Aggiornamento 28/05/2024

 
 

Linking the proximal tibiofibular joint to hominid locomotion: A morphometric study of extant species, di A. Pietrobelli, R. Sorrentino, S. Benazzi, M. G. Belcastro, D. Marchi, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 184, Issue 2, June 2024, e24696 - open access -

We perform a comparative assessment of shape variation of the proximal fibula in extant humans and great apes, intending to investigate the possible link between proximal fibular shape and locomotor patterns. Our sample includes 94 fibulae of 37 Homo sapiens, 15 Gorilla, 17 Pongo, and 25 Pan. Fibular morphology was investigated through three-dimensional (semi)landmark-based geometric morphometric methods. (...)

     
 

Quantifying hominin morphological diversity at the end of the middle Pleistocene: Implications for the origin of Homo sapiens, di H. Hautavoine, J. Arnaud, A. Balzeau, A. Mounier, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 184, Issue 2, June 2024, e24915 - open access -

The Middle Pleistocene (MP) saw the emergence of new species of hominins: Homo sapiens in Africa, H. neanderthalensis, and possibly Denisovans in Eurasia, whose most recent common ancestor is thought to have lived in Africa around 600 ka ago. However, hominin remains from this period present a wide range of morphological variation making it difficult to securely determine their taxonomic attribution and their phylogenetic position within the Homo genus. This study proposes to reconsider the phenetic relationships between MP hominin fossils in order to clarify evolutionary trends and contacts between the populations they represent. (...)

     
 

Chert sourcing using LIBS: The case of Cova del Parco, Spain, di J. Le Guirriec et alii, "Archaeometry", Volume 66, Issue 3, June 2024, Pages 493-505

Cherts originating from carbonate lacustrine environments have been widely exploited by Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in the south of the Pyrenees. Archaeo-petrographic sourcing studies have identified different potential sources but were unable to distinguish them. This study conducted geochemical characterisation of geological and archaeological lacustrine chert samples using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) (...)

     
 

Reframing Prehistoric Human-Proboscidean Interactions: on the Use and Implications of Ethnohistoric Records for Understanding the Productivity of Hunting Megaherbivores, di K. D. Lupo, D. N. Schmitt, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", Volume 31, Issue 2, June 2024 - open access -

The role that humans played in the extinction of Pleistocene proboscideans is highly controversial. Ethnohistoric records of elephant hunting, in concert with theoretical rationales, are often used as proxy evidence to support the view that ancient humans regularly and efficiently targeted large-sized proboscideans to the point of extinction. This paper examines the socioeconomic and technological contexts of elephant hunting in contemporary and ethnohistoric records to show how these circumstances influenced the scale of harvest, productivity, and valuation of elephants. Quantitative and qualitative evidence derived from some of these records are used to analyze the efficiency of elephant capture using traditional hunting technologies (spears, poisoned projectiles, traps, and drives). This analytical framework provides a systematic method for evaluating the productivity of proboscidean predation. (...)

     
 

A Middle Palaeolithic incised bear bone from the Dziadowa Skała Cave, Poland: the oldest marked object north of the Carpathian Mountains, di T. Płonka et alii, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 166, June 2024, 105971 - open access -

A fragment of an ursid radius with seventeen incisions (one of them incomplete) was excavated in the 1950s in the Dziadowa Skała Cave in the Częstochowa Upland in southern Poland from a deposit with faunal remains from the Eemian (ca 130–115 kyr). This object has been cited as the earliest evidence of Neanderthal cognitive abilities in the region, but it has been never studied in detail. The artefact has now been re-examined using microscopy and X-ray computed tomography. For this study we revised the determination of the bone and studied the morphology and metric parameters of the incisions (length, width, depth and opening angle). We also used experiments, statistical analysis and an analysis of the incisions' topography to establish the techniques behind their manufacture. (...)

     
 

MIS5-MIS3 Neanderthal occupations at Amalda III cave (Northern Iberian Peninsula), di J. Rios-Garaizar et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 333, 1 June 2024, 108666

The arrival, occupation, and disappearance of Neanderthals in the Cantabrian region is the subject of a long-running debate that continues to this day. Knowledge of the evolution of Neanderthal societies since the end of the Middle Pleistocene in the north of the Iberian Peninsula is greatly impacted by the scarcity of a good chronological framework. This absence of good data creates difficulties in evaluating the cultural adaptations of these populations to environmental changes and their historical dynamics. (...)

     
 

East and Southeast Asian hominin dispersal and evolution: A review, di R. Sawafuji et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 333, 1 June 2024, 108669 - open access -

East and Southeast Asia have served as significant habitats for diverse hominins for more than one million years. This has been demonstrated by numerous studies over the past decade that have reported new discoveries, ages, morphological evidence, and ancient biomolecules from fossils. This has revolutionized our understanding of their evolution and dispersal. However, the existing literature lacks a comprehensive overview that combines insights from different scientific disciplines that are needed to address the still-uncertain or contentious aspects of this field. Here, we provide a synthesis of the timing and distribution of the different hominins that lived in East and Southeast Asia. (...)

     
 

Evolving landscape and cultural change during the Middle Palaeolithic in Southeast Zagros (Iran): Insights from a micromammal assemblage, di J. Rofes et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 333, 1 June 2024, 108657

The Iranian Zagros is a remarkable zone to study Middle and Upper Palaeolithic human occupations and Tang-e Shikan (Arsanjan) is a strategic cave site which archaeological evidence can be taken as a proxy for the southeast portion. Micromammals have been extensively used as palaeoecological indicators and here we use the assemblage from Tang-e Shikan to infer the landscape and environment that framed and arguably triggered cultural change. A thorough taphonomic analysis was undertaken prior to any interpretation. Fourteen taxa have been identified: two “insectivores” s.l., nine rodents, two lagomorphs, and unidentified chiropterans. The remains would be the digestion by-products of a category 5 opportunistic predator: either an avian raptor or a mammalian carnivore. Our results show that shrubland and grassland dominated the distribution of habitats in the area during the Middle Palaeolithic (MP), followed by moderate rocky, desert, and steppe components, and sparse patches of woodland. (...)

     
 

Regional insights into Upper Palaeolithic territorial strategies and the factors of habitat choice in the territory of the Hungarian Central Mountains, di A. J. Trájer, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 333, 1 June 2024, 108686 - open access -

The investigation into regional occurrence patterns contributes to a deeper understanding of Palaeolithic habitat exploitation. To explore this, geological, spatial, and environmental factors influencing the distribution of Upper Palaeolithic archaeological sites are studied in the Hungarian Central Mountains, focusing on Szeletian, Aurignacian, Gravettian, and Epigravettian cultures. The study employs a combination of spatial, statistical, classification analyses, and decision tests, including Kernel Density Estimation, Voronoi tessellation, the Dunn-Bonferroni test, Principal Component and Coordinate Analyses, Linear Discriminant Analysis, Random Forest Analysis, to examine the reasons behind the spatial distributions of archaeological sites by cultures. (...)

     
 

A diachronic study of human-bear interactions: An overview of ursid exploitation during the Paleolithic of Germany, di G. Toniato et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 333, 1 June 2024, 108601 - open access -

In the Palearctic region interactions between hominins and ursids date as far back as the Lower Paleolithic. Archeological evidence from open-air settings and cave environments shows that Paleolithic people and bears shared the same habitats and living spaces. Additionally, anthropogenic marks on bear remains indicate that hominins regarded bears as an occasional source of food and raw material. While scholars have largely focused on solving the conundrum between opportunistic predation and strategic hunting of bears by hominins, little attention has been given to categorizing the anthropogenic modifications on bear remains. (...)

     
 

Sand, hearths, lithics and a bit of bioturbation: Site formation processes at Umhlatuzana rockshelter, South Africa, di I. Sifogeorgaki, H. Huisman, P. Karkanas, V. C. Schmid, G. L. Dusseldorp, "Geoarchaeology", Volume 39, Issue 3, May/June 2024, Pages 212-237 - open access -

Umhlatuzana rockshelter is known for its continuous record of Middle and Later Stone Age lithic assemblages. This study presents multiproxy geoarchaeological data (micromorphology, X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy) to reconstruct the depositional and post-depositional history of the site. Although the Stone Age deposits macroscopically appear homogeneous, micromorphological analysis reveals the existence of primary, unaltered depositional microlayering throughout the sequence. Sediments related to combustion activities on-site are observed in both the Holocene and Pleistocene deposits. Post-depositional geochemical alterations result in the formation of several phosphatic minerals that significantly affect the site's preservation conditions. (...)

     
 

Demographic models predict end-Pleistocene arrival and rapid expansion of pre-agropastoralist humans in Cyprus, di C. J. A. Bradshaw et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 21 may 2024, vol. 121, n, 21, e2318293121

The antiquity of human dispersal into Mediterranean islands and ensuing coastal adaptation have remained largely unexplored due to the prevailing assumption that the sea was a barrier to movement and that islands were hostile environments to early hunter-gatherers [J. F. Cherry, T. P. Leppard, J. Isl. Coast. Archaeol. 13, 191–205 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2016.1276489]. Using the latest archaeological data, hindcasted climate projections, and age-structured demographic models, we demonstrate evidence for early arrival (14,257 to 13,182 calendar years ago) to Cyprus and predicted that large groups of people (~1,000 to 1,375) arrived in 2 to 3 main events occurring within <100 y to ensure low extinction risk. (...)

     
 

Revisiting macromammal exploitation in the Spanish Cantabrian region during the lower Magdalenian (ca. 20-17 ky cal BP), di R. Portero, M. J. Fernández-Gómez, E. Álvarez-Fernández, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 332, 15 May 2024, 108651 - open access -

Understanding the ways in which human groups use the environment for their survival is one of the main fields of study in Prehistory. Subsistence strategies, understood as the set of techniques, processes and activities through which human groups organise the tasks related to their survival, are a fundamental element for understanding the economic and sociocultural processes derived from these practices in the past. In this sense, archaeozoological and taphonomic studies are the main tool to reconstruct the ways in which our ancestors acquired, processed, consumed, and managed meat resources for their survival. In this research we examine the ways in which hunter-gatherer groups in the Spanish Cantabrian region exploited ungulates through a palaeoecological and palaeoeconomic analysis of a total of 32 archaeological levels at 19 sites dated between 20 and 17 ky cal BP. (...)

     
 

Evidence of bears exploitation by early Neanderthals at the middle pleistocene site of payre (MIS 8-6, Southeastern France), di N. Lateur et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 332, 15 May 2024, 108653

The archaeological site of Payre (South-eastern France) has yielded a remarkable Early Middle Palaeolithic sequence with mixed occupations of Neanderthal and large carnivore occupations ranging from MIS 8 to 6. Recent discoveries during the reassessment of collections brought to light at least a dozen cave (Ursus spelaeus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos) remains bearing cut marks, indicating the in situ carcass processing (skinning, evisceration, dismembering, defleshing) of these large carnivores by early Neanderthals. This is just one of an increasing number of such examples throughout Europe, highlighting once again the diversity of food and non-food resources exploited by these hominins. (...)

     
 

A regulatory variant impacting TBX1 expression contributes to basicranial morphology in Homo sapiens, di N. Funato, A. Heliövaara, C. Boeckx, "American Journal of Human Genetics", 02 may 2024, volume 111, issue 5 - open access -

Changes in gene regulatory elements play critical roles in human phenotypic divergence. However, identifying the base-pair changes responsible for the distinctive morphology of Homo sapiens remains challenging. Here, we report a noncoding single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs41298798, as a potential causal variant contributing to the morphology of the skull base and vertebral structures found in Homo sapiens. Screening for differentially regulated genes between Homo sapiens and extinct relatives revealed 13 candidate genes associated with basicranial development, with TBX1, implicated in DiGeorge syndrome, playing a pivotal role. Epigenetic markers and in silico analyses prioritized rs41298798 within a TBX1 intron for functional validation. CRISPR editing revealed that the 41-base-pair region surrounding rs41298798 modulates gene expression at 22q11.21. (...)

     
 

Revealed: face of 75,000-year-old female Neanderthal from cave where species buried their dead, 1 may 2024

A new Netflix documentary has recreated the face of a 75,000-year-old female Neanderthal whose flattened skull was discovered and rebuilt from hundreds of bone fragments by a team of archaeologists and conservators led by the University of Cambridge. The team excavated the female Neanderthal in 2018 from inside a cave in Iraqi Kurdistan where the species had repeatedly returned to lay their dead to rest. The cave was made famous by work in the late 1950s that unearthed several Neanderthals which appeared to have been buried in succession. ‘Secrets of the Neanderthals’, produced by BBC Studios Science Unit, is released on Netflix worldwide. The documentary follows the team led by the universities of Cambridge and Liverpool John Moores as they return to Shanidar Cave to continue excavations. (...)

     
 

Reevaluating the “elephant butchery area” at the Middle Pleistocene site of Notarchirico (MIS 16) (Venosa Basin, Basilicata, Italy), di A. Pineda et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 331, 1 May 2024, 108603 - open access -

The archaeological site of Notarchirico, chronologically placed at the end of MIS 17 and MIS 16 (675-610 ka), is a key site for studying Acheulean technology in southern Europe and gaining a better understanding of human occupation in that region during the Middle Pleistocene. It was excavated between 1979 and 1995 by Marcello Piperno and re-opened since 2016. Between 1990 and 1991, around forty remains of Palaeloxodon antiquus, mostly comprising the head of the animal, such as cranium, mandible and tusks fragments belonging to a sub-adult male were discovered as a result of the excavation of a lateral discontinuity of the level A, situated in an area known as the “elephant butchery area”. Remains of deer, mainly assigned to Dama sp., and 42 stone tools, including choppers, hand-axes, cores and some flakes were also identified in the surroundings. (...)

     
 

Late Pleistocene prey mobility in southwestern France and its implications for reconstructing Neandertal ranging behaviors, di J. Hodgkins et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 331, 1 May 2024, 108610

As hunter-gatherers, Neandertal mobility and corresponding adaptations were influenced by the mobility of their prey; thus, it is critical to track how the movement patterns of each species varied over time at specific sites. Here, prey paleomobility is reconstructed by measuring radiogenic strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in herbivore teeth recovered from two archaeological sites (Pech de l’Azé IV and Roc de Marsal) in the Dordogne Valley (Aquitaine Basin) of southwestern France that span marine isotope stages (MIS) 5-3. These ratios are compared to a published isoscape as well as new environmental samples (soil, Helix shells, rodent teeth, water, and wine). (...)

     
 

Behind the waterfall - Interdisciplinary results from Holley Shelter and their implications for understanding human behavioral patterns at the end of the Middle Stone Age in southern Africa, di G. D. Bader et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 331, 1 May 2024, 108633 - open access -

Holley Shelter is a Middle (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) site in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The rock shelter is located at the intersection of three ecosystems, in a strip of the Savanna Biome between the Grassland and Indian Ocean Coastal Belt Biomes. Initial excavations in the 1950s by Gordon Cramb yielded large amounts of unifacial points and splintered pieces, as well as organic remains associated with MSA occupations. Our comparative techno-typological evaluation of this material in 2015 suggested the occupations may date to early MIS 3. We then initiated new excavations at the site using modern field methods and controlled sampling for lithic and organic material. Following the initial round of interdisciplinary analysis, we herein report the first absolute ages for Holley Shelter, a detailed technological analysis of new lithic material from the uppermost MSA layers at the site, and a preliminary study of the associated faunal remains. (...)

     
 

Grotta Grande (southern Italy). Disentangling the Neandertal and carnivore interaction in a short-term palimpsest at the last glacial onset (~116-109 ka), di V. Spagnolo et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 331, 1 May 2024, 108628 - open access -

The Mousterian of the Grotta Grande (Southern Italy) is here subject to new dating, which provide a surprisingly high-resolution on the stratigraphic sequence. Overall, the deposit in the Trench F appears framed in the MIS 5, into a brief chronological time span immediately after the Last Interglacial, between ~116 ka and 109 ka. Significant archaeological evidence has been found in this sector on the cave, consisting in two high-resolution archaeological records (layers 8 and 6) with evidence of anthropic organization of the space, involving possible constructed features, use of fire and, possibly, different activity areas. Here we focus on the layer 8, excavated for 10.5 m2, which returned an intriguing entanglement of human and carnivore evidence. (...)

     
 

"PaleoAnthropology", volume 2024, issue 1, 01-05-2024, doi: https://doi.org/10.48738/2024.iss1:

- The Neanderthal Occupations at Veldwezelt-Hezerwater (Belgium) and the Challenge of the Eemian Forest in Northwest Europe, di P. Bringmans

- Hominin Occupation of the North-Central Caucasus During the Middle Paleolithic: New Results from Saradj-Chuko Grotto and the State of Research, di
E. V. Doronicheva et alii

- New Additions to the Paranthropus boisei Mandibular Hypodigm from Koobi Fora, Kenya, di L. Nadal, L. Leakey, M. Leakey, M. Mirazón Lahr

- Comparative 3D Shape Analysis of the Iwo Eleru Mandible, Nigeria The Iwo Eleru Mandible, di K. Harvati, C. Stringer, C. Adebayo Folorunso

- Early Hominin Movement Patterns at Laetoli, Northern Tanzania, di C. K. Miller, R. A. McCann, K. G. Hatala, C. Musiba, J. M. DeSilva

     
 

Human-like enamel growth in Homo naledi, di P. Mahoney et alii, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 184, Issue 1, May 2024, e24893 - open access -

A modern pattern (rate and duration) of dental development occurs relatively recently during human evolution. Given the temporal overlap of Homo naledi with the first appearance of fossil Homo sapiens in Africa, this small-bodied and small-brained hominin presents an opportunity to elucidate the evolution of enamel growth in the hominin clade. Here we conduct the first histological study of two permanent mandibular canines and one permanent maxillary first molar, representing three individuals attributed to H. naledi. We reconstruct the rate and duration of enamel growth and compare these findings to those reported for other fossil hominins and recent humans. (...)

     
 

Cortical bone architecture of hominid intermediate phalanges reveals functional signals of locomotion and manipulation, di S. M. Syeda, Z. J. Tsegai, M. Cazenave, M. M. Skinner, T. L. Kivell,  "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 184, Issue 1, May 2024, e24902 - open access -

Reconstruction of fossil hominin manual behaviors often relies on comparative analyses of extant hominid hands to understand the relationship between hand use and skeletal morphology. In this context, the intermediate phalanges remain understudied. Thus, here we investigate cortical bone morphology of the intermediate phalanges of extant hominids and compare it to the cortical structure of the proximal phalanges, to investigate the relationship between cortical bone structure and inferred loading during manual behaviors. (...)

     
 

Masticatory habits of the adult Neanderthal individual BD 1 from La Chaise-de-Vouthon (France), di M. Hernaiz-García et alii,  "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 184, Issue 1, May 2024, e24926 - open access -

The analysis of dental wear provides a useful approach for dietary and cultural habit reconstructions of past human populations. The analysis of macrowear patterns can also be used to better understand the individual chewing behavior and to investigate the biomechanical responses during different biting scenarios. The aim of this study is to evaluate the diet and chewing performance of the adult Neanderthal Bourgeois-Delaunay 1 (BD 1) and to investigate the relationship between wear and cementum deposition under mechanical demands. (...)

     
 

What function(s) for Palaeolithic polyhedrons, spheroids and bolas? Cases from France and North Africa, di J. Cabanès, A. Borel, J. Baena Preysler, D. Cliquet, D. Colonge, M. H. Moncel, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 5, May 2024

Polyhedrons, spheroids and bolas (PSBs) have been found in lithic series spanning two million years, but their purpose remains largely unknown. In this study, we propose a functional analysis of PSBs from nine assemblages from France and North Africa, ranging from 1.78 to 0.169 Ma. By combining use-wear, ergonomic and metric analyses with sequential experiments, we explore the meaning and diversity of these objects. Our experiments revealed two key findings: 1) the manufacture process creates intense traces on removal scars used as striking platforms, and 2) the existence of a paradox between the complexity of the manufacture process and their efficiency equal to that of cobbles. (...)

     
 

The habitat utilization and environmental resilience of Homo heidelbergensis in Europe, di A. J. Trájer, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 5, May 2024 - open access -

The European populations of Homo heidelbergensis may have contributed to the genetic heritage of modern Eurasians. A better understanding of the possible effects of palaeoenvironmental alterations on the evolution of ancient humans can help to understand the origin of developed traits. For this purpose, the spatiotemporal alterations of physical factors were modelled in Europe for the period of 670–190 ka, covering the existence of Homo heidelbergensis in Europe. The factors included the following: paleoclimatic conditions, climatic suitability values of ancient humans, two prey species, and the European beech. Furthermore, the distribution and features of wood used for toolmaking were also investigated. Finally, changes in the relative mortality risk, the percentage of the body covered by clothing, and daily energy expenditure values in the coldest quarter of the year were modelled. The results suggest that H. heidelbergensis inhabited dominantly temperate regions in Europe where prey such as red deer were present. (...)

     
 

Acheulean Handaxes in Medieval France: An Earlier ‘Modern’ Social History for Palaeolithic Bifaces, di A. Key, J. Clark, J. DeSilva, S. Kangas, "Cambridge Archaeological Journal", Volume 34 - Issue 2 - May 2024 - open access -

Handaxes have a uniquely prominent role in the history of Palaeolithic archaeology, and their early study provides crucial information concerning the epistemology of the field. We have little conclusive evidence, however, of their investigation or societal value prior to the mid seventeenth century. Here we investigate the shape, colour and potential flake scarring on a handaxe-like stone object seen in the Melun Diptych, painted by the French fifteenth-century artist Jean Fouquet, and compare its features with artefacts from diverse (including French) Acheulean handaxe assemblages. Commissioned by a high-status individual, Étienne Chevalier, Fouquet's work (Étienne Chevalier with Saint Stephen) depicts an important religious context, while the handaxe-like object points to the stoning to death of an important Christian saint. (...)

     
 

Conversations with Caves: The Role of Pareidolia in the Upper Palaeolithic Figurative Art of Las Monedas and La Pasiega (Cantabria, Spain), di I. Wisher, P. Pettitt, R. Kentridge, "Cambridge Archaeological Journal", Volume 34 - Issue 2 - May 2024 - open access -

The influence of pareidolia has often been anecdotally observed in examples of Upper Palaeolithic cave art, where topographic features of cave walls were incorporated into images. As part of a wider investigation into the visual psychology of the earliest known art, we explored three hypotheses relating to pareidolia in cases of Late Upper Palaeolithic art in Las Monedas and La Pasiega Caves (Cantabria, Spain). Deploying current research methods from visual psychology, our results support the notion that topography of cave walls played a strong role in the placement of figurative images—indicative of pareidolia influencing art making—although played a lesser role in determining whether the resulting images were relatively simple or complex. (...)

     
 

New Oldowan locality Sare-Abururu (ca. 1.7 Ma) provides evidence of diverse hominin behaviors on the Homa Peninsula, Kenya, di E. M. Finestone et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 190, May 2024, 103498 - open access -

The Homa Peninsula, in southwestern Kenya, continues to yield insights into Oldowan hominin landscape behaviors. The Late Pliocene locality of Nyayanga (~3–2.6 Ma) preserves some of the oldest Oldowan tools. At the Early Pleistocene locality of Kanjera South (~2 Ma) toolmakers procured a diversity of raw materials from over 10 km away and strategically reduced them in a grassland-dominated ecosystem. Here, we report findings from Sare-Abururu, a younger (~1.7 Ma) Oldowan locality approximately 12 km southeast of Kanjera South and 18 km east of Nyayanga. Sare-Abururu has yielded 1754 artifacts in relatively undisturbed low-energy silts and sands. Stable isotopic analysis of pedogenic carbonates suggests that hominin activities were carried out in a grassland-dominated setting with similar vegetation structure as documented at Kanjera South. (...)

     
 

Behavioral and phylogenetic correlates of limb length proportions in extant apes and monkeys: Implications for interpreting hominin fossils, di V. C. R. Powell, W. A. Barr, A. S. Hammond, B. A. Wood, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 190, May 2024, 103494

The body proportions of extant animals help inform inferences about the behaviors of their extinct relatives, but relationships between body proportions, behavior, and phylogeny in extant primates remain unclear. Advances in behavioral data, molecular phylogenies, and multivariate analytical tools make it an opportune time to perform comprehensive comparative analyses of primate traditional limb length proportions (e.g., intermembral, humerofemoral, brachial, and crural indices), body size-adjusted long bone proportions, and principal components. In this study we used a mix of newly-collected and published data to investigate whether and how the limb length proportions of a diverse sample of primates, including monkeys, apes, and modern humans, are influenced by behavior and phylogeny. (...)

     
 

The fauna from Mughr el-Hamamah, Jordan: Insights on human hunting behavior during the Early Upper Paleolithic, di J. L. Clark, G. Hartman, L. Nilsson-Stutz, A. J. Stutz, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 190, May 2024, 103518

As a corridor for population movement out of Africa, the southern Levant is a natural laboratory for research exploring the dynamics of the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition. Yet, the number of well-preserved sites dating to the initial millennia of the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP; ∼45–30 ka) remains limited, restricting the resolution at which we can study the biocultural and techno-typological changes evidenced across the transition. With EUP deposits dating to 45–39 ka cal BP, Mughr el-Hamamah, Jordan, offers a key opportunity to expand our understanding of EUP lifeways in the southern Levant. Mughr el-Hamamah is particularly noteworthy for its large faunal assemblage, representing the first such assemblage from the Jordan Valley. In this paper, we present results from taxonomic and taphonomic analyses of the EUP fauna from Mughr el-Hamamah. (...)

     
 

Prehistoric ornaments in a changing environment. An integrated approach to the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Columbella rustica shells from the Vlakno cave, Croatia, di B. Cvitkušić, E. Cristiani, A. Zupancich, D. Vujević, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 165, May 2024, 105972 - open access -

This paper advances knowledge of human behavioural and adaptational strategies in coastal areas related to acquiring, producing and distributing ornaments, specifically, the omnipresent marine gastropod Columbella rustica. By applying quantitative and qualitative approaches to the most extensive collection of Columbella rustica shells in the Eastern Adriatic region discovered in the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic levels of Vlakno cave in Croatia, we have determined the complete step-by-step life cycle of this bead type, in particular, where and how shells were collected, produced, used, distributed and discarded. By integrating different methodologies, our data revealed changes in the collection strategies, reduction of the shell size during the Mesolithic period, and standardisation and continuity in production techniques. Detailed analyses of broken shells in the archaeological assemblage identified the presence of technological traces resulting from processing mistakes, supporting our hypothesis of on-site production. (...)

     
 

Isotopic evidence of high reliance on plant food among Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers at Taforalt, Morocco, di Z. Moubtahij et alii, "Nature Ecology & Evolution", 29 April 2024 - open access -

The transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture stands as one of the most important dietary revolutions in human history. Yet, due to a scarcity of well-preserved human remains from Pleistocene sites, little is known about the dietary practices of pre-agricultural human groups. Here we present the isotopic evidence of pronounced plant reliance among Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers from North Africa (15,000–13,000 cal BP), predating the advent of agriculture by several millennia. Employing a comprehensive multi-isotopic approach, we conducted zinc (δ66Zn) and strontium (87Sr/86Sr) analysis on dental enamel, bulk carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) and sulfur (δ34S) isotope analysis on dentin and bone collagen, and single amino acid analysis on human and faunal remains from Taforalt (Morocco). (...)

     
 

Diversity-dependent speciation and extinction in hominins, di L. A. van Holstein, R. A. Foley, "Nature Ecology & Evolution", 17 April 2024 - open access -

The search for drivers of hominin speciation and extinction has tended to focus on the impact of climate change. Far less attention has been paid to the role of interspecific competition. However, research across vertebrates more broadly has shown that both processes are often correlated with species diversity, suggesting an important role for interspecific competition. Here we ask whether hominin speciation and extinction conform to the expected patterns of negative and positive diversity dependence, respectively. We estimate speciation and extinction rates from fossil occurrence data with preservation variability priors in a validated Bayesian framework and test whether these rates are correlated with species diversity. We supplement these analyses with calculations of speciation rate across a phylogeny, again testing whether these are correlated with diversity. Our results are consistent with clade-wide diversity limits that governed speciation in hominins overall but that were not quite reached by the Australopithecus and Paranthropus subclade before its extinction. (...)

     
 

First evidence for human occupation of a lava tube in Arabia: The archaeology of Umm Jirsan Cave and its surroundings, northern Saudi Arabia, di M. Stewart et alii, 17 April 2024, doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0299292 - open access -

Recent advances in interdisciplinary archaeological research in Arabia have focused on the evolution and historical development of regional human populations as well as the diverse patterns of cultural change, migration, and adaptations to environmental fluctuations. Obtaining a comprehensive understanding of cultural developments such as the emergence and lifeways of Neolithic groups has been hindered by the limited preservation of stratified archaeological assemblages and organic remains, a common challenge in arid environments. Underground settings like caves and lava tubes, which are prevalent in Arabia but which have seen limited scientific exploration, offer promising opportunities for addressing these issues. Here, we report on an archaeological excavation and a related survey at and around Umm Jirsan lava tube in the Harrat Khaybar, north-western Saudi Arabia. (...)

     
 

Anatomically modern human dispersals into Europe during MIS 3: Climate stability, paleogeography and habitat suitability, di S. Paquin et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 330, 15 April 2024, 108596 - open access -

The initial large-scale dispersal of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) into Europe, associated with the Aurignacian technocomplex, occurred during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3), a critically unstable climatic period. The impact of climate change (millennial-scale Dansgaard-Oeschger events) and climate variability (annual and seasonal variation) on the mobility and initial dispersal of AMHs on the continent is not fully demonstrated. Here we show that both climate change and variability affected the spatial behavior of Aurignacian groups and structured their arrival on the continent. (...)

     
 

Balkan Neanderthals: The Late Pleistocene palaeoecological sequence of Pešturina Cave (Niš, Serbia), di J. Ochando et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 330, 15 April 2024, 108600 - open access -

The Central Balkans are a key biogeographical region in Southern Europe, influenced by a central European-Mediterranean climate, which acted as a refugium for flora and fauna, and favored the dispersion of Neanderthals and migration of modern human populations during Late Glacial Period. This study presents pollen analyses of sediment and hyaena coprolites from Pešturina Cave in Serbia to reconstruct the vegetation landscapes faced by Balkan Neanderthals and early Anatomically Modern Humans between MIS 5e-3. Between MIS 5e-5c (archaeological layers 4c and 4b) and MIS 5b-5a (layer 4a), semi-forested environments prevailed, characterized by Pinus, deciduous Quercus, Tilia and other angiosperm woody taxa, accompanied by heliophytes such as Artemisia and Poaceae. (...)

     
 

The wooden artifacts from Schöningen’s Spear Horizon and their place in human evolution, di D. Leder et alii,  "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 9 April 2024, vol. 121, no. 15 - open access -

Ethnographic records show that wooden tools played a pivotal role in the daily lives of hunter-gatherers including food procurement tools used in hunting (e.g., spears, throwing sticks) and gathering (e.g. digging sticks, bark peelers), as well as, domestic tools (e.g., handles, vessels). However, wood rarely survives in the archeological record, especially in Pleistocene contexts and knowledge of prehistoric hunter-gatherer lifeways is strongly biased by the survivorship of more resilient materials such as lithics and bones. Consequently, very few Paleolithic sites have produced wooden artifacts and among them, the site of Schöningen stands out due to its number and variety of wooden tools. The recovery of complete wooden spears and throwing sticks at this 300,000-y-old site (MIS 9) led to a paradigm shift in the hunter vs. scavenger debate. (...)

     
 

Lucy's world, di A. Gibbons, "Science", volume 384, issue 6691, 5 apr 2024 - open access -

Zeresenay Alemseged doesn’t remember the 1974 discovery of the famous fossil Lucy at Hadar in Ethiopia, because he was 5 years old, living 600 kilometers away in Axum. Later he saw Lucy’s name on cafes and taxis, but he knew little about her until he became a geologist working at the National Museum of Ethiopia. Then, she changed his life. In 2000, Alemseged was swept into Lucy’s orbit: He discovered “Lucy’s child,” a partial skeleton of a toddler of her species, at Dikika, 10 kilometers from Hadar. In 2015, by then a well-known scientist, he had the honor of showing Lucy to then-President Barack Obama before a state dinner at Ethiopia’s National Palace. Alemseged allowed Obama to touch the prized skeleton, telling him the fossil shows Ethiopia is the birthplace of humankind and that “every single person” on the planet shares an origin in Africa. “Including Donald Trump,” Alemseged joked to Obama. (...)

     
 

Interactions in bones but not stone: Anomalous cultural transmission gaps in Romania's Middle to Upper Paleolithic Transition, di W. Chu, A. Doboș, M. Soressi, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 329, 1 April 2024, 108546 - open access -

The Late Pleistocene archeological record shows emerging patterns of population turnover frequently associated with technological change between c. 50–40 thousand years ago. In Europe, this is thought to be related to indigenous population admixture and/or the diffusion of developing technologies by Homo sapiens resulting in a widely distributed spatiotemporal patchwork of industries with combinations of Middle and Upper Paleolithic traits. The Late Pleistocene record of Romania forms an anomaly in these scenarios. On the one hand, the country has important Pleistocene archives that preserve direct evidence of early modern humans with Neandertal genetic introgression. On the other hand, Romania shows no evidence of novel technology during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. Here, we review the Late Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic archeological record of Romania supplemented with new radiocarbon ages and excavation data to clarify the validity of this current archeological interpretation. (...)

     
 

Ecospace occupancy and disparity in Pleistocene large carnivorans of Europe and implications for hominin dispersal and ecological role, di A. Iannucci, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 329, 1 April 2024, 108562 - open access -

The evolution of large mammal faunas during the Pleistocene of Europe has been widely investigated using taxonomical and/or ecological-functional categories, with special emphasis on the implications for reconstructing hominin dispersal and ecological role. Here, an ecospace modelling approach is for the first time applied to Pleistocene carnivorans of Europe. Examining ecospace occupancy and disparity through time effectively conveys major aspects of faunal dynamics, while offering new insights into species relationships from a trait-space-explicit perspective. Several replacements occurred within-family and concerned species of similar functional role, but between-family competition was also important, especially for hyaenids. When hominins first dispersed into Europe during the Early Pleistocene, carnivorans of middle size that are deemed either highly social active hunters or primarily scavengers were both lacking, a substantial ecospace vacuum that could have been filled by the newcomers. Hominins then became widespread since the Middle Pleistocene, when a decrease of ecospace density is documented. (...)

     
 

Deep learning identification of anthropogenic modifications on a carnivore remain suggests use of hyena pelts by Neanderthals in the Navalmaíllo rock shelter (Pinilla del Valle, Spain), di A. Moclán, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 329, 1 April 2024, 108560 - open access -

The identification of anthropogenically-modified carnivoran bones in archaeological sites is rare in Pleistocene contexts, especially in the most ancient periods. Neanderthal groups have clearly shown a great variety of subsistence activities and the use of carnivoran resources, until rare, is also present in some archaeological sites. However, the identification of the bone surface modifications (BSM) that allow us to infer the presence of anthropogenic marks in faunal remains are usually difficult to be differentiate among other BSM. Recently, several statistical and computing techniques have been developed to differentiate among different types of BSM in an objective way. (...)

     
 

Not seen before. Unveiling depositional context and Mammuthus meridionalis exploitation at Fuente Nueva 3 (Orce, southern Iberia) through taphonomy and microstratigraphy, di J. Yravedra et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 329, 1 April 2024, 108561 - open access -

Meat consumption by early hominins is a hotly debated issue. A key question concerns their access to large mammal carcasses, including megafauna. Currently, the evidence of anthropic cut marks on proboscidean bones older than -or close to- 1.0 Ma are restricted to the archaeological sites of Dmanisi (Georgia), Olduvai (Tanzania), Gona (Ethiopia), Olorgesailie (Kenya) and La Boella (Spain). During an inspection of the almost complete carcass of Mammuthus meridionalis (FN3-5-MPS) from the Oldowan site of Fuente Nueva 3 (Orce, Spain, c. 1.2 Ma), a few traces compatible with human-made cut marks and carnivore tooth marks were found. From this finding and previous interpretations the following questions arise: When and under what conditions was FN3-5-MPS deposited? What is the nature of the marks found on the surface of the bones of this mammoth? To answer, we have conducted a high-resolution analysis of these remains, combining both taphonomic and microstratigraphic data. (...)

     
 

Big enough to matter: on the frequency and chronology of giant handaxes in the British Lower Palaeolithic, di Luke Dale et alii, "Antiquity", Volume 98 - Issue 398 - April 2024 - open access -

Hypertrophic ‘giant’ handaxes are a rare component of Acheulean assemblages, yet have been central to debates relating to the social, cognitive and cultural ‘meaning’ of these enigmatic tools. The authors examine giant handaxes from the perspective of the British record and suggest that they are chronologically patterned, with the great majority originating from contexts broadly associated with Marine Isotope Stage 9. Giant handaxes tend to have higher symmetry than non-giants, and extravagant forms, such as ficrons, are better represented; they may therefore be linked to incipient aesthetic sensibilities and, potentially, to changing cognition at the transition between the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. (...)

     
 

Chronology of hominin activity at Vindija Cave, Croatia: new dates recorded via standard and ultrafiltration AMS, di Ivor Karavanić et alii, "Antiquity", Volume 98 - Issue 398 - April 2024 - open access -

The project ‘Last Neanderthals at the Crossroads of Central Europe and the Mediterranean’ (NECEM) combines lithic analyses of previously excavated material with new sampling for dating and environmental DNA. New radiocarbon dates from Vindija, presented here, help clarify the chronology of late Neanderthal and early modern human occupations in South-eastern and Central Europe. (...)

     
 

"Archaeologies". Special Issue: Ancestral Stones and Stone Stories: Reimagining human relationships with stone from the Palaeolithic to the Present. Volume 20, Issue 1, April 2024. Issue Editors: Kathryn Weedman Arthur, Ran Barkai:

- Ancestral Stones and Stone Stories: Reimagining Human Relationships with Stone from the Paleolithic to the Present, di K. Weedman et alii

- Material Sense: Perceptual Experience in Stone and Mineral Selection for Tool-Making, di B. Efrati

- Set in Stone: Human–Horse Relations as Embodied in Shaped Stone Balls, di E. Assaf

- The Stone, the Deer, and the Mountain: Lower Paleolithic Scrapers and Early Human Perceptions of the Cosmos, di V. Litov, R. Barkai

- Quarries as Places of Significance in the Lower Paleolithic Holy Triad of Elephants, Water, and Stone, di M. Finkel, R. Barkai

- To Computational Archaeology and Back: The Round-Trip Journey of Stone Artifacts Between a Physical and a Digital Existence, di D. Ganchrow

     
 

The quantification of surface abrasion on flint stone tools, di G. Bustos-Pérez, A. Ollé, "Archaeometry", Volume 66, Issue 2, April 2024, Pages 247-265 - open access -

Lithic artifacts are some of the most common and numerous remains recovered from paleolithic archaeological sites. However, these materials can undergo multiple post-depositional alterations after their introduction into the archaeological record. Due to the high quantity of lithic remains recovered, a quick, flexible, and effective method for identifying degrees of alteration on the surface of lithic implements is highly desirable. The present study examines the use of gray level images to obtain quantitative data from the surface of flint artifacts and determine whether these images can detect the presence of post-depositional alterations. An experimental collection of flints was subjected to sequential episodes of rounding in a tumbling machine. After each episode, photographs were taken with a microscope, resulting in quantitative surface values using gray level values. (...)

     
 

A lineage perspective on hominin taxonomy and evolution, di J. M. Martin, A. B. Leece, S. E. Baker, A. I. R. Herries, D. S. Strait, "Evolutionary Anthropology", Volume 33, Issue 2, April 2024, e22018 - open access -

An uncritical reliance on the phylogenetic species concept has led paleoanthropologists to become increasingly typological in their delimitation of new species in the hominin fossil record. As a practical matter, this approach identifies species as diagnosably distinct groups of fossils that share a unique suite of morphological characters but, ontologically, a species is a metapopulation lineage segment that extends from initial divergence to eventual extinction or subsequent speciation. Working from first principles of species concept theory, it is clear that a reliance on morphological diagnosabilty will systematically overestimate species diversity in the fossil record; (...)

     
 

Sex estimation of the adult Neandertal Regourdou 1 (Montignac, France): Implications for sexing human fossil remains, di R. Rmoutilová et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 189, April 2024, 103470

Sex is a biological trait fundamental to the study of hominin fossils. Among the many questions that can be addressed are those related to taxonomy, biological variability, sexual dimorphism, paleoobstetrics, funerary selection, and paleodemography. While new methodologies such as paleogenomics or paleoproteomics can be used to determine sex, they have not been systematically applied to Pleistocene human remains due to their destructive nature. Therefore, we estimated sex from the coxal bone of the newly discovered pelvic remains of the Regourdou 1 Neandertal (Southwest France, MIS 5) based on morphological and metric data employing two methods that have been recently revised and shown to be reliable in multiple studies. Both methods calculate posterior probabilities of the estimate. (...)

     
 

Finite element analysis of Neanderthal and early Homo sapiens maxillary central incisor, di A. Najafzadeh et alii, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 189, April 2024, 103512 - open access -

Neanderthal anterior teeth are very large and have a distinctive morphology characterized by robust ‘shovel-shaped’ crowns. These features are frequently seen as adaptive responses in dissipating heavy mechanical loads resulting from masticatory and non-masticatory activities. Although the long-standing debate surrounding this hypothesis has played a central role in paleoanthropology, is still unclear if Neanderthal anterior teeth can resist high mechanical loads or not. A novel way to answer this question is to use a multidisciplinary approach that considers together tooth architecture, dental wear and jaw movements. The aim of this study is to functionally reposition the teeth of Le Moustier 1 (a Neanderthal adolescent) and Qafzeh 9 (an early Homo sapiens adolescent) derived from wear facet mapping, occlusal fingerprint analysis and physical dental restoration methods. (...)

     
 

Diet of Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens from macrowear analysis of mandibular molars, di M. Hernaiz-García et alii, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 164, April 2024, 105950 - open access -

Neanderthal diet has been on the spotlight of paleoanthropological research for many years. The majority of studies that tried to reconstruct the diet of Neanderthals were based on the analysis of zooarchaeological remains, stable isotopes, dental calculus and dental microwear patterns. In the past few years, there have been a few studies that linked dental macrowear patterns of Neanderthals and modern humans to diet and cultural habits. However, they mostly focused on maxillary molars. Although mandibular molars have been widely used in microwear dietary research, little is known about their usage at the macroscopic scale to detect information about human subsistence strategies. In this study, we compare the macrowear patterns of Neanderthal (NEA), fossil Homo sapiens (FHS), modern hunter-gatherers (MHG), pastoralists, early farmers and Australian Aborigines from Yuendumu mandibular molars in order to assess their utility in collecting any possible information about dietary and cultural habits among diverse human groups. (...)

     
 

"L'Anthropologie", Volume 128, Issue 1, March–April 2024:

- Réflexions sur la datation des deux crânes humains Apidima 1 et Apidima 2 découverts dans la cavité Apidima A, Aréopoli, péninsule du Mani, Laconie, Péloponnèse, Grèce
, di H. de Lumley et alii

- The earliest human occupation of Atapuerca in the European context, di E. Carbonell, X. Pedro Rodríguez-Álvarez, J. M. Parés, R. Huguet, J. Rosell

- Une nouvelle occurrence de l’Acheuléen pyrénéo-garonnais et la question de la régionalisation des productions lithiques à la fin du Pléistocène moyen: le site du Cassé à Cornebarrieu (Haute-Garonne), di C. Viallet et alii

- First evidence of pleistocene hominin occupations in the Jovin-Joghatai plain, Northeast of the Iranian Plateau, di A. Mirzaye, A. Sadraei

     
 

Trajectoires technologiques et dynamiques de niches éco-culturelles du Gravettien moyen au Gravettien récent en France, di A. Vignoles, "Quaternaire", vol. 35/1, 2024

L’un des enjeux majeurs de l’archéologie préhistorique est de mieux comprendre les processus impliqués dans l’évolution culturelle des hominidés. Dans cette thèse de doctorat, nous avons cherché à identifier des mécanismes à l’origine de la variabilité des industries lithiques (i.e., les outils en pierre et leur mode de fabrication) au Gravettien (ca. 34 - 26 ka cal. BP). Ce complexe archéologique du Paléolithique récent est souvent considéré comme un phénomène culturel unitaire à l’échelle de l’Europe (e.g., Otte, 2013), mais une importante diversité chrono- géographique des industries lithiques et osseuses est également soulignée par de nombreux auteurs (e.g., Touzé et al., 2022). Dans ce contexte, nous avons adopté une approche interdisciplinaire et originale permettant de mettre en évidence les différents facteurs environnementaux et culturels à l’origine de cette diversité. (...)

     
 

Two new Later Stone Age sites from the Final Pleistocene in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal, di M. Ndiaye et alii, 28 March 2024, doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0294346 - open access -

The understanding of cultural dynamics at work at the end of the Final Pleistocene in West Africa suffers from a significant lack of excavated and dated sites, particularly in the Sahelian and Sudanian ecozones. While the Later Stone Age shows varied behavioral developments in different parts of the continent, the chrono-cultural framework of this period remains largely unknown in West Africa. We report on archaeological, geomorphological, and chronological research on two Final Pleistocene Later Stone Age sites in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal. Optically stimulated luminescence ages place the site of Toumboura I-2017 between 17 ± 1 and 16 ± 1 ka and the Ravin de Sansandé site between 13 ± 1 ka and 12 ± 1.1 ka. The excavated lithics show typical Later Stone Age industries, characterized by chaînes opératoires of core reduction mainly producing flakes and bladelets as well as blades and laminar flakes. Segments dominate the toolkits but a few backed bladelets and end-scrapers on flake blanks were recognized. (...)

     
 

Hominin population bottleneck coincided with migration from Africa during the Early Pleistocene ice age transition, di G. Muttoni, D. V. Kent, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 26 march 2024, vol. 121, no. 13

Two recently published analyses make cases for severe bottlenecking of human populations occurring in the late Early Pleistocene, one case at about 0.9 Mya based on a genomic analysis of modern human populations and the low number of hominin sites of this age in Africa and the other at about 1.1 Mya based on an age inventory of sites of hominin presence in Eurasia. Both models point to climate change as the bottleneck trigger, albeit manifested at very different times, and have implications for human migrations as a mechanism to elude extinction at bottlenecking. Here, we assess the climatic and chronologic components of these models and suggest that the several hundred-thousand-year difference is largely an artifact of biases in the chronostratigraphic record of Eurasian hominin sites. (...)

     
 

The long-term expansion and recession of human populations, di J. Freeman et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 19 march 2024, vol. 121, no. 12

Over the last 12,000 y, human populations have expanded and transformed critical earth systems. Yet, a key unresolved question in the environmental and social sciences remains: Why did human populations grow and, sometimes, decline in the first place? Our research builds on 20 y of archaeological research studying the deep time dynamics of human populations to propose an explanation for the long-term growth and stability of human populations. Innovations in the productive capacity of populations fuels exponential-like growth over thousands of years; however, innovations saturate over time and, often, may leave populations vulnerable to large recessions in their well-being and population density. (...)

     
 

Earliest Prepared core technology in Eurasia from Nihewan (China): Implications for early human abilities and dispersals in East Asia, di Dong-Dong Ma et alii, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 12 march 2024, vol. 121, no. 11

Organized flaking techniques to obtain predetermined stone tools have been traced back to the early Acheulean (also known as mode 2) in Africa and are seen as indicative of the emergence of advanced technical abilities and in-depth planning skills among early humans. Here, we report one of the earliest known examples of prepared core technology in the archaeological record, at the Cenjiawan (CJW) site in the Nihewan basin of China, dated 1.1 Mya. The operational schemes reconstructed from the CJW refit sets, together with shaping patterns observed in the retouched tools, suggest that Nihewan basin toolmakers had the technical abilities of mode 2 hominins, and developed different survival strategies to adapt to local raw materials and environments. This finding predates the previously earliest known prepared core technology from Eurasia by 0.3 My, and the earliest known mode 2 sites in East Asia by a similar amount of time, thus suggesting that hominins with advanced technologies may have migrated into high latitude East Asia as early as 1.1 Mya. (...)

     
 

A quantitative analysis of Final Palaeolithic/earliest Mesolithic cultural taxonomy and evolution in Europe, di F. Riede et alii, 11 March 2024, doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0299512 - open access -

Archaeological systematics, together with spatial and chronological information, are commonly used to infer cultural evolutionary dynamics in the past. For the study of the Palaeolithic, and particularly the European Final Palaeolithic and earliest Mesolithic, proposed changes in material culture are often interpreted as reflecting historical processes, migration, or cultural adaptation to climate change and resource availability. Yet, cultural taxonomic practice is known to be variable across research history and academic traditions, and few large-scale replicable analyses across such traditions have been undertaken. Drawing on recent developments in computational archaeology, we here present a data-driven assessment of the existing Final Palaeolithic/earliest Mesolithic cultural taxonomy in Europe. Our dataset consists of a large expert-sourced compendium of key sites, lithic toolkit composition, blade and bladelet production technology, as well as lithic armatures. The dataset comprises 16 regions and 86 individually named archaeological taxa (‘cultures’), covering the period between ca. 15,000 and 11,000 years ago (cal BP) (...)

     
 

New craniodental fossils of Paranthropus robustus from Kromdraai, South Africa (2014–2017 excavations), di J. Braga, F. E. Grine, "Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 188, March 2024, 103481

Since the initial discovery of Paranthropus robustus at the site of Kromdraai in 1938, the hypodigm of this species has been expanded by subsequent work at the localities of Swartkrans and Drimolen, with a few fossils also known from Cooper's D, Gondolin and Sterkfontein Member 5. Beginning in 2014, systematic excavations at Kromdraai uncovered a large and previously unknown fossiliferous area, shedding light on Units O and P in the earliest part of the site's stratigraphic sequence. The aim of this paper is to provide detailed descriptions and illustrations of 30 P. robustus craniodental specimens recovered between 2014 and 2017 within the Unit P deposits at Kromdraai. This new sample predates all prior conspecific specimens found at this site (including the holotype of P. robustus from Kromdraai, TM 1517). Its basic dental morphology dimensions and cranial features are compared in a preliminary analysis with other P. robustus samples. (...)

     

Aggiornamento 04/03/2024

 
 

Magnetic properties as indicators of pedogenic and pyrogenic processes at the Upper Paleolithic site of Kostenki 14, di A. Kurgaeva et alii, "Geoarchaeology", Volume 39, Issue 2, March/April 2024, Pages 143-167 - open access -

In geoarchaeological studies, there is an issue with distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic signals in pedological paleoarchives. With the pedostratigraphy of the Upper Paleolithic site of Kostenki 14, this issue is reflected by problems with the determination of features of pedogenic and pyrogenic processes. This issue was addressed by means of a thorough analysis of the magnetic properties of paleosols accompanied by micromorphological observations. Most of the humic samples were shown to be a result of pedogenesis, but two samples (a Paleolithic hearth sample and a sample from paleosol IIc) had features of intensely burnt material. The difference in the typical intensity of large-scale (natural or human-induced) and local-scale anthropogenic fire allowed for suggesting that the magnetic properties of the burnt sample were the result of an anthropogenically controlled fire event, that is, a hearth. (...)

     
 

Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology, Volume 7, Issue 1, December 2024:

- Intriguing Occupations at Gran Dolina (Atapuerca, Spain): the Acheulean Subunits TD10.3 and TD10.4
, di M. Mosquera, A. Ollé, E. Carbonell

- The Contribution of 2D and 3D Geometric Morphometrics to Lithic Taxonomies: Testing Discrete Categories of Backed Flakes from Recurrent Centripetal Core Reduction, di G. Bustos-Pérez, B. Gravina, F. Romagnoli

- Nubian Levallois Technology During MIS 5: Refitted Lithic Sequences and OSL Ages of Dimona South, Israel, and Their Broader Implications, di M. Oron, E. Hovers, T. Abulafia

- The Oldowan of Zarqa Valley, Northern Jordan, di F. Parenti, F. Giovanini Varejão, W. Alves Neves

- Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Remains from Cueva del Gato 2 (Épila, Zaragoza): A Contribution to Human Consumption Patterns in Inland Iberia During the Late Pleistocene, di C. A. Kaufmann, M. C. Álvarez, L. Lloveras

- Us and Them: How to Reconcile Archaeological and Biological Data at the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic Transition in Europe?, di N. Teyssandier

     
 

Nondestructive geochemical characterization of fossil hominin taphonomy and burial history, di T. M. Present et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 328, 15 March 2024, 108525

To date, only three Homo habilis specimens have been discovered that have associated craniodental and postcranial elements, providing a limited fossil record of the ontogeny and morphology of early members of the genus Homo. Recently, a nearly complete dentition, likely attributable to H. habilis, was discovered and excavated from early Pleistocene-age fluvial-lacustrine sediments of the upper Burgi Member of the Koobi Fora Formation at site F25787 in Area 13, near Ileret, Kenya. On the surface less than 15 m away, at site F25966, postcranial elements were found, which, if from the same individual as the nearby dentition, would represent the fourth associated craniodental and postcranial assemblage of this species. We developed a geochemical taphonomic history of these ca. 2 Ma hominin fossils using nondestructive X-ray based microanalytical tools (synchrotron and benchtop X-ray fluorescence chemical imaging and micro- and nano-computed tomography volumetric reconstruction), bulk analyses of sediments and paleosols at the excavation sites, and sedimentologic and stratigraphic observations. (...)

     
 

Experiments with replicas of Early Upper Paleolithic edge-ground stone axes and adzes provide criteria for identifying tool functions, di A. Iwase, K. Sano, J. Nagasaki, N. Otake, M. Yamada, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 163, March 2024, 105891 - open access -

Systematic tree-felling using a polished stone axe and/or adze developed with sedentary lifeways in Holocene environments. However, securely dated Pleistocene edge-ground stone axes/adzes have now been identified from Marine Isotope Stage 3 sites in two distant regions: Australia and Japan. These early ground tools are indicative of full-blown tree-felling, but whether they indeed functioned as woodworking tools remains unclear. We present the results of an experimental study with replicas of Early Upper Paleolithic edge-ground stone axes/adzes from the Japanese archipelago that included a total of 75 replicas used in 15 different use and nonuse experiments. (...)

     
 

A geoarchaeological review of Balzi Rossi, Italy: A crossroad of Palaeolithic populations in the northwest Mediterranean, di D. D. Ryan et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 327, 1 March 2024, 108515 - open access -

The Balzi Rossi archaeological complex (comprised of caves, rock shelters, and open-air sites) is a globally significant site for Palaeolithic culture and understanding the transition from Neanderthal to Anatomically Modern Human populations in Europe. It also retains some of the earliest evidence of human interactions with their coastal environment. Balzi Rossi has been subject to excavation for over 150 years – traditionally as individual site locations – with most deposits removed when the discipline of archaeology was nascent, and the science not yet developed. The consequence was the unfortunate loss of materials and critically important stratigraphic context. However, valuable information regarding the Palaeolithic population, their coastal environment, and earlier sea-level change, remains in the literature and in museum repositories. In this work we have compiled and reviewed the extensive resources, available largely in French and Italian, to provide a summary and catalogue for each individual site. (...)

     
 

Morphological integration and shape covariation between the trapezium and first metacarpal among extant hominids, di A. Bardo, C. J. Dunmore, R. Cornette, T. L. Kivell, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 183, Issue 3, A Special Issue in Honor of the Life and Scientific Contributions of Professor Mary Marzke, March 2024, e24800 - open access -

The shape of the trapezium and first metacarpal (Mc1) markedly influence thumb mobility, strength, and the manual abilities of extant hominids. Previous research has typically focused solely on trapezium-Mc1 joint shape. Here we investigate how morphological integration and shape covariation between the entire trapezium (articular and non-articular surfaces) and the entire Mc1 reflect known differences in thumb use in extant hominids.
We analyzed shape covariation in associated trapezia and Mc1s across a large, diverse sample of Homo sapiens (n = 40 individuals) and other extant hominids (Pan troglodytes, n = 16; Pan paniscus, n = 13; Gorilla gorilla gorilla, n = 27; Gorilla beringei, n = 6; Pongo pygmaeus, n = 14; Pongo abelii, n = 9) using a 3D geometric morphometric approach. We tested for interspecific significant differences in degree of morphological integration and patterns of shape covariation between the entire trapezium and Mc1, as well as within the trapezium-Mc1 joint specifically. (...)

     
 

A three-dimensional musculoskeletal model of the pelvis and lower limb of Australopithecus afarensis, di M. C. O'Neill, A. Nagano, B. R. Umberger, "American Journal of Biological Anthropology", Volume 183, Issue 3, A Special Issue in Honor of the Life and Scientific Contributions of Professor Mary Marzke, March 2024, e24845 - open access -

Musculoskeletal modeling is a powerful approach for studying the biomechanics and energetics of locomotion. Australopithecus (A.) afarensis is among the best represented fossil hominins and provides critical information about the evolution of musculoskeletal design and locomotion in the hominin lineage. Here, we develop and evaluate a three-dimensional (3-D) musculoskeletal model of the pelvis and lower limb of A. afarensis for predicting muscle-tendon moment arms and moment-generating capacities across lower limb joint positions encompassing a range of locomotor behaviors.
A 3-D musculoskeletal model of an adult A. afarensis pelvis and lower limb was developed based primarily on the A.L. 288-1 partial skeleton. The model includes geometric representations of bones, joints and 35 muscle-tendon units represented using 43 Hill-type muscle models. Two muscle parameter datasets were created from human and chimpanzee sources. 3-D muscle-tendon moment arms and isometric joint moments were predicted over a wide range of joint positions. (...)

     
 

Quantifying Edge Sharpness on Stone Flakes: Comparing Mechanical and Micro-Geometric Definitions Across Multiple Raw Materials from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), di A. Key et alii, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", Volume 31, Issue 1, March 2024, pages 51–74 - open access -

In line with engineering research focusing on metal tools, techniques to record the attribute of ‘edge sharpness’ on stone tools can include both mechanical and micro-geometric approaches. Mechanically-defined sharpness techniques used in lithic studies are now well established and align with engineering research. The single micro-geometrically-defined technique—tip curvature—is novel relative to approaches used elsewhere, and has not explicitly been tested for its ability to describe the attribute of sharpness. Here, using experimental flakes produced on basalt, chert, and quartzite sourced at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), we investigate the relationship between tip curvature and the force and work required to initiate a cut. (...)

     
 

School of Rocks: a Transmission Time Investment Model for Pleistocene Lithic Technology, di T. Z. Kovach, J. P. Gill, "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory", Volume 31, Issue 1, March 2024, pages 251–286

We propose a transmission time investment model for integrating the tenets of human behavioral ecology and cultural evolutionary theory to investigate agency and optimality in the social transmission of lithic technologies. While the cultural transmission process is often overlooked in discussions of optimality, we view it as a critical area for the application of adaptive reasoning to further understand the mechanisms responsible for change in lithic technologies. The proposed model modifies a technological intensification model based on the marginal value theorem (...)

     
 

Scientists ID burned bodies using technique used for extracting DNA from woolly mammoths, Neanderthals, 29 february 2024

Fire victims may be identified through dental records if the teeth are preserved and such records exist. Oftentimes, DNA testing is the only way to identify badly burned bodies. Researchers can extract usable DNA from bones subjected to conditions between 200 and 250 degrees centigrade; between 350 and 550 degrees, there is a steep drop-off in the concentration of DNA. "In effect, there's an inverse correlation: the higher the burn temperature, the less DNA is preserved," explained Binghamton University Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology Matthew Emery, the lead author. "Part of the idea was to look at how DNA degrades systematically across different temperature ranges." The researchers used two different techniques to extract DNA from the bones and teeth of 27 fire victims from incidents that included house fires, airplane crashes, truck fires and motor vehicle accidents. One technique was originally devised to extract ancient DNA from Ice Age megafauna and is also used on human remains found in archaeological contexts, such as Neanderthals. (...)

     
 

Ochre-based compound adhesives at the Mousterian type-site document complex cognition and high investment, di P. Schmidt et alii, "Science Advances", 21 Feb 2024, Vol 10, Issue 8 - open access -

Ancient adhesives used in multicomponent tools may be among our best material evidences of cultural evolution and cognitive processes in early humans. African Homo sapiens is known to have made compound adhesives from naturally sticky substances and ochre, a technical behavior proposed to mark the advent of elaborate cognitive processes in our species. Foragers of the European Middle Paleolithic also used glues, but evidence of ochre-based compound adhesives is unknown. Here, we present evidence of this kind. Bitumen was mixed with high loads of goethite ochre to make compound adhesives at the type-site of the Mousterian, Le Moustier (France). (...)

     
 

A submerged Stone Age hunting architecture from the Western Baltic Sea, di J. Geersen, M. Bradtmöller, J. Schneider von Deimling, H. Lübke, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", 20 February 2024, vol. 121, no. 8, e2312008121 - open access -

The Baltic Sea basins, some of which only submerged in the mid-Holocene, preserve Stone Age structures that did not survive on land. Yet, the discovery of these features is challenging and requires cross-disciplinary approaches between archeology and marine geosciences. Here, we combine shipborne and autonomousunderwater vehicle hydroacoustic data with up to a centimeter range resolution, sedimentological samples, and optical images to explore a Stone Age megastructure located in 21 m water depth in the Bay of Mecklenburg, Germany. The structure is made of 1,673 individual stones which are usually less than 1 m in height, placed side by side over a distance of 971 m in a way that argues against a natural origin by glacial transport or ice push ridges. Running adjacent to the sunken shoreline of a paleolake (or bog), whose youngest phase was dated to 9,143 ±36 ka B.P., the stonewall was likely used for hunting the Eurasian reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) during the Younger Dryas or early Pre-Boreal (...)

     
 

Dans le rift Est-Africain, des hominines auraient vécu dans un milieu fertile et non aride, 15 février 2024

Une nouvelle étude révèle que dans le rift Est-Africain, des hominines n’ont pas eu à faire face à une extrême aridité, contrairement à ce que l’on pensait jusqu’à présent. La zone était parcourue par de larges cours d’eau douce, et loin d’avoir évolué aux dépens d’une aridité contraignante, les populations locales auraient eu accès à des ressources inespérées. Rencontre avec Xavier Boës, chercheur au Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. Il y a environ 8 millions d’années, l’apparition d’une faille gigantesque aurait créé une barrière naturelle ayant séparé l’Est et l’Ouest du continent africain avec des environnements distincts. Si à l’Ouest, l’air était plutôt humide et la végétation luxuriante, à l’Est, le climat s’était asséché et tout le milieu aurait été profondément transformé. (...)

     
 

Claims for 1.9–2.0 Ma old early Acheulian and Oldowan occupations at Melka Kunture are not supported by a robust age model, di T. Gossa, A.Asrat, E. Hovers, A. J. Tholt, P. R. Renne, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 326, 15 February 2024, 108506

In the chronostratigraphic studies of sedimentary successions across eastern Africa, it is common practice to integrate paleomagnetic studies with radioisotopic dating to provide additional age resolution and refine age models. Muttoni et al. (2023) followed a similar approach. However, they inconsistently and selectively focused on certain dated tuff units as a basis for their correlation across sections. They utilized dated tuff units as anchors of correlation whenever they fit their age (...)

     
 

Il y a 100 000 ans sur la plage de Larache au Maroc, des Homo sapiens ont laissé des traces de pas, 9 février 2024

Il y a 100 000 ans sur la plage de Larache au Maroc, des Homo sapiens ont laissé des traces de pas. Ce sont plus de 80 empreintes de pas humains qui ont été découvertes en 2022 sur le littoral du nord du Maroc. Ces traces sont considérées comme les plus anciennes empreintes de pas connues en Afrique du Nord et au sud de la Méditerranée (...)

     
 

Homo sapiens reached the higher latitudes of Europe by 45,000 years ago, di D. Mylopotamitaki et alii, "Nature", Volume 626, Issue 7998, 8 February 2024, pp. 341–346 - open access -

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe is associated with the regional disappearance of Neanderthals and the spread of Homo sapiens. Late Neanderthals persisted in western Europe several millennia after the occurrence of H. sapiens in eastern Europe. Local hybridization between the two groups occurred, but not on all occasions. Archaeological evidence also indicates the presence of several technocomplexes during this transition, complicating our understanding and the association of behavioural adaptations with specific hominin groups. One such technocomplex for which the makers are unknown is the Lincombian–Ranisian–Jerzmanowician (LRJ), which has been described in northwestern and central Europe. (...)

     
 

Delayed increase in stone tool cutting-edge productivity at the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in southern Jordan, di S. Kadowaki et alii, "Nature Communications", 07 February 2024, volume 15, Article number: 610 - open access -

Although the lithic cutting-edge productivity has long been recognized as a quantifiable aspect of prehistoric human technological evolution, there remains uncertainty how the productivity changed during the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition. Here we present the cutting-edge productivity of eight lithic assemblages in the eastern Mediterranean region that represent a chrono-cultural sequence including the Late Middle Paleolithic, Initial Upper Paleolithic, the Early Upper Paleolithic, and the Epipaleolithic. The results show that a major increase in the cutting-edge productivity does not coincide with the conventional Middle-Upper Paleolithic boundary characterized by the increase in blades in the Initial Upper Paleolithic, but it occurs later in association with the development of bladelet technology in the Early Upper Paleolithic. (...)

     
 

Environmental changes and human occupations between MIS 15 and MIS 14 in Central Italy: archaeological levels AO1-20, 24 and LBr of Valle Giumentina (c. 570–530 ka), di V. Villa et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 2, February 2024

This work presents the Middle Pleistocene palaeoenvironmental and archaeological record of the Valle Giumentina basin (Abruzzo, Italy). A high-resolution geological study, including stratigraphy, sedimentology and micromorphology, was performed on the lower part of the sequence which correlates with the time span between MIS 15 and MIS 14 stages, i.e. between 570 and 530 ka. In addition to long-term climatic variability, sedimentological data highlight many short oscillations of varying amplitude during both Glacial and Interglacial periods. These results are confirmed by the studies of environmental proxies (pollen and molluscan analysis) previously undertaken on the Valle Giumentina sequence in 2016. Comparisons with global, Mediterranean and Italian climate archives confirm the consistency of the Valle Giumentina record and the contrasting characteristics of each isotopic stages. (...)

     
 

Application of computed tomography to the study of Mesolithic portable art: Results, interpretations and expectations—The case of an ornamented roe deer antler harpoon from Police, north-west Poland, di T. Płonka, M. Diakowski, J. Krupa-Kurzynowska, V. Hoppe, G. Ziółkowski, "Archaeometry", Volume 66, Issue 1, February 2024, Pages 219-237 - open access -

The article describes the application of X-ray computed tomography to the recording and analysis of ornamentation on the Mesolithic harpoon found at Police in north-west Poland. The geometric ornament was divided into eight areas. Based on the tomographic data, a method of quantitative analysis of ornamentation was proposed. For lines selected in individual areas, three profiles were determined for which the width, depth and opening angle of the ornament lines were measured. The analysis of these data, including statistical analyses, revealed a degree of variation, dependent on the engraving technique and the instrument used to make the ornament. (...)

     
 

Hanging over the Void. Uses of Long Ropes and Climbing Rope Ladders in Prehistory as Illustrated in Levantine Rock Art, di M. Bea, D. Roman, I. Domingo, "Cambridge Archaeological Journal", Volume 34, Issue 1, February 2024, pp. 127-145 - open access -

Direct or indirect evidence of ropemaking are scarce in European prehistory. Only a few references to Middle or Upper Palaeolithic remains are known to us, with more examples towards the Holocene. The archaeological contexts of ropes offer little information about possible uses, as the activities they are used for are often archaeologically invisible. However, some rock-art traditions shed some light on potential uses, worth exploring. In Spain, Levantine rock art offers the best graphic examples across Europe showing various uses of ropes, including climbing. Starting from the recently discovered climbing scene of Barranco Gómez site (Teruel, Spain), including the best preserved and more complex use of ropes seen so far in Levantine art, this paper analyses representations of ropes in this art, as well as their varieties and diverse uses. (...)

     
 

A review of the distal femur in Australopithecus, di C. K. Miller, J. M. DeSilva, "Evolutionary Anthropology", Volume 33, Issue 1, February 2024, e22012

In 1938, the first distal femur of a fossil Australopithecus was discovered at Sterkfontein, South Africa. A decade later, another distal femur was discovered at the same locality. These two fossil femora were the subject of a foundational paper authored by Kingsbury Heiple and Owen Lovejoy in 1971. In this paper, the authors discussed functionally relevant anatomies of these two fossil femora and noted their strong affinity to the modern human condition. Here, we update this work by including eight more fossil Australopithecus distal femora, an expanded comparative dataset, as well as additional linear measurements. Just as Heiple and Lovejoy reported a half-century ago, we find strong overlap between modern humans and cercopithecoids (...)

     
 

"Journal of Human Evolution", Volume 187, February 2024:

- A reanalysis of strontium isotope ratios as indicators of dispersal in South African hominins, di M. I. Hamilton, S. R. Copeland, S. V. Nelson

- Sex-biased sampling may influence Homo naledi tooth size variation, di L. K. Delezene et alii

- New Neanderthal remains from Axlor cave (Dima, Biscay, northern Iberian Peninsula), di S. E. Bailey et alii

- Modern human atlas ranges of motion and Neanderthal estimations, di C. A. Palancar et alii

     
 

The first identification of composite paints with proteinaceous binder in Upper Palaeolithic (31–23 ka) organic decorations, di L. Golovanova, J. Kostina, V. Doronichev, "Journal of Archaeological Science", Volume 162, February 2024, 105920

Research of coloring pigments and binding compounds from the Upper Palaeolithic (UP), including on portable art objects such as personal ornaments, provides new insights into social and cultural aspects of human history. However, we lack a comprehensive study of the composite pigment mixtures and binding materials that were produced intentionally and used for coloration. The study of several personal ornaments from the UP layers dated 31–23 ka calBP in Mezmaiskaya Cave, North Caucasus (Russia), shows that UP paints have a complex chemical composition. Using ATR–FTIR and SEM–EDS, we have identified that for coloring organic personal decorations UP humans used composite paint mixtures produced from organic (bitumen) and inorganic (red bolus/kaolin) natural pigments. (...)

     
 

The ecology, subsistence and diet of ~45,000-year-old Homo sapiens at Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany, di G. M. Smith et alii, "Nature Ecology & Evolution", 31 January 2024 - open access -

Recent excavations at Ranis (Germany) identified an early dispersal of Homo sapiens into the higher latitudes of Europe by 45,000 years ago. Here we integrate results from zooarchaeology, palaeoproteomics, sediment DNA and stable isotopes to characterize the ecology, subsistence and diet of these early H. sapiens. We assessed all bone remains (n = 1,754) from the 2016–2022 excavations through morphology (n = 1,218) or palaeoproteomics (zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (n = 536) and species by proteome investigation (n = 212)). Dominant taxa include reindeer, cave bear, woolly rhinoceros and horse, indicating cold climatic conditions. Numerous carnivore modifications, alongside sparse cut-marked and burnt bones, illustrate a predominant use of the site by hibernating cave bears and denning hyaenas, coupled with a fluctuating human presence. (...)

     
 

Stable isotopes show Homo sapiens dispersed into cold steppes ~45,000 years ago at Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany, di S. Pederzani et alii, "Nature Ecology & Evolution", 31 January 2024 - open access -

The spread of Homo sapiens into new habitats across Eurasia ~45,000 years ago and the concurrent disappearance of Neanderthals represents a critical evolutionary turnover in our species’ history. ‘Transitional’ technocomplexes, such as the Lincombian–Ranisian–Jerzmanowician (LRJ), characterize the European record during this period but their makers and evolutionary significance have long remained unclear. New evidence from Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany, now provides a secure connection of the LRJ to H. sapiens remains dated to ~45,000 years ago, making it one of the earliest forays of our species to central Europe. Using many stable isotope records of climate produced from 16 serially sampled equid teeth spanning ~12,500 years of LRJ and Upper Palaeolithic human occupation at Ranis, we review the ability of early humans to adapt to different climate and habitat conditions. (...)

     
 

Rope making in the Aurignacian of Central Europe more than 35,000 years ago, di N. J. Conard, V. Rots, "Science Advances", 31 Jan 2024, Vol. 10, Issue 5 - open access -

Evidence for the manufacture and use of fiber technology such as rope and twine is rare in the Paleolithic, despite the widely held view that such artifacts were in regular use during the Pleistocene. On the basis of the discovery of a more than 35,000-year-old perforated baton made from mammoth ivory at Hohle Fels Cave in Ach Valley of southwestern Germany together with experimental studies, we are now able to demonstrate one way people of the early Upper Paleolithic manufactured rope. This work contributes to our understanding of the evolution of technology, cooperative work, and Paleolithic social organization. (...)

     
 

How did humans learn to walk? New evolutionary study offers an earful, 29 January 2024

A new study, which centers on evidence from skulls of a 6-million-year-old fossil ape, Lufengpithecus, offers important clues about the origins of bipedal locomotion courtesy of a novel method: analyzing its bony inner ear region using three-dimensional CT-scanning. The inner ear appears to provide a unique record of the evolutionary history of ape locomotion. (...)

     
 

A multiproxy approach to understanding the impact of the Storegga tsunami upon Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers across different regions of western Norway, di J. Walker et alii, "Quaternary Science Reviews", Volume 324, 15 January 2024, 108433 - open access -

The Storegga tsunami (c. 8150 cal BP) is geologically well attested from various isolation basins across the west Norwegian coast. Ascertaining the impact it had upon the Mesolithic peoples who lived through it, however, remains a difficult proposition; one further complicated by broadly synchronic processes of climate change and sea-level rise. This paper presents a regional scale approach to addressing this matter through a multiproxy study comprising: 1) the performance of a new numerical tsunami run-up simulation for six different focus areas; 2) characterising the impact of the tsunami upon key resource base ecosystems; 3) characterising the potential for complication arising from contemporaneous processes of environmental change caused by the ‘8.2 ka BP event', and sea-level rise associated with the early-mid Holocene ‘Tapes’ transgression, and 4) the reconstruction of temporal traditions in site location relative to the contemporary palaeoshoreline within the six focus areas used for the numerical simulation. (...)

     
 

Valdeprovedo open-air site: a knapping event in the early Upper Paleolithic of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain), di M. Santamaría, M. Navazo, A. Benito-Calvo, A. Medialdea, E. Carbonell, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2024 - open access -

In this paper, we present the site of Valdeprovedo (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos), an open-air Paleolithic site. This site is attractive for study and research for three main reasons. First, it is an open-air site with an extraordinarily well-preserved lithic assemblage that corresponds to a very short-lived event. Second, in this small area, refits have been achieved with a high refitting rate, which allows us to reconstruct the action carried out in this place during a specific moment, around 28 ka. And third, this is the first site of this chronology that has been documented in the Sierra de Atapuerca, providing new data on the inland population of the Iberian Peninsula by Upper Paleolithic groups. (...)

     
 

Neanderthal subsistence strategies: new evidence from the Mousterian Level XV of the Sopeña rock shelter (Asturias, northern Spain), di J. Yravedra, V. Estaca-Gómez, A. Grandal-d’Anglade, A. C. Pinto-Llona, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2024 - open access -

Many Palaeolithic archaeological sites have been excavated in the Cantabrian region of northern Spain, between the Cantabrian mountain range and the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The analyses of the materials thus recovered in sites such as El Castillo, Morín, Pendo, Covalejos, Esquilleu, El Mirón, Hornos de la Peña, El Cuco, El Ruso, Lezetxiki, Axlor, Arrillor, Amalda, Abauntz, and Gatzarria, among others, have contributed greatly to the understanding of Neanderthal animal-based subsistence in the area. However, most of the sites studied are in the eastern part of this area, and we know little on the western part, from just a handful of sites (El Sidrón, Llonín, La Viña, and La Güelga in Asturias; Cova Eirós in Galicia) and the zooarchaeological information has been limited, but is currently growing. El Sidrón has many cannibalized Neanderthal bones but few faunal remains, the Llonín cave shows short Neanderthal occupations, the Mousterian of La Viña yielded few faunal remains, and the three Mousterian levels of Cova Eirós were also short occupations. (...)

     
 

Intra-site spatial approaches based on taphonomic analyses to characterize assemblage formation at Pleistocene sites: a case study from Buena Pinta Cave (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid, Spain), di Clara Mielgo et alii, "Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences", Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2024 - open access -

Buena Pinta Cave (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid) has been interpreted as a hyena den with sporadic occupations of Homo neanderthalensis in the western part of the site (level 23). In order to identify the different formation processes in this area of the site, spatial analyses have been carried out with GIS and spatial statistics based on the taphonomic analysis of the faunal remains. Based on the vertical and sectional analyses of the assemblage, it has been possible to determine that level 23 actually corresponds to three archaeological levels with well-differentiated characteristics: a lower level with few faunal remains and fossil-diagenetic alterations related to humid environments associated with clays; an intermediate level with a high percentage of remains with water-related modifications and evidences of transport (...)

     
 

Bone tools, carnivore chewing and heavy percussion: assessing conflicting interpretations of Lower and Upper Palaeolithic bone assemblages, di S. A. Parfitt, S. M. Bello, January 2024, Volume 11, Issue 1 - open access -

The use of bone tools by early humans has provided valuable insights into their technology, behaviour and cognitive abilities. However, identifying minimally modified or unshaped Palaeolithic osseous tools can be challenging, particularly when they are mixed with bones altered by natural taphonomic processes. This has hampered the study of key technical innovations, such as the use of bones, antlers and teeth as hammers or pressure-flakers to work (knap) stone tools. Bones chewed by carnivores can resemble osseous knapping tools and have sometimes been mistaken for them. In this paper, we review recent advances in the study of osseous knapping tools with a focus on two Palaeolithic sites in the UK, the Acheulean Horse Butchery Site at Boxgrove and the Magdalenian site of Gough's Cave, where knapping tools were mis-attributed to carnivore chewing. (...)

     
 

Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 186, January 2024:

- Age-depth model for uppermost Ndutu Beds constrains Middle Stone Age technology and climate-induced paleoenvironmental changes at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)
, di R. K. Smedley et alii

- Biomechanical and taxonomic diversity in the Early Pleistocene in East Africa: Structural analysis of a recently discovered femur shaft from Olduvai Gorge (bed I), di J. Aramendi, A. Mabulla, E. Baquedano, M. Domínguez-Rodrigo

- Aridity, availability of drinking water and freshwater foods, and hominin and archeological sites during the Late Pliocene–Early Pleistocene in the western region of the Turkana Basin (Kenya): A review, di X. Boës et alii

- Revising the oldest Oldowan: Updated optimal linear estimation models and the impact of Nyayanga (Kenya), di A. Key, T. Proffitt

- Investigating the co-occurrence of Neanderthals and modern humans in Belgium through direct radiocarbon dating of bone implements, di G. Abrams et alii

     

Index di antiqui Sommario bacheca