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Dambricourt Malasse A.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Moigne A.-M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Karir B.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | And 9 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Indo-French research program 'Siwaliks' has been surveying the Late Pliocene Formation of the Chandigarh anticline (NW India) since 2008. These sub-Himalayan floodplain deposits are known for their Tertiary-Quaternary transitional fauna, especially those from the Quranwala zone in the Masol Formation, whose basal member is approximately 130 meters below the Gauss/Matuyama paleomagnetic reversal (2.588 Ma). About 1500 fossils have been collected in the inlier of Masol, most often on recently eroded outcrops, and sometimes in association with stone tools (choppers, flakes). Many bones were covered by a variety of marks (animal, bioerosion and tectonics) and among these traces a few were intentional cut marks. Different methods have been applied in Paris (France) to describe their topography on a micron scale, using the 3D Digital Video Microscope Hirox, and completed with binocular microscopy at the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (C2RMF), and X-ray microtomography with the AST-RX platform, at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris. Experiments with quartzite cobbles collected near the fossils were carried out in India and in France. The mineralization of the traces is identical to the bone tissue, and comparison with our experimental cut marks confirms that the profiles are typical of the sharp edge of a flake or cobble in quartzite; their size and spatial organization testify to energetic and intentional gestures from an agile wrist acting with precision, and to a good knowledge of the bovid anatomy. © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Dambricourt Malasse A.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Karir B.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Gaillard C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 9 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Siwaliks came to be known worldwide since the discovery in 1830 of a great ape in the Miocene molasses of the Potwar. One century later, pebble tools, flakes and handaxes attracted Prehistorians. A re-reading of the Yale-Cambridge Expedition in India (1935), during which Ramapithecus brevirostris was discovered, reveals that stone tools were discovered in the Upper Pliocene gravels of the Soan Basin. Since 2003, the National Museum of Natural History (France) and the Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research (India) have conducted fieldwork in the northwestern Indian Siwaliks. The Quranwala Zone of Masol, the core of the Chandigarh anticline (Punjab), is well known for its Late Pliocene fauna rich in Hexaprotodon, Cholossochelys, Stegodon, bovids and Hipparion with the occurrence of Equus and Elephas. Fifty hectares have been surveyed during eight field seasons (2008 to 2015) with the discovery of choppers and marks on bones of the Quranwala Zone faunal assemblage, all collected on recent outcrops of the Latest Pliocene. This paper presents the historical context and the rigorous scientific process, which has led to the acknowledgment that some bones, dating back to the Latest Pliocene, present intentional and precise cut marks made by sharp edges in quartzite and an intelligence, which knew the anatomy of the bovid carcasses. Our pluridisciplinary works support anthropic activities 2.6 Ma ago in the sub-Himalayan floodplain and the probability of finding hominin fossils in the Quranwala Zone. This discovery is of immense importance to maintain the efforts of numerous generations in order to develop the prehistory of the Siwaliks and its contribution to the understanding of the hominization process between the Indus Basin, High and East Asia. © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Gaillard C.,French Natural History Museum | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Rishi K.K.,Government of Punjab | Bhardwaj V.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2010

The largest collection of Acheulian artefacts in the Siwalik region is from the site of Atbarapur in north-western India. The artefacts occur in reworked sediments of the Pinjore Formation, starting with the onset of the Pleistocene and continuing at places in this region till 0.6 Ma. The technical study shows two similar "chaînes opératoires": one based on cobbles for making small flakes and the second based on boulders for large flakes. Both are short and simple: cores are not prepared and each of them produced about seven flakes. Handaxes and cleavers, typical Acheulian tools, are made on the large flakes, often struck from the ventral face of larger flakes (Kombewa method) or from split boulders. The technology compares well with the Lower Pleistocene Acheulian of peninsular India, but with slightly more refined bifaces. It also compares with assemblages from Africa and East Asia: Atbarapur stands as a milestone on the diffusion route(s) of the Acheulian. © 2010 Académie des sciences.


Gaillard C.,French Natural History Museum | Mishra S.,Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Deo S.,Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute
Quaternary International | Year: 2010

Large cutting tools have been known for a long time in South Asia and have always been considered to be related to the Acheulian. The character of the Indian Acheulian, however, has not been well described and its evolution is poorly known, as there are few sites which are dated. Advances in geochronology have yielded increasingly early dates from most parts of the world where Lower Palaeolithic occupation is documented. These techniques have been barely applied to the South Asian sites but it is highly significant that the dating attempts have provided Lower Pleistocene ages. In this paper the handful of sites for which some chronological data is available and are older than 600. ka are presented. Their assemblages are highly diversified, in composition, but their large cutting tools (especially cleavers but also handaxes) are mostly based on the production of large flakes. They compare well with the early Acheulian from other parts of the world. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Gaillard C.,French Natural History Museum | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Malasse A.D.,French Natural History Museum | Bhardwaj V.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | And 8 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Quranwala zone (QZ) in the sector near Masol (Siwalik Frontal Range, Punjab) has been known since the 1960s for yielding freshwater and terrestrial vertebrates living during the late Pliocene on the sub-Himalayan floodplain. The fossils and quartzite cobbles are constantly unearthed from the core of an anticline. The basal member of QZ is about 130 meters below the Gauss/Matuyama paleomagnetic reversal, i.e., 2.588 Ma. Since 2009 the Indo-French Program of Research 'Siwaliks' has surveyed 50 hectares and highlighted a dozen localities on outcrops where artefacts in quartzite occur with fossil bones, of which a few show butchering marks. A few cobble tools and a flake were unearthed from a trial trench opened along the same boundary between silts and sandstones (Masol 2) as the one that provided a bovid tibia shaft bearing cut marks (Masol 1). Some 250 artefacts were collected mainly from the surface, sometimes in the slopes of outcrops recently eroded. These were mostly heavy-duty tools that comprised a majority of choppers, end choppers rather than side choppers, among which the "simple choppers" (shaped by one single removal) are common. The light-duty tools consist of flakes that are seldom retouched. The cores are very few and the flakes generally result from the shaping of choppers, except the larger flakes that are complemented by split cobbles. The consistency of the lithic assemblages among the localities supports their chronological homogeneity. Their features do not reflect any lithic technical tradition known in the region, neither Acheulean nor Soanian (in which the choppers are usually classical, not "simple"). © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Tudryn A.,University Paris - Sud | Tudryn A.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Abdessadok S.,French Natural History Museum | Gargani J.,University Paris - Sud | And 10 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Quranwala zone (Siwalik Range, NW India) is known for its Late Pliocene vertebrates. Since 2008, cut marks and stone tools have been collected from Masol. The sedimentary series belongs to the Subathu sub-basin. These sub-Himalayan deposits contain repetitive sequences (~170 m thick) of silt/clays and sandstones corresponding to the cyclical influx of detrital material in a fluvial environment. Particular features of lithological units allow identification of the stratigraphic position of different paleonto-archeological localities. A first pale environmental reconstruction was enabled by analysis of clay and magnetic minerals. Iron minerals such as haematite and goethite indicate dominant oxic conditions during and after deposition. Clay minerals are of detrital origin, and were supplied from Himalaya by rivers. Illite, the result of physical weathering, is dominant. Smectite present in the lower part of the sequence, was probably supplied from Lesser Himalaya (Suresh et al., 2004). Its presence suggests that the studied area was still a paleo-drainage area for major river(s) during the time considered here. © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Moigne A.-M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Dambricourt Malasse A.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Kaur A.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | And 8 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Indo-French Program of Research 'Siwaliks' carried out investigations in the 'Quranwala zone' of the Masol Formation (Tatrot), Chandigarh Siwalik Range, known since the 1960s for its "transitional fauna". This new paleontological study was implemented following the discovery of bones with cut marks near choppers and flakes in quartzite collected on the outcrops. Nine fieldwork seasons (2008-2015) on 50 hectares of ravines and a small plateau recovered lithic tools and fossil assemblages in 12 localities with approximately 1500 fossils. Their study shows that the most abundant mammal species are the Proboscideans with Stegodon insignis. The transition with the Pleistocene fauna is evidenced by Elephas hysudricus, Hipparion antelopinum and Equus sivalensis. The freshwater mammal is also well illustrated with Hexaprotodon sivalensis. Bovids present the greatest variety with six tribes from the smallest to the largest. Two types of cervids are observed; Sivatherium giganteum is visible in several localities and Merycopotamus dissimilis in one. Turtles, with the giant terrestrial Colossochelys and the freshwater Geoclemys, are abundant. The aquatic predators are limited (crocodile) and terrestrial carnivores are very scarce (hyena, felid). The faunal assemblages match the Plio-Pleistocene transitional fauna, also described in the Pabbi Hills (Pakistan), and mark the beginning of the Equus sivalensis Biostratigraphic interval-Zone, which extends from 2.6 Ma to 600 ka. The systematic repetition of surveys has, therefore, allowed the collection of rare taxa, such as Crocuta (2010), Merycopotamus dissimilis (2014) and a large felid (2015). These latest findings are significant for the discovery of Homininae in Siwaliks. © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Chapon Sao C.,French Natural History Museum | Abdessadok S.,French Natural History Museum | Dambricourt Malasse A.,French Natural History Museum | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | And 7 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

The Mio-Pleistocene Siwalik formations have been known worldwide since the 19th century for their fossil hominoids. Numerous paleomagnetic studies have contributed to build the chronological framework of the Siwalik Group subdivided into Lower, Middle and Upper Siwalik Subgroups. Our study concerns the Tatrot Formation (Late Pliocene) of the Upper Siwalik Subgroup located at Masol in the Chandigarh Siwalik Frontal Range (India), and is accessible by the Patiali Rao River. At Masol (district Mohali, Punjab), the erosion of the anticline structure has formed an inlier and exposed paleontological assemblages characterizing the Late Pliocene "Quranwala fossiliferous zone". Since 2008, the Indo-French research program, "Siwaliks", has conducted surveys in the Masol inlier and has collected stone tools on the surface of the outcrops among fossilized bones, a few with cut marks. The first cut-marked bone was discovered in 2009 at Masol 1 (M1). The study of the magnetic polarities of some stratigraphic units of M1 revealed that the deposits recorded a normal polarity. According to the paleontology and the previous magnetostratigraphy of the Patiali Rao, it appeared that the deposits of Masol 1 are older than the Gauss-Matuyama reversal, dated to 2.58 Ma. © 2015 Académie des sciences.


Abdessadok S.,French Natural History Museum | Sao C.C.,French Natural History Museum | Tudryn A.,University Paris - Sud | Dambricourt Malasse A.,French Natural History Museum | And 7 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2016

Since 2008, the Indo-French research program 'Siwaliks' has been prospecting in the Late Pliocene formations of the Chandigarh anticline in the Northwest of India (Siwalik Frontal Range, Himalayan foothills). More than 200 quartzite tools and 1500 terrestrial vertebrate fossils have been collected from a Pliocene continental formation near the village of Masol. Several fossils show exceptional cut marks. A complete geological investigation of this area was performed in order to reconstruct the paleoenvironment. The geological sequences of the three major paleonto-archeological localities, Masol 1, Masol 6 and Masol 13, were studied. Silt and sandstone samples of the Quranwala fossiliferous area were collected to correlate the stratigraphy among the three localities and to understand the origins of the sediments. Three different techniques were used to analyze the sediments: a granulometric approach, X-ray diffraction and an analysis of heavy minerals. The sediment analysis demonstrates the relationship between the sample collected in Masol and the dismantling of the Higher as well as of the Lesser Himalaya. During the Late Pliocene, Masol was a floodplain with rich continental and freshwater fauna. The rivers were relatively calm, as indicated by the presence of apatite. Despite this, the quasi-simultaneous accumulations of quartzite cobbles and clay, as well as the presence of carcasses of small and large herbivores, suggest sudden climate variations probably due to the monsoon. © 2016 Académie des sciences.


Gaillard C.,French Natural History Museum | Singh M.,Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research | Malasse A.D.,French Natural History Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2011

The Siwalik Range especially in its western sector is known for numerous surface sites yielding large quantities of cobble tools. These tools have for long been considered to belong to the Lower Palaeolithic but they are sometimes associated with other apparently more evolved tool types having a transversal trimmed cutting edge. These types look like adzes/axes and are made from large flakes, split cobbles or flat cobbles. Moreover, such assemblages composed of choppers along with these adze/axe-like tools occur on geological surfaces formed in the late Pleistocene; they are probably later than these deposits in age. These assemblages compare well with the industries occurring further east in Nepal or northern South-East Asia related to the Hoabinhian industries. It is suggested that they are linked through subsistence and technical behaviours to the particular environment of the sub-Himalayan belt and its eastern extension characterised by densely forested hilly landscapes, generously irrigated by perennial streams. Besides, this region was not severely disturbed during the last glacial maximum and could have been a refuge for many animal and vegetal species. It has certainly favoured " latitudinal" circulation (precisely circulation along the geomorphological features) of human and animal populations despite the global climatic changes. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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