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F-81 Skeleton from Wadi Mataha, Jordan, and its Bearing on Human Variability in the Epipaleolithic of the Levant

ABSTRACT The discovery of a Middle Epipaleolithic adult skeleton (F-81) at the site of Wadi Mataha in southern Jordan provides new insights into human variability in the Epipaleolithic of the Levant. This paper analyzes the skeletal morphology of Wadi Mataha F-81 in the context of other Epipaleolithic remains from Jordan and Israel to assess the current evidence for morphological variability throughout this period.

The F-81 skeleton shares morphological features with earlier Epipaleolithic skeletons from Ohalo and Nahal Ein Gev, and later Natufian populations. Despite the morphological similarities, F-81 extends the range of known variability prior to the Natufian with its unusually small stature and unique combination of morphological characteristics. High levels of cranial and postcranial robusticity suggest that the F-81 individual was physically active and terrestrially mobile. Pronounced bilateral asymmetry in the upper limb suggests significant lateralization of habitual activity. In the context of Epipaleolithic remains, the F-81 skeleton provides preliminary evidence for greater morphological variability, terrestrial mobility, and lateralized habitual behavior prior to the Natufian, and skeletal gracilization between the Middle and Late Epipaleolithic in the Levant. Am J Phys Anthropol 128:453–465, 2005.

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