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