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News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Innovations in stone knapping technology during the South African Middle Stone Age enabled the creation of early projectile weapons, according to a study published April 26, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Veerle Rots from University of Liège, Belgium, and colleagues. The South African Middle Stone Age (MSA) is considered a period of major technological advancement, with hunter-gatherers introducing new manipulative techniques using heat and pressure to create stone projectile weapons. However, the timing and location of these developments is a topic of much debate. The authors of the present study examined 25 weapon point fragments excavated from the Sibudu Cave site, analyzing their technological and functional differences and comparing them with reference samples produced for the purpose by an experienced knapper. Some of the points had two faces, a likely result of applying pressure to both sides. Some had serrations, or jagged edges, that were likely produced by a technique known as pressure flaking. The researchers found that 14 of the 25 point fragments bore evidence of impact-related damage, animal residues, and wear features that strongly indicated that these points may have been were used for hunting. Examination of the impact-related fractures and the distribution of the points indicated that these points may have been attached to handles to form projectile weapons and that these weapons were projected from a distance, most likely with a flexible spear-thrower or a bow. While further research would help to confirm the timeline and development of stone knapping techniques, the new Sibudu Cave site data may push back the evidence for the use of pressure flaking during the MSA to 77,000 years ago. The authors note that these findings highlight the diversity of technical innovations adopted by southern African MSA humans. In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals. Citation: Rots V, Lentfer C, Schmid VC, Porraz G, Conard NJ (2017) Pressure flaking to serrate bifacial points for the hunt during the MIS5 at Sibudu Cave (South Africa). PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175151. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175151 Funding: The functional research at Sibudu Cave is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013), ERC Grant Agreement Nr. 312283, V. Rots (http://www. ). Veerle Rots is also indebted to the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS-FRS, CQ2011) (www1.frs-fnrs.be/). The excavation and archaeological research at Sibudu Cave is financed by the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaft (The Role of Culture in Early Expansion of Humans) (http://www. ), the Tübingen Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology (http://www. ), and the German research Foundation (DFG) grant (CO 226/27-1) (http://www. ). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Benazzi S.,University of Vienna | Viola B.,University of Vienna | Viola B.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Kullmer O.,Senckenberg Institute | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2011

The Middle Paleolithic fossil human teeth from Taddeo cave in southwestern Italy were discovered in 1967, but to date only scanty and partially incorrect information has been published about them. The teeth were recovered in a reddish sandy layer from the cave's floor, which is attributed either to an early phase of Würm I (OIS 5c or 5d) or a transition phase between Würm I and Würm II (OIS 5a). In this paper, we present a revised morphological description and morphometric comparisons of the four dental remains discovered. Apart from a classic morphometric comparison, we also provide a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the internal morphology with the aid of micro-CT imaging. In addition, virtual restoration and matching of adjacent teeth were performed with 3D digital modeling and Computer-Aided Design techniques. Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis was also employed to help correctly identify each tooth.While in the previous studies, Taddeo 1 was considered either an upper right canine or a lower right canine, in the present work it has been definitely identified as lower left canine. Taddeo 2 has been reclassified as a right P 4 instead of a right P 3. Based on the occlusal and interproximal wear, we have also shown that Taddeo 2 and Taddeo 3 (right M 1) belong to the same individual.All of the teeth show characteristic Neanderthal features in crown morphology and fissure pattern. However, although Taddeo 4 shows morphological features typical of Neanderthal M 1s, some morphometric results (large enamel thickness, low dentine volume) recall more modern humans than Neanderthals. This result might suggest that, at least for lower first molars, the Neanderthal range of variation is large and still not clearly understood. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Julien M.-A.,University of Tübingen | Julien M.-A.,French Natural History Museum | Rivals F.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies | Rivals F.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2015

It is often difficult to differentiate between archaeological bonebeds formed by one event such as a mass kill of a single herd, and those formed by multiple events that occurred over a longer period of time. The application of high temporal resolution studies such as intra-tooth isotopic profiles on archaeological mammal cohorts offers new possibilities for exploring this issue, allowing investigators to decipher between single and multiple accumulation events. We examined 18O and 13C isotopic variations from the enamel carbonate of 23 horse third molars from the Middle Pleistocene archaeological site of Schöningen. We employed a new approach to investigate processes of fossil accumulation that uses both bulk and intra-tooth isotopic variations and takes into account animal behaviour, age at death and dental development to test the degree of isotopic affinity of animals from the same fossil assemblage.Oxygen and carbon isotope bulk values indicate that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 experienced relatively similar climatic and dietary regimes. Inter-individual differences of the bulk values of the horses sampled in the current study present nevertheless inter-individual variability similar to individuals from multi-layered localities. In addition, the intra-tooth isotopic variation of specimens of the same age at death seems to indicate that the studied cohort corresponds to a mix of individuals that recorded both similar and different isotopic histories. Finally, the conditions recorded in the isotopic signal shortly before death (i.e., for teeth not fully mineralized) varied between sampled individuals, suggesting possible differences in the seasonality of death. Considering those results, we discuss the possibility that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 correspond to an accumulation of different death events. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Rots V.,University of Liège | Hardy B.L.,Kenyon College | Serangeli J.,University of Tübingen | Conard N.J.,Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2015

Stone artifacts from Schöningen 12 and 13 were examined microscopically to identify residues, wear, and manufacturing traces in order to clarify their possible anthropogenic origins and their function. We present evidence showing that the stone tools were used for working wood and hide and for cutting meat. The results from the use-wear and residue analyses proved complementary in several instances. Suggestive evidence of hafting was observed on a few pieces, which is particularly interesting given the identification of wooden hafts at the site. The positive results of this analysis demonstrate the efficacy and potential of these techniques for Lower Paleolithic sites such as Schöningen. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Serangeli J.,University of Tübingen | Conard N.J.,University of Tübingen | Conard N.J.,Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2015

Within the various archaeological horizons in Schöningen, the presence of hominins is repeatedly demonstrated by the recovery of stone artifacts, broken bones, and bones with cut marks. The Spear Horizon, 13 II-4, with its ca. 1500 stone artifacts and ca. 12,000 faunal remains, represents by far the richest archaeological layers in Schöningen. Systematic waterscreening over a period of 15 years has fostered the recovery of numerous small flakes that otherwise would have remained undetected. Based on the stone artifacts published by H. Thieme and the lithic artifacts recovered from the ongoing excavations of the University of Tübingen and the Archaeological Heritage Office of Lower Saxony since 2008, we present here the main aspects of these lithic assemblages. The main features of the lithic assemblages recovered from the different find horizons and concentrations provide a consistent signature, suggesting a robust and repetitive technological strategy. The assemblages, which are made of local, high quality flint, lack handaxes and are clearly not related to the Acheulean. Intensely retouched scrapers, as well as denticulates, notched pieces, and points on thick flakes, angular debris, and non-anthropogenic thermal spalls are the most numerous retouched forms. The assemblages also contain a smaller number of thinner forms. Reduction sequences are short and Levallois technology is absent. Although some of the retouched forms are reminiscent of the Middle Paleolithic, the relatively non-standardized short reduction sequences technically oriented toward the production of thick and broad flakes are consistent with a classification in the late Lower Paleolithic. © 2015.

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