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Aggiornamento 11 febbraio

 
 

Developing FTIR Microspectroscopy for the Analysis of Animal-Tissue Residues on Stone Tools, di G. Monnier, E. Frahm, B. Luo, K. Missal, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", March 2018, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 1–44

The analysis of microscopic residues on stone tools provides one of the most direct ways to reconstruct the functions of such artifacts. However, new methods are needed to strengthen residue identifications based upon visible-light microscopy. In this work, we establish that reflectance Fourier-transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM) can be used to document IR spectra of animal-tissue residues on experimental stone tools. First, we present a set of reflectance FTIRM standards for the most commonly identified animal-tissue residues on stone tools: skin, meat, fat, hair, blood, feather barbules, fish scales, and bone. We provide spectral peak assignments for each residue and demonstrate that high-quality reflectance FTIRM spectra can be generated under ideal circumstances. Second, we document the spectra for these residues when they are located on a stone substrate such as flint or obsidian. We discuss procedures for correcting spectra that are affected by specular reflection and explain the effects of spectral interference from the stone. Our results show that reflectance FTIRM is sensitive to small intra-sample differences in composition. This means that it will record the effects of decomposition in ancient residues. The methodological developments we present here will help lithic residue analysts incorporate in situ reflectance FTIRM into their analysis protocols to strengthen identifications.

     
 

Sequential Incisions on a Cave Bear Bone from the Middle Paleolithic of Pešturina Cave, Serbia, di A. Majkić, F. d’Errico, S. Milošević, D. Mihailović, V. Dimitrijević, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", March 2018, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 69–116

We present the detailed analysis of a cervical vertebra from a cave bear, found at Pešturina cave, Serbia, in a Mousterian archaeological level dated by radiocarbon at 43.5–44.6 kyr cal BP, and by ESR to between 93.5 and 102.5 kyr BP. Identified as a portion of the cranial articular facet, the fragment displays ten subparallel grooves. The microscopic study of these grooves and other surface modification present on the bone fragment, conducted with multifocus optical and confocal microscopes and complemented by a taphonomic analysis of the associated faunal assemblage, supports the hypothesis that the incisions were made by humans. Results are used to critically examine ambiguities implicit in the analysis and interpretation of early engravings, a category of material culture that has been playing a key role in the identification of early instances of symbolically mediated behavior.

     
 

Building an Experimental Comparative Reference Collection for Lithic Micro-Residue Analysis Based on a Multi-Analytical Approach, di A. Pedergnana, A. Ollé, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", March 2018, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 117–154

Residue analysis applied to stone tools is a useful aid for better understanding their past function and, by extension, reconstructing early human behaviour. However, if the nature of residues found on the lithic tools is misinterpreted, so will be our understanding of their archaeological context. As a consequence, correctly identifying residues in the domain of lithic studies is of paramount importance. With this main goal in mind, we analysed different experimental materials likely to have been involved in daily tasks in the prehistoric context (e.g. bone, wood, meat). Microscopic analyses were then carried out using two (comparable) techniques: Optical Light Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy. Also, energy dispersive X-rays spectroscopy (EDX or EDS) was applied to the experimental samples to determine their elemental composition. Advantages and disadvantages of both microscopic methods and their implications for correct residue identification are discussed. The distribution of residues on lithic surfaces is also considered. This study resulted in the construction of a data-set including both photographic material and EDX spectra for each residue analysed. The main result is that, compared to OLM scanning, SEM analyses highly improves the accuracy of residue identification.

     
 

Core Use-Life Distributions in Lithic Assemblages as a Means for Reconstructing Behavioral Patterns, di M. J. Douglass, S. C. Lin, D. R. Braun, T. W. Plummer, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", March 2018, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 254–288

Artifacts with varying use-lives have different discard rates and hence are represented unequally among archaeological assemblages. As such, the ability to gauge the use-lives of artifacts is important for understanding the formation of archaeological assemblage variability. In lithic artifacts, use-life can be expressed as the extraction of utility, or work potential, from existing stone volume. Using experimental data and generalized linear modeling, this study develops models of artifact use-life on cores in the form of reduction intensity. We then apply these models to two archaeological case studies to (a) reconstruct the reduction intensities of archaeological cores and (b) investigate the survivorship curves of these archaeological cores across the reduction continuum using the Weibull function. Results indicate variation in core reduction and maintenance with respect to raw material properties and place use history and implicate evolutionary differences between Early Stone Age hominins and Holocene modern humans.

     
  Tephrostratigraphy of Grotta del Cavallo, Southern Italy: Insights on the chronology of Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in the Mediterranean, di G. Zanchetta, B. Giaccio, M. Bini, L. Sarti, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 182, 15 February 2018, Pages 65-77

The Grotta del Cavallo contains one of the most important stratification of Mousterian, Uluzzian and Final Epigravettian tecnocomplexes; its chronology is of paramount importance for understanding the timing of the transition between Middle and Upper Palaeolithic in the Mediterranean region as well as the demise of the Neanderthal and the dispersal of the first anatomically modern humans through Europe. Within the stratigraphy of the cave three different volcanic ash layers occur (layer G, Fa and C-II). They are located in the middle section of the Mousterian (layer G), in between the Mousterian and Uluzzian layers (layer Fa) and on top of the Uluzzian horizons (layer C-II). The three tephra layers were chemically fingerprinted and correlated to well-known and precisely dated widespread Late Pleistocene tephra markers. Specifically, layer G, Fa and C-II were correlated to the X-6 (108.7 ± 0.9 ka), Y-6 (45.5 ± 1.0 ka) and Campanian Ignimbrite (39.85 ± 0.14 ka), respectively. These findings provide robust chronological points allowing to conclude that: (i) the Mousterian occupation of the cave took place after the fall of the sea level following the MIS 5e high-stand; (ii) the Mousterian-Uluzzian boundary can be dated to 45.5 ± 1.0 ka and climatostratigraphically firmly placed at the transition between the Greenland Interstadial 12 (GI12)-Greenland Stadial 12 (GS12); (iii) the Uluzzian lasted for at least five millennial spanning the GS12-GI9 period and ended at beginning of the Heinrich Event 4.

     
  Neanderthals' lack of drawing ability may relate to hunting techniques, 8-FEB-2018

Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert on predator-prey relations and their impacts on the evolution of behavior. Neanderthals used thrusting spears to bring down tamer prey in Eurasia, while Homo sapiens, or modern humans, spent hundreds of thousands of years spear-hunting wary and dangerous game on the open grasslands of Africa. Richard Coss, a professor emeritus of psychology, says the hand-eye coordination involved in both hunting with throwing spears and drawing representational art could be one factor explaining why modern humans became smarter than Neanderthals. (...)

     
  A neurochemical hypothesis for the origin of hominids, di M. A. Raghanti et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 2018 February, 115 (6) E1108-E1116, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1719666115

It has always been difficult to account for the evolution of certain human characters such as language, empathy, and altruism via individual reproductive success. However, the striatum, a subcortical region originally thought to be exclusively motor, is now known to contribute to social behaviors and “personality styles” that may link such complexities with natural selection. We here report that the human striatum exhibits a unique neurochemical profile that differs dramatically from those of other primates. The human signature of elevated striatal dopamine, serotonin, and neuropeptide Y, coupled with lowered acetylcholine, systematically favors externally driven behavior and greatly amplifies sensitivity to social cues that promote social conformity, empathy, and altruism. We propose that selection induced an initial form of this profile in early hominids, which increased their affiliative behavior, and that this shift either preceded or accompanied the adoption of bipedality and elimination of the sectorial canine. We further hypothesize that these changes were critical for increased individual fitness and promoted the adoption of social monogamy, which progressively increased cooperation as well as a dependence on tradition-based cultural transmission. These eventually facilitated the acquisition of language by elevating the reproductive advantage afforded those most sensitive to social cues.

     
  Early hominids may have been weed species, di R. S. Meindl, M. E. Chaney, C. Owen Lovejoy, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 2018 February, 115 (6) 1244-1249, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1719669115

Panid, gorillid, and hominid social structures appear to have diverged as dramatically as did their locomotor patterns as they emerged from a late Miocene last common ancestor (LCA). Despite their elimination of the sectorial canine complex and adoption of bipedality with its attendant removal of their ready access to the arboreal canopy, Australopithecus was able to easily invade novel habitats after florescence from its likely ancestral genus, Ardipithecus sp. Other hominoids, unable to sustain sufficient population growth, began an inexorable decline, culminating in their restriction to modern refugia. Success similar to that of earliest hominids also characterizes several species of macaques, often termed “weed species.” We here review their most salient demographic features and find that a key element is irregularly elevated female survival. It is reasonable to conclude that a similar feature characterized early hominids, most likely made possible by the adoption of social monogamy. Reduced female mortality is a more probable key to early hominid success than a reduction in birth space, which would have been physiologically more difficult.

     
  Could these be the oldest Neandertal tools made with fire? di K. Hickok, Feb. 5, 2018

In the spring of 2012, while digging a hole for a thermal pool, construction workers in Grosseto, Italy, hit scientific pay dirt: layers of stratified soil and rock filled with prehistoric bones and artifacts close to 171,000 years old. Excavating the pool would have to wait. With further digging, the researchers found tantalizing evidence of early fire use—nearly 60 partially burned digging sticks made mostly of boxwood. The most likely creators of the sticks were Neandertals, who are known to have lived in Europe at that time. If our extinct cousins did indeed craft the sticks, they represent the earliest use of fire for toolmaking among Neandertals. Neandertals evolved in Europe perhaps as early as 400,000 years ago, but it’s unclear when they began to regularly use fire. Until now, the earliest evidence of Neandertals controlling fire dates to the late Middle Pleistocene, about 130,000 years ago. And because wood decomposes easier and faster than materials like bone and stone, it’s unusual to find prehistoric wooden artifacts. The oldest wooden weapons discovered so far are spears in Schöningen, Germany. They are thought to have been made by Homo heidelbergensis or Neandertals some 300,000 years ago. (...)
     
  Early Middle Palaeolithic culture in India around 385–172 ka reframes Out of Africa models, di K. Akhilesh, S. Pappu, H. M. Rajapara, Y. Gunnell, A. D. Shukla, A. K. Singhvi, "Nature", volume 554, pages 97–101 (01 February 2018), doi:10.1038/nature25444

Luminescence dating at the stratified prehistoric site of Attirampakkam, India, has shown that processes signifying the end of the Acheulian culture and the emergence of a Middle Palaeolithic culture occurred at 385±64 thousand years ago (ka), much earlier than conventionally presumed for South Asia. The Middle Palaeolithic continued at Attirampakkam until 172±41 ka. Chronologies of Middle Palaeolithic technologies in regions distant from Africa and Europe are crucial for testing theories about the origins and early evolution of these cultures, and for understanding their association with modern humans or archaic hominins, their links with preceding Acheulian cultures and the spread of Levallois lithic technologies. The geographic location of India and its rich Middle Palaeolithic record are ideally suited to addressing these issues, but progress has been limited by the paucity of excavated sites and hominin fossils as well as by geochronological constraints1,8. At Attirampakkam, the gradual disuse of bifaces, the predominance of small tools, the appearance of distinctive and diverse Levallois flake and point strategies, and the blade component all highlight a notable shift away from the preceding Acheulian large-flake technologies9. These findings document a process of substantial behavioural change that occurred in India at 385±64 ka and establish its contemporaneity with similar processes recorded in Africa and Europe. This suggests complex interactions between local developments and ongoing global transformations. Together, these observations call for a re-evaluation of models that restrict the origins of Indian Middle Palaeolithic culture to the incidence of modern human dispersals after approximately 125 ka.

· Indizi in India di una cultura "moderna" di 385.000 anni fa, "Le Scienze", 01 febbraio 2018

     
 

Siberia and neighboring regions in the Last Glacial Maximum: did people occupy northern Eurasia at that time?, di Y. V. Kuzmin, S. G. Keates, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", February 2018, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 111–124

An updated analysis of Paleolithic sites in Siberia and the Urals 14C-dated to the coldest phase of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), with its timespan currently determined as ca. 23,000–19,000 BP (ca. 27,300–22,900 cal BP), is presented. It is demonstrated that people continuously occupied the southern and central parts of Siberia and the Russian Far East (up to 58° N latitude), and perhaps sporadically settled regions located even further north, up to 70° N, throughout the LGM. This is in accord with our previous data, but is now based on a larger dataset, and also on a paleoecological analysis of the major pre-LGM archaeological sites in Siberia and the Urals north of 58° N. It is clear that Paleolithic people in northern Eurasia were able to cope with the treeless tundra environment well in advance of the LGM, at least at ca. 34,000–26,000 BP (ca. 38,500–30,000 cal BP). Therefore, a high degree of adaptation to cold conditions allowed people to survive in Siberia during the LGM.

     
 

Unraveling a Neanderthal palimpsest from a zooarcheological and taphonomic perspective, di M. J. Gabucio et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", February 2018, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 197–222

Practically all archeological assemblages are palimpsests. In spite of the high temporal resolution of Abric Romaní site, level O, dated to around 55 ka, is not an exception. This paper focuses on a zooarcheological and taphonomic analysis of this level, paying special attention to spatial and temporal approaches. The main goal is to unravel the palimpsest at the finest possible level by using different methods and techniques, such as archeostratigraphy, anatomical and taxonomical identification, taphonomic analysis, faunal refits and tooth wear analysis. The results obtained are compared to ethnoarcheological data so as to interpret site structure. In addition, activities carried out over different time spans (from individual episodes to long-term behaviors) are detected, and their spatial extent is explored, allowing to do inferences on settlement dynamics. This leads us to discuss the temporal and spatial scales over which Neanderthals carried out different activities within the site, and how they can be studied through the archeological record.

     
 

Magdalenian Children: Projectile Points, Portable Art and Playthings, di M. C. Langley, "Oxford Journal of Archaeology", Volume 37, Issue 1, February 2018, Pages 3–24 - open access -

Children, no doubt, were a significant component of Upper Palaeolithic societies. Despite this fact, however, serious identification and consideration of material culture which may have belonged to children – at least at one time during their use-life – have not been undertaken. This situation extends to the best represented and most intensively studied of the European Palaeolithic techno-complexes, the Magdalenian (c.21,000–14,000 cal BP), and consequently, we know very little about the children of this enigmatic people. As play, including object play, is a ‘true cultural universal’, we can be certain that Magdalenian children integrated objects into their games, with these playthings later incorporated into the archaeological record. Through examining ethnographic accounts of recent hunter-gatherer children and reconsidering archaeological assemblages in light of these data, this paper suggests that Magdalenian playthings probably included full-sized adult weapon tips and – more significantly – pieces of what archaeologists term ‘art mobilier’. (...)

     
  Bears and humans, a Neanderthal tale. Reconstructing uncommon behaviors from zooarchaeological evidence in southern Europe, di M. Romandini, G. Terlato, N. Nannini, A. Tagliacozzo, S. Benazzi, M. Peresani, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 90, February 2018, Pages 71–91

Cave bear (Ursus spelaeus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), and Neanderthals were potential competitors for environmental resources (shelters and food) in Europe. In order to reinforce this view and contribute to the ongoing debate on late Neanderthal behavior, we present evidence from zooarchaeological and taphonomic analyses of bear bone remains discovered at Rio Secco Cave and Fumane Cave in northeast Italy, an extended geographic area north of the Adriatic Sea. The remains from both caves come from layers dated to 49-42 ky cal. BP, and suggest close interactions between humans and bears, with data not only limited to the association of Mousterian lithic artifacts with numerous bear remains, but also the detection of clearly preserved traces of human modification such as cut and percussion marks, which enable a reconstruction of the main steps of fur recovery and the butchering process. Examples of Neanderthal bear exploitation are extremely sporadic in Europe, and Grotta Rio Secco and Grotta Fumane can be considered rare cases of remain accumulations generated by the human predation of bears of varied age classes during or near the end of hibernation. All of this evidence suggests that bears had a strategic role in the nomadic economy of Neanderthal hunting groups.

     
  The earliest modern humans outside Africa, di I. Hershkovitz et alii, "Science", 26 Jan 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6374, pp. 456-459, DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8369

To date, the earliest modern human fossils found outside of Africa are dated to around 90,000 to 120,000 years ago at the Levantine sites of Skhul and Qafzeh. A maxilla and associated dentition recently discovered at Misliya Cave, Israel, was dated to 177,000 to 194,000 years ago, suggesting that members of the Homo sapiens clade left Africa earlier than previously thought. This finding changes our view on modern human dispersal and is consistent with recent genetic studies, which have posited the possibility of an earlier dispersal of Homo sapiens around 220,000 years ago. The Misliya maxilla is associated with full-fledged Levallois technology in the Levant, suggesting that the emergence of this technology is linked to the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, as has been documented in Africa.

     
  Israeli fossils are the oldest modern humans ever found outside of Africa, di E. Callaway, "Nature", 25 JANUARY 2018, doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-01261-5

The oldest human fossils ever found outside Africa suggest that Homo sapiens might have spread to the Arabian Peninsula around 180,000 years ago — much earlier than previously thought. The upper jaw and teeth, found in an Israeli cave and reported in Science on 25 January1, pre-date other human fossils from the same region by at least 50,000 years. But scientists say that it is unclear whether the fossils represent a brief incursion or a more-lasting expansion of the species. Researchers originally thought that H. sapiens emerged in East Africa 200,000 years ago, then moved out to populate the rest of the world. Until discoveries in the past decade countered that story, scientists thought that a small group left Africa some 60,000 years ago. If so, it would mean that signs of earlier travels, including 80,000–120,000-year-old skulls and other remains from Israel, uncovered in the 1920s and 1930s, were from failed migrations. (...)
     
  Shedding light on the Early Pleistocene of TD6 (Gran Dolina, Atapuerca, Spain): The technological sequence and occupational inferences, di M. Mosquera, A. Ollé, X. P. Rodríguez-Álvarez, E. Carbonell, January 25, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190889 - open access -

This paper aims to update the information available on the lithic assemblage from the entire sequence of TD6 now that the most recent excavations have been completed, and to explore possible changes in both occupational patterns and technological strategies evidenced in the unit. This is the first study to analyse the entire TD6 sequence, including subunits TD6.3 and TD6.1, which have never been studied, along with the better-known TD6.2 Homo antecessor-bearing subunit. We also present an analysis of several lithic refits found in TD6, as well as certain technical features that may help characterise the hominin occupations. The archaeo-palaeontological record from TD6 consists of 9,452 faunal remains, 443 coprolites, 1,046 lithic pieces, 170 hominin remains and 91 Celtis seeds. The characteristics of this record seem to indicate two main stages of occupation. In the oldest subunit, TD6.3, the lithic assemblage points to the light and limited hominin occupation of the cave, which does, however, grow over the course of the level. In contrast, the lithic assemblages from TD6.2 and TD6.1 are rich and varied, which may reflect Gran Dolina cave’s establishment as a landmark in the region. Despite the occupational differences between the lowermost subunit and the rest of the deposit, technologically the TD6 lithic assemblage is extremely homogeneous throughout. In addition, the composition and spatial distribution of the 12 groups of lithic refits found in unit TD6, as well as the in situ nature of the assemblage demonstrate the high degree of preservation at the site. This may help clarify the nature of the Early Pleistocene hominin occupations of TD6, and raise reasonable doubt about the latest interpretations that support the ex situ character of the assemblage as a whole. (...)

     
  Palaeolithic Caucasus: Paleoanthropological Panorama, di S. Vasilyev, H. Amirkhanov, "Quaternary International", Volume 465, Part A, 20 January 2018, Pages 105-116

The article gives an analytical overview of paleoanthropological finds from Palaeolithic Caucasus. Archaeological studies show that in the Early Pleistocene, the region was extensively inhabited. The path of the first settlers ran along the Western Caspian and possibly the Eastern Black Sea regions. This way was probably a transit on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a natural refuge where natural resources allowed people to exist for a relatively long time. Further evolutionary process, according to the paleoanthropological remains, was associated with Western Asia, as well as with Western Europe. However, the emergence of Homo sapiens in the Caucasus was most likely due to the migration of sapiens forms from the African continent around 100 thousand years ago.

     
  Speech, stone tool-making and the evolution of language, di D. M. Cataldo, A. Bamberg Migliano, L. Vinicius, January 19, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191071 - open access -

The ‘technological hypothesis’ proposes that gestural language evolved in early hominins to enable the cultural transmission of stone tool-making skills, with speech appearing later in response to the complex lithic industries of more recent hominins. However, no flintknapping study has assessed the efficiency of speech alone (unassisted by gesture) as a tool-making transmission aid. Here we show that subjects instructed by speech alone underperform in stone tool-making experiments in comparison to subjects instructed through either gesture alone or ‘full language’ (gesture plus speech), and also report lower satisfaction with their received instruction. The results provide evidence that gesture was likely to be selected over speech as a teaching aid in the earliest hominin tool-makers; that speech could not have replaced gesturing as a tool-making teaching aid in later hominins, possibly explaining the functional retention of gesturing in the full language of modern humans; and that speech may have evolved for reasons unrelated to tool-making. We conclude that speech is unlikely to have evolved as tool-making teaching aid superior to gesture, as claimed by the technological hypothesis, and therefore alternative views should be considered. For example, gestural language may have evolved to enable tool-making in earlier hominins, while speech may have later emerged as a response to increased trade and more complex inter- and intra-group interactions in Middle Pleistocene ancestors of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens; or gesture and speech may have evolved in parallel rather than in sequence. (...)

     
  Putting the Palaeolithic into Worcestershire's HER: An evidence base for development management, di O. Russell, N. Daffern, E. Hancox, A. Nash, "Internet Archaeology", 47, 18 January 2018, https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.47.3

Worcestershire, like the majority of the West Midlands, is not considered a focal point for the study of Palaeolithic archaeological remains, with much of the focus occurring in the east and south-east of England. Despite this, discoveries of Palaeolithic artefactual and palaeoenvironmental remains within the county, and the wider West Midlands, have shown that the area has the potential to be productive and assist in national and international research aims for the period. Palaeolithic research is usually carried out by specialists in Quaternary science and the resulting reports are difficult for non-specialists to access. The result is that Palaeolithic archaeology is often poorly represented within Historic Environment Records and unavailable to Local Planning Authority archaeological advisors in an accessible format. It is challenging in the context of National Planning Policy Framework to justify archaeological interventions as proportionate and reasonable when the archaeology is evidenced in the form of a few artefacts from poorly understood geological contexts. This article describes a Historic England-funded project which aimed to address this issue and ensure evidence of this date can be incorporated within Historic Environment Records in a way that can be interpreted and used by non-specialists, and will be of particular use to those involved in development management.

     
  A reassessment of the Montmaurin-La Niche mandible (Haute Garonne, France) in the context of European Pleistocene human evolution, di A. Vialet et alii, January 16, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189714 - open access -

We here present a comparative study of the Montmaurin-LN Middle Pleistocene mandible (Haute-Garonne, France). This mandible, of which its right and left molar series are preserved in situ, was found in La Niche cave (Montmaurin’s karst system) in 1949, and was first attributed to the ‘Mindel-Riss’ interglacial (= MIS 9 to 11) based on its geological context. Later studies based on geological and faunal evidence have attributed the Montmaurin-LN mandible to MIS 7. Following a detailed morphological and metric comparative study of the mandible in the 1970s, it was interpreted in the light of a still limited fossil record and the prevailing paradigm back then. Waiting for geochronological studies in the forthcoming years, here we review the main morphological and metrical features of this mandible and its molars, which have been reassessed in the framework of a remarkably enlarged Pleistocene fossil record since the mandible was first described, and our current, more in-depth understanding of human evolution in Europe. Using a selection of mandibular features with potential taxonomic signal we have found that the Montmaurin-LN mandible shares only a few derived traits with Neandertals. Our analyses reveal that this mandible is more closely related to the ancient specimens from the African and Eurasian Early and Middle Pleistocene, particularly due to the presence of primitive features of the Homo clade. In contrast, the external morphology of the molars is clearly similar to that of Neandertals. The results are assessed in the light of the present competing hypotheses used to explain the European hominin fossil record. (...)

     
  Early hominins in Europe: The Galerian migration hypothesis, di G. Muttoni, G. Scardia, D. V. Kent, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 180, 15 January 2018, Pages 1-29

Our updated review of sites bearing hominin remains and/or tools from Europe, including new findings from the Balkans, still indicates that the only compelling evidence of main hominin presence in these regions was only since ~0.9 million years ago (Ma), bracketed by the end of the Jaramillo geomagnetic polarity subchron (0.99 Ma) and the Brunhes-Matuyama polarity chron boundary (0.78 Ma). This time window straddled the late Early Pleistocene climate transition (EPT) at the onset of enhanced glacial/interglacial activity that reverberated worldwide. Europe may have become initially populated during the EPT when, possibly for the first time in the Pleistocene, vast and exploitable ecosystems were generated along the eustatically emergent Po-Danube terrestrial conduit. These newly formed settings, characterized by stable terrestrial lowlands with open grasslands and reduced woody cover especially during glacial/interglacial transitions, are regarded as optimal ecosystems for several large Galerian immigrant mammals such as African and Asian megaherbivores, possibly linked with hominins in a common food web, to expand into en route to Europe. The question of when hominins first arrived in Europe thus places the issue in the context of changes in climate, paleogeography and faunal associations as potential environmental drivers and controlling agents in a specific time frame, a key feature of the Galerian migration hypothesis.

     
  'Humans and Quaternary Environments in the Levant' in Honour of Professor Mina Weinstein-Evron. Edited by Danny Rosenberg, Reuven Yeshurun, Volume 464, Part A, Pages 1-326 (10 January 2018)

· Danny Rosenberg, Reuven Yeshurun, Humans and quaternary environments in the Levant – A special issue in honour of Professor Mina Weinstein-Evron, Pages 1-2

· Miriam Belmaker, Insights from carnivore community composition on the paleoecology of early Pleistocene Eurasian sites: Implications for the dispersal of hominins out of Africa, Pages 3-17

· Y. Zaidner, N. Porat, E. Zilberman, G. Herzlinger, A. Almogi-Labin, J. Roskin, Geo-chronological context of the open-air Acheulian site at Nahal Hesi, northwestern Negev, Israel, Pages 18-31

· N. Porat, M. Jain, A. Ronen, L.K. Horwitz, A contribution to late Middle Paleolithic chronology of the Levant: New luminescence ages for the Atlit Railway Bridge site, Coastal Plain, Israel, Pages 32-42

· Ehud Galili, Avraham Ronen, Henk K. Mienis, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Beach deposits containing Middle Paleolithic archaeological remains from northern Israel, Pages 43-57

· Alla Yaroshevich, Maayan Shemer, Naomi Porat, Joel Roskin, Flint workshop affiliation: Chronology, technology and site-formation processes at Giv'at Rabbi East, Lower Galilee, Israel, Pages 58-80

· Ron Shimelmitz, Steven L. Kuhn, The toolkit in the core: There is more to Levallois production than predetermination, Pages 81-91

· Omry Barzilai, Natalia Gubenko, Rethinking Emireh Cave: The lithic technology perspectives, Pages 92-105

· Ron Shimelmitz, David E. Friesem, Jamie L. Clark, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Lior Weissbrod, Naomi Porat, Andrew W. Kandel, The Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic of Sefunim Cave, Israel, Pages 106-125

· Andrew W. Kandel, Knut Bretzke, Nicholas J. Conard, Epipaleolithic shell beads from Damascus Province, Syria, Pages 126-140

· Daniel Kaufman, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Reuven Yeshurun, Eli Crater-Gershtein, Dani Nadel, Engraved flint nodules from the Levantine middle Epipaleolithic: Neve David revisited, Pages 141-158

· Christophe Delage, Revisiting Rolling stones: The procurement of non-local goods in the Epipaleolithic of the Near East, Pages 159-172

· Reuven Yeshurun, Guy Bar-Oz, Ungulate skeletal element profiles: A possible marker for territorial contraction and sedentism in the Levantine Epipaleolithic, Pages 173-186

· Jacob Vardi, Ofer Marder, Revital Bookman, David E. Friesem, I. Groman-Yeroslavski, Lotan Edeltin, Naomi Porat, Elisabetta Boaretto, Joel Roskin, Middle to Late Epipaleolithic hunter-gatherer encampments at the Ashalim site, on a linear dune-like morphology, along dunefield margin water bodies, Pages 187-205


· Avraham Ronen, Quaternary sedimentology and prehistory on the Mediterranean coastal plain of Israel, Pages 315-326

     
  Further consideration of the curvature of the Neandertal Femur, di T. Chapman, V. Sholukha, P. Semal, S. Louryan, S. Van Sint Jan, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 165, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 94–107 - open access -

Neandertal femora are particularly known for having a marked sagittal femoral curvature. This study examined femoral curvature in Neandertals in comparison to a modern human population from Belgium by the use of three-dimensional (3D) quadric surfaces modeled from the bone surface. 3D models provide detailed information and enabled femoral curvature to be analyzed in conjunction with other morphological parameters.
3D models were created from CT scans of 75 modern human femora and 7 Neandertal femora. Quadric surfaces (QS) were created from the triangulated surface vertices in all areas of interest (neck, head, diaphyseal shaft, condyles) extracted from previously placed anatomical landmarks. The diaphyseal shaft was divided into five QS shapes and curvature was measured by degrees of difference between QS shapes. Each bone was placed in a local coordinate system enabling each bone to be analyzed in the same way.
The use of 3D quadric surface fitting allowed the distribution of curvature with similarly curved femora to be analyzed and the different patterns of curvature between the two groups to be determined. The Neandertals were shown to have a higher degree of femoral curvature and a more distal point of femoral curvature than the modern human population from Belgium.
Morphological aspects of the Neandertal femur are different from this modern human population although mainly seem unrelated to femoral curvature. The relative lack of correlations with other femoral bony morphological factors suggests femoral curvature variations may be related to other aspects. (...)

     
  The evolution of modern human brain shape, di S. Neubauer, J. J. Hublin, P. Gunz, "Science Advances", JANUARY 2018, VOL 4, ISSUE 1 - open access -

Modern humans have large and globular brains that distinguish them from their extinct Homo relatives. The characteristic globularity develops during a prenatal and early postnatal period of rapid brain growth critical for neural wiring and cognitive development. However, it remains unknown when and how brain globularity evolved and how it relates to evolutionary brain size increase. On the basis of computed tomographic scans and geometric morphometric analyses, we analyzed endocranial casts of Homo sapiens fossils (N = 20) from different time periods. Our data show that, 300,000 years ago, brain size in early H. sapiens already fell within the range of present-day humans. Brain shape, however, evolved gradually within the H. sapiens lineage, reaching present-day human variation between about 100,000 and 35,000 years ago. This process started only after other key features of craniofacial morphology appeared modern and paralleled the emergence of behavioral modernity as seen from the archeological record. Our findings are consistent with important genetic changes affecting early brain development within the H. sapiens lineage since the origin of the species and before the transition to the Later Stone Age and the Upper Paleolithic that mark full behavioral modernity. (...)
     
  Bio-cultural interactions and demography during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Iberia: An agent-based modelling approach, di C. Cucart-Mora, S. Lozano, J. Fernández-López de Pablo, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 89, January 2018, Pages 14-24

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition was a process of cultural and biological replacement, considered a turning point in human evolutionary history. Various hypotheses have been used to explain the disappearance of Neanderthals from Eurasia. However, very few studies have explicitly examined the causative role of demography on Neanderthal and anatomically modern humans (AMH) interaction. Here we use an integrative method based on computational modelling and the analysis of archaeological data to construct an agent based model that explores the influence of demographic variables (birth and death rates) and mobility (home range size) on the bio-cultural interaction between AMH and Neanderthals during the transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic on the Iberian Peninsula (50 ka to 30 ka BP). Our simulation results are consistent with the current radiocarbon framework for the disappearance of Neanderthals in this region. This suggest that the extinction of Neanderthals could be explained by inter-specific differences in demographic behaviour and mobility patterns compared with AMH.

     
  Arte prehistórico y ciencia ficción: los retos de la divulgación académica, di A. Lombo Montañés, "ArqueoWeb", 18, 2017, pp. 31-61 - open access -

El arte prehistórico ha sido utilizado como una prueba de la visita de extraterrestres durante la prehistoria. La teoría de los Antiguos Astronautas forma parte de una prehistoria esotérica cuyos orígenes se remontan al siglo XIX. El discurso de esta teoría fue popularizado por Von Däniken en los años sesenta del siglo pasado y ha sido recientemente planteada en la película de Ridley Scott Prometheus (2012) en donde aparecen los caballos de Chauvet. ¿Qué hacen los caballos de Chauvet en una película de alienígenas? En el presente estudio investigamos las principales ideas de la prehistoria esotérica en relación con el arte prehistórico para intentar comprender el enorme éxito de esta teoría en la mentalidad colectiva. (...)

 

 


Index di antiqui Sommario bacheca