Paleotime

Villard-de-Lans, France

Paleotime

Villard-de-Lans, France
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Richter D.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Richter D.,Lüneburg University | Richter D.,Freiberg Instruments GmbH | Grun R.,Australian National University | And 18 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2017

The timing and location of the emergence of our species and of associated behavioural changes are crucial for our understanding of human evolution. The earliest fossil attributed to a modern form of Homo sapiens comes from eastern Africa and is approximately 195 thousand years old, therefore the emergence of modern human biology is commonly placed at around 200 thousand years ago. The earliest Middle Stone Age assemblages come from eastern and southern Africa but date much earlier. Here we report the ages, determined by thermoluminescence dating, of fire-heated flint artefacts obtained from new excavations at the Middle Stone Age site of Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, which are directly associated with newly discovered remains of H. sapiens. A weighted average age places these Middle Stone Age artefacts and fossils at 315 ± 34 thousand years ago. Support is obtained through the recalculated uranium series with electron spin resonance date of 286 ± 32 thousand years ago for a tooth from the Irhoud 3 hominin mandible. These ages are also consistent with the faunal and microfaunal assemblages and almost double the previous age estimates for the lower part of the deposits. The north African site of Jebel Irhoud contains one of the earliest directly dated Middle Stone Age assemblages, and its associated human remains are the oldest reported for H. sapiens. The emergence of our species and of the Middle Stone Age appear to be close in time, and these data suggest a larger scale, potentially pan-African, origin for both. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.


Carmignani L.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Carmignani L.,Rovira i Virgili University | Carmignani L.,University of Ferrara | Moncel M.-H.E.,University of Paris Pantheon Sorbonne | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2017

The study of the lithic assemblages of two French sites, the Bau de l'Aubesier and Payre, contributes new knowledge of the earliest Neanderthal techno-cultural variability. In this paper we present the results of a detailed technological analysis of Early Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblages of MIS 8 and 7 age from the two sites, which are located on opposite sides of the RhoÃne Valley in the south-east of France. The MIS 9-7 period is considered in Europe to be a time of new behaviours, especially concerning lithic strategies. The shift from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Early Middle Palaeolithic is "classically" defined by an increase in the number of core technologies, including standardized ones, which are stabilized in the full Middle Palaeolithic (MIS 5-3), associated with the decline of the "Acheulean" biface. Applying a common technological approach to the analysis of the two assemblages highlights their technological variability with respect to reduction systems and end products. Differences between Payre and the Bau de l'Aubesier concerning raw material procurement and faunal exploitation only partially explain this multifaceted technological variability, which in our opinion also reflects the existence of distinct technological strategies within the same restricted geographic area, which are related to distinct traditions, site uses, and/or as yet unknown parameters. © 2017 Carmignani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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.


Vyslouzilova B.,Charles University | Vyslouzilova B.,University of Strasbourg | Ertlen D.,University of Strasbourg | Sefrna L.,Charles University | And 6 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The environmental conditions of the evolution of chernozems in Central Europe have not been satisfactory explained. In this paper, seven buried chernozems were investigated using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in order to get information about the former vegetation cover. Near-infrared (NIR) data were collected from organic matter of recent natural grasslands and forests. The spectra from these two groups of soils were perfectly discriminated by a multivariate statistical analysis. The statistical model was applied on the buried soils. There are four types of vegetation development within the chernozems before the burial. Comparison to other paleoenvironmental proxies shows no major contradiction and confirms the potential of the NIRS as a paleopedological proxy. The identified changes of vegetation are from grassland vegetation to forest vegetation and vice versa. These changes bring new data to the discussion about the pedogenesis of chernozems. According to the radiocarbon dating, buried soils developed and were preserved not only in the Preboreal and the Boreal, but also in later phases of the Holocene. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Angelin A.,French School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences | Angelin A.,University Of Toulouse Jean Jaures | Bridault A.,21 Allee Of Luniversite | Brochier J.L.,Center dArcheologie Prehistorique du Rhone aux Alpes | And 8 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Discovered in 1986, La Grande Rivoire is a rockshelter located in the north of the prealpine mountain range of Vercors (Northern French Alps). It lies at 580m asl, on the west side of the Furon valley, at the foot of a cliff. The 6-m stratigraphy reveals a continuous chronocultural sequence starting from the First Mesolithic to the Gallo-Roman period. The present communication aims at characterizing the earliest occupation of the site attributed to the First Mesolithic (ca. 8500-7000cal. BC). The new multidisciplinary data are intended to contribute to the understanding of the regional chronocultural evolution.The deposits are constituted of very rich organic materials, possibly resulting from the degradation and combustion of plant litters. Their natural and/or anthropogenic origin still remains unclear. The excellent state of preservation of the faunal remains (superficially covered of an ashy encrustation) and the bone refittings would indicate a low post-depositional impact on the faunal material in this sector. The highly intentionally fragmented long bone remains indicate (intensive?) carcass exploitation of various large game species, among which red deer seems to predominate. Plant remains analysis gives also information on wild picking products, especially hazelnuts. Osseous material industry is dominated by waste products occurring from sectioning action of red deer antler by notching. Few examples of bone and tooth working highlight the use of removal by diffuse percussion during shaping. Preliminary observations conducted on the lithic assemblages show that domestic tools are mostly manufactured on local raw materials of poor quality. Exogenous raw materials of better quality are mainly used for the fabrication of microliths using the microburin technique; the latter tending to disappear at the end of the sequence. Usewear analysis on arrowheads shows that triangles are present throughout the sequence and always hafted as barbs while Sauveterre points and segments are only present in the oldest decapages. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Moncel M.-H.,French Natural History Museum | Chacon M.G.,French Natural History Museum | Chacon M.G.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Chacon M.G.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2014

New excavations at the Abri du Maras, located in the southeast of France, have yielded Middle Palaeolithic assemblages with evidence of rock shelter occupations in a cold climatic context contemporaneous with MIS 4. Few MIS 4 sites are known in this part of France and especially in this state of preservation. The paper is focused on one sedimentological layer divided into two archaeological levels (sub-levels 4.1 and 4.2). Our goal was to examine the Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblage of these two levels by interdisciplinary approaches (technology, origin of flint and functional analysis of stone tools) in order to identify the technical strategies and the land-use patterns in a specific environmental context. The two occupations do not show differences in behaviours. The technical strategies applied to flint and other stones indicate a fragmentation of the reduction processes in a local and semi-local perimeter around the site. The main core technology is Levallois, generally on flint cortical cores on flakes. Flint flakes, blades and points are the main components of the series and the technological aims of the debitage. Due to the small size of the flakes used for flaking, large flint flakes, blades (Levallois or cortical) and Levallois points were produced elsewhere, to the north and south of the site (up to 20-30km) according to the geological study, and then brought to the shelter. Flakes in other lithic materials (quartz, quartzite) were also knapped elsewhere before being transported to the shelter. Some of the large flint flakes, but also nodules and fragments of slabs, were then used for onsite flaking. Flake-tools are very rare. Evidence of impact fractures and TCSA/TCSPs values of the corpus of unretouched Levallois points suggest that some points, brought or prepared on the site, could have been used as projectile tips. The lithics attest to management of local and semi-local stones in a perimeter of 30km around the site (possibly more due to some unidentified flint) and an anticipation of domestic needs in relation to reindeer hunting, the predominant activity. Imported artefacts and artefacts made on the site were used for the same diversity of activities and materials (butchery, plant and woodworking). The technological strategies and the type of management differ slightly from those from cave assemblages in the same area located in valleys and on low plateaux near the RhÔne corridor, possibly due to the type of the site, a vast shelter. Data from the Abri du Maras are compared to data from the other Middle Palaeolithic sites of the region and the role of the topographic aspect of the site on the type of occupations is discussed. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Moreau L.,Archaeological Research Center and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution | Moreau L.,University of Cambridge | Brandl M.,Austrian Academy of Sciences | Filzmoser P.,Vienna University of Technology | And 7 more authors.
Geoarchaeology | Year: 2016

Identifying the geological and geographical origin of lithic raw materials is critical to effectively address prehistoric forager raw material economies and mobility strategies. Currently, Paleolithic archaeology in Belgium lacks a systematic sourcing strategy to effectively substantiate detailed interpretations of prehistoric hunter-gatherer behavioral change across time and space. This pilot study evaluates the potential to "fingerprint" flint from the Mons Basin, western Belgium, using the laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) technique and a multivariate statistical analysis of 87 geological samples and 39 Gravettian period chipped stone artifacts. We reappraise two hypotheses raised by previous scholars based on visual raw material identification: (1) the Gravettian occupants of Maisières-Canal supplied themselves with "black flint" from one single source; (2) the sites Rhens and Koblenz-Metternich yielded artifacts indicative of long-distance transfer of western Belgian flint into the German Rhineland, ca. 260 km from the primary source area. Our results demonstrate the validity of LA-ICP-MS data with flint and compositional data analysis for fingerprinting discrete geological formations from the Mons Basin. We suggest multiple source provisioning for Maisières-Canal. Geochemical characterization of other potential flint sources is required to validate the long-distance transfer hypothesis of western Belgian "black flint" into the German Rhineland. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Richard M.,French Natural History Museum | Falgueres C.,French Natural History Museum | Pons-Branchu E.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum | And 10 more authors.
Quaternary Geochronology | Year: 2015

The establishment of a chronology for late Middle Palaeolithic sites on the right bank of the Rhône valley in southeastern France is important for the knowledge of Neandertal dynamics and their demise in this area. The suite of dating methods that are directly applicable to fossils is limited for this period, especially around 50 ka where radiocarbon dating is beyond its technical limits. Currently applied to Middle and Lower Pleistocene periods, the use of combined ESR/U-series dating on Upper Pleistocene samples led to new issues, such as the acquisition of an age for samples yielding low equivalent doses and low uranium content in dental tissues. The gamma dose rate measurement thus plays a key role in age calculation. Beyond the discussion on methodological issues, the present study contributes to the establishment of a chronological framework that covers the Neandertal occupations between MIS 5 and MIS 3 for this area. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Richard M.,French Natural History Museum | Falgueres C.,French Natural History Museum | Pons-Branchu E.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum | And 10 more authors.
Quaternary Geochronology | Year: 2015

The establishment of a chronology for late Middle Palaeolithic sites on the right bank of the Rhône valley in southeastern France is important for the knowledge of Neandertal dynamics and their demise in this area. The suite of dating methods that are directly applicable to fossils is limited for this period, especially around 50 ka where radiocarbon dating is beyond its technical limits. Currently applied to Middle and Lower Pleistocene periods, the use of combined ESR/U-series dating on Upper Pleistocene samples led to new issues, such as the acquisition of an age for samples yielding low equivalent doses and low uranium content in dental tissues. The gamma dose rate measurement thus plays a key role in age calculation. Beyond the discussion on methodological issues, the present study contributes to the establishment of a chronological framework that covers the Neandertal occupations between MIS 5 and MIS 3 for this area. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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