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Romandini M.,University of Ferrara | Peresani M.,University of Ferrara | Laroulandie V.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Metz L.,Aix - Marseille University | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

To contribute to have a better understanding of the symbolic or not use of certain items by Neanderthals, this work presents new evidence of the deliberate removal of raptor claws occurred in Mediterranean Europe during the recent phases of the Mousterian. Rio Secco Cave in the north-east of Italy and Mandrin Cave in the Middle Rhône valley have recently produced two golden eagle pedal phalanges from contexts not younger than 49.1-48.0 ky cal BP at Rio Secco and dated around 50.0 ky cal BP at Mandrin. The bones show cut-marks located on the proximal end ascribable to the cutting of the tendons and the incision of the cortical organic tissues. Also supported by an experimental removal of large raptor claws, our reconstruction explains that the deliberate detachment occurred without damaging the claw, in a way comparable at a general level with other Mousterian contexts across Europe. After excluding that these specimens met the nutritional requirements for human subsistence, we discuss the possible implications these findings perform in our current knowledge of the European Middle Palaeolithic context. © 2014 Romandini et al.

Lehndorff E.,University of Bonn | Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Kehl M.,University of Cologne | Weniger G.,Neanderthal Museum
Holocene | Year: 2015

Fire residues elucidate the where, when, and how of land use. Charcoal analysis provides insights into wood-burning practices, but is restricted by the size of identifiable particles. The present paper is the first to apply a black carbon (BC) method to archaeological sediment deposits. This method oxidizes charcoal and soot particles from the bulk sediment to benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCAs), independent of size. Our aim was to test the potential of BC analysis in order to elucidate the input from grass and wood fires and discuss the potential limitations of the method on sediments of the Ifri Oudadane rock shelter, Morocco. Sediments cover the cultural transition from hunter–gatherers to food-producing communities (Epipaleolithic to Neolithic period, 11–6 kyr cal. BP), which has previously been shown to affect the geochemical, palynological, and archaeological inventories of these sediments. We found respective changes in BC; specifically, content was highest during the Epipaleolithic, with an average of 35% BC in organic carbon (Corg) compared with Neolithic sediments with an average of 24% BC in Corg. The fire temperature (expressed by BPCA composition) changed significantly, which suggests that wood fires dominated in the Epipaleolithic and grass fires dominated in the Neolithic period. These findings agree with a previously suggested shift in usage. We are able to show here that BC analysis, when combined with other proxy data and archaeological findings, can contribute to a deepened understanding of past human activities. © The Author(s) 2014.

Picin A.,Neanderthal Museum | Picin A.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Iphes | Picin A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Peresani M.,University of Ferrara | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The introduction of Levallois technology in Europe marked the transition from the Lower to the early Middle Paleolithic. This new method of flake production was accompanied by significant behavioral changes in hominin populations. The emergence of this technological advance is considered homogeneous in the European archaeological record at the Marine isotopic stage (MIS) 9/MIS 8 boundary. In this paper we report a series of combined electron spin resonance/U-series dates on mammal bones and teeth recovered from the lower units of San Bernardino Cave (Italy) and the technological analyses of the lithic assemblages. The San Bernardino Cave has yielded the earliest evidence of Levallois production on the Italian Peninsula recovered to date. In addition to our results and the review of the archaeological record, we describe the chronological and geographical differences between European territories and diversities in terms of technological developments. The belated emergence of Levallois technology in Italy compared to western Europe corresponds to the late Italian Neanderthal speciation event. The new radiometric dates and the technological analyses of San Bernardino Cave raise the issue of the different roles of glacial refugia in the peopling and the spread of innovative flaking strategies in Europe during the late Middle Pleistocene. © 2013 Picin et al.

Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Eiwanger J.,Deutsches Archaologisches Institute DAI | Mikdad A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine Du Maroc Insap | Weniger G.-C.,Neanderthal Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

This paper provides a summary of all available numerical ages from contexts of the Moroccan Middle Palaeolithic to Epipalaeolithic and reviews some of the most important sites. Particular attention is paid to the so-called "Aterian", albeit those so-labeled assemblages fail to show any geographical and chronological pattern. For this reason, this phenomenon should not be considered a distinct culture or techno-complex and is referred to hereinafter as Middle Palaeolithic of Aterian type. Whereas anatomical modern humans (AMH) are present in Northwest Africa from about 160 ka onwards, according to current research some Middle Palaeolithic inventories are more than 200 ka. This confirms that, for this period it is impossible to link human forms with artifact material. Perforated shell beads with traces of ochre documented from 80 ka onwards certainly suggest changes in human behavior. The transition from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, here termed Early Upper Palaeolithic - at between 30 and 20 ka - remains the most enigmatic era. However, the still scarce data from this period requires careful and fundamental revision in the frame of any future research. By integrating environmental data in reconstruction of population dynamics, clear correlations become obvious. High resolution data are lacking before 20 ka, and at some sites this period is characterized by the occurrence of sterile layers between Middle Palaeolithic deposits, possibly indicative of shifts in human population. After Heinrich Event 1, there is an enormous increase of data due to the prominent Late Iberomaurusian deposits that contrast strongly from the foregoing accumulations in terms of sedimentological features, fauna and artifact composition. The Younger Dryas shows a remarkable decline of data marking the end of the Palaeolithic. Environmental improvements in the Holocene are associated with an extensive Epipalaeolithic occupation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Medved I.,University of Cologne | Solich M.,University of Cologne | Weniger G.-C.,Neanderthal Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The Neolithisation of the southern Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Maghreb, here termed "Alboran territory", must be considered as the same integrative process. By the mid-8th millennium calBP, both sides of the Western Mediterranean were inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups which probably maintained intercontinental contacts. However, from around 7.6 ka calBP, Neolithic groups from the Eastern Mediterranean arrived in the region along the littoral of what is today Andalusia. Neolithic innovations were adopted step by step by local Epipalaeolithic groups and subsequently dispersed via already existing networks. At the same time indigenous elements were integrated into this transitional process. The model presented here is supported by the available archaeological data from both sides of the Alboran territory. New 14C-data confirm the simultaneity of the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Spain and northern Morocco. Results are discussed considering models and concepts from social anthropology dealing with migration and acculturation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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