Aggiornamento 25/08/2022


Middle Palaeolithic, Transitional or Upper Palaeolithic: Geoarchaeological revision of the southern part of the loess site Dzierżysław 1, SW Poland, di A. Wiśniewski et alii, "Quaternary International", Volume 632, 20 September 2022, Pages 94-111

Sites identified as the Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP or transitional industries) in Central Europe (CE) have become subject to extensive discussion on the possible interactions between anatomically modern humans and indigenous human species which inhabited the area in the Marine Isotopic Stage 3 (MIS 3, 50–35 ka BP). An open-air site Dzierżysław 1 (SW Poland), known for nearly a hundred years, played a crucial role in envisaging scenarios associated with the development and adaptation of the EUP society. In the late 20th c., due to the excavations in the southern part of the site, it was given status of a multicultural site, with artefacts assigned to the Micoquian, Bohunician and Szeletian culture. (...)


Spatio-temporal variability of topoclimates and local palaeoenvironments in the Upper Dniester River Valley: Insights from the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic key-sites of the Halych region (western Ukraine), di M. Anczont et alii, "Quaternary International", Volume 632, 20 September 2022, Pages 112-131

The lowest section of the Upper Dniester River Valley (DRV), located between the uplands of Opillia and Eastern Subcarpathians, was a separate and specific Pleistocene geoecosystem, interesting for the hunter-gatherer communities. This is evidenced by three main (Yezupil, Mariampil and Halych), and a dozen or so additional Palaeolithic open-air sites. They occur as cultural layers within the loess-palaeosol sequences (LPSs) and represent semi-permanent settlement (except for the periods with the maximum intensity of the loess sedimentation); the oldest occur in the Eemian palaeosol. All sites are located on both sides of the river. In the past, the DRV was characterized by local environmental diversity changing with time. (...)


Non-analogue communities in the Italian Peninsula during Late Pleistocene: The case of Grotta del Sambuco, di E. Luzi, C. Berto. M. Calattini, C. Tessaro, A. Galiberti, "Quaternary International", Volume 632, 20 September 2022, Pages 132-138

The study of faunal communities of the past, and how they have changed to become what they are now, is fundamental to the understanding of the changes in ecosystems that we are witnessing and that are coming in the future. In this paper, we present the small mammal assemblage from Grotta del Sambuco (Massa Marittima, Grosseto), belonging to two archaeologic stratigraphic Units, 5 and 6, both dated to Marine Isotope Stage 2. The assemblage from Unit 6 can be defined as “non-analogue”, due to the occurrence of the Narrow-headed Vole Lasiopodomys anglicus and the Southern Birch Mouse Sicista subtilis. Non-analogue communities (i.e., with no equivalent in present time) are frequent during Late Pleistocene in the Italian Peninsula. (...)


The immature Homo naledi ilium from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star Cave, South Africa, di Z. Cofran et alii, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 179, Issue 1, September 2022, Pages 3-17 - open access -

Homo naledi is represented by abundant remains from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa. While pelvic elements from the Dinaledi Chamber of the cave are fragmentary, a relatively complete ilium (U.W. 102a–138) was recovered from the Lesedi Chamber. We reconstructed and analyzed the Lesedi ilium, providing qualitative descriptions and quantitative assessment of its morphology and developmental state.
We compared the Lesedi ilium to remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, other South African hominin fossils, and an ontogenetic series of human ilia. We used the Dinaledi adults as a guide for reconstructing the Lesedi ilium. To assess development of the Lesedi ilium, we compared immature/mature proportional ilium height for fossils and humans. We used 3D geometric morphometrics (GMs) to examine size and shape variation among this sample. (...)


Direct evidence that late Neanderthal occupation precedes a technological shift in southwestern Italy, di G. Oxilia et alii, Volume 179, Issue 1, September 2022, Pages 18-30 - open access -

During the middle-to-upper Paleolithic transition (50,000 and 40,000 years ago), interaction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens varied across Europe. In southern Italy, the association between Homo sapiens fossils and non-Mousterian material culture, as well as the mode and tempo of Neanderthal demise, are still vividly debated. In this research, we focus on the study of two human teeth by using 3D geometric morphometric approaches for a reliable taxonomical attribution as well as obtaining new radiometric dates on the archeological sequence.
This work presents two lower deciduous molars uncovered at Roccia San Sebastiano (Mondragone-Caserta, Italy), stratigraphically associated with Mousterian (RSS1) and Uluzzian (RSS2) artifacts. To obtain a probabilistic attribution of the two RSS teeth to each reference taxa group composed of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, we performed and compared the performance of three supervised learning algorithms (flexible discriminant analysis, multiadaptive regression splines, and random forest) on both crown and cervical outlines obtained by virtual morphometric methods. (...)


The Dorothy Garrod Site: a new Middle Stone Age locality in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, di J. M. Maíllo-Fernández et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences" volume 14, Article number: 177 (2022), September 2022 - open access -

Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) is a key site for the study of human evolution as well as the origin of modern humans and the Middle Stone Age (MSA). In this study, we present a new MSA location named Dorothy Garrod Site (DGS), found in the main branch of Olduvai Gorge. The site has only one archaeological level, located stratigraphically in the Upper Ndutu. Although it has not yet been possible to radiometrically date it, it has yielded numerous archaeological remains with a functional association between the faunal remains and the lithic industry. The fauna identified includes Alcelaphini, Hippotragini, and Equidae, some of which present percussion marks and evidence of burning. (...)


Lithic taphonomy and the use of the spatial information: assessing Palaeolithic sequence of Cova de les Cendres (Teulada-Moraira, Spain), di M. Ángel Bel, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 173 (2022), September 2022

The formation processes of archaeological deposits determine the potential information that could be obtained in a site, so they influence the interpretations about past societies. This paper presents the lithic taphonomy study of the Aurignacian, Gravettian and Solutrean levels of Cova de les Cendres. For this purpose, lithic refits and typological characteristics of the lithic industry are analysed in statistical and spatial terms. The use of density maps of refitting connection lines is an innovative procedure that stands out in this study. Most of the connections are intra-level and long vertical connections are very scarce. (...)


New paleoecological perspectives on Late Pleistocene Neanderthals in northern Balkans: the rodent assemblages from Smolućka cave (Serbia), di M. Jovanović et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 169 (2022), September 2022 - open access -

During the Late Pleistocene, the Balkans came to be an important region with many isolated areas, enabling fauna, alongside Neanderthals, to thrive in the area. This work is focused on paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic changes that occurred in the northern Balkan Peninsula with a special focus on fossil record from Smolućka cave aging from MIS 5 to MIS 3. Based on available data, an attempt has been made to establish a synthetic chronological context for the faunal assemblages recovered from Smolućka cave. Tentative attribution of layer 5 to MIS 5 relies on the interstadial pattern of our reconstructions, with favorable climate conditions for a large diversity of species and with mean annual temperature (MAT) reaching up to 3 °C higher than present values and abundant rainfall in the area. (...)


Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Early Modern Humans: A Review of the Pleistocene Hominin Fossils from the Altai Mountains (Southern Siberia), di Y. V. Kuzmin, V. S. Slavinsky, A. A. Tsybankov, S. G. Keates, "Journal of Archaeological Research", volume 30, issue 3, September 2022, pages 321–369

This paper reviews significant issues related to the fossil hominins from the Altai Mountains of Siberia (Russia), namely Denisovans, Neanderthals, and early modern humans. Uncritical acceptance of the recovered information by some authors has resulted in unreliable chronologies of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic artifact assemblages and the animal and hominin fossils. We examine the chronostratigraphic contexts and archaeological associations of hominin and animal fossils and the lithics discovered at the Denisova, Okladnikov, Strashnaya, and Chagyrskaya cave sites. Taphonomic, site formation, and geomorphological studies show evidence of disturbance and redeposition caused by carnivore activity and sediment subsidence at these sites, which complicates the dating of the human remains. (...)


Growing up Gravettian: Bioarchaeological perspectives on adolescence in the European Mid-Upper Paleolithic, di J. C. French, A. Nowell, "Journal of Anthropological Archaeology", Volume 67, September 2022, 101430 - open access -

Adolescence is a stage of development unique to the human life course, during which key social, physical, and cognitive milestones are reached. Nonetheless, both the experience of adolescence and the role(s) of adolescents in the past have received little scholarly attention. Here we combine a broad interpretative framework for adolescence among prehistoric hunter-gatherers with direct bioarchaeological (burial) data to examine the lives of teenagers in the European Mid-Upper Paleolithic or Gravettian (∼35–25,000 years ago). (...)


Postcranial evidence of late Miocene hominin bipedalism in Chad, di G. Daver, F. Guy, H. T. Mackaye, A. Likius, J. R. Boisserie, A. Moussa, L. Pallas, P. Vignaud, N. D. Clarisse, "Nature", 24 August 2022, doi:

Bipedal locomotion is one of the key adaptations that define the hominin clade. Evidence of bipedalism is known from postcranial remains of late Miocene hominins as early as 6 million years ago (Ma) in eastern Africa. Bipedality of Sahelanthropus tchadensis was hitherto inferred about 7 Ma in central Africa (Chad) based on cranial evidence. Here we present postcranial evidence of the locomotor behaviour of S. tchadensis, with new insights into bipedalism at the early stage of hominin evolutionary history. (...)

· Seven-million-year-old femur suggests ancient human relative walked upright, di E. Callaway, "Nature news", 24 August 2022


Un humérus humain à Montmaurin dans la grotte de Coupe-Gorge, di C. Regnier, 20 août 2022

En Haute-Garonne, au pied des Pyrénées un site archéologique connu depuis le début du XXe siècle continue de délivrer des restes humains préhistoriques. Sur le massif de Montmaurin plusieurs cavité ont été fouillées : les grottes de « Coupe-gorge »,de « la Niche », de « la Coupe, de « la Boule » ou « du Putois ». De grands noms de la Préhistoire et de l’anthropologie sont venus étudier les profondes cavités. Parmi eux ont peut citer Emile Cartailhac, Marcelin Boule, René de Saint-Perier et Louis Méroc. En 1949 une mandibule humaine est mise au jour, par Raoul Cammas, dans la cheminée dite » de La Niche « . Ce fossile fut à l’époque considérée comme le plus vieux fossile humain de France. En 2018 une nouvelle étude de la mandibule, publiée dans PlosOne par l’équipe d’Amélie Vialet, démontre que l’appartenance des restes à l’espèce Homo néandertalensis n’est pas aussi claire que on le prenait précédemnet. (...)


The origin of chert in the Aurignacian of Vogelherd Cave investigated by infrared spectroscopy, di B. Schürch, S. Wettengl, S. Fröhle, N. Conard, P. Schmidt, 17 August 2022, doi: - open access -

The analyses of raw material provenance offers the possibility of tracing short and long-distance raw material transport. So far, most studies of raw material of flint and chert in Europe have been based on macroscopic analyses. We apply infrared spectroscopy to Aurignacian assemblages from Vogelherd cave and to the Magdalenian site Randecker Maar in southwestern Germany. We compare raw material samples from three chert-bearing areas in Germany with archaeological samples from Vogelherd. Our results show that infrared spectroscopy can distinguish between different raw materials. Our archaeological samples from Vogelherd correspond to the sampled geological cherts in terms of their spectral signature. Our comparison of reference samples and archaeological samples highlights problems in commonly used macroscopic identifications of chert raw materials. (...)


New evidence of Neandertal butchery traditions through the marrow extraction in southwestern Europe (MIS 5–3), di D. Vettese et alli, 17 August 2022, doi: - open access -

Long bone breakage for bone marrow recovery is a commonly observed practice in Middle Palaeolithic contexts, regardless of the climatic conditions. While lithic technology is largely used to define cultural patterns in human groups, despite dedicating research by zooarchaeologists, for now butchering techniques rarely allowed the identification of clear traditions, notably for ancient Palaeolithic periods. In this paper, we test the hypothesis of butchery traditions among Neandertal groupsusing the bone assemblages from three sites in southwestern Europe. These sites are located in southeastern France and northern Italy and are dated to the Late Middle Palaeolithic: Abri du Maras (Marine Isotopic Stages (MIS) 4–3, Ardèche), Saint-Marcel (MIS 3, Ardèche), and Riparo Tagliente (MIS 4–3, Verona). The detection of culturally-induced patterns of bone breakage involves differentiating them from intuitively generated patterns. To tackle this issue, we used a zooarchaeological approach focusing on the percussion marks produced during the bone breakage process. Statistical analyses as the chi-square test of independence were employed to verify if percussion mark locations were randomly distributed, and if these distributions were different from the intuitive ones. (...)


Endocranial ontogeny and evolution in early Homo sapiens: The evidence from Herto, Ethiopia, di C. P. E. Zollikofer et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", August 9, 2022, vol. 119, no. 32, e2123553119 - open access -

Fossils and artifacts from Herto, Ethiopia, include the most complete child and adult crania of early Homo sapiens. The endocranial cavities of the Herto individuals show that by 160,000 y ago, brain size, inferred from endocranial size, was similar to that seen in modern human populations. However, endocranial shape differed from ours. This gave rise to the hypothesis that the brain itself evolved substantially during the past ∼200,000 y, possibly in tandem with the transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic techno-cultures. However, it remains unclear whether evolutionary changes in endocranial shape mostly reflect changes in brain morphology rather than changes related to interaction with maxillofacial morphology. To discriminate between these effects, we make use of the ontogenetic fact that brain growth nearly ceases by the time the first permanent molars fully erupt, but the face and cranial base continue to grow until adulthood. (...)


Lower and Middle Palaeolithic evidence from the North Aegean coastline of Çanakkale, Turkey, di H. Bulut, H. Taşkıran, K. Özçelik, G. Karahan, "Antiquity", Volume 96, Issue 388, August 2022, pp. 981 - 988

he Çanakkale-Balıkesir Coastline Palaeolithic Survey Project covers the Çanakkale and Balıkesir coastlines of the Aegean. It aims to reveal Palaeolithic assemblages and their connection to the surrounding islands—primarily Lesbos. In 2021, four important findspots were detected on the Çanakkale coastline, and more than 500 lithics were uncovered, exhibiting the characteristics of large cutting tools, as well as pebble and prepared core technologies. These tools attest to the presence of hominins along the Çanakkale coastline during the Lower Palaeolithic. (...)


Old site, new problems: the Gravettian campsite of Doroshivtsi III, Middle Dniester River Valley, western Ukraine, di M. Połtowicz-Bobak et alii, "Antiquity", Volume 96, Issue 388, August 2022, pp. 998 - 1007

New research at the Doroshivtsi site in Ukraine has provided data that allow fresh insights into a well-known and important Gravettian site in the Middle Dniester Valley. (...)


Hučivá Cave: a Magdalenian hunting camp in the Tatra Mountains, di P. Valde-Nowak et alii, "Antiquity", Volume 96, Issue 388, August 2022, pp. 1008 - 1014

This article discusses the objectives of the Stone Age Man in Caves of the Tatra Mountains project, which aims to explain the mysterious absence of evidence for the Palaeolithic in the Tatra Mountains of Eastern Europe. We present preliminary work from Hučivá Cave, which demonstrates clear traces of Magdalenian settlement within this region. (...)


Quantifying knapping actions: a method for measuring the angle of blow on flakes, di L. Li, J. S. Reeves, S. C. Lin, C. Tennie, S. P. McPherron, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 156 (2022) - open access -

Stone artifacts are critical for investigating the evolution of hominin behavior—they are among our only proxies for hominin behavior in deep time. Hominin cognition and skill are often inferred by reconstructing the technical decisions hominins made throughout the knapping process. However, despite many advancements in understanding how hominins knapped, some of the key factors involved in past flake production cannot be easily/readily derived from stone artifacts. In particular, the angle at which the knapper strikes the hammer against the core to remove the flake, or the angle of blow, is a key component of the knapping process that has up to now remained unmeasurable on archeological assemblages. (...)


A refined chronology for the Middle and early Upper Paleolithic sequence of Riparo Mochi (Liguria, Italy), di M. Frouin et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 169, August 2022, 103211 - open access -

The Riparo Mochi rock shelter, located on the Ligurian coast of Italy, is one of the most important early Upper Paleolithic sites on the Mediterranean rim. Its ~10-m-deep stratigraphy comprises a Mousterian sequence, followed by various development stages of the Upper Paleolithic. A series of radiometric dates on marine shells bearing traces of human modification has provided a chronological framework for the final Mousterian and the Proto-Aurignacian of the site. Based on modeling results, the end of the Mousterian was dated between 44.0 and 41.8 ka cal BP (68% probability) and the beginning of the Proto-Aurignacian between 42.7 and 41.6 ka cal BP (68% probability). However, these estimates were based on a limited number of radiocarbon ages in the Mousterian levels. (...)


Late Acheulean Lithic Assemblages From Locality 010 at Gürgürbaba Hill (Eastern Anatolia), di İ. Baykara, M. A. Sarıkaya, S. Şahin, B. Dinçer, E. Ünal, "European Journal of Archaeology", Volume 25, Issue 3, August 2022

The province of Van in north-eastern Turkey served as a land bridge between Africa and Eurasia during the Palaeolithic. The region is of particular relevance for understanding the movement of hominins between these continents. This study concerns the lithic remains from a locality at Gürgürbaba Hill, named Locality 010, north of the village of Ulupamir (Erciş district). Locality 010 was dated to 311±32 kya by terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides method, which coincides with Marine Isotope Stage 9 (MIS 9), a Middle Pleistocene interglacial period. The assemblage from this site is attributed to the Late Acheulean and resembles that of the southern Caucasus. This similarity indicates that the artefacts from Locality 010 were probably produced by late Lower Palaeolithic technology in a broad sense. These findings suggest local adaptations of late Middle Pleistocene hominins to high plateau environments. (...)


The effect of formation processes on the frequency of palaeolithic cave sites in semiarid zones: Insights from Kazakhstan, di A. Varis, C. E. Miller, P. Cuthbertson, A. Namen, Z. Taimagambetov, R. Iovita, "Geoarchaeology", Volume 37, Issue 4, July/August 2022, Pages 594-616 - open access -

Central Asian caves with Palaeolithic deposits are few, but they provide a rich record of human fossils and cultural assemblages that has been used to model Late Pleistocene hominin dispersals. However, previous research has not yet systematically evaluated the formation processes that influence the frequency of Palaeolithic cave sites in the region. To address this deficiency, we combined field survey and micromorphological analyses in the piedmont zone of south Kazakhstan. Here, we present our preliminary results focusing on selected sites of the Qaratau mountains. Sediment cover varies among the surveyed caves, and loess-like sediments dominate the cave sequences. The preservation of cave deposits is influenced by reworking of cave sediments within the caves but also by the broader erosional processes that shape semiarid landscapes. Ultimately, deposits of potentially Pleistocene age are scarce. (...)


Palaeolithic polyhedrons, spheroids and bolas over time and space, di J. Cabanès, A. Borel, J. Baena Preysler, A. Lourdeau, M. H. Moncel, 28 July 2022, doi: - open access -

Polyhedrons, spheroids and bolas (PSBs) are present in lithic series from the Lower Palaeolithic onwards and are found in several regions of the world. Nevertheless, very little is known about them. We propose here to summarise, illustrate and discuss the current state of our knowledge about these artefacts. Based on the available data in the literature and on our observations of several collections, we set up a database comprising 169 Palaeolithic assemblages with PSBs. Thanks to the statistical analysis of these data, we aim to highlight potential relationships between PSB characteristics (e.g., quantity, raw material) and assemblage composition and context, according to regions and chrono-cultural attributions. We also aim to discuss the question of artefacts from possible independent local histories, especially in Northwest Europe, where these objects are scarce. Our study concludes that hard stones (stones with high resistance to a physical constraint) available locally were generally selected to produce PSBs. Soft sedimentary rocks are suitable for their manufacture, and were selected too, whereas siliceous materials were left aside. We hypothesise that the scarcity of PSBs in Northwest Europe could result from a combination of cultural and environmental factors: it could be part of a regional tradition, influenced by the abundance of siliceous materials in the environment. (...)


The role of birds in Upper Palaeolithic sites: Zooarchaeological and taphonomic analysis of the avian remains from Arbreda Cave (Serinyà, northeast Iberia), di L. Lloveras, L. Garcia, M. Marqueta, J. Maroto, J. Soler, N. Soler, "Quaternary International", Volumes 626–627, 20 July 2022, Pages 22-32

Intensification in the procurement of small game, including different taxa of birds, has been proposed as one of the indicators of dietary shifts occurring in western Mediterranean regions during the Upper Palaeolithic as a consequence of both increased human hunting pressures and environmental change. In this paper, avian remains recovered from the Upper Palaeolithic levels of Arbreda Cave (Serinyà, northeast Iberia) are analysed. Our results evidence a high diversity of bird taxa in most levels, with the presence of a minimum of 50 species, including birds that inhabit a variety of biotopes such as cliffs, rivers and wetlands, and open grassland, along with coniferous and mixed forests. (...)


Bird exploitation from the epigravettian site of Riparo Dalmeri (Trento, Italy), di I. Fiore, M. Gala, G. Dalmeri, R. Duches, A. Tagliacozzo, "Quaternary International", Volumes 626–627, 20 July 2022, Pages 33-42

Riparo Dalmeri is an Epigravettian high altitude rock shelter, seasonally occupied for specialized ibex hunting. Its occupation pattern indicates the mobility of human groups from the lowlands to the mountains, in order to exploit a territory which is inaccessible during the winter. This work presents the results of the taphonomic study carried out on the bird bone assemblages from Riparo Dalmeri, where birds play a secondary role as an economic resource, when compared to the intense seasonal exploitation of ibex. (...)


Environment and climate during the Neanderthal-AMH presence in the Garraf Massif mountain range (northeastern Iberia) from the late Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene inferred from small-vertebrate assemblages, di J. M. López-García et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 288, 15 July 2022, 107595

The environmental and climatic evolution of the late Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene of the Garraf Massif (northeastern Iberia) is determined for Marine Isotope Stage 7 (MIS 7) to MIS 3 on the basis of a study of the small-vertebrate (amphibian, squamate reptile, insectivore, bat and rodent) assemblages. This paper provides a synthesis of three previously published and one partially published sets of environmental and climatic data from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic sites of Cova del Rinoceront, Cova del Gegant, Cova del Coll Verdaguer and Terrasses de la Riera dels Canyars, all of which are located in the Garraf Massif mountain range. Using the habitat weighting and mutual ecogeographic range methods to reconstruct the environmental and climatic parameters, the results show great variability in the landscape and climate of the area. (...)


Dental data challenge the ubiquitous presence of Homo in the Cradle of Humankind, di C. Zanolli et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", July 12, 2022, vol. 119, no. 28, e2111212119

The origins of Homo, as well as the diversity and biogeographic distribution of early Homo species, remain critical outstanding issues in paleoanthropology. Debates about the recognition of early Homo, first appearance dates, and taxonomic diversity within Homo are particularly important for determining the role that southern African taxa may have played in the origins of the genus. The correct identification of Homo remains also has implications for reconstructing phylogenetic relationships between species of Australopithecus and Paranthropus, and the links between early Homo species and Homo erectus. We use microcomputed tomography and landmark-free deformation-based three-dimensional geometric morphometrics to extract taxonomically informative data from the internal structure of postcanine teeth attributed to Early Pleistocene Homo in the southern African hominin-bearing sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Drimolen, and Kromdraai B. Our results indicate that, from our sample of 23 specimens, only 4 are unambiguously attributed to Homo, 3 of them coming from Swartkrans member 1 (SK 27, SK 847, and SKX 21204) and 1 from Sterkfontein (Sts 9). (...)


Un très vieil européen à Atapuerca en Espagne: 1,4 million d’années ?, di C. Regnier, 12 juillet 2022

La Sierra d’Atapuerca est une vraie mine d’or pour les paléoanthropologues depuis 1978. Les découvertes s’enchainent dans les différentes grottes et gisements de la Sierra d’Atapuerca : la Gran Dolina, la Sima de los Huesos et la Sima del Elefante. C’est dans ce dernier gisement qu’une découverte avait été faite pendant l’été 2007 : une mâchoire et quelques dents datées de 1,2 millions d’années. Le nouveau fossile découvert le 30 juin toujours à la Sima del Elefante par Edgar Téllez. Il est constitué d’une partie de la face d’un hominidé d’une longueur de 10 cm, la pommette et la mâchoire supérieure. Les éléments ne permettent pas encore de déterminer l’espèce à qui appartiennent ces ossements. (...)


Cosmogenic nuclide dating of Australopithecus at Sterkfontein, South Africa, di D. E. Granger, D. Stratford, L. Bruxelles, R. J. Gibbon, R. J. Clarke, K. Kuman, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", July 5, 2022, vol. 119, no. 27, e2123516119 - open access -

Sterkfontein is the most prolific single source of Australopithecus fossils, the vast majority of which were recovered from Member 4, a cave breccia now exposed by erosion and weathering at the landscape surface. A few other Australopithecus fossils, including the StW 573 skeleton, come from subterranean deposits [T. C. Partridge et al., Science 300, 607–612 (2003); R. J. Clarke, K. Kuman, J. Hum. Evol. 134, 102634 (2019)]. Here, we report a cosmogenic nuclide isochron burial date of 3.41 ± 0.11 million years (My) within the lower middle part of Member 4, and simple burial dates of 3.49 ± 0.19 My in the upper middle part of Member 4 and 3.61 ± 0.09 My in Jacovec Cavern. (...)


Hidden signatures of early fire at Evron Quarry (1.0 to 0.8 Mya), di Z. Stepka, I. Azuri, L. Kolska Horwitz, M. Chazan, F. Natalio,  "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", June 21, 2022, vol. 119, no. 25, e2123439119 - open access -

Pyrotechnology is a key element of hominin evolution. The identification of fire in early hominin sites relies primarily on an initial visual assessment of artifacts’ physical alterations, resulting in potential underestimation of the prevalence of fire in the archaeological record. Here, we used a suite of spectroscopic techniques to counter the absence of visual signatures for fire and demonstrate the presence of burnt fauna and lithics at the Lower Paleolithic (LP) open-air site of Evron Quarry (Israel), dated between 1.0 and 0.8 Mya and roughly contemporaneous to Gesher Benot Ya’aqov where early pyrotechnology has been documented. We propose reexamining finds from other LP sites lacking visual clues of pyrotechnology to yield a renewed perspective on the origin, evolution, and spatiotemporal dispersal of the relationship between early hominin behavior and fire use. (...)


Rethinking the Middle to Later Stone Age transition in southern Africa - A perspective from the highveld of Eswatini, di G. D.Bader, A. Mabuza, D. Price Williams, M. Will, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 286, 15 June 2022, 107540 - open access -

The MSA/LSA transition is a major shift in the African archaeological record, but questions on its beginning remain debated. In southern Africa, most sites suggest an origin of LSA technology after about 30.000 years BP. The single exception is Border Cave situated at the border between South Africa and Eswatini, with surprisingly old dates of ∼43.000 BP associated with an LSA-like bipolar quartz assemblage. While many researchers now consider Border Cave to represent the origin of the LSA in southern Africa, these findings lack proper contextualization with regional lithic and chronometric data. Here we pursue the question whether Border Cave provides firm evidence for the source of LSA technology that later spread to the rest of southern Africa. To test between different hypotheses, we provide new chronometric and lithic data from the site of Sibebe, situated in the highveld of Eswatini only 100 km distant to Border Cave, and contextualize these results with nearby localities. Eswatini represents an ideal study area as it features many excavated sites but remains heavily understudied, rarely appearing in comparative MSA/LSA research. (...)


Artifact3-D: New software for accurate, objective and efficient 3D analysis and documentation of archaeological artifacts, di L. Grosman et alii, 16 June 2022, doi: - open access -

The study of artifacts is fundamental to archaeological research. The features of individual artifacts are recorded, analyzed, and compared within and between contextual assemblages. Here we present and make available for academic-use Artifact3-D, a new software package comprised of a suite of analysis and documentation procedures for archaeological artifacts. We introduce it here, alongside real archaeological case studies to demonstrate its utility. Artifact3-D equips its users with a range of computational functions for accurate measurements, including orthogonal distances, surface area, volume, CoM, edge angles, asymmetry, and scar attributes. Metrics and figures for each of these measurements are easily exported for the purposes of further analysis and illustration. We test these functions on a range of real archaeological case studies pertaining to tool functionality, technological organization, manufacturing traditions, knapping techniques, and knapper skill. Here we focus on lithic artifacts, but the Artifact3-D software can be used on any artifact type to address the needs of modern archaeology. Computational methods are increasingly becoming entwined in the excavation, documentation, analysis, database creation, and publication of archaeological research. Artifact3-D offers functions to address every stage of this workflow. It equips the user with the requisite toolkit for archaeological research that is accurate, objective, repeatable and efficient. This program will help archaeological research deal with the abundant material found during excavations and will open new horizons in research trajectories. (...)


Afrique du Nord, "L'Anthropologie", Volume 126, Issue 2, Pages 1-300 (April–June 2022):

- Chronologie des sites du Pléistocène inférieur et moyen du nord de l’Afrique, di C. Falguères

- The archaeological results of Prehistoric societies obtained in the Archaeological Map of North Morocco Project, di J. Ramos-Muñoz et alii

- Sites de surface du Paléolithique inférieur au sud-ouest de Tademaït : première approche morpho-technologique, di Y. Damouche, I. Amara

- L’Acheuléen saharien : Un constat et une perspective, di M. Benmessaoud

- Le peuplement paléolithique de l’Afrique du Nord-Est dans son contexte macrorégional, di A. Leplongeon

- Des silicites dans le Paléolithique ancien et moyen du Maroc occidental, di J. P. Raynal et alii

- Aperçu critique du Middle Stone Age en Afrique du Nord, di E. A. A. Garcea

- Les occupations humaines du Nord du Maroc, du Paléolithique Moyen et du Paléolithique Supérieur. Nouvelles données sur la base des recherches archéologiques des projets de 2005 à 2020, di M. Zouak et alii

- Contribution à la connaissance des occupations préhistoriques au Pléistocène supérieur en Tunisie, di N. Aouadi

- Nouveaux sites de gravures rupestres à Adrar N'Saras dans la haute vallée de l’Oued Sayyad à Taghjijt, di L. Laitouss

- « Pister » les images préhistoriques : un exemple saharien, di G. Graff, J. Masson Mourey

- L’image de l’ovaloïde dans les gravures rupestres de la Tunisie, di J. Ben Nasr


Le bois, archive des changements climatiques entre mer et montagne du paléolithique moyen au mésolithique: composition isotopique (13c/12c), reconstitutions paléoclimatiques, histoire des forêts et interactions hommes/milieux, di B. Audiard, "Quaternaire", vol.33/1, 2022, volume 33, numéro 1

Le Pléistocène supérieur, qui s’inscrit dans le dernier cycle glaciaire/interglaciaire, est marqué par de nombreuses fluctuations climatiques et environnementales de durées inégales et d’intensités variables. Or, l’expression de celles-ci à l’échelle du territoire est d’autant plus complexe que ce dernier est hétérogène. L’identification et la caractérisation des mutations paysagères et des variations climatiques, à une échelle locale et à haute résolution temporelle, représentent ainsi un enjeu crucial pour les préhistoriens, dès lors que l’on cherche à appréhender au mieux leur rôle dans l’évolution des sociétés nomades de l’époque. (...)


Aggiornamento 10/06/2022

  Technological Organization, Mobility, and Behavior at the Middle Paleolithic Site of Nesher Ramla. Edited by Yossi Zaidner, Reuven Yeshurun. Volume 624, Pages 1-198 (30 June 2022):

- Technological Organization, Mobility, and Behavior at the Middle Paleolithic Site of Nesher Ramla, di Y. Zaidner, R. Yeshurun

- Variations in lithic artefact density as a tool for better understanding Middle Palaeolithic human behaviour: The case of Nesher Ramla (Israel), di L. Centi, Y. Zaidner

- Lithic provisioning strategies at the Middle Paleolithic open-air site of Nesher Ramla, Israel: A case study from the upper sequence, di O. Varoner, O. Marder, M. Orbach, R. Yeshurun, Y. Zaidner

- Raw material exploitation at the Middle Paleolithic site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, di R. Ekshtain, Y. Zaidner

- A campsite on the open plain: Zooarchaeology of Unit III at the Middle Paleolithic site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, di K. M. Crater Gershtein, Y. Zaidner, R. Yeshurun

- Tool wielding and activities at the Middle Paleolithic site of Nesher Ramla, Israel: A use-wear analysis of major tool types from unit III, di I. Groman-Yaroslavski, M. Prévost, Y. Zaidner

- Early evidence for symbolic behavior in the Levantine Middle Paleolithic: A 120 ka old engraved aurochs bone shaft from the open-air site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, di M. Prévost, I. Groman-Yaroslavski, K. M. Crater Gershtein, J. M. Tejero, Y. Zaidner

- The Middle Paleolithic ground stones tools of Nesher Ramla unit V (Southern Levant): A multi-scale use-wear approach for assessing the assemblage functional variability, di E. Paixão et alii

- The distribution and treatment of fire remains across Unit V of the Middle Paleolithic open-air site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, di A. V. Pietraszek, Y. Zaidner, R. Shahack-Gross

- The charcoal assemblage from Nesher Ramla, Israel: A contribution to the paleo-environmental dataset from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 in the Levant, di E. Allué, Y. Zaidner

- The use of the lateral tranchet blow technique at Nesher Ramla (Israel): A new cultural marker in the Levantine Middle Paleolithic?, di M. Prévost, L. Centi, Y. Zaidner

- Rediscovering Geula Cave: A Middle Paleolithic cave site in northern Mt. Carmel, Israel, di O. Barzilai et alii


The nature and chronology of human occupation at the Galerías Bajas, from Cueva de Ardales, Malaga, Spain, di J. Ramos-Muñoz et alii, 1 June 2022, doi: - open access -

The Cueva de Ardales is a hugely important Palaeolithic site in the south of the Iberian Peninsula owing to its rich inventory of rock art. From 2011–2018, excavations were carried out in the cave for the first time ever by a Spanish-German research team. The excavation focused on the entrance area of the cave, where the largest assemblage of non-figurative red paintings in the cave is found. A series of 50 AMS dates from the excavations prove a long, albeit discontinuous, occupation history spanning from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. The dating of the Middle Palaeolithic layers agrees with the U/Th dating of some red non-figurative paintings in the entrance area. In addition, a large assemblage of ochre lumps was discovered in the Middle Palaeolithic layers. Human visits of the cave in the Gravettian and Solutrean can be recognized, but evidence from the Aurignacian and Magdalenian cannot be confirmed with certainty. The quantity and nature of materials found during the excavations indicate that Cueva de Ardales was not a campsite, but was mainly visited to carry out non-domestic tasks, such as the production of rock art or the burial of the dead. (...)


Subsistence activities and settlement dynamics of the first anatomically modern humans in the central–eastern Mediterranean Iberia: New insights from Cova de les Cendres (Alicante, Spain), di C. Real, V. Villaverde, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 285, 1 June 2022, 107533 - open access -

The Aurignacian is documented in a large number of sites on the Iberian Peninsula, but the chronologies and characteristics of the technocomplexes associated with the first anatomically modern humans (AMHs) varies depending on the region. In the central-eastern Iberian Mediterranean region the well-dated stratigraphic series from several sites confirm that the beginning of the Aurignacian sequence coincides with the Evolved Aurignacian. Lithic and bones industries, as well as chronological context, have been already well-published, however, data on subsistence activities and the occupation and mobility patterns from this human groups are still scarce. We present the results of the archaeozoological and taphonomic analysis of the macromammal assemblage from Cova de les Cendres, a site from this region with an extensive Palaeolithic stratigraphy, including several Aurignacian levels. (...)


L'aventure de la grotte Cosquer. De la cavité engloutie à la réplique, juin 2022

Baptisée Cosquer Méditerranée, la réplique de la grotte Cosquer ouvre ce samedi 4 juin au cœur de Marseille. L’occasion de revenir sur l’histoire d’une grotte au destin extraordinaire, dont l’entrée se situe à 37 mètres de profondeur dans les Calanques entre Marseille et Cassis, fréquentée et ornée entre -33 000 et -19 000 ans avant d’être partiellement engloutie à la fin de la dernière période glaciaire puis redécouverte à la fin du XXe siècle. (...)


Early and Middle Pleistocene hominins from Atapuerca (Spain) show differences in dental developmental patterns, di M. Modesto-Mata et alii, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 178, Issue 2, June 2022, Pages 273-285

The Bayesian statistical approach considers teeth as forming a developmental module, as opposed to a tooth-by-tooth analysis. This approach has been employed to analyze Upper Pleistocene hominins, including Neandertals and some anatomically modern humans, but never earlier populations. Here, we show its application on five hominins from the TD6.2 level of the Gran Dolina site (Homo antecessor, Early Pleistocene) and the Sima de los Huesos site (Middle Pleistocene) of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, northern Spain). Our results show an advanced development of the third molars in both populations with respect to modern Homo sapiens. (...)


Morphological correlates of distal fibular morphology with locomotion in great apes, humans, and Australopithecus afarensis, di D. Marchi, A. Rimoldi, D. García-Martínez, M. Bastir, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 178, Issue 2, June 2022, Pages 286-300 - open access -

Recent studies highlighted the importance of the fibula to further our understanding of locomotor adaptations in fossil hominins. In this study, we present a three-dimensional geometric morphometric (3D-GM) investigation of the distal fibula in extant hominids and Australopithecus afarensis with the aim of pointing out morphological correlations to arboreal behavior. (...)

  Palaeolithic archaeology in the conglomerate caves of north-eastern Iberia, di J. I. Morales et alii, "Antiquity", Volume 96, Issue 387, June 2022, pp. 710-718

Large, conglomerate caves in north-eastern Iberia have been significant places since the Neolithic through to historical times; however, their significance during the Palaeolithic has barely been explored. This project is the first systematic study of the use of these iconic geological landmarks among Pleistocene hunter-gatherers. (...)


Incidental burning on bones by Neanderthals: the role of fire in the Qa level of Abric Romaní rock-shelter (Spain), di E. Téllez, P. Saladié, A. Pineda, J. Marín, J. Vallverdú, M. Gema Chacón, E. Carbonell, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 119 (2022) - open access -

The Abric Romaní rock-shelter (Capellades, Barcelona) is a key site for studying the use of fire among Neanderthal communities. The evidence of its use, including the identification of heated faunal remains, has led to infer the practice of some domestic activities in the site, such as cooking, use of bones as fuel, or habitat surface cleaning throughout the entire sequence. In the Qa level, dated ca. 58 ky BP, heated bones are characterized by the predominance of brown homogeneous surfaces, a different pattern from those described for the abovementioned activities. Here, an experiment is presented to clarify the domestic activities at the Qa level. We built hearth replicas and heated defleshed shaft fragments in fresh and dry. (...)


Neanderthal, Sapiens, and chimpanzee mandibles: a comparative study in relation to articulated speech, di A. Bermejo-Fenoll, A. Panchón-Ruíz, M. J. Walker, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 116 (2022)

Various studies have related morphology to bipedalism, type of diet, or chewing. However, the studies so far that relate morphology to language are quite vague or incomplete. The aim of the present study is to analyze different morphometric variables of Homo neanderthalensis, modern human, and chimpanzee mandibles, in order to try to understand how spoken language evolved in our lineage. In a paper published in 2019 (Bermejo, 2019), 37 variables of 20 modern human and 12 chimpanzee skulls were compared. New anatomical parameters were defined. It was concluded that there were mandibular morphological differences that could be related to the development of spoken language. (...)


Does knowledge influence visual attention? A comparative analysis between archaeologists and naïve subjects during the exploration of Lower Palaeolithic tools, di M. Silva-Gago, A. Fedato, M. Terradillos-Bernal, R. Alonso-Alcalde, T. Hodgson, E. Bruner, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 114 (2022) - open access -

The role of experience during the exploration of lithic artefacts can be been investigated through multiple approaches. Knowledge can influence visual perception of the environment, whilst action “affordances” can be processed at the first sight of an object. In this study, we used eye tracking to analyse whether and to what extent archaeological knowledge can influence visuospatial attention whilst interacting with stone tools. Archaeologists were found to pay more visual attention to the middle region and the knapped surface. Differences between the visual exploration of choppers and handaxes were also found. Although the general pattern of distribution of the visual attention was similar to naïve subjects, participants with archaeological experience paid more attention to functionally relevant regions. (...)


Paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions based on the small vertebrates from the Middle Paleolithic of Hohle Fels Cave, SW Germany, di E. Luzi, À. Blanco-Lapaz, S. E. Rhodes, N. J. Conard, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 107 (2022) - open access -

In this paper, we analyse the fish and small mammal assemblages from the Middle Paleolithic horizons of Hohle Fels Cave to reconstruct the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental conditions faced by the Neanderthal groups who occupied the site. The fish assemblage indicates that the freshwater ecosystem around this site was characterized by a pre-mountain river system with the presence of permanent, oxygen-rich, and cold running waters. The results of the Habitat Weighting Method and the Bioclimatic Model applied to the small mammal assemblage, coupled with the new dates obtained for the Archaeological Horizon (AH) IX, allow us to identify two different climatic phases. One phase (AH X-XII) is more temperate possibly corresponding to the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5; the other (AH VI-IX) is colder and more arid corresponding to the end of MIS 4 through the beginning of MIS 3. (...)


New insights in Neanderthal palaeoecology using stable oxygen isotopes preserved in small mammals as palaeoclimatic tracers in Teixoneres Cave (Moià, northeastern Iberia), di M. Fernández-García, J. M. López-García, A. Royer, C. Lécuyer, F. Rivals, A. Rufà, R. Blasco, J. Rosell, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, Article number: 106 (2022) - open access -

The northeastern region of Iberia constitutes a natural pass-area for arriving populations into the peninsula and becomes a key area to understand Neanderthal resilience to changing environmental conditions experienced during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3; 60–30 ka). Short-term but repeated occupations by Neanderthal groups occurred in Teixoneres Cave (Moià, Barcelona) in alternation with large and small carnivores during MIS3. Abundant small-mammal remains accumulated in units III and II of this fossiliferous deposit, providing local climatic and environmental information. This work focuses on the taphonomic history of small-mammal faunas, which a is clue to validate previous palaeoecological interpretations. As was observed with leporids and bird remains, raptors are considered the major source of small-mammal remains. (...)


Being-with other predators: Cultural negotiations of Neanderthal-carnivore relationships in Late Pleistocene Europe, di S. T. Hussain, M. Weiss, T. Kellberg Nielsen, "Journal of Anthropological Archaeology", Volume 66, June 2022, 101409 - open access -

Late Pleistocene hominins co-evolved with non-analogue assemblages of carnivores and carnivorous omnivores. Although previous work has carefully examined the ecological and adaptive significance of living in such carnivore-saturated environments, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the social and cultural consequences of being-with, and adapting to, other charismatic predators and keystone carnivores. Focusing on Neanderthal populations in Western Eurasia, this paper draws together mounting archaeological evidence that suggests that some Late Pleistocene hominins devised specific behavioral strategies to negotiate their place within the vibrant carnivore guilds of their time. We build on integrative multispecies theory and broader re-conceptualizations of human-nature relations to argue that otherwise puzzling evidence for purported ‘symbolic’ behavior among Neanderthals can compellingly be re-synthesized with their ecology, settlement organization and lifeworld phenomenology. (...)


Initial Upper Paleolithic bone technology and personal ornaments at Bacho Kiro Cave (Bulgaria), di N. L. Martisius et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 167, June 2022, 103198

The expansion of Homo sapiens and our interaction with local environments, including the replacement or absorption of local populations, is a key component in understanding the evolution of our species. Of special interest are artifacts made from hard animal tissues from layers at Bacho Kiro Cave (Bulgaria) that have been attributed to the Initial Upper Paleolithic. The Initial Upper Paleolithic is characterized by Levallois-like blade technologies that can co-occur with bone tools and ornaments and likely represents the dispersal of H. sapiens into several regions throughout Eurasia starting by 45 ka or possibly earlier. Osseous artifacts from the Initial Upper Paleolithic are important components of this record and have the potential to contribute to our understanding of group interactions and population movements. (...)


A nonanalog Pliocene ungulate community at Laetoli with implications for the paleoecology of Australopithecus afarensis, di E. N. Fillion, T. Harrison, A. Kwekason, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 167, June 2022, 103182

The dietary guild structure of ungulate communities is a useful paleoecological tool for understanding the context of hominin paleobiology and evolution. Ungulates are well represented in the fossil record, and their dietary preferences reflect those of major habitat types. However, paleoecology relies on modern ecological patterns as analogs for recreating ecologies of the past. It has previously been suggested that for much of the Pliocene, no such modern analogs exist for the herbivore communities associated with hominins in eastern Africa. This study aims to determine whether the ungulate community associated with A. afarensis at the Pliocene site of Laetoli, Tanzania, shares similarities with extant communities or whether it lacks a modern analog. Our multiproxy approach using mesowear, hypsodonty, and stable carbon isotopes of tooth enamel to infer the diets of ungulates in the Upper Laetolil Beds shows that this community is dominated by browsers and mixed feeders and has a very low prevalence of grazers and frugivores. (...)


The prestigious Belgian Francqui Prize 2022 awarded to Veerle Rots for her pioneering research on Palaeolithic stone tools, 25-may-2022

The 2022 Francqui Prize (the Belgian highest scientific recognition) in Human Science is awarded to Veerle Rots, an archaeologist at the University of Liège (Berlgium), for her pioneering research on prehistoric stone tools and the evolution of human behaviour. Veerle Rots is the first woman of the University of Liège to be awarded this prestigious prize. (...)


Population interconnectivity over the past 120,000 years explains distribution and diversity of Central African hunter-gatherers, di C. Padilla-Iglesias et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 24 May 2022, vol. 119, no. 21, e2113936119 - open access -

The evolutionary history of African hunter-gatherers holds key insights into modern human diversity. Here, we combine ethnographic and genetic data on Central African hunter-gatherers (CAHG) to show that their current distribution and density are explained by ecology rather than by a displacement to marginal habitats due to recent farming expansions, as commonly assumed. We also estimate the range of hunter-gatherer presence across Central Africa over the past 120,000 years using paleoclimatic reconstructions, which were statistically validated by our newly compiled dataset of dated archaeological sites. Finally, we show that genomic estimates of divergence times between CAHG groups match our ecological estimates of periods favoring population splits, and that recoveries of connectivity would have facilitated subsequent gene flow. Our results reveal that CAHG stem from a deep history of partially connected populations. This form of sociality allowed the coexistence of relatively large effective population sizes and local differentiation, with important implications for the evolution of genetic and cultural diversity in Homo sapiens. (...)


The contribution of integrated 3D model analysis to Protoaurignacian stone tool design, di A. Falcucci, M. Peresani, 18 May 2022, doi: - open access -

Protoaurignacian foragers relied heavily on the production and use of bladelets. Techno-typological studies of these implements have provided insights into crucial aspects of cultural variability. However, new technologies have seldom been used to quantify patterns of stone tool design. Taking advantage of a new scanning protocol and open-source software, we conduct the first 3D analysis of a Protoaurignacian assemblage, focusing on the selection and modification of blades and bladelets. We study a large dataset of complete blanks and retouched tools from the early Protoaurignacian assemblage at Fumane Cave in northeastern Italy. Our main goal is to validate and refine previous techno-typological considerations employing a 3D geometric morphometrics approach complemented by 2D analysis of cross-section outlines and computation of retouch angle. The encouraging results show the merits of the proposed integrated approach and confirm that bladelets were the main focus of stone knapping at the site. Among modified bladelets, various retouching techniques were applied to achieve specific shape objectives. We suggest that the variability observed among retouched bladelets relates to the design of multi-part artifacts that need to be further explored via renewed experimental and functional studies. (...)


A Middle Pleistocene Denisovan molar from the Annamite Chain of northern Laos, di F. Demeter et alii, "Nature Communications", 13, Article number: 2557 (2022), 17 May 2022 - open access -

The Pleistocene presence of the genus Homo in continental Southeast Asia is primarily evidenced by a sparse stone tool record and rare human remains. Here we report a Middle Pleistocene hominin specimen from Laos, with the discovery of a molar from the Tam Ngu Hao 2 (Cobra Cave) limestone cave in the Annamite Mountains. The age of the fossil-bearing breccia ranges between 164–131 kyr, based on the Bayesian modelling of luminescence dating of the sedimentary matrix from which it was recovered, U-series dating of an overlying flowstone, and U-series–ESR dating of associated faunal teeth. Analyses of the internal structure of the molar in tandem with palaeoproteomic analyses of the enamel indicate that the tooth derives from a young, likely female, Homo individual. The close morphological affinities with the Xiahe specimen from China indicate that they belong to the same taxon and that Tam Ngu Hao 2 most likely represents a Denisovan. (...)


Neanderthals in changing environments from MIS 5 to early MIS 4 in northern Central Europe – Integrating archaeological, (chrono)stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental evidence at the site of Lichtenberg, di M. Weiss et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 284, 15 May 2022, 107519

The resilience of Neanderthals towards changing climatic and environmental conditions, and especially towards severely cold climates in northern regions of central Europe, is still under debate. One way to address this is to investigate multi-layered occupation in different climatic intervals, using independently-compiled paleoenvironmental and chronological data. Unfortunately, most open-air sites on the northern European Plain lack a robust chronostratigraphy beyond the radiocarbon dating range, thereby often hampering direct links between human occupation and climate. Here we present the results of integrative research at the Middle Paleolithic open-air site of Lichtenberg, Northern Germany, comprising archaeology, luminescence dating, sedimentology, micromorphology, as well as pollen and phytolith analyses. (...)


Late Acheulian Jaljulia – Early human occupations in the paleo-landscape of the central coastal plain of Israel, di M. Shemer et alii, 11 May 2022, doi: - open access -

The Lower Paleolithic Late Acheulian in the Levant marks a fascinating chapter in human cultural and biological evolution. Nevertheless, many aspects of the Late Acheulian are still undeciphered, hindered by the complex nature of each site on the one hand, a scarcity of wide, multidisciplinary studies on the other, and by difficulties in obtaining absolute chronology for this timeframe. Therefore, subjects such as human subsistence strategies and modes of adaptation, regional diversity, and the possible existence and nature of interactions between hominin groups are largely understudied. The discovery and study of Jaljulia, a large-scale Late Acheulian site at the central Coastal Plain, Israel, add valuable insights to the research of this chapter in human history. Considered to represent recurrent occupations at a favored, water and flint-rich setting, the site has provided extensive lithic assemblages obtained from several localities. Absolute chronology places the human activity on-site at roughly 500–300 ky (and possibly even later), which is suggested to be divided into several main occupation phases. (...)


Complex human childbirth and cognitive abilities a result of walking upright, 10 may 2022

Childbirth in humans is much more complex and painful than in great apes. It was long believed that this was a result of humans' larger brains and the narrow dimensions of the mother's pelvis. Researchers have now used 3D simulations to show that childbirth was also a highly complex process in early hominins that gave birth to relatively small-brained newborns -- with important implications for their cognitive development. (...)


New insights into cave hyena ethology and the implications for territorial competition with hominins in Late Pleistocene north-west Europe: the case of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Belgium), di E. L. Jimenez, M. Germonpré, M. Boudin, "Journal of Quaternary Science", Volume 37, Issue 4, May 2022, Pages 593-611

Megacarnivore behaviours shape ecological dynamics between their prey and competitors and therefore play a key role in structuring ecosystems. In Late Pleistocene Eurasia, hominins and hyenas were sympatric predators. Since the first discoveries of Crocuta c. spelaea in the 19th century, this ‘bone-crushing’ species has been identified at most Palaeolithic sites and has inspired many taphonomic studies. Nonetheless, there is still very little known about its reproductive, social and spatial behaviours. We believe that exploring the complexity of the cave hyena's ethology is a way to better understand spatial relationships and niche sharing/partitioning between hominins and other top predators in Pleistocene ecosystems. This paper focuses on the study of Caverne Marie-Jeanne Layer 4 (Hastière, Belgium), one of the best-preserved palaeontological sites in the region. (...)

  Art by firelight? Using experimental and digital techniques to explore Magdalenian engraved plaquette use at Montastruc (France), di A. Needham, I. Wisher, A. Langley, M. Amy, A. Little, 20 April 2022, doi:  - open access -

Palaeolithic stone plaquettes are a type of mobiliary art featuring engravings and recovered primarily from Magdalenian sites, where they can number from single finds to several thousand examples. Where context is available, they demonstrate complex traces of use, including surface refreshing, heating, and fragmentation. However, for plaquettes with limited or no archaeological context, research tends to gravitate toward their engraved surfaces. This paper focuses on 50 limestone plaquettes excavated by Peccadeau de l’Isle from Montastruc, a Magdalenian rockshelter site in southern France with limited archaeological context; a feature common to many art bearing sites excavated across the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Plaquette use at Montastruc was explored via a programme of microscopy, 3D modelling, colour enhancement using DStretch©, virtual reality (VR) modelling, and experimental archaeology, the latter focusing on limestone heating related to different functional and non-functional uses. While the limited archaeological context available ensures the results remain only indicative, the data generated suggests plaquettes from Montastruc were likely positioned in proximity to hearths during low ambient light conditions. (...)


De l'homme de Menton à la Dame du Cavillon, avril 2022

Le fossile humain retrouvé dans la grotte du Cavillon (Italie) n'est pas celui d'un homme...Retour sur le changement d'attribution sexuelle du corps de la sépulture gravetienne de la grotte du Cavillon.

La grotte du Cavillon, est située à la frontière entre Menton et Vintimille en Italie. Quand le préhistorien commence les fouilles en 1870 il ne se trouve pas devant une cavité, car la grotte est complétement remplie de terre et de sédiments sur une hauteur de 16 mètres. Cette caune fait partie des sept cavités incrustées dans les flancs de la falaise des Balzi Rossi.
A la base des dépôts se trouvent plusieurs niveaux d’occupation moustériens, puis, des dépôts du Paléolithique supérieur et, sans surprise, la chronologie s’enchaine des industries aurignaciennes, gravettiennes et enfin épigravettiennes. Les fouilles d’Emile Riviere s’arrêtent en 1875. Elles seront reprisee en 1895 par le Prince Albert 1er de Monaco.
La cavité étant complètement vidée ce sont maintenant les abri et grottes des falaises qui continuent d’être fouillées sous la direction d’Elena Rossi-Notter. (...)

  PaleoAnthropology. Special Issue: The Impact of Upper Pleistocene Climatic and Environmental Change on Hominin Occupations and Landscape Use, Part 1 2022:1  - open access -

- Seasonal Markers: Seven Series of Magdalenian Images and Their Symbolic Use, di A. Castelli

- An Introduction to Part 1 of the Special Issue, di W. Davies, P. Nigst

- The Sunny Side of the Ice Age: Solar Insolation as a Potential Long-Term Pacemaker for Demographic Developments in Europe Between 43 and 15 ka Ago, di A. Maier, P. Ludwig, A. Zimmermann, I. Schmidt

- Dynamics of Climate and Human Settlement During the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in the Northwestern Caucasus, di L. V. Golovanova, V. B. Doronichev, E.  V. Doronicheva, A. G. Nedomolkin

- Were the Technological Innovations of the Gravettian Triggered by Climatic Change? Insights from the Lithic Assemblages from Hohle Fels, SW Germany, di A. Taller, N. J. Conard

- Is the Solutrean Linked to Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Upper Pleniglacial? Searching for the Drivers of the Changes in the Economy and Mobility of Solutrean Groups in Southwestern France, di L. Fontana

- Changing Tidal Dynamics and the Role of the Marine Environment in the Maritime Migration to Sahul, di E. K. Kuijjer, I. D. Haigh, R. Marsh, R. H. Farr


Inferring lumbar lordosis in Neandertals and other hominins, di S. A Williams et alii, "PNAS Nexus", Volume 1, Issue 1, March 2022, pgab005 - open access -

Lumbar lordosis is a key adaptation to bipedal locomotion in the human lineage. Dorsoventral spinal curvatures enable the body's center of mass to be positioned above the hip, knee, and ankle joints, and minimize the muscular effort required for postural control and locomotion. Previous studies have suggested that Neandertals had less lordotic (ventrally convex) lumbar columns than modern humans, which contributed to historical perceptions of postural and locomotor differences between the two groups. Quantifying lower back curvature in extinct hominins is entirely reliant upon bony correlates of overall lordosis, since the latter is significantly influenced by soft tissue structures (e.g. intervertebral discs). Here, we investigate sexual dimorphism, ancestry, and lifestyle effects on lumbar vertebral body wedging and inferior articular facet angulation, two features previously shown to be significantly correlated with overall lordosis in living individuals, in a large sample of modern humans and Neandertals. (...)


Estimating origination times from the early hominin fossil record, di R. Bobe, B. Wood, "Evolutionary Anthropology", Volume 31, Issue 2, March/April 2022, Pages 92-102 - open access -

The age of the earliest recovered fossil evidence of a hominin taxon is all too often equated with that taxon's origination. However, the earliest known fossil record nearly always postdates, sometimes by a substantial period of time, the true origination of a taxon. Here we evaluate the first appearance records of the earliest potential hominins (Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus, Orrorin), as well as of the genera Australopithecus, Homo, and Paranthropus, to illustrate the considerable uncertainty regarding the actual timing of origin of these taxa. By placing confidence intervals on the first appearance records of early hominin taxa, we can better evaluate patterns of hominin diversity, turnover, and potential correlations with climatic and environmental changes. (...)


Aggiornamento 21/04/2022


Middle Pleistocene paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of central Italy and their relationship with hominin migrations and evolution, di A. Zanazzi, A. Fletcher, C. Peretto, U. Thun Hohenstein, "Quaternary International", Volume 619, 10 May 2022, Pages 12-29 - open access -

To investigate the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of central Italy during the Middle Pleistocene, we analyzed the carbon and oxygen stable isotope composition of the carbonate component of sequential enamel samples from twenty-four rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus spp.) teeth. The samples come from two key archeological and paleontological sites located in the Molise region: Isernia La Pineta (ILP; ~600 ka) and Guado San Nicola (GSN; ~400 ka). (...)

  Neanderthal child's occipital from Baume Moula-Guercy (Soyons, Ardèche, France), di G. D. Richards, R. S. Jabbour, G. Guipert, A. Defleur, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 178, Issue 1, Pages: 1-197, May 2022, Pages 69-88

This article provides an ontogenetically based comparative description of two immature occipital fragments from Baume Moula-Guercy (MIS 5e) and examines their affinities to European and Middle Eastern Middle-to-Late Pleistocene (≈MIS 14–MIS≈1) Homo. (...)

  Human occupation of the semi-arid grasslands of South Africa during MIS 4: New archaeological and paleoecological evidence from Lovedale, Free State, di K. Wroth et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 283, 1 May 2022, 107455

Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and 4 are periods of major cultural innovations in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of southern Africa. While extensive data is available for the coast, far less is known about the interior, in particular its central plateau. This is likely due to the large geographic extent of this area and a general paucity of caves and rock shelters that can provide long stratigraphic sequences and environmental records. The lack of information and systematic research has hindered our understanding of regional variation and patterns of human dispersal within the subcontinent. (...)

  "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 166, May 2022:

- Evaluating landscape knowledge and lithic resource selection at the French Middle Paleolithic site of the Bau de l'Aubesier, di C. Marian Pop, L. Wilson, C. L. Browne

- Richard Erskine Frere Leakey (1944–2022), di B. Wood

- Early Neanderthals in contact: The Chibanian (Middle Pleistocene) hominin dentition from Velika Balanica Cave, Southern Serbia, di M. Roksandic, P. Radović, J. Lindal, D. Mihailović

- Morphological affinities of a fossil ulna (KNM-WS 65401) from Buluk, Kenya, di A. C. Nishimura, G. A. Russo, I. O. Nengo, E. R. Miller

- An ancient cranium from Dmanisi: Evidence for interpersonal violence, disease, and possible predation by carnivores on Early Pleistocene Homo, di A. Margvelashvili, M. Tappen, G. P. Rightmire, N. Tsikaridze, D. Lordkipanidze

  Climate effects on archaic human habitats and species successions, di A. Timmermann et alii, "Nature", 13 April 2022 - open access -

It has long been believed that climate shifts during the last 2 million years had a pivotal role in the evolution of our genus Homo. However, given the limited number of representative palaeo-climate datasets from regions of anthropological interest, it has remained challenging to quantify this linkage. Here, we use an unprecedented transient Pleistocene coupled general circulation model simulation in combination with an extensive compilation of fossil and archaeological records to study the spatiotemporal habitat suitability for five hominin species over the past 2 million years. We show that astronomically forced changes in temperature, rainfall and terrestrial net primary production had a major impact on the observed distributions of these species. (...)

  MIS 13 and MIS 11 aggradational successions of the Paleo-Tiber delta: Geochronological constraints to sea-level fluctuations and to the Acheulean sites of Castel di Guido and Malagrotta (Rome, Italy), di F. Marra, A. Pereira, G. Boschian, S. Nomade, "Quaternary International", Volume 616, 10 April 2022, Pages 1-11

This contribution presents an application of the conceptual model of 'aggradational succession' (i.e., the sedimentary record deposited in response to sea-level rise during the glacial terminations) to a series of geological sections of the Paleo-Tiber delta cropping out along the Via Aurelia near Rome, Italy. The geochronological constraints provided here through 40Ar/39Ar dating of volcanic layers intercalated within the sedimentary deposits of the MIS 13 and MIS 11 aggradational successions resulted in some remarkable outcomes (...)

  Every contact leaves a trace: Documenting contamination in lithic residue studies at the Middle Palaeolithic sites of Lusakert Cave 1 (Armenia) and Crvena Stijena (Montenegro), di E. Frahm, D. S. Adler, B. Gasparyan, B. Luo, C. Mallol, G. Pajović, G. B. Tostevin, B. Yeritsyan, G. Monnier, 7 April 2022, - open access -

Investigations of organic lithic micro-residues have, over the last decade, shifted from entirely morphological observations using visible-light microscopy to compositional ones using scanning electron microscopy and Fourier-transform infrared microspectroscopy, providing a seemingly objective chemical basis for residue identifications. Contamination, though, remains a problem that can affect these results. Modern contaminants, accumulated during the post-excavation lives of artifacts, are pervasive, subtle, and even “invisible” (unlisted ingredients in common lab products). Ancient contamination is a second issue. The aim of residue analysis is to recognize residues related to use, but other types of residues can also accumulate on artifacts. Caves are subject to various taphonomic forces and organic inputs, and use-related residues can degrade into secondary compounds. This organic “background noise” must be taken into consideration. (...)

  Unraveling Châtelperronian high-density accumulations: the open-air site of Aranbaltza II (Bizkaia, Spain), di L. Sánchez-Romero, A. Benito-Calvo, E. Iriarte, A. San Emeterio, I. Ortega, J. Rios-Garaizar, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 14, issue 4, April 2022 - open access -

The Châtelperronian open-air site of Aranbaltza II presents a set of very particular characteristics, such as the large number of well-preserved lithic materials in a small area and the presence of lobular accumulations that represents the 33% of different size and shape of lithic materials of the whole assemblage. Through the application of density, hotspots, and 3D-fabric analysis, in combination with sedimentological data, we discuss the factors responsible of the accumulation of these archaeological materials. The main goal of this work is inferring the formation processes from a geoarchaeological perspective and the spatial organization of this site, unraveling the high-density accumulations of this site and therefore the activities carried out. (...)

  Innovations in Acheulean biface production at la Noira (France) during Middle Pleistocene in Western Europe, di P. García-Medrano, J. Despriée, M. H. Moncel, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 14, issue 4, April 2022

The archaeological sequence of la Noira (Centre region, France) yielded two phases of occupation: ca 700 ka (stratum a) and ca 450 ka (stratum c). No site between these two dates has yet been discovered in the area, and this chronological period has thus been interpreted as a gap in settlement from MIS 16 to MIS 12, two crucial phases of occupation in Western Europe. The record before the long glacial event MIS 12 has been traditionally associated with the onset of the Acheulean in Europe. From MIS 12, the record represents the earliest evidence of innovations, a clear shift in human evolution. Here, we compare these two levels (strata a and c), tracking the technological innovations during this time and combining technological analysis with geometric morphometrics with the use of 3D models comparison of the large cutting tools (LCTs). (...)

  Thermal transformation of chalcedonite artefacts from the Magdalenian site of Ćmielów 95 ”Mały Gawroniec” (Poland), di E. A. Miśta-Jakubowska et alii, "Archaeometry", Volume 64, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 300-316

Two chalcedonite artefacts from the Magdalenian site of Ćmielów 95 (Poland), with macroscopic features suggestive of thermal treatment, were subjected to a multi-instrumental analysis. The red upper layer of the objects consists of ”protohematite”, implying temperature-driven, goethite-to-hematite transition. The red layer shows traces of carbonized matter with saccharides and levoglucosan (from burning wood) as well as fatty acids. PXRD data suggest a source of higher temperatures (up to ~800°C) within the bottom layer, with ~200–300°C range ascribed to the red layer. On the basis of the collected data the artefacts are proposed to be relics of cooking stones. (...)

  Determining the diagenetic paths of archaeofaunal assemblages and their palaeoecology through artificial intelligence: an application to Oldowan sites from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), di M. Pizarro-Monzo, E. Organista, L. Cobo-Sánchez, E. Baquedano, M. Domínguez-Rodrigo, "Journal of Quaternary Science", Volume 37, Issue 3, April 2022, Pages 543-557 - open access -

The implementation of deep-learning methods to the taphonomic analysis of the microscopic modification of bone-surface modifications exposed to different chemical diagenetic pathways can effectively discriminate between acidic and alkaline soil properties, indirectly reflecting different ecological conditions. Here we use this novel method to assess the sedimentary conditions of two of the oldest Oldowan archaeofaunal records (DS and PTK, Bed I) from Olduvai Gorge Bed I in Tanzania. We show how the results support different diagenetic conditions for both penecontemporaneous sites, which are appropriate for their respective locations on the palaeolandscape to which they belonged. We also show how geochemical analyses of the clay deposit that embedded both sites indicate a similar soil pH divergence. (...)


Flake tools in the European Lower Paleolithic: A case study from MIS 9 Britain, di A. Rawlinson, L. Dale, N. Ashton, D. Bridgland, M. White, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 165, April 2022, 103153

Studies of flake tools in the British Lower Paleolithic are rare owing to lower quantities of flake tools than handaxes and the perception that flake tool technology became more important in the succeeding Middle Paleolithic. In Britain, and Europe more broadly, MIS 9 (328–301 ka) has been characterized as a period of technological transition owing to the presence of early prepared core technology and the status of the period as the final interglacial prior to the onset of the Middle Paleolithic. It has been argued that the period demonstrates an increase in both the numbers and importance of flake tools, possibly showing emerging Middle Paleolithic behaviors. (...)


Direct cosmogenic nuclide isochron burial dating of early Acheulian stone tools at the T69 Complex (FLK West, Olduvai Bed II, Tanzania), di T. Fujioka, A. Benito-Calvo, R. Mora, L. McHenry, J. K. Njau, I. de la Torre, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 165, April 2022, 103155 - open access -

Keywords: Early Stone AgeEarly AcheulianEarly PleistoceneCosmogenic nuclide dating (...)


Cochlear morphology of Indonesian Homo erectus from Sangiran, di A. Urciuoli et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 165, April 2022, 103163

Homo erectus s.l. is key for deciphering the origin and subsequent evolution of genus Homo. However, the characterization of this species is hindered by the existence of multiple variants in both mainland and insular Asia, as a result of divergent chronogeographical evolutionary trends, genetic isolation, and interbreeding with other human species. Previous research has shown that cochlear morphology embeds taxonomic and phylogenetic information that may help infer the phylogenetic relationships among hominin species. (...)


Visualizing childhood in Upper Palaeolithic societies: Experimental and archaeological approach to artists’ age estimation through cave art hand stencils, di V. Fernández-Navarro, E. Camarós, D. Garate, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 140, April 2022, 105574 - open access -

This paper presents rock art as a collective action in which different strata of society took part, including children and subadults. Until recent decades archaeology of childhood has not been in the main focus of the archaeological research, much less the participation of those children in the artistic activity. The present study approaches the palaeodemography of artists in the decorated caves through the paleolithic rock art itself. The approximate age of these individuals has been calculated through the biometric analysis of hand stencils in the caves of Fuente del Salín, Castillo, La Garma, Maltravieso and Fuente del Trucho, using 3D photogrammetric models as reference. (...)

  The intrusive nature of the Châtelperronian in the Iberian Peninsula, di J. Rios-Garaizar et alii, 30 March 2022, - open access -

Multiple factors have been proposed to explain the disappearance of Neandertals between ca. 50 and 40 kyr BP. Central to these discussions has been the identification of new techno-cultural complexes that overlap with the period of Neandertal demise in Europe. One such complex is the Châtelperronian, which extends from the Paris Basin to the Northern Iberian Peninsula between 43,760–39,220 BP. In this study we present the first open-air Châtelperronian site in the Northern Iberian Peninsula, Aranbaltza II. The technological features of its stone tool assemblage show no links with previous Middle Paleolithic technology in the region, and chronological modeling reveals a gap between the latest Middle Paleolithic and the Châtelperronian in this area. We interpret this as evidence of local Neandertal extinction and replacement by other Neandertal groups coming from southern France, illustrating how local extinction episodes could have played a role in the process of disappearance of Neandertals. (...)

  Ancient DNA and deep population structure in sub-Saharan African foragers, di M. Lipson et alii, "Nature", Volume 603, Issue 7900, 10 March 2022, pages 290–296 - open access -

Multiple lines of genetic and archaeological evidence suggest that there were major demographic changes in the terminal Late Pleistocene epoch and early Holocene epoch of sub-Saharan Africa. Inferences about this period are challenging to make because demographic shifts in the past 5,000 years have obscured the structures of more ancient populations. Here we present genome-wide ancient DNA data for six individuals from eastern and south-central Africa spanning the past approximately 18,000 years (doubling the time depth of sub-Saharan African ancient DNA), increase the data quality for 15 previously published ancient individuals and analyse these alongside data from 13 other published ancient individuals. (...)

  Les blessures récurrentes sur les fossiles de la Sierra d’Atapuerca, 08/03/2022

Le CENIEH publie un véru-itable inventaire des processus survenus avant la mort (ante mortem), au moment proche de la mort (peri mortem) et après la mort (post mortem) de la plus grande collection de crânes et de mâchoires en paléontologie humaine trouvée dans le Sierra d'Atapuerca. (...)

  Function, life histories, and biographies of Lower Paleolithic patinated flint tools from Late Acheulian Revadim, Israel, di B. Efrati, R. Barkai, S. Nunziante Cesaro, F. Venditti, "Scientific Reports", volume 12, 03 March 2022 - open access -

Flint tools exhibiting modified patinated surfaces (“double patina”, or post-patination flaked items) provide a glimpse into Paleolithic lithic recycling, stone economy, and human choices. Different life cycles of such items are visually evident by the presence of fresh new modified surfaces alongside old patinated ones (according to color and texture differences). New modifications testify to a gap in time between the previous life cycle of the patinated flaked item and its new one. The aim of the current study is to reconstruct the functional properties and life cycles of a sample of modified patinated flaked tools from Late Acheulian Revadim, Israel by applying use-wear and residue analyses. The results of the functional study allow a better understanding of the practical reasoning behind the collection and recycling of old flint tools, while additional inputs from theoretical and methodological advancements assist in reconstructing their probable role in the worldviews of the site’s inhabitants. (...)

  What explains our lower back pain? Anthropologists turn to Neanderthals for answers, 3 March 2022

Examining the spines of Neanderthals, an extinct human relative, may explain back-related ailments experienced by humans today, a team of anthropologists has concluded in a new comparative study. (...)

  The Effect of Raw Material on the Identification of Knapping Skill: a Case Study from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, di T. Proffitt, A. Bargalló, I. de la Torre, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", Volume 29, issue 1, March 2022 - open access -

The identification of Oldowan hominin knapping skill levels has been a focus of numerous studies, with apparent variation in technical abilities identified between a number of Early Stone Age archaeological sites. Raw material variability, however, can play a significant role in the outcomes of knapping events as well as in the accuracy of analysis. Implications of such variability are yet to be fully understood. Here we present an experimental study to assess the effects that varying raw materials have on the identification of technological attributes typically associated with varying skill levels and whether it is possible to identify knapper skill levels across multiple raw materials. (...)


Defining and Characterising Clusters in Palaeolithic Sites: a Review of Methods and Constraints, di L. Sánchez-Romero, A. Benito-Calvo, J. Rios-Garaizar, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", Volume 29, issue 1, March 2022 - open access -

Spatial analysis studies in Palaeolithic archaeology arise as indispensable research tools for understanding archaeopalaeontological sites. In general terms, spatial studies have been specialised in the description of the distribution of materials and in the definition of accumulation areas, with the aim of distinguishing intentional activities or studying postdepositional processes. In recent decades, the development of GIS tools has enabled huge strides forward in the field of spatial archaeology research, such as spatial inferential statistics. These tools are particularly useful in the identification and location of clustering from statistical criteria, facilitating the subsequent analysis of accumulations through other archaeological, taphonomic and spatial techniques, such as fabric analysis or directional distribution. (...)

  The microstructure and the origin of the Venus from Willendorf, di G. W. Weber et alii, "Scientific Reports", volume 12, 28 February 2022 - open access -

The origin and key details of the making of the ~30,000 year old Venus from Willendorf remained a secret since its discovery for more than a hundred years. Based on new micro-computed tomography scans with a resolution of 11.5 µm, our analyses can explain the origin as well as the choice of material and particular surface features. It allowed the identification of internal structure properties and a chronological assignment of the Venus oolite to the Mesozoic. Sampling numerous oolite occurrences ranging ~2500 km from France to the Ukraine, we found a strikingly close match for grain size distribution near Lake Garda in the Southern Alps (Italy). This might indicate considerable mobility of Gravettian people and long-time transport of artefacts from South to North by modern human groups before the Last Glacial Maximum. (...)

  Relationships between the hard and soft dimensions of the nose in Pan troglodytes and Homo sapiens reveal the positions of the nasal tips of Plio-Pleistocene hominids, di R. M. Campbell, G. Vinas, M. Henneberg, 22 February 2022, - open access -

By identifying homogeneity in bone and soft tissue covariation patterns in living hominids, it is possible to produce facial approximation methods with interspecies compatibility. These methods may be useful for producing facial approximations of fossil hominids that are more realistic than currently possible. In this study, we conducted an interspecific comparison of the nasomaxillary region in chimpanzees and modern humans with the aim of producing a method for predicting the positions of the nasal tips of Plio-Pleistocene hominids. We addressed this aim by first collecting and performing regression analyses of linear and angular measurements of nasal cavity length and inclination in modern humans (Homo sapiens; n = 72) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes; n = 19), and then performing a set of out-of-group tests. (...)

  Experimental investigation of orangutans’ lithic percussive and sharp stone tool behaviours, di A. Motes-Rodrigo et alii, 16 February 2022,  - open access -

Early stone tools, and in particular sharp stone tools, arguably represent one of the most important technological milestones in human evolution. The production and use of sharp stone tools significantly widened the ecological niche of our ancestors, allowing them to exploit novel food resources. However, despite their importance, it is still unclear how these early lithic technologies emerged and which behaviours served as stepping-stones for the development of systematic lithic production in our lineage. One approach to answer this question is to collect comparative data on the stone tool making and using abilities of our closest living relatives, the great apes, to reconstruct the potential stone-related behaviours of early hominins. To this end, we tested both the individual and the social learning abilities of five orangutans to make and use stone tools. Although the orangutans did not make sharp stone tools initially, three individuals spontaneously engaged in lithic percussion, and sharp stone pieces were produced under later experimental conditions. (...)

  Industries archaïques, "L'Anthropologie", Volume 126, Issue 1, January–March 2022:

- Oldowayen archaïque et Oldowayen classique de l’Afrique à l’Europe méditerranéenne, di H. de Lumley

- The evolution of stone tool technology at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): Contributions from the Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project, di F. Diez-Martín et alii

- New Oldowan localities at high level within Kilombe Caldera, Kenya, di J. A.J. Gowlett et alii

- Une vue d’ensemble sur Melka Kunture, grand complexe de sites pléistocènes dans la vallée supérieure de l’Awash (Éthiopie), di M. Mussi et alii

- Les industries archaïques au Proche-Orient, di J. M. Le Tensorer, S. Muhesen

- On the ecological scenario of the first hominin dispersal out of Africa, di P. Palmqvist, G. Rodríguez-Gómez, B. Figueirido, J. M. García-Aguilar, J. A. Pérez-Claros

- The Vallonnet cave on the northern Mediterranean border: A record of one of the oldest human presences in Europe, di D. Cauche

- Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar: Comings and goings recorded in a late Early (Lower) Pleistocene microstratigraphical palimpsest, di M. J. Walker et alii

- Les plus anciennes industries paléolithiques en Russie, di S. A. Vasil’ev, S. A. Koulakov

- The birth of the Acheulian techno-complex in the Caucasus region, di E. V. Belyaeva, V. E. Shchelinsky

- Early human dispersal at the western edge of the Eastern European plain: Data from Ukraine, di V. N. Stepanchuk

- The first lithic industry of mainland Southeast Asia: Evidence of the earliest hominin in a tropical context, di H. Forestier et alii

- The early lithic productions of Island Southeast Asia: Traditions or convergences?, di T. Ingicco, F. Sémah, Y. Zhou, A. M. Sémah, H. Forestier

- Les premiers habitants de la caune de l’Arago entre - 700 000 et - 400 000 ans avaient-ils domestiqué le feu ? savaient-ils l’allumer à leur gré?, di H. de Lumley

- Commentaires du Pr Henry de Lumley, Rédacteur en Chef de la revue L’Anthropologie, portant sur l’article publié dans ce même volume: «La naissance du technocomplexe acheuléen dans la région du Caucase» par Elena V. Belyaeva, Vyacheslav E. Shchelinsky, di H. de Lumley

  The quotidian of the symbolic’. Iconographic changes between decorated objects in cantabrian magdalenian portable art. A multivariate statistical approach, di S. Salazar Cañarte, O. Rivero Vilá, "Oxford Journal of Archaeology", Volume 41, Issue 1, February 2022, Pages 2-21

Cantabrian portable art enjoys a long research tradition that has generated a vision of this phenomenon in which decoration seems to be determined by the type of artefact to be decorated and the context in which it participates. However, this conceptualization does not address the multiplicity of situations in which decorated objects were used. In the present work, both the iconographic variations in Cantabrian Magdalenian decorated objects and the diachronic changes in the use of the themes and artefacts are explored. (...)

  Rennes, hommes et loups à la grotte ouest du Portel (Ariège): Analyse paleoécologique et taphonomique de l'impact des carnivores de l'ensemble F-F3, di J. B. Fourvel, N. Frerebeau, P. Magniez, A. M. Moigne, R. Vézian, "Quaternaire", vol. 32/3 | 2021 : Volume 32 Numéro 3 - open access -

La grotte Ouest du Portel (Ariège) est un gisement archéologique majeur pour la connaissance des modalités d’acquisition et d’exploitation des ressources carnées par les communautés humaines du Paléolithique moyen. L’ensemble moustérien F (MIS 3) présente l’accumulation osseuse la plus riche (avec le renne dominant) et dont l’analyse archéozoologique a démontré l’origine anthropique. Si l’impact des carnivores sur cet ensemble a été reconnu, la reconnaissance précise de leur rôle reste un aspect essentiel tant pour comprendre les relations entre les prédateurs humains et non-humains que pour estimer les biais induits par le chapardage secondaire d’éléments osseux issus d’un dépôt primaire. (...)

  The middle palaeolithic site of Vajo Salsone in the monti Lessini, Italian Alps. First report on the archaeofauna and lithic assemblage with foliate tools, di M. Peresani et alii, "Alpine and Mediterranean Quaternary", vol. 35, n. 1, 2022, pp. 1–25

This first report aims to illustrate the Middle Palaeolithic site of Vajo Salsone in the Monti Lessini plateau in the eastern Italian Alps, its geological and geomorphological context, the conditions leading to its discovery occurred after a road cutting, and the archaeological excavation of a karst structure where the sediments, faunal and cultural remains were still preserved. The karst infill is a massive clast-supported breccia with abundant animal bones and lithic artifacts coated of carbonate encrustations. The first analysis of the samples of small and large mammal assemblages recovered in the karst deposits has revealed the abundance of Microtus arvalis, a rodent currently reported to live in open environments and in relatively drier regions of northern Italy. (...)


Aggiornamento 15/02/2022


Early hominin group size: A perspective from Bestwood 1, Northern Cape Province, South Africa, di M. Chazan, "Quaternary International", Volume 614, 20 March 2022, Pages 7-15

The study of primate social behavior in the wild has emerged as a tool with great potential for increasing our understanding early hominins. However, the application of models generated from observation of living primates to the archaeological record is challenging. Bestwood 1, a component of the Kathu Complex of sites in the Northern Cape Province, (...)


Single grain TT-OSL ages for the Earlier Stone Age site of Bestwood 1 (Northern Cape Province, South Africa), di M. Richard, M. Chazan, N. Porat, "Quaternary International", Volume 614, 20 March 2022, Pages 16-22

The transition from the Earlier Stone Age (ESA) to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in the interior of southern Africa is associated with the Fauresmith Industry. Major cultural developments found in the Fauresmith include regular use of ochre and other coloured minerals, prepared core technology including blade and point production, and the use of hafted spears. Chronological control for the Fauresmith is weak so that critical questions regarding the relationship of this industry to the evolution of modern humans remain unresolved. Here we present ages for the Bestwood 1 site, an open-air locality in the Northern Cape Province (South Africa) where an extensive Fauresmith occupation is found underlying sand deposits. (...)


Exploring the Later Stone Age at a micro-scale: New high-resolution excavations at Wonderwerk Cave, di S. E. Rhodes et alii, "Quaternary International", Volume 614, 20 March 2022, Pages 126-145

In 2018, we initiated renewed excavation of the Later Stone Age (LSA) deposits at Wonderwerk Cave. Here we describe the goals and initial results of the first two seasons of excavation, including the first micromorphological description of these deposits. We employed a small-scale excavation technique to emphasize precision recording and limit the destruction of sensitive deposits. Our preliminary results indicate that meaningful patterns in material culture records and paleoecological proxy materials can be derived from such investigations. (...)


Middle Stone Age wood use in Rose Cottage Cave South Africa: Evidence from charcoal identifications, di S. Lennox, L. Wadley, "Quaternary International", Volumes 611–612, 20 February 2022, Pages 102-114

Here we present charcoal identifications for Rose Cottage Cave, Eastern Free State, from layers dated between about 96,000 and 35,000 years ago (~96 and ~35 ka ago). We then suggest plant community types that might have been established in the area in warm Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS5) versus cooler MIS4/MIS3 phases. The hypothesis is that frost-tender plants should occur in warm phases while hardy Leucosidea sericea, Protea spp. and Erica spp. should be more common during cooler phases more recent than ~74 ka ago. (...)


The MIS 5a (~80 ka) Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages from Melikane Rockshelter, Lesotho: Highland adaptation and social fragmentation, di K. R. Pazana, G. Dewar, B. A. Stewart, "Quaternary International", Volumes 611–612, 20 February 2022, Pages 115-133

Multidisciplinary research suggests that Marine Isotope Stage 5 (~130–74 ka) was an important evolutionary stage in African deep history. Population expansion and growth spurred changes in material culture as well as the exploration of previously unoccupied regions and ecosystems. The archaeological sequence at Melikane Rockshelter (1860 masl) in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains of highland Lesotho, southern Africa, stretches from the late Holocene back to sub-stage 5a, ~80 ka. The site's earliest strata represent one of the earliest known examples of a sustained human presence in high mountain systems worldwide. (...)


Moshebi's shelter at fifty: Reinvestigating the Later Stone Age of the Sehlabathebe Basin, Lesotho, di P. Mitchell, C. Arthur, H. Pinto, C. Capelli, "Quaternary International", Volumes 611–612, 20 February 2022, Pages 163-176

Professional archaeology in Lesotho was initiated 50 years ago when Pat Carter, working with Patricia Vinnicombe, excavated the site of Moshebi's Shelter in the Sehlabathebe Basin. His excavations there identified a sequence of both Middle and Later Stone Age (LSA) industries, the latter falling within the last 2200 years. However, the site was never fully published and Carter's use of 10-cm-thick spits to excavate its deposits raises questions about the precise stratigraphic (...)


Regional heterogeneity of environmental stressors for the Early, Middle and Late Palaeolithic European human populations related to the evolutionary lineage of Neanderthals, di A. J. Trájer, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 278, 15 February 2022, 107365

Pleistocene climatic fluctuations could play an important role in the development of the human phylogenetic line of Neanderthals. The aim of this study was to model how the climate-based physiological, cognitive, and vector-borne disease risk stressors for humans could vary in Europe by area and time from the Lower Palaeolithic era to the extinction of Neanderthals. For this purpose, the climatic requirements of the ancient humans were reconstructed based on the Early, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic occurrences of humans in Europe and its wider geographical environment for 8 Palaeolithic times and further six health and cold adaptation-related factors were also modelled. The adaptation of European human populations to the cool and volatile Pleistocene climate of Europe could gradually happen. While the Middle Palaeolithic humans in Europe lived in areas with long and medium-long vegetation periods and low or middle January mortality risk, in the late Palaeolithic the Neanderthal populations may have settled in areas with short ones. (...)


Modern human incursion into Neanderthal territories 54,000 years ago at Mandrin, France, di L. Slimak et alii, Volume 8, Issue 6, 11 feb 2022 - open access -

Determining the extent of overlap between modern humans and other hominins in Eurasia, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, is fundamental to understanding the nature of their interactions and what led to the disappearance of archaic hominins. Apart from a possible sporadic pulse recorded in Greece during the Middle Pleistocene, the first settlements of modern humans in Europe have been constrained to ~45,000 to 43,000 years ago. Here, we report hominin fossils from Grotte Mandrin in France that reveal the earliest known presence of modern humans in Europe between 56,800 and 51,700 years ago. This early modern human incursion in the Rhône Valley is associated with technologies unknown in any industry of that age outside Africa or the Levant. Mandrin documents the first alternating occupation of Neanderthals and modern humans, with a modern human fossil and associated Neronian lithic industry found stratigraphically between layers containing Neanderthal remains associated with Mousterian industries. (...)

· Did Neanderthals and modern humans take turns living in a French cave? di P. Michael, "Science", 9 feb 2022

· Homo sapiens dans la grotte Mandrin il y a 54 000 ans? "Hominidés", 10/02/2022


An improved chronology for the Middle Stone Age at El Mnasra cave, Morocco, di E. B. Arous et alii, 11 February 2022, doi: - open access -

North African coastal Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites are key to study the development and expansion of early H. sapiens. El Mnasra cave on the Atlantic coast of Morocco (Témara region) is a crucial site associated with MSA archaeological materials considered advanced cognitive hallmarks of behavioural innovation, such as numerous Nassariidae perforated shells, hematite pigments, bones industry and coastal resources exploitation. We provide new trapped-charges dates (OSL and combined US-ESR ages). Our Bayesian modelling strengthens the new lithostratigraphic interpretation of the cave stratigraphic units (US) and we propose an updated chronostratigraphic model for the Middle Stone Age archaeo-sequence of El Mnasra Cave. (...)


Neanderthal settlement of the Central Balkans during MIS 5: Evidence from Pešturina Cave, Serbia, di D. Mihailović et alii, "Quaternary International", Volume 610, 10 February 2022, Pages 1-19

Recent research in the southern Central Balkans has resulted in the discovery of the first Middle Paleolithic sites in this region. Systematic excavations of Velika and Mala Balanica, and Pešturina (southern Serbia) revealed assemblages of Middle Paleolithic artifacts associated with hominin fossils and animal bones. This paper focuses on Pešturina Layer 4, radiometrically and biostratigraphically dated to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5, which yielded traces of temporary hunting camps. The remains of large ungulate prey are associated with predominantly Quina-type artifacts made of quartz. (...)


‘We hunt to share’: social dynamics and very large mammal butchery during the Oldowan–Acheulean transition, di G. J. Linares Matás, J. Yravedra, "World Archaeology", 07 Feb 2022, doi: - open access -

The Early Pleistocene (2.58–0.78 Ma) was a period of major evolutionary changes in the hominin lineage. The progressive consolidation of bipedal locomotion, alongside increases in cranial capacity and behavioural flexibility, allowed early Homo to exploit an increasing diversity of resources and environmental settings within the changing landscapes of East Africa and beyond. These complex processes were not necessarily linear or spatially uniform, given the technological diversity documented, particularly during the Oldowan–Acheulean transition. In this paper, we argue that human populations experienced a considerable demographic expansion from c.1.7–1.5 (...)


Richard Leakey (1944–2022), di M. Mirazón Lahr, "Nature", Volume 602, Issue 7895, 3 February 2022

Richard Leakey made palaeontological discoveries of lasting significance, and brought animal poaching to the world’s attention. His fossil finds at Koobi Fora on the shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya, transformed our understanding of the diversity of human ancestors. He directed Kenya’s national museum, reorganized the country’s wildlife services and headed Kenya’s civil service. He died aged 77, at home in the Ngong Hills, Kenya. In science, he liked exploration, big-picture problems and building institutions. He made huge strides in conservation, empowering organizations and deploying shock tactics. He entered politics, creating an opposition party, then worked in government, finally becoming its corruption watchdog. He mentored young Kenyan scholars, conservationists and artists who are now leaders in their field. (...)


The earliest Pleistocene record of a large-bodied hominin from the Levant supports two out-of-Africa dispersal events, di A. Barash et alii, "Scientific Reports", volume 12, article number: 1721, 02 february 2022 - open access -

The paucity of early Pleistocene hominin fossils in Eurasia hinders an in-depth discussion on their paleobiology and paleoecology. Here we report on the earliest large-bodied hominin remains from the Levantine corridor: a juvenile vertebra (UB 10749) from the early Pleistocene site of ‘Ubeidiya, Israel, discovered during a reanalysis of the faunal remains. UB 10749 is a complete lower lumbar vertebral body, with morphological characteristics consistent with Homo sp. Our analysis indicates that UB-10749 was a 6- to 12-year-old child at death, displaying delayed ossification pattern compared with modern humans. Its predicted adult size is comparable to other early Pleistocene large-bodied hominins from Africa. Paleobiological differences between UB 10749 and other early Eurasian hominins supports at least two distinct out-of-Africa dispersal events. This observation corresponds with variants of lithic traditions (Oldowan; Acheulian) as well as various ecological niches across early Pleistocene sites in Eurasia. (...)


No sustained increase in zooarchaeological evidence for carnivory after the appearance of Homo erectus, di W. A. Barr, B. Pobiner, J. Rowan, A. Du, J. T. Faith, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 01 February 2022; vol. 119 no. 5, e2115540119

The appearance of Homo erectus shortly after 2.0 Ma is widely considered a turning point in human dietary evolution, with increased consumption of animal tissues driving the evolution of larger brain and body size and a reorganization of the gut. An increase in the size and number of zooarchaeological assemblages after the appearance of H. erectus is often offered as a central piece of archaeological evidence for increased carnivory in this species, but this characterization has yet to be subject to detailed scrutiny. Any widespread dietary shift leading to the acquisition of key traits in H. erectus should be persistent in the zooarchaeological record through time and can only be convincingly demonstrated by a broad-scale analysis that transcends individual sites or localities. (...)


Les comportements symboliques de Néandertal, 01/02/2020

Depuis les années 2010, un être préhistorique ne cesse de faire parler de lui : Néandertal. Cet hominidé est devenu une star de la préhistoire. La génétique déjà a permis de démontrer que notre espèce avait à plusieurs reprises eu des contacts plus que proches avec des Néandertaliens. Nous avons même quelques pourcentages d’ADN en commun comme avec d’autres espèces d’ailleurs… Il devenait de plus en plus difficile de reléguer cette espèce proche au rang de cousin éloigné un peu fruste, voire primitif.
Pour le paléoanthropologue Antoine Balzeau, « Chose certaine, il faut cesser de hiérarchiser les espèces humaines : notre anthropocentrisme biaise tout ce que nous faisons ! Ils n’étaient ni inférieurs ni égaux, juste différents. Et avec un cerveau très différent du nôtre, ces gens avaient des comportements tout aussi complexes ».
Il apparaît maintenant que Néandertal avait une culture, des pratiques, un savoir-faire bien à lui. Il ne faut pas essayer de comparer perpétuellement les aptitudes de Néandertal par rapport à celles de Sapiens (ou des autres espèces…). (...)


Meat on the menu: GIS spatial distribution analysis of bone surface damage indicates that Oldowan hominins at Kanjera South, Kenya had early access to carcasses, di J. A.Parkinson, T. W. Plummer, J. S. Oliver, L. C. Bishop, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 277, 1 February 2022, 107314

The shift to increased meat consumption is one of the major adaptive changes in hominin dietary evolution. Although meat eating by Oldowan hominins is well evidenced at Pleistocene archaeological sites in eastern Africa by butchery marks on bones, the methods through which carcasses were acquired (i.e., hunting vs. scavenging) and extent of their completeness (fleshed vs. defleshed) is less certain. This study addresses these issues through a geographic information systems (GIS) comparative analysis of bone modification patterns created by hominins and carnivores observed in the ca. 2.0 Ma assemblage from Kanjera South, Kenya and those of several modern, experimentally modified bone assemblages. (...)


Marmot hunting during the Upper Palaeolithic: The specialized exploitation at Grotte di Pradis (Italian pre-Alps), di N. Nannini et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 277, 1 February 2022, 107364

In the last few years several studies have reassessed the attraction and the role of small game in the subsistence economy of hunter-gatherers across Europe and the Mediterranean region since the Middle Paleolithic. The exploitation of small mammals intensified during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, when some unusual faunal assemblages were recorded in the Alpine arch and the Prealpine belt. In this region marmot became a relevant resource during the Late Glacial, albeit the relative foraging systems were mostly focused on the exploitation of medium and large size herbivores. In this report we present zooarchaeological data from Grotte di Pradis (northeastern Italy) which displays a faunal assemblage composed of at least 637 marmot individuals, representing about the 99% of the total remains. (...)


Middle Stone Age mineral pigment procurement at Pinnacle Point 5–6 North, Western Cape province, South Africa, di J. R. McGrath, B. L. MacDonald, D. Stalla, "Archaeometry", February 2022, Volume 64, Issue 1, Pages 193-217 - open access -

We report on a multi-method sourcing study of 35 mineral pigment artefacts from the Middle Stone Age site of Pinnacle Point 5-6 North (PP5-6 N), dating from about 90-50 ka The artefacts were analysed and compared with geological samples from seven sources using neutron activation analysis (NAA), and supplemented by data from X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Our preliminary results suggest that the occupants of PP5-6 N likely used at least two local and one currently unidentified and possibly non-local Fe oxide mineral pigment sources. The mineral pigment artefacts derived from the latter source(s) exhibited manganese (Mn) enrichment with concentrations well above those observed in all sampled source deposits in the study area, suggesting a distinctive formation process. (...)

  Special Issue: Peninsular southern Europe refugia during the Middle Palaeolithic, Volume 37, Issue 2, Pages: i-iii, 133-393, February 2022, Issue Edited by: Nuno Bicho, Milena Carvalho:

- Peninsular southern Europe refugia during the Middle Palaeolithic: an introduction, di N. Bicho, M. Carvalho

- What is a refugium? Questions for the Middle–Upper Palaeolithic transition in peninsular southern Europe, di E. Lena Jones

- Neanderthals on the Lower Danube: Middle Palaeolithic evidence in the Danube Gorges of the Balkans, di D. Borić et alii

- Investigating Middle Palaeolithic subsistence: zooarchaeological perspectives on the potential character of hominin climate refugia in Greece, di E. Roditi, B. M. Starkovich

- A palaeoecological view of the last Neanderthals at the crossroads of south-central Europe and the central Mediterranean: long-term stability or pronounced environmental change with human responses, di I. Karavanić, M. Banda, S. Radović, S. Miko, N. Vukosavljević, I. Razum, F. H. Smith

- Human occupation continuity in southern Italy towards the end of the Middle Palaeolithic: a palaeoenvironmental perspective from Apulia, di F. Boschin et alii

- Back to Uluzzo – archaeological, palaeoenvironmental and chronological context of the Mid–Upper Palaeolithic sequence at Uluzzo C Rock Shelter (Apulia, southern Italy), di E. E. Spinapolice et alii

- Integrated multidisciplinary ecological analysis from the Uluzzian settlement at the Uluzzo C Rock Shelter, south-eastern Italy, di S. Silvestrini et alii

- Neanderthals of Porto Selvaggio in southern Italy: lithic industry of Grotta Torre dell'Alto (Nardò, Lecce), di F. Ranaldo, D. Massafra, K. Kitagawa

- The ‘Semi-Sterile Mousterian’ of Riparo Bombrini: evidence of a late-lasting Neanderthal refugium in Liguria, di J. Riel-Salvatore, F. Negrino, G. Pothier Bouchard, A. Vallerand, S. Costa, S. Benazzi

- Neanderthal last stand? Thoughts on Iberian refugia in late MIS 3, di L. Guy Straus

- The spatial patterning of Middle Palaeolithic human settlement in westernmost Iberia, di J. Cascalheira, C. Gonçalves, D. Maio

- Neanderthal palaeoecology in the late Middle Palaeolithic of western Iberia: a stable isotope analysis of ungulate teeth from Lapa do Picareiro (Portugal), di  M. Carvalho et alii

- What Neanderthals and AMH ate: reassessment of the subsistence across the Middle–Upper Palaeolithic transition in the Vasco-Cantabrian region of SW Europe, di A. B. MarÍN-Arroyo, A. Sanz-Royo

- Iberian Neanderthals in forests and savannahs, di J. Ochando et alii

- Could the central-eastern Iberian Mediterranean region be defined as a refugium? Fauna and flora in MIS 5–3 and their implications for Palaeolithic human behaviour, di C. Real et alii

- Complexity in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic Transition in Peninsular Southern Europe and application of refugium concepts, di M. Carvalho, N. Bicho


Further analyses of the structural organization of Homo luzonensis teeth: Evolutionary implications, di C. Zanolli et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 163, February 2022, 103124

The species Homo luzonensis has recently been described based on a set of dental and postcranial elements found at Callao Cave (Northern Luzon, Philippines) and dated to at least 50–67 ka. Seven postcanine maxillary teeth are attributed to this taxon, five of them belonging to the same individual (CCH6) and representing the holotype of H. luzonensis, whereas the isolated upper premolar CCH8 and the upper third molar CCH9 are paratypes of the species. The teeth are characterized by their small dimensions associated with primitive features, as also found in Homo floresiensis, another hominin having evolved in an insular environment of Southeast Asia. (...)


Mosaic habitats at Woranso-Mille (Ethiopia) during the Pliocene and implications for Australopithecus paleoecology and taxonomic diversity, di D. F. Su, Y. Haile-Selassie, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 163, February 2022, 103076

Many important Pliocene hominin specimens have been recovered from Woranso-Mille, a paleontological research area in the Afar region of Ethiopia, including the complete cranium of Australopithecus anamensis, a partial skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis, mandibular and maxillary elements representing a new species, Australopithecus deyiremeda, and a partial foot of an as-yet-unnamed species. Woranso-Mille is the only site, so far, to have reported the co-existence of more than one early hominin species between 3.8 and 3.3 Ma and the temporal overlap between A. anamensis and A. afarensis. (...)


Connections between the Levant and the Balkans in the late Middle Pleistocene: Archaeological findings from Velika and Mala Balanica Caves (Serbia), di D. Mihailović et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 163, February 2022, 103138

Major changes in the technological, economic, and social behavior of Middle Pleistocene hominins occurred at the onset of the Middle Paleolithic, 400–200 ka. However, until recently it was not possible to establish when, where, and how certain forms of Middle Paleolithic behavior appeared and spread into Southeastern Europe, mainly owing to gaps in the Paleolithic record. Here we report new results of dating, material culture, and the archaeological context of finds from the Balanica Cave Complex in Sićevo (Serbia). Two methods—thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance—were used to date the sequence. (...)


Resolving the “muddle in the middle”: The case for Homo bodoensis sp. nov., di M. Roksandic, P. Radović, X. J. Wu, C. J. Bae, "Evolutionary Anthropology", volume 31, issue 1, January/February 2022, pages 20-29 - open access -

Recent developments in the field of palaeoanthropology necessitate the suppression of two hominin taxa and the introduction of a new species of hominins to help resolve the current nebulous state of Middle Pleistocene (Chibanian) hominin taxonomy. In particular, the poorly defined and variably understood hominin taxa Homo heidelbergensis (both sensu stricto and sensu lato) and Homo rhodesiensis need to be abandoned as they fail to reflect the full range of hominin variability in the Middle Pleistocene. Instead, we propose: (1) introduction of a new taxon, Homo bodoensis sp. nov., as an early Middle Pleistocene ancestor of the Homo sapiens lineage, with a pan-African distribution that extends into the eastern Mediterranean (Southeast Europe and the Levant); (...)


Age of the oldest known Homo sapiens from eastern Africa, di C. M. Vidal et alii, "Nature", Volume 601, Issue, 7894, 27 January 2022, pages 579–583 - open access -

Efforts to date the oldest modern human fossils in eastern Africa, from Omo-Kibish and Herto in Ethiopia, have drawn on a variety of chronometric evidence, including 40Ar/39Ar ages of stratigraphically associated tuffs. The ages that are generally reported for these fossils are around 197 thousand years (kyr) for the Kibish Omo I, and around 160–155 kyr for the Herto hominins. However, the stratigraphic relationships and tephra correlations that underpin these estimates have been challenged. Here we report geochemical analyses that link the Kamoya’s Hominid Site (KHS) Tuff, which conclusively overlies the member of the Omo-Kibish Formation that contains Omo I, with a major explosive eruption of Shala volcano in the Main Ethiopian Rift. (...)


The influence of smoke density on hearth location and activity areas at Lower Paleolithic Lazaret Cave, France, di Y. Kedar, G. Kedar, R. Barkai, "Scientific Reports", volume 12, article number: 1469, 27 January 2022 - open access -

We analyze the influence of hearth location and smoke dispersal on potential activity areas at Lower Paleolithic Lazaret Cave, France, focusing on archaeostratigraphic unit UA25, where a single hearth was unearthed, and GIS and activity area analysis were performed by the excavators. We simulated smoke dispersal from 16 hypothetical hearth locations and analyzed their effect on potential working spaces. Four activity zones were defined, according to the average smoke exposure recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We found that the size of the low smoke density area and its distance from the hearth are the main parameters for choosing hearth location. (...)


Upper Paleolithic ceramic figurines and similarities to some late Pleistocene pigment and pottery materials and technologies of Eurasia, di P. B. Vandiver, "Quaternary International", Volumes 608–609, 20 January 2022, Pages 8-32

Three soft stone technologies that characterize the Upper Paleolithic period are fired ceramic figurines, pigments prepared from colored minerals that often consist of or include clay, and, lastly, pottery vessels. The earliest synthetic material of which we have a permanent artifactual record was made at 26,000 cal BP (Klima 1959b, 1963), marking the beginnings of chemical technology and pyrotechnology and is the concern of the first part of this paper. A review is presented of Upper Paleolithic ceramic figurines at the group of habitation sites in Moravia that includes Dolní Věstonice, Pavlov, Předmosti and Petřkovice. Dolní Věstonice, the only proven production site with the largest collection of ceramics, was the focus of the study because of the possibility of analyzing figurine fragments, kiln remains and raw materials that enabled reverse engineering of the technology. (...)


Mid and Late Upper Palaeolithic in the Adriatic Basin: Chronology, transitions and human adaptations to a changing landscape, di A. Ruiz-Redondo et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 276, 15 January 2022, 107319 - open access -

This paper presents the first attempt to establish a Mid and Late Upper Palaeolithic absolute chronology of the Adriatic basin, including both eastern and western Adriatic coasts and their hinterlands. The proposed chronology for Gravettian, Early and Late Epigravettian techno-complexes is based on statistical analysis of 278 14C dates from 66 archaeological sites. Our analyses are directed towards 1) identifying whether major climatic episodes and corresponding transformations in the local environments are correlated with long-term demographic trends, and potential changes in spatial patterning of human occupation, and 2) identifying robust absolute chronological estimates of techno-complexes to establish the timing of their succession, including their possible overlaps. (...)


Levantine overkill: 1.5 million years of hunting down the body size distribution, di J. Dembitzer, R. Barkai, M. Ben-Dor, S. Meiri, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 276, 15 January 2022, 107316

Multiple large-bodied species went extinct during the Pleistocene. Changing climates and/or human hunting are the main hypotheses used to explain these extinctions. We studied the causes of Pleistocene extinctions in the Southern Levant, and their subsequent effect on local hominin food spectra, by examining faunal remains in archaeological sites across the last 1.5 million years. We examined whether climate and climate changes, and/or human cultures, are associated with these declines. We recorded animal abundances published in the literature from 133 stratigraphic layers, across 58 Pleistocene and Early Holocene archaeological sites, in the Southern Levant. We used linear regressions and mixed models to assess the weighted mean mass of faunal assemblages through time and whether it was associated with temperature (...)


Why did hunting weapon design change at Abri Pataud? Lithic use-wear data on armature use and hafting around 24,000–22,000 BP, di N. Taipale, L. Chiotti, V. Rots, 14 January 2022, doi: - open access -

Projectile technology is commonly viewed as a significant contributor to past human subsistence and, consequently, to our evolution. Due to the allegedly central role of projectile weapons in the food-getting strategies of Upper Palaeolithic people, typo-technological changes in the European lithic record have often been linked to supposed developments in hunting weaponry. Yet, relatively little reliable functional data is currently available that would aid the detailed reconstruction of past weapon designs. In this paper, we take a use-wear approach to the backed tool assemblages from the Recent and Final Gravettian layers (Levels 3 and 2) of Abri Pataud (Dordogne, France). Our use of strict projectile identification criteria relying on combinations of low and high magnification features and our critical view of the overlap between production and use-related fractures permitted us to confidently identify a large number of used armatures in both collections. By isolating lithic projectiles with the strongest evidence of impact and by recording wear attributes on them in detail, we could establish that the hunting equipment used during the Level 3 occupations involved both lithic weapon tips and composite points armed with lithic inserts. (...)


Ostrich eggshell beads reveal 50,000-year-old social network in Africa, di J. M. Miller, Y. V. Wang, "Nature", Volume 601, Issue 7892, 13 January 2022, pages 234–239 - open access -

Humans evolved in a patchwork of semi-connected populations across Africa1,2; understanding when and how these groups connected is critical to interpreting our present-day biological and cultural diversity. Genetic analyses reveal that eastern and southern African lineages diverged sometime in the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 350–70 thousand years ago (ka)3,4; however, little is known about the exact timing of these interactions, the cultural context of these exchanges or the mechanisms that drove their separation. Here we compare ostrich eggshell bead variations between eastern and southern Africa to explore population dynamics over the past 50,000 years. (...)


45,000 year-old jewellery found in Denisova Cave, 2 January 2022

A second stone bracelet has been discovered in the Southern Gallery of the Denisova cave, resembling the first one found in 2008 near the entrance of the cave's Eastern Gallery. Found in three pieces, this second bracelet is fashioned from white marble. The first is made of a dark-green mineral called chloritolite. Since 2017 a variety of rings, pendants, and beads, and now the one bracelet have been found in the Southern Gallery, totalling more than 70 personal adornments. Also found are two sharp pins made from the smaller lower leg bones of marmots - a type of large ground squirrel. Widely known in the Palaeolithic of Western Europe, (...)


Plant bedding construction between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago at Border Cave, South Africa, di C. Sievers, L. Backwell, F. d’Errico, L. Wadley, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 275, 1 January 2022, 107280

Extraordinary preservation of plant remains provides an insight into the construction and materials of bedding at Border Cave, South Africa. Towards the back of the cave there are particularly thick layers of desiccated and charred grass and our botanical study is from bulk samples of these approximately 60,000 to 40,000 year-old layers (Members 3 BS, 2 WA, 2 BS and 1 BS Lower C). More than one type of panicoid grass was identified, sedge nutlets were present in the older layers and in Member 2 WA particularly, eudicotyledon leaves were preserved. (...)


New human fossil from the latest Pleistocene levels of Grotta Romanelli (Apulia, southern Italy), di B. Mecozzi et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, issue 1, January 2022, article number: 27

Grotta Romanelli can be counted among the most interesting sites for the late Upper Palaeolithic of the Mediterranean area, since returned a consistent record of lithic artefacts, faunal remains, mobiliary and parietal art, and human fossils which represent the least-known materials from the context. The resumption of the investigations in 2015, after 40 years of inactivity in the cave, provided relevant results. During the 2019 campaign, a distal phalanx of the hand was recovered in the so-called terre brune levels (...)


How Neanderthals gripped retouchers: experimental reconstruction of the manipulation of bone retouchers by Neanderthal stone knappers, di K. Kolobova et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, issue 1, January 2022, article number: 26

When studying bone retouchers, researchers pay close attention to the morphological characteristics of the tool’s active zone, and the lithic raw material processed. In our research, we found that the orientation of the bone retoucher in the hand and the grip employed to retain and manipulate it are crucial factors that affect the morphological characteristics of the retoucher’s active zone. By examining two alternative grips for manipulating bone retouchers ((1) Using all the fingers of one hand in a power grip; (2) Using only the first three digits of one hand in a pinch grip), we found that when the retoucher is held in the first manner, the active area is larger, as is the amount of bone removed by the retoucher. (...)


Raw material selectivity in Lower Paleolithic shaped stone ball production: experimental research, di E. Assaf, J. Baena Preysler, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, issue 1, January 2022, article number: 24

Shaped stone balls are ubiquitous in Oldowan and Acheulian sites worldwide. Despite years of research, very little is known about the shaping process of these items. A comprehensive literary review indicates variability in the types of rocks from which these items were shaped. At a number of sites, however, selectivity in the choice of materials used to make the balls is of note, with carbonate rocks (usually limestone) being preferred over flint and quartz. Do certain qualities of limestone affect the production process of stone balls? Is this selectivity related to their function? And do different rock types affect the development of macro detachments visible on the archaeological items? We explored these questions through a series of experiments, during which stone balls were shaped from different materials and then used for bone breaking. (...)





Reconstructing Middle Stone Age mobility patterns from raw material transfers in South Africa’s Still Bay (77–70 ka) technocomplex, di A. Mackay, C. J. H. Ames, J. L. McNeil, M. Shaw, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", volume 14, issue 1, January 2022, article number: 14

South Africa’s Still Bay technocomplex (77–70 ka) is an early example of a technological system organised around the production of bifacial points. Noting the diversity of raw materials used and the frequency of non-local raw materials found among excavated bifacial point assemblages, numerous researchers have argued that Still Bay foragers were highly mobile. This pattern, however, is in contrast to that observed in some open-air surface Still Bay assemblages, where raw material diversity among bifacial points is low and local rocks dominate. (...)





Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 162, January 2022:

- Reappraisal of the chronology of Orgnac 3 Lower-to-Middle Paleolithic site (Ardèche, France), a regional key sequence for the Middle Pleistocene of southern France, di Jean-Jacques Bahain et alii

- Geometric morphometric variability in the supraorbital and orbital region of Middle Pleistocene hominins: Implications for the taxonomy and evolution of later Homo, di S. White, M. Pope, S. Hillson, C. Soligo

- Acheulean variability in Western Europe: The case of Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère, France), di A. L. Ravon, P. García-Medrano, M. H. Moncel, N. Ashton

- Reconstructing Neanderthal diet: The case for carbohydrates, di K. Hardy, H. Bocherens, J. Brand Miller, L. Copeland

-Reconstruction and analysis of the DAN5/P1 and BSN12/P1 Gona Early Pleistocene Homo fossils, di K. L. Baab, M. Rogers, E. Bruner, S. Semaw

- Early Pleistocene hominin subsistence behaviors in South Africa: Evidence from the hominin-bearing deposit of Cooper's D (Bloubank Valley, South Africa), di R. Hanon et alii


Index di antiqui Sommario bacheca