human progress up to the point at which the most recent ice age was building to a peak (very severely in Europe and less so in Central Asia), and shortly after the last of Europe's Neanderthals had died out. Now humans had no cultural competition except from other humans, provided of course that they could survive another fifteen thousand years of ice age (see the 'Prehistoric World' index for information on pre-modern human Earth, via the link on the right).

The relationship between the Emireh and the neighbouring Baradostian remains unclear. Its flint spear tips are local in design, along with its range of other stone tools which include curved knives which resemble those of Europe's Châtelperronian.

Furthermore, the Emireh is generally seen as a transition culture which bridged the gap between the Neanderthal-originated Mousterian and later, wholly Homo sapiens cultures. The similar and contemporary Bohunician in Europe has the same footing. While a general date of 40,000-30,000 BC can certainly apply to the culture, it has been assigned dates which stretch back as far as 100,000 BC as researchers attempt to get it to cover the entirety of early Homo sapiens presence in the Levant.

It is also central to the idea of an early Levant corridor through which early human groups accessed Europe from around 40,000 BC (or perhaps a little earlier). Such a role would certainly account for similarities in some of the tools being used by European cultures such as the Châtelperronian.

However, a good deal of debate and disagreement about the Emireh's precise role, nature, and timeline remains after many decades of disagreement. This culture seems to have been influential in the formation of the short-lived Ahmarian culture, but its influences can also be seen in the Levantine Aurignacian which succeeded it.

Anatolian relief

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Palaeolithic Hominin Remains from Eshkaft-e Gavi (Southern Zagros Mountains, Iran), J E Scott, from Makers of the Early Aurignacian of Europe, Steven E Churchill & Fred H Smith (Yearbook of Physical Anthropology Vol 43:61-115 (2000)), from The Palaeolithic Prehistory of the Zagros-Taurus, Harold L Dibble, from Eighty Years of Iranian Archaeology Vols 1 & 2, Yousef Hassanzadeh & Sima Miri (Eds), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, Second Edition, N Benco, A S Brooks, E Delson, C Kramer, & J J Shea (PDF Extract (700 pages), 2000), and Makers of the Early Aurignacian of Europe, Steven E Churchill & Fred H Smith (2000).)

c.37,000 BC

The latter part of the Interpleniglacial (or Middle Würm glaciation) is marked by the Hengelo/Denekamp temperate period between 37,000-27,000 BC. It is during this relatively warm and wet interval that the Mousterian culture and Neanderthals disappear.

Initial Upper Palaeolithic (IUP) cultures also proliferate - such as the Emireh-related Ahmarian culture - and then quickly disappear, and the Aurignacian/Baradostian cultures emerge. Modern humans now enter Europe from the Near East and become established there, possibly using the Emireh culture as an access corridor.

Emireh stone tools
Stone tools of the Emireh culture in the Levant, ascribed as the first local culture which was wholly created by Homo sapiens as opposed to the preceding Mousterian, which had Neanderthal origins

c.30,000 BC

Although the start date for the Levant's Emireh culture may be open to question, its fading around this time is confirmed, and the related Ahmarian has already ended. The Emireh is soon (or has already been) succeeded by the Levantine Aurignacian.

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