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Between 2005 and 2007, through a project supported by the French Ministry of Culture and the Rhône-Alpes area, new studies took place in the Middle Palaeolithic sites of the Baume Flandin, Abri des Pêcheurs, Abri du Maras and the Figuier Cave. These studies brought detailed data on the biostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental framework of human occupations located on the right side of the Middle Rhône Valley in south-eastern France. Several excavations took place in these sites which yielded new lithic and fauna assemblages in their stratigraphical context. The palaeolontological analysis date the level of the Baume Flandin of the beginning of the isotopic stage 5, older than the base of the Abri du Maras and the Abri des Pêcheurs dated to the end of the isotopic stage 5. The top of the sequence of the Abri du Maras is contemporaneous of the isotopic stage 4, such as the sequences of the deepest chambers of the Figuier cave. In Baume Flandin, Abri des Pêcheurs and the Figuier Cave, the ibex is similar and attributed to Capra ibex cebennarum. The human occupations are either very short settlements, or seasonal occupations turned to hunting of one or several herbivores. During these occupations, humans used various technical practices, with no relationships with the subsistence behaviours, showing the diversity of the human behaviours in this area whatever the environmental conditions.

Aouraghe H.,University Mohammed Premier | Bougariane B.,Moulay Ismaï University | Abbassi M.,Laboratoire Of Prehistoire Du Lazaret
Quaternaire | Year: 2012

Lagomorphs collected in the Upper Pleistocene levels of El Harhoura 1 cave are assigned to two genera: Oryctolagus and Lepus. There are 220 well-preserved remains, most of which have been attributed to adults. Bones attributed to the genus Lepus are more numerous than those attributed to the genus Oryctolagus. Lagomorphs from El Harhoura I show affinities with those from some other Moroccan sites dating to the same period, such as Bouknadel and Doukkala 2. The role of carnivores in the accumulation of lagomorph remains in the El Harhoura I cave is significant, while the role of humans is difficult to ascertain given the absence of traces of butchery on the bones. Few works have been realised on Quaternary Lagomorpha in North Africa. This paleontological and taphonomic study of the Lagom orpha from El Harhoura 1 will undoubtedly contribute to knowledge about Pleistocene Lagom orpha of Morocco.

Moncel M.-H.,French Natural History Museum | Allue E.,Rovira i Virgili University | Bailon S.,French Natural History Museum | Barshay-Szmidt C.,University of Pennsylvania | And 10 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The preservation of palaeoenvironmental and archeological records in cave and rock shelter contexts is often called into question for Pleistocene sequences. Records are always fragmentary and the preservation of sediments and archaeological remains is partial and differential, according to site history. The karst deposits are often frequently described as disturbed due to post-depositional processes and phases of erosion over time. However, taphonomical analyses and some very well-preserved evidence attest to the capacity of caves to record data. Systematic and interdisciplinary fieldwork and studies allow for the reconstruction of some characteristics of Neanderthal occupations in their biostratigraphical and geochronological context.The geographic area under consideration here is the Rhône Valley. The right bank of the Middle Rhône Valley has yielded more than ten Middle Palaeolithic sites. Some of them have been studied recently through interdisciplinary fieldwork, providing new data on the end of the Middle Pleistocene and the beginning of the Upper Pleistocene. For this paper, we focus on four sites dated from the end of MIS 5, MIS 4 and the beginning of MIS 3, containing layers with evidence of Neanderthal occupations: Saint-Marcel, Abri du Maras, Abri des Pêcheurs and Le Figuier. All these sites are rock shelters or cave chambers and porches belonging to a karst system. The aim of our research program is to provide as much data as possible on Neanderthal occupations in their environmental contexts, in order to describe subsistence strategies and land use throughout time and potential links with climatic changes. In this paper, we evaluate the feasibility of assessing the relationship between climatic change and behaviour during the Middle Palaeolithic by describing the main archaeological material and palaeoenvironmental records of these four sites. Then, in the discussion, we conjointly examine the data from each site to assess this key question, even though the low resolution of cave and rock shelter records makes it difficult to establish an accurate chronology for human occupations and to provide a detailed description of the environment around the site for each human occupation. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Hardy B.L.,Kenyon College | Moncel M.-H.,French Natural History Museum | Daujeard C.,French Natural History Museum | Fernandes P.,Paleotime | And 6 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2013

Neanderthal behavior is often described in one of two contradictory ways: 1) Neanderthals were behaviorally inflexible and specialized in large game hunting or 2) Neanderthals exhibited a wide range of behaviors and exploited a wide range of resources including plants and small, fast game. Using stone tool residue analysis with supporting information from zooarchaeology, we provide evidence that at the Abri du Maras, Ardèche, France, Neanderthals were behaviorally flexible at the beginning of MIS 4. Here, Neanderthals exploited a wide range of resources including large mammals, fish, ducks, raptors, rabbits, mushrooms, plants, and wood. Twisted fibers on stone tools provide evidence of making string or cordage. Using a variety of lines of evidence, we show the presence of stone projectile tips, possibly used in complex projectile technology. This evidence shows a level of behavioral variability that is often denied to Neanderthals. Furthermore, it sheds light on perishable materials and resources that are not often recovered which should be considered more fully in reconstructions of Neanderthal behavior. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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