Paleolithic Archaeology

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  • Paleolithic archaeology
    • Dispersals of early hominims out of Africa 1.7ma to 50 000 kya
      • Starting from Homo ergaster
        • ‘Ubeidiya in Isreal: cutmarks on faina, lots of homo fossil remains, the fauna is an entirely African fauna. Africa is expanding into the near east; . (1.5 ma)
          • Dmanisi, Georgia: much further north (1500 km) completely Eurasian Fauna, 1.7 ma.homo ergaster, but maybe also some homo habilis. very simple flakes, no handaxe technology
            • Atapuerca, Spain: hotspot for early hominims in Europe. Vast majority of all hominim fossils in Europe predating 300 000 ya found here. Limestome massive with lots of casted features. Sima del Elefante: 1.2 1.1 ma; they have a few stone artefacts (NO HANDAXES), homo ergaster jaw
              • Gran Dolina Level TD6 800 000 ya. Only 7 sqm; 1000 animal bones, 200 stone tools (NO HANDAXES) a lot of homo remains, at least 6 individuals. Homo antecessor? Probably ergaster anyway though. Massive amount of material, several individuals so we can start to study variability etc.
                • Happisburgh, UK: 990-800 ka in East Anglia. Fauna preservation and animal remains but also stone tools; flake tool assembage which has no handaxes. Pakefield 750-700 ka; same patterns. Both clearly have very warm conditions, separated by one very cold event. Move into europe in the warm period, then die out in the ice age?
                  • Homo erectus: SE Asia/ Indonesia E Asia: China 1.6-1.0 ma? Very difficult to get good age estimations. No Handaxes, no appearance of homo heidelbergensis. Big change in the archaeology between 80 and 50 ka when modern humans colonised the area.
              • Other presences in Europe include the Ceprano skull, found in Italy, but what categorises all of these early European finds seems to be a lack of handaxes, and also the suggestion that they were all eventually, failed colonisations.
                • originally the assumption of most archaeologists that users of the late Achulean technology, including handaxes, only spread to southern England (much farther north than Spain and Italy) around 500 000 years ago. Now, evidence from Happisburgh seems to suggest some early humans were living in England from 990 000 years ago. (Parfitt SA et al. 2010)
                  • However, during this period colonisation in Europe still seems to have been limited until the beginning of the next interglacial about 600 000 years ago.
                    • Probably homo heidelbergensis and beyond
                  • At Sima de los Huesos in Spain, we find remains of hominims resembling both H.heidelbergensis and the later Neanderthals. In particular, as well as the biological resemblance, they appear to dispose of their dead deliberately, anticipating neanderthal burials.
                  • Gesher Benet Ya’aqov, dated to around 780 000 years ago, shows the selection of different rock types; limestone pebbles for producing chopping tools, flint for modifying cores, flakes and flake tools, basalt for bifaces and handaxes. This seems to be evidence of more advanced cognitive functions, in particular an increased  sense of skill, both mental flexibility and dexterity in tool design and production. (Goren-Inbar et al. 2000)
      • First hominims; originate in Africa;Eastern Africa: Ethiopia Kenya, Tanzania, Southern Africa in the Republic of South Africa;
        • Taung Child: Australopithecus africanus found in South Africa. Only H. heidelbergensis, H. Sapiens, H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis got out of Africa.
        • From East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania)New biology and technological toolkit allowed colonisation of new territories (ergaster, handaxes)
          • Until about 1ma, dispersal of ergaster fossils and especially handaxes all across Africa, includng landscapse like the ethiopian high plateau (2300-2400 m above sea level)
      • To find solution to new challenges you have to adapt to each new territory, especially you need to breed otherwise the dispersal will fail.
        • Within Africa; a group at the edge of homo ergaster’s range, the group outgrows its resource base and so the group splits up- one group stays, one group moves on to reduce population density. They are moving into an empty territory, probably not very far from the original ergaster territory, it is a very slow process but eventually results in the colonisation of all of Africa, and eventually into Eurasia.
          • ould be multiple other reasons for colonisation such as the search for more attractive territory in terms of hunter gathering, or even less logical factors such as sheer curiosity or accident. (Anton et al. 2004)
            • theenvironment is not always a barrier (the Ethiopian high plateau, 23 000m above sea level, was colonised fairly early by H. ergaster) but it can be a central concern, particularly in the case of cold weather conditions. Some of the early expansions into Eurasia, in particular ‘Ubedeiya, seem opportunistic and climate related, based mostly on the expansion of an African climate into Israel, and
              • it is possible to observe a similar ‘ebb’ and flow’ in Europe of colonisations by early humans roughly corresponding with glacial periods. For example, the Atapuerca people may have died out due to nutritional stress coinciding with a glacial episode which ran from 800 000 to 600 000 years ago. Evidence of cannibalism, particularly cutmarks, were found on some human bones at the site. (Scarre 2009)
          • populations and their territory could expand and contract based on the situation at hand, the effects of climate and resource abundance or scarcity, and many other factors; the colonisation of Eurasia was not one definitive spread of early humans but probably included many failed or partially successful colonisations. (Anton et al. 2004)
        • encephalisation meaning more food resources are needed
    • Technological changes
      • First cutmarks 3.39 mya hominims probably have been cutting with a sharp edge. Stone tool use, not necessarily manufacture, possibly just found sharp stones?
        • A.afarensis juvenile found c300 m away.
        • Lomekwi 3, Kenya (3.3 mya)- ‘Lomekwian core’?? Not made using a hammer stone but by breaking a single raw material rock by hitting it on another rock.
          • Oldowan technology (2.6 mya onwards)- Australopithecus and Homo habilis
            • Achulean technology (handaxes); 1-0.6 ma
              • (Mode II technology) biface, cleaver. Start out with flat nodules of raw material, can be used for many different things, sharp edges.
                • Come in many sizes and shapes. Early handaxes (1,8 ma- 600000) have much fewer removals  (about 10-20 flakes) than later handaxes (more than 100 flakes)
                • Late Achulean handaxes, much more fine grained, associated with homo heidelbergensis
              • Technological bottleneck; hominims move through territories where they do not find raw material suitable for handaxe production and they LOSE the handaxe habit.
            • Mode 1, choppers, scrapers, flakes. 2.5-1.6 Mio years ago.
              • Unifacial choppers and bifacial choppers. Flaked tools; scraper, awl, cutting tools
            • Earliest tools are manuports (stones which don’t show many traces of being worked but have been transported to the site) hammerstones, core forms and flakes.
            • Experiments with replicas; we can see on some of the objects damage which is congruent with their use in experiments eg chopping wood, scraping hide, breaking bones for marrow.
            • Non lithic tools (1.8-1 mya) pointed bones in cave sites.
              • Evidence of termite consumption; use of bone tools used as digging tools or to perforate termite mounds and to get access to termites; experimental archaeology; damage on tools suggests termites.
          • Maybe Kenyanthropus (fossils found nearby
      • recise evidence of the technological skills of early people, aside from their stone tools, remains sparse. Control of fire and advanced shelter building abilities would have been exceptionally helpful to early humans, especially in populating colder areas, but there is no indisputable evidence that people could fully control fire until after 200 000 years ago. (Klein 2000)
        • Undoubtedly, had H. ergaster had access to boats, this would have greatly aided their early colonisation, but there is no evidence of this, and nowhere where the migrating people could not have travelled by foot, with the exception of Flores, a small island near Java.
    • Changes in diet (the earlier you get to meat the better nutritional/ developmental implications)
      • 1960s Man the Hunter hypothesis; association of nones with cutmarks and lithics.1980s Challenged by Binford; Blumenshine. cutmarks (human) cut through teethmarks (carnivores were there first)
        • 1990s / 2000: early access to meat model, hominims at least had early access to the meat. Sometimes first access, sometimes last access.
        • Evidence of termite consumption on bone digging tools
      • Plant food: hard for us to find evidence, only certain plants are actually preserved.  use of phytoliths.  We can study dental calculus
      • Aquatic resources, early hominim sites are on old lakeshores eg Koobi Fora; fish and turtle remains with cutmarks discovered. Rich source of certain nutrients such as fatty acids which are a key component in human brain growth
      • exploitation of fallow deer at Qesem cave as evidence of early access to meat.
    • Physical changes
      • Homo Ergaster
        • Huge increase in brain size , general increase in size. reduction in sexual dimporphism, probs needed more nutrition for brain
          • larger bodies and brains; requiring far more energy but also potentially enabling more complex tool use, a reduction in sexual dimorphism and a strong commitment to bipedalism, to name but a few biological adaptations. (Klein 2000)
            • which came first, the tool use/ adaptations or larger bodies and brains? know that primitive tool use (manuports) occurred very early on, some links between bipedlism and brain development (the foramen magnum in the taung child) (Australopithecus Africanus)
              • Engels; development of the body and mind through use of tools and labor. Dart: link between fmp, bipedalism and cognitive development
        • Homo antecessor
          • Homo Heidelbergensis
            • Homo neanderthalensis
              • adaptations to the colder environment in that region. Their stocky bodies, with massive trunks and short limbs almost certainly helped to protect them from the cold weather. (Klein 2000
              • burying dead, artistic and symbolic behavior
            • Homo sapiens
              • this is us!
                • eventually dispersed everywhere
            • the Sima people represent a middle step between H. heidelbergensis and the Neanderthals (appear to deliberately bury dead)
            • spurt in brain growth and technology use
          • Sierra de Atapuerca which has been dated to between 1.3 and 1.1 Ma. Finds there include remains of a hominim which varies slightly from H. ergaster, it has been dubbed H. antecessor but could equally fall into the ergaster bracket. (Scarre 2009) Nevertheless this colonisation seems to have died out at around 800 000 years ago.
        • H. erectus
          • Remains of H.erectus have been found in Java which have been dated to as early as 1.65 Ma and are almost certainly older than 1.0 Ma.  challenge to the idea that H.ergaster was the first hominim species to meaningfully move out of Africa, as this early date would mean that  they would have descended from something before 1.65Ma
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            • but challenge to the long chronology: biostratigraphic evidence, fission track ages and paleomagnetic inference
            • the oldest hominim found at Sangiran in Java is at least 1.5 Ma, still indicating a very early dispersal into Asia, but not necessarily one which had to have occurred prior to the colonisation of H. ergaster.
              • Lack of Achulean technology but this is not firm evidence of early dispersal
                • H. erectus persisting in Asia throughout the course of biological changes in Europe and Africa. Late H. erectus remains have been found in Ngandong and in Sambungmacan which can probably be dated to at least less than 300 000 years ago.
        • Dmanisi has been the source of several interesting finds, in particular Skull D2700, which seems to belong to a predecessor of H. ergaster, given the name of Homo habilis. (Scarre 2009)
      • Main Trends; Encephalisation (enlargement of the brain), Bipedalism, climate adaptations
        • Between 3 and 2 mya; stark increase in cooling and drying, also early evidence of stone tools, diet of hard plants and more foraging, influences teeth etc.

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