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Pickering R.,University of Melbourne | Jacobs Z.,University of Wollongong | Herries A.I.R.,La Trobe University | Karkanas P.,Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology Speleology of Southern Greece | And 5 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews

Deposits in sea caves found along the southern coastline of South Africa have produced a rich and detailed archaeological record of early modern humans. There is, however, little evidence for coastal cave deposits and human occupation older than MIS5e (~120 ka). Based on the correlation of four different chronological methods we present evidence for remnant cave deposits of 1.1-1.0 Ma from the quartzite sea cliff of Pinnacle Point, near Mossel Bay. Initial uranium-thorium ages at isotopic equilibrium indicated an age of >500 ka for two flowstone layers, confirmed by uranium-lead dating of these flowstones from 1.099 ± 0.012 to 1.047 ± 0.011 Ma. TT-OSL (thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence) provides an age of 1.02 ± 0.088 Ma for the sand grains imbedded in the tufa underlying the flowstone and 0.720 ± 0.066 to 0.665 ± 0.056 for the overlying beach sediments, producing an internally consistent age sequence centring on 1.0-1.1 Ma. The normal palaeomagnetic signal of the younger section of the flowstone is interpreted to represent the Jaramillo between 1.07 and 0.99 Ma. There is a clear hiatus in the middle of this flowstone, leading us to interpret the lower normal signal as the Punaruu event at ~1.115-1.1051 Ma. Together these four techniques point to an age of 1.1-1.0 Ma for these cave deposits at Pinnacle Point, far older than anticipated. The persistent presence of these 1.1-1.0 Ma deposits means that the enigmatic lack of Earlier Stone Age (Acheulean) artefacts in the sea caves along this coastal region can no longer be explained entirely by the age of the caves or through removal of sediments by previous sea level highstands. We believe that these and other coastal caves from this region, if located high enough above sea level, may contain deposits of great antiquity, which could provide outstanding records of climate, environment, sea level change, and human occupation back into the early to middle Pleistocene. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Douka K.,University of Oxford | Higham T.F.G.,University of Oxford | Wood R.,University of Oxford | Wood R.,Australian National University | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution

The Uluzzian, one of Europe's 'transitional' technocomplexes, has gained particular significance over the past three years when the only human remains associated with it were attributed to modern humans, instead of Neanderthals as previously thought. The position of the Uluzzian at stratified sequences, always overlying late Mousterian layers and underlying early Upper Palaeolithic ones, highlights its significance in understanding the passage from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, as well as the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans in southeastern Mediterranean Europe. Despite several studies investigating aspects of its lithic techno-typology, taxonomy and material culture, the Uluzzian chronology has remained extremely poorly-known, based on a handful of dubious chronometric determinations. Here we aim to elucidate the chronological aspect of the technocomplex by presenting an integrated synthesis of new radiocarbon results and a Bayesian statistical approach from four stratified Uluzzian cave sequences in Italy and Greece (Cavallo, Fumane, Castelcivita and Klissoura 1). In addition to building a reliable chronological framework for the Uluzzian, we examine its appearance, tempo-spatial spread and correlation to previous and later Palaeolithic assemblages (Mousterian, Protoaurignacian) at the relevant regions. We conclude that the Uluzzian arrived in Italy and Greece shortly before 45,000 years ago and its final stages are placed at ~39,500 years ago, its end synchronous (if not slightly earlier) with the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption. © 2014. Source

Karkanas P.,Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology Speleology of Southern Greece | Goldberg P.,Boston University | Goldberg P.,University of Tubingen
Journal of Human Evolution

Site PP13B is a cave located on the steep cliffs of Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay in Western Cape Province, South Africa. The depositional sequence of the cave, predating Marine Isotopic Stage 11 (MIS 11) and continuing to present, is in the form of isolated sediment exposures with different depositional facies and vertical and lateral variations. Micromorphological analysis demonstrated that a suite of natural sedimentation processes operated during the development of the sequence ranging from water action to aeolian activity, and from speleothem formations to plant colonization and root encrustation. At the same time, anthropogenic sediments that are mainly in the form of burnt remains from combustion features (e.g., wood ash, charcoal, and burnt bone) were accumulating. Several erosional episodes have resulted in a complicated stratigraphy, as discerned from different depositional and post-depositional features. The cave is associated with a fluctuating coastal environment, frequent changes in sea level and climate controlled patterns of sedimentation, and the presence or absence of humans. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Gopher A.,Tel Aviv University | Ayalon A.,Geological Survey of Israel | Bar-Matthews M.,Geological Survey of Israel | Barkai R.,Tel Aviv University | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary Geochronology

We present here the results of a U-Th dating project at Qesem Cave, a Middle Pleistocene, late Lower Paleolithic site in Israel. It provides 54 new MC-ICP-MS U-Th ages for speleothems from the cave. The results indicate that human occupation started sometime between ∼420 and 320 ka and ended between 220 and 194 ka. A survey of dates from culturally similar sites in the Levant indicates that the general range of ca. 400-ca. 200 ka is an appropriate estimate for the life span of the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC). © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source

Karkanas P.,Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology Speleology of Southern Greece
Quaternary International

Minerals that are preserved or formed inside the sediment or soil can be used to determine whether primary anthropogenic constituents (bones, phytoliths, organic matter, charcoal, etc.) would have been affected by diagenesis. Stability diagrams of the minerals that describe the chemical system under investigation can be constructed and then tested in the field. In this approach, it is assumed that the stability of the archaeological material of interest is known. Except for bone, there are not many studies on the stability of other archaeological materials. This approach does not provide information on the former presence of an archaeological material in the sediment or soil but only whether these materials are stable in such an environment. Some indirect indication may be provided by unique mineral associations, but much more has to be done in this direction. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

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