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    ABSTRACT: We report the application of a molecular barcode method (ZooMS) to identify fragmentary bone remains (>2.5 cm) from a Middle to Upper Palaeolithic sequence at Les Cottés, France. ZooMS uses peptide mass fingerprinting of collagen (the most abundant protein in bone) to discriminate fauna (typically to genus level). Using previously reported peptide markers we initially conducted a blind test using 34 morphologically identified bones, followed by the application of ZooMS on 145 morphologically unidentified bone specimens. For the blind test, ZooMS was in agreement with morphological identifications in all cases, but in some instances taxonomic resolution is lower than morphological identifications. Further, 93.8% (136/145) of spectra obtained for morphologically unidentified bone specimens result in identifications that cannot be taxonomically improved by ZooMS. These include ten bone specimens showing signs of carnivore digestion. Focussing on the unidentified bone specimens of the Châtelperronian unit at Les Cottés (US06), ZooMS identified an additional ≈30% of the total number of bones discovered, increasing the total number of identified bone specimens to 61.8%. Further, ZooMS revealed higher taxonomic richness compared to morphological identifications for US06, thereby providing a more informed interpretation of the faunal community present at Les Cottés during the Châtelperronian.
    Journal of Archaeological Science 02/2015; 54. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2014.12.010 · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The timing of the Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic transition in France is important to help understand when, where and how Neanderthals have been replaced by Homo sapiens. Radiocarbon dating has been the dating workhorse in constructing the chronological framework pertinent to these questions. In this study, we are testing whether single grain OSL dating has the accuracy and precision to be useful as a complementary dating method. The site of Les Cottés provides an ideal testing ground because of its stratigraphic integrity and reliable radiocarbon chronology. We applied single grain OSL dating of quartz to 19 samples and multi-aliquot MET-pIRIR dating of potassium-rich feldspar grains to 5 samples to explicitly test assumptions of pre-depositional resetting of the OSL signal and post-depositional exposure to variable beta dose rates. The good agreement between the single grain OSL and the multi-aliquot MET pIRIR ages suggest that the optical signals of both quartz and feldspar grains were reset prior to deposition and that much of the extra scatter observed in the equivalent dose distribution of quartz grains are likely due to the small-scale differences in beta dose delivered to individual grains. Both the quartz OSL and feldspar MET-pIRIR ages show great consistency with the 14C ages on bone collected from the same units. This gives confidence in the measurement and analytical approaches used to derive both the equivalent dose and dose rate, the numerator and denominator, respectively, of the luminescence age equation. These results suggest that a systematic and detailed single grain OSL dating study can have the accuracy and precision that is necessary to play a powerful role in the dating of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic transition and other questions of importance in this time range and geographical area.
    Journal of Archaeological Science 02/2015; 54. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2014.11.020 · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t The classic Mousterian Debate of the 1970s has recently been revived, as researchers propose cultural, functional, and chronological interpretations for the Mousterian "technocomplexes". These interpretations, however, are likely to lead to the same impasse that was previously reached forty years ago. The root cause of the problem is analyzing assemblages according to taxonomic units, whether they are Bordian facies or chaîne opératoire technocomplexes, which conflate as well as mask multiple sources of variability. In this paper, we use a database of well-excavated, well-dated sites from the Middle and Upper Pleistocene in western Europe to track changes in key lithic variables through time. We show that the chronological patterning of typological and technological facies yields little information useful for elucidating the causes of Mousterian variability. When individual lithic variables from within assem-blages are plotted through time, however, new patterns of variability emerge. Our results show that bifaces are not characteristic only of the "Acheulean" and the "Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition." They occur continuously and in low frequencies across the European landscape from MIS 14 onwards. Second, we reveal chronological patterning in Levallois technology, which reaches a height of popularity between MIS 6-4. In the future, more progress in understanding technological behavior during the Paleolithic will be made if we compare the properties of the lithics themselves across assemblages, rather than comparing assemblage types.
    Quaternary International 11/2014; 2014:1-25. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2014.06.053 · 2.13 Impact Factor

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