Aggiornamento 08/02/2021


  Late Neanderthal subsistence strategies and cultural traditions in the northern Iberia Peninsula: Insights from Prado Vargas, Burgos, Spain, di M. Navazo Ruiz et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 254, 15 February 2021, 106795

In order to better understand the causes and geographic patterns of Neanderthal demise it is necessary to broaden the focus of existing Neanderthal studies to include new sites from understudied regions, particularly those containing multi-level fossil and lithic records, and to improve regional-scale Neanderthal extinction frameworks using multiple dating techniques. To this end, we present an interdisciplinary study of the stratigraphy, chronology, pollen, fauna, lithic technology and human remains of the last Neanderthal level (Level N4) of Prado Vargas – a cave in northern Iberia, whose geographic location and chronology are ideal for investigating possible socio-economic and climatic influences on Neanderthal decline. Level N4 has yielded a rich Late Mousterian palimpsest indicative of repeated seasonal occupations, as well as a deciduous Neanderthal tooth, confirming the presence of children at the site. (...)

  Nehandertals' gut microbiota and the bacteria helping our health, 5-FEB-2021

Neanderthals' gut microbiota already included some beneficial micro-organisms that are also found in our own intestine. An international research group led by the University of Bologna achieved this result by extracting and analysing ancient DNA from 50,000-year-old faecal sediments sampled at the archaeological site of El Salt, near Alicante (Spain). Published in Communication Biology, their paper puts forward the hypothesis of the existence of ancestral components of human microbiota that have been living in the human gastrointestinal tract since before the separation between the Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals that occurred more than 700,000 years ago. "These results allow us to understand which components of the human gut microbiota are essential for our health, as they are integral elements of our biology also from an evolutionary point of view" explains Marco Candela, the professor of the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology of the University of Bologna, who coordinated the study. "Nowadays there is a progressive reduction of our microbiota diversity due to the context of our modern life: this research group's findings could guide us in devising diet- and lifestyle-tailored solutions to counteract this phenomenon". (...)

  Short-term occupations at high elevation during the Middle Paleolithic at Kalavan 2 (Republic of Armenia), di A. Malinsky-Buller et alii, 4 February 2021, doi: - open access -

The Armenian highlands encompasses rugged and environmentally diverse landscapes and is characterized by a mosaic of distinct ecological niches and large temperature gradients. Strong seasonal fluctuations in resource availability along topographic gradients likely prompted Pleistocene hominin groups to adapt by adjusting their mobility strategies. However, the role that elevated landscapes played in hunter-gatherer settlement systems during the Late Pleistocene (Middle Palaeolithic [MP]) remains poorly understood. At 1640 m above sea level, the MP site of Kalavan 2 (Armenia) is ideally positioned for testing hypotheses involving elevation-dependent seasonal mobility and subsistence strategies. Renewed excavations at Kalavan 2 exposed three main occupation horizons and ten additional low densities lithic and faunal assemblages. The results provide a new chronological, stratigraphical, and paleoenvironmental framework for hominin behaviors between ca. 60 to 45 ka. The evidence presented suggests that the stratified occupations at Kalavan 2 locale were repeated ephemerally most likely related to hunting in a high-elevation within the mountainous steppe landscape. (...)

  Les dents de Néandertal découvertes il y a 110 ans à Jersey nous étonnent encore! 03/02/2021

C’est entre 1910 et 1911, sur le site de La Cotte de St Brelade (île de jersey) que l’anthropologue Robert Ranulph Marett entame des fouilles. Son équipe met au jour des restes de faune (mammouth et renne principalement) ainsi que plus de 15 000 outils en silex. La preuve d’un habitat récurrent est apportée par la découverte de traces de foyers (silex chauffés) et surtout de dents d’hominidés. Au total, 13 dents sont attribuées par les chercheurs à Néandertal. En 1916, Robert R. Marett publie les résultats des fouilles (The Site, Fauna, and Industry of La Cotte de St. Brelade, Jersey 1916). Ponctuellement, en fonction de l’évolution des techniques, les artefacts de la grotte de la Cotte bénéficient par la suite de nouvelle études. En 1994, les silex chauffés sont datés par thermoluminescence à 238 000 ans pour les plus anciens. En 2013, les sédiments contenant les dents sont datés par la méthode OSL (luminescence stimulée optiquement) entre - 48 000 et -100 000 ans. (...)

  The expansion of the Acheulian to the Southeastern Ethiopian Highlands: Insights from the new early Pleistocene site-complex of Melka Wakena, di E. Hovers et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 253, 1 February 2021, 106763

Current models of early hominin biological and cultural evolution are shaped almost entirely by the data accumulated from the East African Rift System (EARS) over the last decades. In contrast, little is known about the archaeological record from the high-elevation regions on either side of the Rift. Melka Wakena is a newly discovered site-complex on the Southeastern Ethiopian Highlands (SEH) (>2300 m above mean sea level) just east of the central sector of the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), where eight archaeological and two paleontological localities were discovered to date. Nine archaeological horizons from three localities were tested so far, all dated to the second half of the early Pleistocene (~1.6 to >0.7 Ma). All the lithic assemblages belong to the Acheulian technocomplex. (...)

  Investigating relationships between technological variability and ecology in the Middle Gravettian (ca. 32–28 ky cal. BP) in France, di A. Vignoles et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 253, 1 February 2021, 106766

The French Middle Gravettian represents an interesting case study for attempting to identify mechanisms behind the typo-technological variability observed in the archaeological record. Associated with the relatively cold and dry environments of GS.5.2 and 5.1, this phase of the Gravettian is characterized by two lithic typo-technical entities (faciès in French): the Noaillian (defined by the presence of Noailles burins) and the Rayssian (identified by the Raysse method of bladelet production).
The two faciès have partially overlapping geographic distributions, with the Rayssian having a more northern and restricted geographic extension than the Noaillian. Their chronological relationship, however, is still unclear, and interpretations of their dual presence at many sites within the region of overlap are not yet consensual. (...)


Exploring late Paleolithic and Mesolithic diet in the Eastern Alpine region of Italy through multiple proxies, di G. Oxilia et alii, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 232-253 - open access -

The analysis of prehistoric human dietary habits is key for understanding the effects of paleoenvironmental changes on the evolution of cultural and social human behaviors. In this study, we compare results from zooarchaeological, stable isotope and dental calculus analyses as well as lower second molar macrowear patterns to gain a broader understanding of the diet of three individuals who lived between the end of the Late Pleistocene and the Early Holocene (ca., 17–8 ky cal BP) in the Eastern Alpine region of Italy.
We analyze individuals buried at the sites of Riparo Tagliente (Verona), Riparo Villabruna, and Mondeval de Sora (Belluno). The three burials provide a unique dataset for diachronically exploring the influence of climatic changes on human subsistence strategies. (...)

  Prevalence of cranial trauma in Eurasian Upper Paleolithic humans, di J. Beier, N. Anthes, J. Wahl, K. Harvati, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 268-284 - open access -

This study characterizes patterns of cranial trauma prevalence in a large sample of Upper Paleolithic (UP) fossil specimens (40,000–10,000 BP).
Our sample comprised 234 individual crania (specimens), representing 1,285 cranial bones (skeletal elements), from 101 Eurasian UP sites. We used generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) to assess trauma prevalence in relation to age‐at‐death, sex, anatomical distribution, and between pre‐ and post‐Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) samples, while accounting for skeletal preservation. (...)


Comparative morphometric analyses of the deciduous molars of Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, di J. K. Brophy, J. Moggi-Cecchi, G. J. Matthews, S. E. Bailey, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 299-314

The purpose of this study is to help elucidate the taxonomic relationship between Homo naledi and other hominins.
Homo naledi deciduous maxillary and mandibular molars from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa were compared to those of Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus afarensis, Paranthropus robustus, Paranthropus boisei, early Homo sp., Homo erectus, early Homo sapiens, Upper Paleolithic H. sapiens, recent southern African H. sapiens, and Neanderthals by means of morphometric analyses of crown outlines and relative cusp areas. The crown shapes were analyzed using elliptical Fourier analyses followed by principal component analyses (PCA). The absolute and relative cusp areas were obtained in ImageJ and compared using PCA and cluster analyses. (...)


Assessing complexity in hominid dental evolution: Fractal analysis of great ape and human molars, di H. Cano-Fernández, A. Gómez-Robles, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 352-362

Molar crenulation is defined as the accessory pattern of grooves that appears on the occlusal surface of many mammalian molars. Although frequently used in the characterization of species, this trait is often assessed qualitatively, which poses unavoidable subjective biases. The objective of this study is to quantitatively test the variability in the expression of molar crenulation in primates and its association with molar size and diet.
The variability in the expression of molar crenulation in hominids (human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan) was assessed with fractal analysis using photographs of first, second and third upper and lower molars. After this, representative values for 29 primate species were used to evaluate the correlation between molar complexity, molar size, and diet using a phylogenetic generalized least squares regression. (...)

  Archaeological and experimental studies of splintered pieces in the Central Asian Upper Paleolithic, di K. A. Kolobova et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 13, Issue 2, February 2021

In Paleolithic archaeology, there are two dichotomous perspectives on so-called splintered pieces, or pieces esquillées, in which, depending upon archaeological context and the availability and quality of lithic of raw material, such pieces are considered bipolar cores or tools for processing organic materials. Here, we discuss for the first time functionality, reduction models, and modes of using Upper Paleolithic pièces esquillées from two Central Asian regions: the Tian Shan Mountains of eastern Uzbekistan and the Yenisey Valley of Siberian Russia. By applying attributive, experimental, scar-pattern, and use-wear analyses, we determined that these artifacts derived from two widely separated regions are tools for processing hard organic materials, which were rotated often during use. Reconstructed reduction sequences indicate that the morphological appearance of the implements was affected by the working processes associated with contact between the hammer and the organic material being processed. (...)

  First large-scale provenance study of pigments reveals new complex behavioural patterns during the Upper Palaeolithic of south-western Germany, di E. C. Velliky, B. L. MacDonald, M. Porr, N. J. Conard, "Archaeometry", Volume 63, Issue 1, February 2021, Pages 173-193 - open access -

The use of red iron-based earth pigments, or ochre, is a key component of early symbolic behaviours for anatomically modern humans and possibly Neanderthals. We present the first ochre provenance study in Central Europe showing long-term selection strategies by inhabitants of cave sites in south-western Germany during the Upper Palaeolithic (43–14.5 ka). Ochre artefacts from Hohle Fels, Geißenklösterle and Vogelherd, and local and extra-local sources, were investigated using neutron activation analysis (NAA), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The results show that local ochre sources were continuously and systematically accessed for c.29 500 years, with periodic events of long‐distance (about > 300 km) ochre acquisition during the Aurignacian (c.35–43 ka), suggesting higher mobility than previously suspected. The results reveal previously unknown long-term, complex spatio-temporal behavioural patterns during the earliest presence of Homo sapiens in Europe. (...)

  The 40,000-Year-Old Female Figurine of Hohle Fels: Previous Assumptions and New Perspectives, di M. K. Stannard, M. C. Langley, "Cambridge Archaeological Journal", Volume 31, Issue 1, February 2021, pp. 21-33 - open access -

As the earliest image of a human being and the oldest piece of figurative art, the female figurine of Hohle Fels remains a significant discovery for understanding the development of symbolic behaviour in Homo sapiens. Discovered in southwestern Germany in 2008, this mammoth-ivory sculpture was found in several fragments and has always been assumed to be complete, never owning a head. In place of a head, there is instead a small loop that would allow her to be threaded, possibly to be worn as a pendant. Several hypotheses have been put forward as to her original use context, ranging from representing a fertility goddess to a pornographic figure. Yet none of these theses have ever suggested that she once had a head. Here we explore whether the female figurine of Hohle Fels was designed as a two-part piece, with the head made of perishable material culture, possibly woven plant or animal fibres; or that the artefact is a broken and reworked figurine with the head simply never found. By exploring the possibility that this figurine did originally have a second part—a head—we investigate issues surrounding the role of women and children in the Swabian Aurignacian. (...)

  Characterization and sources of Paleolithic–Mesolithic ochre from Coves de Santa Maira (Valencian Region, Spain), di J. E, Aura Tortosa, G. Gallello, C. Roldán, G. Cavallo, A. Pastor, S. Murcia-Mascarós, "Geoarchaeology", Volume 36, Issue 1, January/February 2021, Pages 72-91

The origin of iron-oxide materials found at Paleolithic and Neolithic sites in the Spanish Mediterranean region is a pivotal issue that has not yet been explored. The aim of this study is to investigate the exploitation of local ochre sources during the different archaeological phases identified at the site of Coves de Santa Maira (Valencian Region, Eastern Spain). A sampling strategy and a methodological approach were developed. Lumps of ochre and raw materials were sampled from the archaeological site and its surroundings. The archaeological materials studied are from the occupational phases dated to between 15 and 6 ka cal BP, whereas the raw materials sampled from the surroundings of the cave are red fine-grained and earthy-grained sedimentary materials and Late Triassic (Keuper) clays. (...)

  Archaeological Survey in Guadalajara: Human Occupation in Central Spain during the Late Pleistocene, di A. Burke et alii, "Journal of Field Archaeology", Volume 46, 2021 - Issue 1

The central Meseta is a high plateau located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. Abundant evidence of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic occupations of the region contrasts with scarce evidence of a human presence during the early Upper Palaeolithic. On this basis, it has been suggested that climatic downturns triggered the temporary abandonment, or near abandonment, of the central Meseta during the Last Glacial period. We conducted three archaeological surveys in Guadalajara province, located in the southern part of the region, in 2009, 2010, and 2017. (...)

  Biomechanics of the human thumb and the evolution of dexterity, di  F. A. Karakostis, D. Haeufle, I. Anastopoulou, G. Hotz, V. Tourloukis, K. Harvati, 28 January 2021, doi: - open access -

Systematic tool production and use is one of humanity’s defining characteristics, possibly originating as early as >3 million years ago. Although heightened manual dexterity is considered to be intrinsically intertwined with tool use and manufacture, and critical for human evolution, its role in the emergence of early culture remains unclear. Most previous research on this question exclusively relied on direct morphological comparisons between early hominin and modern human skeletal elements, assuming that the degree of a species’ dexterity depends on its similarity with the modern human form. Here, we develop a new approach to investigate the efficiency of thumb opposition, a fundamental component of manual dexterity, in several species of fossil hominins. Our work for the first time takes into account soft tissue as well as bone anatomy, integrating virtual modeling of musculus opponens pollicis and its interaction with three-dimensional bone shape form. (...)

  An integrated study discloses chopping tools use from Late Acheulean Revadim (Israel), di F. Venditti, A. Agam, J. Tirillò, S. Nunziante-Cesaro, R. Barkai, 19 January 2021, doi: - open access -

Chopping tools/choppers provide one of the earliest and most persistent examples of stone tools produced and used by early humans. These artifacts appeared for the first time ~2.5 million years ago in Africa and are characteristic of the Oldowan and Acheulean cultural complexes throughout the Old World. Chopping tools were manufactured and used by early humans for more than two million years regardless of differences in geography, climate, resource availability, or major transformations in human cultural and biological evolution. Despite their widespread distribution through time and space in Africa and Eurasia, little attention has been paid to the function of these items, while scholars still debate whether they are tools or cores. In this paper, we wish to draw attention to these prominent and ubiquitous early lithic artifacts through the investigation of 53 chopping tools retrieved from a specific context at Late Acheulean Revadim (Israel). We combined typo-technological and functional studies with a residue analysis aimed at shedding light on their functional role within the tool-kits of the inhabitants of the site. Here we show that most of the chopping tools were used to chop hard and medium materials, such as bone, most probably for marrow extraction. (...)

  Neanderthal foraging in freshwater ecosystems: A reappraisal of the Middle Paleolithic archaeological fish record from continental Western Europe, di E. Guillaud et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 252, 15 January 2021, 106731

The prevalence of large game found in association with Middle Paleolithic tools has traditionally biased our ideas of Neanderthal subsistence practices. Studies document the exploitation of small mammals, birds, and plants by Neanderthals, whereas data on aquatic resources are still scarce and data on fish are almost non-existent. This article presents a review of fish remains from 11 Middle Palaeolithic fish bone assemblages from well contextualized sites in Belgium, France and Spain. It explores the nature of the evidence in order to determine whether Neanderthal fished and if so, whether fishing was a casual, opportunistic activity or a systematic practice. The first issue to address is whether archaeological fish remains at any given site represent human activity or not. Our study tests that assertion while enhancing our understanding of the diversity of food alternatives available to Neanderthals at any given site, and their ability to adapt to them. (...)

  Continuity of the Middle Stone Age into the Holocene, di E. M. L. Scerri et alii, "Scientific Reports", Volume 11, Article number: 70 (2021), 11 January 2021 - open access -

The African Middle Stone Age (MSA, typically considered to span ca. 300–30 thousand years ago [ka]), represents our species’ first and longest lasting cultural phase. Although the MSA to Later Stone Age (LSA) transition is known to have had a degree of spatial and temporal variability, recent studies have implied that in some regions, the MSA persisted well beyond 30 ka. Here we report two new sites in Senegal that date the end of the MSA to around 11 ka, the youngest yet documented MSA in Africa. This shows that this cultural phase persisted into the Holocene. These results highlight significant spatial and temporal cultural variability in the African Late Pleistocene, consistent with genomic and palaeoanthropological hypotheses that significant, long-standing inter-group cultural differences shaped the later stages of human evolution in Africa. (...)

  Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago, di J. Mercader, P. Akuku, M. Petraglia, "Nature Communications", Volume 12, Article number: 3 (2021), 07 January 2021 - open access -

Rapid environmental change is a catalyst for human evolution, driving dietary innovations, habitat diversification, and dispersal. However, there is a dearth of information to assess hominin adaptions to changing physiography during key evolutionary stages such as the early Pleistocene. Here we report a multiproxy dataset from Ewass Oldupa, in the Western Plio-Pleistocene rift basin of Olduvai Gorge (now Oldupai), Tanzania, to address this lacuna and offer an ecological perspective on human adaptability two million years ago. Oldupai’s earliest hominins sequentially inhabited the floodplains of sinuous channels, then river-influenced contexts, which now comprises the oldest palaeolake setting documented regionally. Early Oldowan tools reveal a homogenous technology to utilise diverse, rapidly changing environments that ranged from fern meadows to woodland mosaics, naturally burned landscapes, to lakeside woodland/palm groves as well as hyper-xeric steppes. Hominins periodically used emerging landscapes and disturbance biomes multiple times over 235,000 years, thus predating by more than 180,000 years the earliest known hominins and Oldowan industries from the Eastern side of the basin. (...)


Prehistoric ivory items from Siberia, 7 January 2021

The skill of ivory softening was used more than 12,000 years ago to make tools - or decorations - that still puzzle modern science. A dozen solid elongated ivory bars crafted from softened ivory, and several figurines made from spongy parts of large mammoth bones, and resembling various animals were found at the Afontova Gora-2 archeological site by river Yenisey in Krasnoyarsk (Russia). The finds were made in early 2000, but were re-examined recently by Dr Evgeny Artemyev who said that the figurines can be either Ice Age toys made by people who populated this area of the modern-day Siberia, or a form of primeval art. "When you look at them at different angles, they resemble different types of animals. It is possible that this is the new form of Palaeolithic art," the archeologist said. (...)

  Interconnected Magdalenian societies as revealed by the circulation of whale bone artefacts in the Pyreneo-Cantabrian region, di A. Lefebvre et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 251, 1 January 2021, 106692

Coastal adaptations of Palaeolithic foragers along the north Atlantic seaboard have received renewed attention in the last decade and include growing evidence for exploitation of whale bone by Late Glacial Magdalenian groups to the north of the Pyrenees. Here we present a systematic revision of Magdalenian osseous industries from the Cantabrian region designed to explore whether this phenomenon was more widely shared by hunter-gatherer groups along the Atlantic coast of the northern Iberian Peninsula. Fifty-four whale bone objects were identified from 12 of the 64 sampled sites. Essentially represented by large, finished weapon elements (projectile points), these objects are primarily associated with the middle phase of the Cantabrian Magdalenian, and overlap slightly with the beginning its upper and probably the end of its lower phases. (...)

  High-resolution late Middle Pleistocene paleoclimatic record from the Galería Complex, Atapuerca archaeological site, Spain - An environmental magnetic approach, di M. F. Bógalo et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 251, 1 January 2021, 106721

The Galería Complex is a cave sediment succession at the Atapuerca paleoanthropological site (Burgos, Spain) that offers detailed environmental information about the late Middle Pleistocene, especially the period between marine oxygen isotope stages MIS10 and MIS7. Previous studies have reconstructed the chronology and detailed the environmental development of this key succession. We introduce rock magnetic climate proxies from the sedimentary units of the Galería succession that we correlate with the global climate record as represented by the marine oxygen isotope record. The cave sediment sequence consists of five infilling phases, four of which were sampled at high resolution across a 5 m thick composite profile. (...)

  Assessment of physiological disturbances during pre- and early postnatal development based on microscopic analysis of human deciduous teeth from the Late Epipaleolithic site of Shubayqa 1 (Jordan), di H. Kierdorf, C. Witzel, E. Bocaege, T. Richter, U. Kierdorf, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 20-34

To study pre- and early postnatal tooth formation and to analyze the effects of physiological disturbances on enamel and dentin formation in deciduous teeth of infants from the Late Epipaleolithic (Natufian) site Shubayqa 1.
Ten deciduous teeth from six infants (ages at death between 21 and 239 days) were analyzed by light and scanning electron microscopy.
Marked prism cross-striations and an abnormal wavy course of the prisms were recorded in pre. and postnatal enamel of all analyzed teeth. Single or multiple accentuated incremental lines were observed in prenatal enamel of nine teeth and in postnatal enamel of eight teeth. (...)

  Virtually estimated endocranial volumes of the Krapina Neandertals, di Z. Cofran, M. Boone, M. Petticord, "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Volume 174, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 117-128

The Krapina rock shelter has yielded a large assemblage of early Neandertals. Although endocranial volume (ECV) has been estimated for four individuals from the site, several published values that appear in the literature warrant revisiting.
We used virtual methods, including high‐resolution surface models of fossils and 3D geometric morphometrics, to reconstruct endocasts and estimate ECV for five Krapina crania. We generated 10 reconstructions of each endocast to quantify missing data uncertainty. To assess the method and our ECV estimates, we applied these techniques to the Spy II Neandertal, and estimated ECV of a human reference endocast simulating the missing data of the Krapina fossils. (...)


Explanations of variability in Middle Stone Age stone tool assemblage composition and raw material use in Eastern Africa, di J. Blinkhorn, M. Grove, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2021 - open access -

The Middle Stone Age (MSA) corresponds to a critical phase in human evolution, overlapping with the earliest emergence of Homo sapiens as well as the expansions of these populations across and beyond Africa. Within the context of growing recognition for a complex and structured population history across the continent, Eastern Africa remains a critical region to explore patterns of behavioural variability due to the large number of well-dated archaeological assemblages compared to other regions. Quantitative studies of the Eastern African MSA record have indicated patterns of behavioural variation across space, time and from different environmental contexts. Here, we examine the nature of these patterns through the use of matrix correlation statistics, exploring whether differences in assemblage composition and raw material use correlate to differences between one another, assemblage age, distance in space, and the geographic and environmental characteristics of the landscapes surrounding MSA sites. (...)


From forest to settlement: Magdalenian hunter-gatherer interactions with the wood vegetation environment based on anthracology and intra-site spatial distribution, di B. Mas, E. Allué, E. S. Alonso, M. Vaquero, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2021 - open access -

This study aims to provide anthracological data on forest transformations on the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula during the transition from the last glacial GS-2a to the last isotopic event of interstadial GI-1. We present a complete anthracological sequence from Molí del Salt (Vimbodí i Poblet, Tarragona, NE Iberian Peninsula), a site assigned to the Late Upper Palaeolithic. Our results suggest a continuous forest cover transformation throughout the inter-GI-1. Forest opening was determined by the retreat of Pinus sylvestris type, which was dominant during the Late Pleistocene, in relation to the continuous expansion of Juniperus sp. Likewise, our results suggest a progressive increase in the diversity of cold- and drought-resistant mesophilic taxa, which would have begun with the more temperate climatic conditions occasioned by the positive isotopic oscillations of GI-1. (...)


Specialized aquatic resource exploitation at the Late Natufian site of Nahal Ein Gev II, Israel, di N. D. Munro, A. N. Petrillo, L. Grosman, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2021

This paper investigates aquatic resource exploitation at the Late Natufian site (ca. 12,000 cal. BP) of Nahal Ein Gev II located 2 km east of the Sea of Galilee. Aquatic game, here fish and waterfowl, were an important component of the diverse small game resources that became important in the Late Epipaleolithic in Southwest Asia. We characterize local adaptations to the aquatic habitat and their economic and social implications at Nahal Ein Gev II. Taxonomic abundance and diversity, body-part representation, and fish body-size were investigated to evaluate the contribution of aquatic resources to human diets and butchery and transport strategies. Our results show that the residents of Nahal Ein Gev II were highly selective of the aquatic resources they captured and transported home. (...)


Magdalenian and Epimagdalenian chronology and palaeoenvironments at Kůlna Cave, Moravia, Czech Republic, di H. Reade et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2021 - open access -

Kůlna Cave is the only site in Moravia, Czech Republic, from which large assemblages of both Magdalenian and Epimagdalenian archaeological materials have been excavated from relatively secure stratified deposits. The site therefore offers the unrivalled opportunity to explore the relationship between these two archaeological phases. In this study, we undertake radiocarbon, stable isotope (carbon, nitrogen and sulphur), and ZooMS analysis of the archaeological faunal assemblage to explore the chronological and environmental context of the Magdalenian and Epimagdalenian deposits. Our results show that the Magdalenian and Epimagdalenian deposits can be understood as discrete units from one another, dating to the Late Glacial between c. 15,630 cal. BP and 14,610 cal. BP, and c. 14,140 cal. BP and 12,680 cal. BP, respectively. Stable isotope results (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S) indicate that Magdalenian and Epimagdalenian activity at Kůlna Cave occurred in very different environmental settings. (...)

  Evolutionary History of Endogenous Human Herpesvirus 6 Reflects Human Migration out of Africa, di A. Aswad et alii, "Molecular Biology and Evolution", Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 96–107 - open access -

Human herpesvirus 6A and 6B (HHV-6) can integrate into the germline, and as a result, ~70 million people harbor the genome of one of these viruses in every cell of their body. Until now, it has been largely unknown if 1) these integrations are ancient, 2) if they still occur, and 3) whether circulating virus strains differ from integrated ones. Here, we used next-generation sequencing and mining of public human genome data sets to generate the largest and most diverse collection of circulating and integrated HHV-6 genomes studied to date. In genomes of geographically dispersed, only distantly related people, we identified clades of integrated viruses that originated from a single ancestral event, confirming this with fluorescent in situ hybridization to directly observe the integration locus. (...)

  Early anthropogenic use of hematite on Aurignacian ivory personal ornaments from Hohle Fels and Vogelherd caves, Germany, di E. C. Velliky et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 150, January 2021, 102900

The Aurignacian (ca. 43–35 ka) of southwestern Germany is well known for yielding some of the oldest artifacts related to symbolic behaviors, including examples of figurative art, musical instruments, and personal ornaments. Another aspect of these behaviors is the presence of numerous pieces of iron oxide (ocher); however, these are comparatively understudied, likely owing to the lack of painted artifacts from this region and time period. Several Aurignacian-aged carved ivory personal ornaments from the sites of Hohle Fels and Vogelherd contain traces of what appear to be red ocher residues. We analyzed these beads using a combination of macroanalytical and microanalytical methods, including scanning electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. (...)

  A Middle Pleistocene abrading tool from Tabun Cave, Israel: A search for the roots of abrading technology in human evolution, di R. Shimelmitz, I. Groman-Yaroslavski, M. Weinstein-Evron, D. Rosenberg, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 150, January 2021, 102909

During the reanalysis of the finds from Jelinek's and Ronen's excavations at Tabun Cave, Israel, we encountered a cobble bearing traces of mechanical alterations similar to those recorded on grinding tools. However, the artifact derives from the early layers of the Acheulo-Yabrudian complex of the late Lower Paleolithic (ca. 350 ka), a time with no evidence for grinding or abrasion. Accordingly, we sought to determine whether the traces on the artifact can be attributed to purposeful human action. We conducted a detailed use-wear analysis of the cobble and implemented an experimental program, gaining positive results for the hypothesis of purposeful human practice. (...)

  Olduvai's oldest Oldowan, di H. Stollhofen et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 150, January 2021, 102910

Previously, Olduvai Bed I excavations revealed Oldowan assemblages <1.85 Ma, mainly in the eastern gorge. New western gorge excavations locate a much older ~2.0 Ma assemblage between the Coarse Feldspar Crystal Tuff (~2.015 Ma) and Tuff IA (~1.98 Ma) of Lower Bed I, predating the oldest eastern gorge DK assemblage below Tuff IB by ~150 kyr. We characterize this newly discovered fossil and artifact assemblage, adding information on landscape and hominin resource use during the ~2.3–2.0 Ma period, scarce in Oldowan sites. Assemblage lithics and bones, lithofacies boundaries, and phytolith samples were surveyed and mapped. Sedimentological facies analysis, tephrostratigraphic and sequence stratigraphic principles were applied to reconstruct paleoenvironments and sedimentary processes of sandy claystone (lake), sandstone (fluvial), and sandy diamictite (debris flow) as principal lithofacies. Artifacts, sized, weighed, categorized, were examined for petrography, retouch, and flake scar size. (...)

  Quantifying differences in hominin flaking technologies with 3D shape analysis, di W. Archer et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 150, January 2021, 102912

Genetic and climate-driven estimates of past population dynamics are increasingly influential in broader models of hominin migration and adaptation, yet the contribution of stone artifact variability remains more contentious. Scientists are increasingly recognizing the potential of unretouched stone flakes (‘flakes’) in exploring existing models of hominin behavioral evolution. This is because flakes (1) were produced by all stone tool manufacturing groups in the past, (2) are abundant from the inception of the archaeological record up into the ethnographic present, and (3) preserve under most conditions. The statistical tools of 3D geometric morphometrics capture detailed approximations of flake form that are challenging to document with conventional artifact analyses. (...)

  Quantifying accessibility to Palaeolithic rock art: Methodological proposal for the study of human transit in Atxurra Cave (Northern Spain), di I. Intxaurbe et alii, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 125, January 2021, 105271

The systematic evaluation of accessibility to different sectors in caves with Palaeolithic rock art is crucial to interpret the contexts of prehistoric human activity that took place inside them, especially if focused on the areas that are harder to reach. 3D models have been employed in a GIS to process spatial information, calculate numerical cost values and estimate optimal transit routes or needed times to reach several sectors inside a cave, based on morphological features and movement types. These have been obtained through empirical observations and experimental archaeology. (...)

  Geochronology of a long Pleistocene sequence at Kilombe volcano, Kenya: from the Oldowan to Middle Stone Age, di S. Hoare et alii, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 125, January 2021, 105273

We report a newly extended stratigraphic sequence with associated Palaeolithic sites from the area of the extinct Kilombe volcano in central Kenya. The extended archaeological sequence runs from Oldowan finds, through the Acheulean, and up to the Middle Stone Age. The sedimentary sequences within the Kilombe caldera and south flanks of the mountain have been dated through 40Ar/39Ar measurements and palaeomagnetic studies. A series of 40Ar/39Ar values date the geological sequence from 2.493 ± 0.095 Ma, near the beginning of the Lower Pleistocene, through to 0.118 ± 0.030 Ma near the Middle to Upper Pleistocene transition. It includes the first entirely new area of Oldowan localities in East Africa south of Ethiopia for thirty years, and the first in a rugged mountainous setting. (...)



Index di antiqui Sommario bacheca