Curator of the Margolin Biological Collections: Dr. Irit Zohar

Curator of the Margolin Biological Collections: Dr. Irit Zohar 2021-06-07T11:03:35+00:00

Irit Zohar is the collection manager of the Beit Margolin Biological Collections, in charge of cataloguing, digitization, and conservation of the collections.
Irit has participated in several SYNTHESIS trainings in collections management, as well as a fluid preservation course, the CETAF shipping workshop, courses at the Mobilise training school, and more.
Irit’s research focuses on comparative anatomy and osteology of fish (from different habitats), by establishing a reference collection, and by using both traditional methods and advanced techniques (Micro CT; 3D camera).

The fish osteological collection includes more than 600 skeletons of fish from various habitats: the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, freshwater, and the Nile (Egypt). This collection is used to identify fish remains recovered from lacustrine sediments, animals gut contents, and archaeological sites in the southern Levant and South Africa. Identification of the fish remains helps reconstruct species composition from aquatic habitats, and changes in fish communities through time (diversity, speciation, body size, etc.), from the Lower Paleolithic (1.5 MYA) to historical periods. Analysis of the fish remains helps characterize their economic value to past populations, and detect past fishing technologies and processing methods.
Irit conducted several taphonomical experiments on fish natural death and fish bone survival following burning and cooking (using XRD and FTIR), as well as ethnographic studies on fish exploitation by traditional fishing communities in Panama (central America) and Sinai (Egypt).
Recent studies focus on identifying the fish isotopic signature (18O/16O; 87Sr/86Sr) as an environmental marker of the aquatic habitat in which the fish were captured.

Selected publications:

Zohar, I. (2017). Fish exploitation during the Quaternary: Recent knowledge, in: Enzel, Y., Bar-Yosef, O. (Eds.), Quaternary of the Levant: Environments, Climate Change, and Humans, Cambridge University Press, University Printing House, Cambridge, United Kingdom, pp. 369-376.

Zohar, I., Dayan, T., Goren, M., Nadel, D., & Hershkovitz, I. (2018). Opportunism or aquatic specialization? Evidence of freshwater fish exploitation at Ohalo II- a waterlogged Upper Paleolithic site. PLoS ONE, 13(6), 1-28.

Sisma-Ventura, G., Tütken T., Zohar I., Pack, A., Sivan, D., Lernau, O., Gilboa A., & Bar-Oz, G. (2018). Tooth oxygen isotopes reveal Late Bronze Age origin of Mediterranean fish aquaculture and trade. Scientific Reports, 8, 14086-14097.

Zohar, I. & Artzy, M. (2019). The role of preserved fish: Evidence of fish exploitation, processing and long-term preservation at the Eastern Mediterranean, during the Late Bronze Age (14th-13th Centuries BCE). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 23, 900-909.

Zohar I. & Cooke, R. (2019). The role of dried fish: A multivariate model for identifying fish long-term preservation in the past. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 26, 101864.

Sisma-Ventura G., Tütken T., Peters S., Bialik, O. M., Zohar I., & Pack A. (2019).
Past aquatic environments in the Levant inferred from stable isotope compositions of carbonate and phosphate in fish teeth. PLOS ONE 14, e0220390.

Fisher, E. Cawthra, H.C., Esteban, I., Jeradino, A., Neumann, F.H., Oertle, A., Pargeter, J., Saktura, R. B., Szabó, K., & Zohar, I. (2020). Coastal occupation and foraging during the Last Glacial Maximum and Early Holocene at Waterfall Bluff, eastern Pondoland, South African. Quaternary Research, 1-41.