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Tornero C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Balasse M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Balasescu A.,National Museum of Romanian History | Chataigner C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2016

Kalavan 1 is an Epigravettian hunting campsite in the Aregunyats mountain chain in northeastern Armenia (Lesser Caucasus). The site lies at an elevation of 1640 m in a bottleneck that controls the descent into the Barepat Valley from the alpine meadows above. The lithic and faunal assemblages show evidence of the production of hunting weapons, the hunting and targeting of wild sheep (Ovis orientalis), and the constitution of animal product reserves. A seasonal occupation of the site was proposed within a model of occupation by Epigravettian hunter-gatherers that involved a search for obsidian resources in high altitude sources from the spring to the summer and settling at Kalavan 1 at the end of summer or during autumn to coincide with the migration of wild herds from the alpine meadows to the valley. A key parameter of this model is wild sheep ethology, with a specifically seasonal vertical mobility, based on observations from contemporary mouflon populations from the surrounding areas. In this study, the vertical mobility of Paleolithic wild sheep was directly investigated through sequential isotope analysis (δ18O, δ13C) in teeth. A marked seasonality of birth is suggested that reflects a physiological adaptation to the strong environmental constraints of this mountainous region. Most importantly, a recurrent altitudinal mobility was demonstrated on a seasonal basis, which confirms that wild sheep migrated from lowland areas that they occupied in the winter and then moved to higher altitude meadows during the summer. Last, low inter-individual variability in the stable isotope sequences favors a hypothesis of accumulation for these faunal remains over a short time period. Overall, this new dataset strengthens the previous interpretations for Kalavan 1 and contributes to an understanding of the pattern of occupation of mountain territories by Epigravettian communities. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Chahoud J.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Chahoud J.,Lebanese University | Vila E.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Balasescu A.,National Museum of Romanian History | Crassard R.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

Kites in Armenia were recently discovered, and investigations into their construction, typology and dating are ongoing. With these discoveries, it has become necessary to investigate a series of unsolved questions. In order to test the functions of kites, we conducted a synthesis describing the occurrence and habitat range of Late Pleistocene and Holocene wild ungulates in Armenia. Wildlife is discussed by emphasizing animal behavior and distribution, along with the hunting strategies adopted by the communities that inhabited Armenia.In spite of the fact that wild ungulates did not contribute largely to the daily meat intake or to the major raw products needed by humans since their domestication (around 6000 cal. BC), wild goats, gazelle and red deer were the animals most frequently hunted in Armenia in different time periods and in a variety of landscapes. Hypotheses put forward suggest that these preferences might be linked to using kites as traps for herds at different seasons of the year and on different altitudes, between 3000 and 500 BC. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Goude G.,Aix - Marseille University | Balasescu A.,National Museum of Romanian History | Reveillas H.,INRAP Grand Est Sud | Reveillas H.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology | Year: 2015

Several human groups (from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age) have been analysed in France during the past decade (mainly for C and N stable isotope) as part of research programmes focusing on prehistoric dietary variability. The environment, cultural/social choices or even biological characteristics are among the parameters influencing food acquisition and consumption. This short report presents the first diachronic isotopic results on the palaeodiet in northeastern France. Because of the exceptional archaeological characteristics (human deposits in various positions in pits) of the bone collection from the site of Gougenheim and the surrounding areas (Late Neolithic-Iron Age, Alsace, France), this assemblage provides a new isotopic dataset to study diet and the potential relationship with social elements or other factors involved in food choices. In order to obtain individual palaeodietary information, carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses were performed on 23 adults and 20 immature human bone collagen samples as well as on 25 animal remains. Data were then combined with zooarchaeological and anthropological/archaeological results to reconstruct part of the dietary pattern (i.e. protein consumed) and to detect possible links between the deposit and individual or group social status, defined here by specific mortuary practices. For the Late Neolithic period, isotopic values show, among other things, a wide δ13C range within the female human group, which is statistically lower than the male one. Women probably consumed more diversified food sources, suggesting increased residential mobility. Although body deposits point to the presence of two distinct subgroups, no relationship with animal protein intake was identified. Moreover, the comparison with Iron Age individuals brought to light different dietary patterns between the two periods, indicating that stable isotope values were affected throughout time either by increased millet/legume consumption or environmental/anthropic changes. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Bejenaru L.,Al. I. Cuza University | Stanc S.,Al. I. Cuza University | Popovici M.,Al. I. Cuza University | Balasescu A.,National Museum of Romanian History | Cotiuga V.,Al. I. Cuza University
Holocene | Year: 2013

This paper reviews identification of the auroch (Bos primigenius) during the Holocene in Romania based on data from 190 archaeological sites, corresponding to Neolithic (including Chalcolithic), Bronze Age, Iron Age, Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The assemblages were analysed according to the geographical and historical regionalisation of the Romanian territory (i.e. Moldavia, Dobrudja, Wallachia, Banat, and Transylvania). The data reveal the rather low contribution of hunted aurochs to local economies, though with spatial and temporal variations. Although the species is currently extinct, aurochs still appear in the medieval samples from the 14-15th centuries, and the coincidence of the archaeozoological data with those from documentary sources is marked. © The Author(s) 2012.

Montoya C.,Aix - Marseille University | Balasescu A.,National Museum of Romanian History | Joannin S.,CNRS Geological Laboratory of Lyon: earth, planets and environment | Joannin S.,University of Franche Comte | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

The open-air site of Kalavan 1 is located in the Aregunyats mountain chain (at 1640m above sea level) on the northern bank of Lake Sevan. It is the first Upper Palaeolithic site excavated in Armenia. Led by an Armenian-French team, several excavations (2005-2009) have revealed a well preserved palaeosoil, dated to around 14,000BP (years before present), containing fauna, lithic artefacts, as well as several hearths and activity areas that structure the settlement. The initial studies enable placement of the site in its environment and justify palaeoethnological analysis of the Epigravettian human groups of the Lesser Caucasus. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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