Laboratory of Prehistory

Linia, Russia

Laboratory of Prehistory

Linia, Russia
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Golovanova L.V.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Doronicheva E.V.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Doronichev V.B.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Shirobokov I.G.,Russian Academy of Sciences
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

In the Northwestern Caucasus, there are 12 sites that contain in total about 27 occupational layers with Micoquian lithic assemblages, dated from late MIS 5/MIS 4 thought MIS 3. During the long time period, local Neanderthals preserved the tradition of manufacturing bifacial backed scraper-knives that are found in different site types, including flint-knapping camp-workshops, short-term camps, and long-term and intensively occupied campsites. We present the study of bifacial scraper-knives in the Micoquian sites in the Northwestern Caucasus, which has been divided into two stages - a morpho-metrical analysis, followed by the interpretation of factors that could influence forms of these tools, including technology, reduction, function, raw material used, and functional types of occupations. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Golovanova L.V.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Doronichev V.B.,Laboratory of Prehistory
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Modern data do not show a local evolutionary development of lithic industries throughout the Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition in the Northwestern Caucasus. Human occupation of these territories was not continuous during the Pleistocene. On the contrary, the lacunarity of archaeological record in some periods and a generally cooler climate characteristic for Eastern Europe and the Northwestern Caucasus in late Middle Pleistocene suggest that major climatic deteriorations had a great impact on human settlement of the regions. The human colonization of the Northwestern Caucasus at the interface of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic demonstrates a peculiar dynamics associated with climate cycles of the late Middle Pleistocene - the first half of Upper Pleistocene. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


The author discuss data indicating that the non-handaxe (non-Acheulean) tradition of small tools and core-choppers was present in parts of West Eurasia during the early Middle Pleistocene - the period marked by a wide spread of Acheulean in West Asia and West Europe - and survived until 400-300ka and perhaps later in some areas, beyond the area of the maximum Acheulean distribution, in the Danube basin and the Balkans, and to a limited extent north of the Danube basin in Central Europe, and in the south of Russian plain and Northern Caucasus in Eastern Europe. The author defines these Middle Pleistocene assemblages, which are totally lacking true Acheulean handaxes and debitage resulted from large flake or Levallois knapping technologies, as the "Pre-Mousterian industrial complex". The assemblages of Pre-Mousterian complex are variable due to their functional differentiation and other reasons, but generally comprise the next three components: (1) simple (mostly primary and orthogonal, and also rare unipolar and centripetal) cores with short reduction sequences, consisting of flaking of 1-3 flakes from one platform, followed by the core rotation or discard; (2) flake-tools, which are made mostly (but not exclusively) on small-sized flakes with beveled platforms and include varieties of simple side-scrapers, denticulates, notches, thick end-scrapers, awls, and convergent pieces, as well as small numbers of tools with flat ventral retouch or bifacial retouched edges; and (3) large-sized tools are always present and include mostly unifacial choppers, and more rare chopping-tools and proto-bifaces (or pointed choppers) with partial bifacial processing. The author discuss that the hominids that produced lithic industries of Pre-Mousterian complex acquired a high behavioural plasticity to settle in most uncomfortable (within Western Eurasia) forested and forest-steppe environments with cold winters in Central and Eastern Europe. The hominids developed tool inventories well suited for bone- and woodworking, made real wooden throwing spears and composite tools with wooden hafts that are found in Schöningen. In contrast to the Acheulean complex in West Europe and West Asia, assemblages of Pre-Mousterian complex do not show a transition (temporally being placed now during MIS 8-MIS 7, between c. 300-200ka in both the regions) toward the Middle Palaeolithic or Mousterian technology. In contrast to the Acheulean to Middle Palaeolithic transition, which is associated with final neanderthalization of H.heidelbergensis and the origin of H.neanderthalensis, the assemblages of Pre-Mousterian complex disappear with the spread of Early Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Gunz P.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Neubauer S.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Golovanova L.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Doronichev V.,Laboratory of Prehistory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2012

The globular braincase of modern humans is distinct from all fossil human species, including our closest extinct relatives, the Neandertals. Such adult shape differences must ultimately be rooted in different developmental patterns, but it is unclear at which point during ontogeny these group characteristics emerge.Here we compared internal shape changes of the braincase from birth to adulthood in Neandertals (N=10), modern humans (N=62), and chimpanzees (N=62). Incomplete fossil specimens, including the two Neandertal newborns from Le Moustier 2 and Mezmaiskaya, were reconstructed using reference-based estimation methods. We used 3D geometric morphometrics to statistically compare shapes of virtual endocasts extracted from computed-tomographic scans. Throughout the analysis, we kept track of possible uncertainties due to the missing data values and small fossil sample sizes.We find that some aspects of endocranial development are shared by the three species. However, in the first year of life, modern humans depart from this presumably ancestral pattern of development. Newborn Neandertals and newborn modern humans have elongated braincases, and similar endocranial volumes. During a 'globularization-phase' modern human endocasts change to the globular shape that is characteristic for Homo sapiens. This phase of early development is unique to modern humans, and absent from chimpanzees and Neandertals.Our results support the notion that Neandertals and modern humans reach comparable adult brain sizes via different developmental pathways. The differences between these two human groups are most prominent directly after birth, a critical phase for cognitive development. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Pospelova G.A.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Golovanova L.V.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Dronochev V.B.,Laboratory of Prehistory | Tselmovich V.A.,Russian Academy of Sciences
Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth | Year: 2011

The results of magnetic and microprobe studies of the rock sequences in the Mezmaiskaya cave at the unique multilayer Paleolithic site are discussed. The magnetic properties of rocks are analyzed for 17 layers (upwards from layer 4 to layer 1\1) dated from over 73 ka ago to recent times. The rocks of layer 1C (Early Upper Paleolithic, ~38 ka) are found to have the highest magnetic susceptibility (K) (up to 2500 × 10-6 SI), which is related to the intensive activity of [Homo sapiens]. The minimum K corresponds to the rocks of layer 2, which is overlain by layer 1D. The sizes of magnetic grains vary throughout the rock section. The largest grains are found in the middle part of the section in the Middle Paleolithic layers 2B3, 2B2, 2B1, 2A, and 2. The superparamagnetic fraction is identified in all layers. This fact supports the view that the cave was open as early as the formation of layer 4. According to the thermomagnetic data on the saturation magnetization and the temperature curves of magnetic susceptibility, magnetite is the main carrier of the rock magnetization; some samples contain iron hydroxides. Samples with iron sulfides (pyrite) are abundant. The study of the hysteresis parameters of rocks showed that the question on whether sulfide-bearing rocks are suitable for reliable paleomagnetic determinations requires further laboratory research into the origin of magnetite in the rocks. The chemical composition of rocks composing layer 2B3 and layers 1D (~39 ka) and 2B1 (~45 ka), in which the presence of volcanic ash has been previously established according to the presence of volcanic glass, was determined by detailed microprobe analysis. A wide variety of chemical elements (up to 18 items) was recognized in layers 1D and 2B1. The iron, titan, chrome, manganese content, and concentrations of other components vary from grain to grain. The microprobe analysis of samples from layers 1D and 2B1 revealed a set of magnetic particles with compositions characteristic of volcanic rocks, which supports the ash origin of these layers. Layer 2B3 is established not to be volcanic ash. The results on the volcanic glass in the rocks of layers 1D and 2B1 were published by Golovanova and her colleagues in Current Anthropology in October 2010 [Golovanova et al., 2010]. © 2011 Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.

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