Journal of Archaeological Science

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 1095-9238
Print ISSN: 0305-4403
This paper examines adult age-specific mortality patterns of one of the most devastating epidemics in recorded history, the Black Death of A.D. 1347-351. The goal was to determine whether the epidemic affected all ages equally or if it targeted certain age groups. Analyses were done using a sample of 337 individuals excavated from the East Smithfield cemetery in London, which contains only individuals who died during the Black Death in London in 1349-1350. The age patterns from East Smithfield were compared to a sample of 207 individuals who died from non-epidemic causes of mortality. Ages were estimated using the method of transition analysis, and age-specific mortality was evaluated using a hazards model. The results indicate that the risk of mortality during the Black Death increased with adult age, and therefore that age had an effect on risk of death during the epidemic. The age patterns in the Black Death cemetery were similar to those from the non-epidemic mortality sample. The results from this study are consistent with previous findings suggesting that despite the devastating nature of the Black Death, the 14(th)-century disease had general patterns of selectivity that were similar to those associated with normal medieval mortality.
During prehistory fire-setting was the most appropriate technique for exploiting ore deposits. Charcoal fragments found in the course of archaeological excavations in a small mine called Mauk E in the area of Schwaz/Brixlegg (Tyrol, Austria) are argued to be evidence for the use of this technology. Dendrochronological analyses of the charcoal samples yielded calendar dates for the mining activities showing that the exploitation of the Mauk E mine lasted approximately one decade in the late 8th century BC. Dendrological studies show that the miners utilised stem wood of spruce and fir from forests with high stand density for fire-setting and that the exploitation of the Mauk E mine had only a limited impact on the local forests.
Ancient DNA (aDNA) was extracted from the human remains of seventy-three individuals from the Tommy and Mine Canyon sites (dated to PI-II and PIII, respectively), located on the B-Square Ranch in the Middle San Juan region of New Mexico. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups of forty-eight (65.7%) of these samples were identified, and their frequency distributions were compared with those of other prehistoric and modern populations from the Greater Southwest and Mexico. The haplogroup frequency distributions for the two sites were statistically significantly different from each other, with the Mine Canyon site exhibiting an unusually high frequency of haplogroup A for a Southwestern population, indicating the possible influence of migration or other evolutionary forces. However, both sites exhibited a relatively high frequency of haplogroup B, typical of Southwestern populations, suggesting continuity in the Southwest, as has been hypothesized by others (S. Carlyle 2003; Carlyle, et al. 2000; Kemp 2006; Malhi, et al. 2003; Smith, et al. 2000). The first hypervariable region of twenty-three individuals (31.5%) was also sequenced to confirm haplogroup assignments and compared with other sequences from the region. This comparison further strengthens the argument for population continuity in the Southwest without a detectable influence from Mesoamerica.
A brief account of the range of pathological disorders affecting the skeleton and certain other tissues of animals (mainly mammals) is given to indicate a broad picture of the sort of lesions which might be encountered in archaeological contexts. Though palaeopathological bone specimens have been described since the 18th century, it is only recently that an interest in archaeozoological material has encouraged the tentative interpretation of such specimens. Despite the pessimism of some workers in the field, it has been shown that this material does persist in archaeological samples, and that while diagnosis is not always clear cut, some of the spectrum of bone changes induced by disease processes has been documented. As early as 4000 years ago an awareness of some of these diseases was recorded, with several early societies adopting preventive and therapeutic measures to deal with them. As advanced human communities came into more intimate contact with animals, transmission of infectious diseases was facilitated. Husbandry practices, too, are seen to be directly related to the incidence of certain conditions, the occurrence of which in archaeological material can yield an insight into animal keeping. Diverse data of archaeological significance is, in fact, retrievable not only from osteological remains, but from organic material which may be preserved under certain conditions. The impact of animal disease is far-reaching, with important implications not only for the economy but also for human health.
Descriptions of archaeological and modern day medicine pottery samples from the Tong Hills region, Ghana.
Carbon isotopic ratios of C16:0 and C18:0 n-alkanoic acids in lipid extracts of modern material and archaeological pot sherds shown with previous data from Copley et al. (2003), Dudd and Evershed (1998), Dudd et al. (1999), and Steele et al. (2010).
A comparison of the relative abundance of compound extracts from the modern medicine pot sample (Tamboog) and archaeological samples TOU 08 (C) 3, 4, 5 and 7 (The tallest peak in each chromatogram is equal to 100% and not an absolute concentration). The numbers above the peaks refer to the length of carbon chain: the number of double bonds present. 16:0 and 18:0 n-alkanoic acids are palmitic and stearic acid, respectively.
The medicine pot sherds recovered from Touwang (TOU 08 (C)). a) TOU 08 (C). The sherds in situ underneath the large Bongo granite boulder; b) pot sherds from context TOU 08 (C) 7 prior to cleaning; c) a single sherd from TOU 08 (C) 7 after cleaning; d) a sherd from TOU 08 (C) 4 after cleaning; e) cross section of a sherd from TOU 08 (C) 5; f) modern sample from Tamboog.
Map showing the Upper East Region of Ghana, indicating the location of the Tong Hills.
Sherds from pots found layered under a granite boulder in the Tong Hills of the Upper East Region of Northern Ghana seem, based on their deposition context to have been used for the preparation of medicines. Organic geochemical and isotopic analyses of these sherds and a modern day analogue reveal an n-alkanoic acid composition that is consistent with their being used in the preparation of plant derived substances. Isotopic analyses of the modern medicine pot indicate a contribution of n-alkanoic acids derived from plants that use C4 carbon fixation, most likely maize, sorghum and/or millet suggesting that this pot was used for cooking C4 based plant substances, perhaps, based on current analogy, staple porridge type food. The modern medicine pot could thus have had a prior use. The absence of C4 plant residues in the archaeological sherds suggests that either staple foodstuffs differed radically to today, or, more likely, were not prepared in vessels that were to be used for medicinal purposes.
Five samples of Amerindian bones from California, Florida and Kentucky which showed evidence of treponemal infection or were contemporary with bones that did, were subjected to radiocarbon dating. The results indicate that the microorganism causing the disease existed in the New World in the time range of 1105-1370 A.D., i.e. well before European contacts with America. -- AATA
Archaeological interpretations of past societies, particularly those of past hunter-gatherer groups, have traditionally drawn heavily on evidence for past environments and environmental changes. Ironically however our understanding of these environments is typically far from ideal, particularly at the scale most relevant to broad settlement patterns. Limitations lie not just in the lack of evidence, but also the nature of the evidence that we have for past environments. Most notably, descriptions of environments and environmental change tend to be either very simplistic at the large scale, or detailed, but limited to small scale local landscapes. It is thus difficult to find regional reconstructions to relate to interpretations or models of population and settlement (particularly important when considering mobile populations). The models described here have been developed in order to improve understanding of large scale spatial changes in terrestrial vegetation. The limitations and potentials for developing models of vegetation patterns are considered, and one such model (constructed using GIS techniques) of changes in the distribution of woodland types in northern England from the Early Holocene is described.
A total of 101 cattle teeth and bones from 13 archaeological sites between 1000 to 9000 years old were assessed for the presence of verifiable mitochondrial sequences. It was possible to reproducibly amplify and sequence mitochondrial control region DNA extracted from twelve of the samples. The results were compared with published extant data by constructing phylogenetic networks. The sequences obtained from the cattle specimens were either identical to the reference sequence for modern cattle or closely related to it. They included three sequences not previously documented. The network analysis of the ancient data highlights the proximity of the ancient DNA cattle sequences to modern Near Eastern, European and African Bos taurus, as well as regional continuity.
The in situ produced cosmogenic beryllium isotope, 10Be, in flint artifacts from different layers in prehistoric caves can provide information on flint procurement. The buildup of 10Be in a flint matrix is related to the exposure time of the flint to cosmic rays. Although this exposure history can be complex, the 10Be content of flint assemblages can show whether the raw material was obtained from shallow mining and/or surface collection as opposed to sediments two or more meters below the surface. Flint artifact assemblages from two Palaeolithic caves in Israel, Tabun and Qesem, were analyzed.In Tabun cave the flint artifacts from Lower Layer E (Acheulo-Yabrudian, around 400 000–200 000 yr) contain very small amounts of 10Be, which is consistent with flint procured from sediments two or more meters deep. Artifacts from above and below Tabun Lower Layer E show a more complex distribution, as do artifacts from all layers of Qesem cave (Acheulo-Yabrudian). This is probably due to the fact that they were surface collected and/or mined from shallow (less than 2 m) depths. We show here that artifact assemblages have different concentrations of 10Be, indicating different raw material procurement strategies.
This paper presents a study of a representative selection of lustre ceramics dating from the last quarter of the 10th century AD to the second half of the 13th century AD from Egypt, Syria and Iran. The study concentrates on the structure and chemistry of the lustre itself over the historical period considered and has found a number of significant similarities between the production centres studied. Previous work on the reproduction of lustre under laboratory-controlled conditions allows the archaeological data to be related to the historical technological aspects of lustre production. The results obtained, although restricted to the limited number of samples studied, have demonstrated the occurrence of significant differences and similarities between lustre productions during this period. The possible reasons for these changes are discussed.
Pictures taken from the front and back sides of the four lustres from Iraq corresponding to 9th century AD polychrome lustres (p67 and p51) and to 10th century AD monochrome lustres (p32 and p37). For the interpretation of the colour in this figure, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.  
SEM backscattering image from a polished cross-section from the glaze of p51.  
Bottom left : chemical map corresponding to Ag from the square area marked on the top left image of sample p37. Silver appears heterogeneously distributed forming spots of 10e50 mm across. Right : images of sample p32, in the bottom right image the surface is tilted to catch the specular reflected light and the metallic shine. For the interpretation of the colour in this figure, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.  
In this paper the study of four significant lustre samples covering 9th century AD polychrome and 10th century AD monochrome lustre from Iraq is presented. The samples selected are representative of the earliest known lustre productions. The data obtained from the study of the medieval samples are compared to laboratory reproductions and gives important clues about the invention, perfection and success of lustre during this period. The change from polychrome to monochrome lustre decorations and the increase in the lead content of the glazes are the key parameters in the success of obtaining a golden lustre.
Wear analysis indicates that Sangoan core-axes from site 8-B-11 at Sai Island, Sudan, were used while hafted. The middle Sangoan occupation level at 8-B-11 served as a locale where specialized activities were performed, including core-axe manufacture and hafting. Newly manufactured quartz core-axes served as replacements for exhausted items that were mostly fabricated out of raw materials other than quartz, which were carried back to the site in their hafts for re-tooling. The hafted core-axes appear as highly mobile, curated tools, being transported across a large territory. The evidence indicates that the Sangoan is the archaeological reflection of a complex behavioural system involving economic specialization, which appeared in this part of Africa for the first time around 200 ka ago.
Stratified samples of artefacts from the Late Pleistocene deposit at the Klasies River main site, covering some 60,000 years, have been studied. Variability in the artefact sequence has been documented in the technologies of artefact production in addition to conventional typological analysis. Particular emphasis has been given to the recognition of the reduction sequences used in producing the pre-formed blanks that are a feature of the Middle Stone Age. The results show that the variability is due to changes between the dominant blade and or point technological conventions (traditions) through time. Technological study supports and gives meaning to the recognition of distinct sub-stages, MSA I (Klasies River), MSA II (Mossel Bay), Howiesons Poort and a post-Howiesons Poort at main site. These sub-stages are more than convenient, site-specific, organizational entities—they delineate separate technological conventions that may have relevance on a sub-continental scale.
A number of recent papers have argued that summed probability distributions of radiocarbon dates calibrated with the CALPAL software package can be used to identify population trends in prehistory. For instance, Gamble et al. (Gamble, C., Davies, W., Pettitt, P., Richards, M., 2004. Climate change and evolving human diversity in Europe during the last glacial. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 359, 243–254; Gamble, C., Davies, W., Pettitt, P., Richards, M., 2005. The archaeological and genetic foundations of the European population during the Late Glacial: implications for 'agricultural thinking'. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15, 193–223.) have demonstrated that during the European Late Glacial, demography was more variable than hitherto acknowledged. Building on this work, this paper presents evidence that the large, but so far largely ignored eruption of the Laacher See-volcano, located in present-day western Germany and dated to 12,920 BP, had a dramatic impact on forager demography all along the northern periphery of Late Glacial settlement and precipitated archaeologically visible cultural change. In Southern Scandinavia, these changes took the form of technological simplification, the loss of bow-and-arrow technology, and coincident with these changes, the emergence of the regionally distinct Bromme culture. Groups in north-eastern Europe appear to have responded to the eruption in similar ways, but on the British Isles and in the Thuringian Basin populations contracted or relocated, leaving these areas largely depopulated already before the onset of the Younger Dryas/GS-1 cooling. Demographic models are used to link these changes to the Laacher See-eruption and this research demonstrates that we cannot sideline catastrophic environmental change in our reconstructions of prehistoric culture history.
The analysis of carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) in crop plant remains from seven Bronze Age sites in northern Mesopotamia and the Levant shows clear differences in water availability between the different geographic areas and throughout the different periods (3000–1200 BC). Amongst the different moisture variables modelled precipitation minus evaporation (P-E—using a macrophysical climate model (MCM)) results in very high correlation (0.74) with Δ13C values in barley, supporting the significance of climate parameters (effective moisture) in carbon fixation in this species. The comparison of Δ13C values of different crops in different periods confirms increased aridity during the Middle Bronze Age (2000–1600 BC), compared to the later Early Bronze Age (2700–2000 BC) particularly in the north-eastern Syrian territory with generally lower Δ13C values during the Middle Bronze Age, as has been documented in palaeoclimate proxies, and in agreement with the MCM. Standard deviation in Δ13C values from grains or seeds of one species originating from different samples of an individual site may be understood as variability in moisture conditions during the grain-filling period around the considered location. Large standard deviations occur preferably in sites with low mean annual precipitation (e.g. at Emar) and suggest that in these sites, at least some of the crops were irrigated.
This paper examines the hydraulic properties (i.e. velocity and discharge) of the main late prehistoric canals of the Moche Valley. Velocities, estimated from excavated canal sections using the Manning flow equation, are compared to tables of maximum permissible velocities and reveal that canals were constructed to transport water efficiently, but that on gradients steeper than 1:100 the Chimu and Inca engineers were unable to transport large discharges without severe erosional problems. Discharge estimates are compared with modern field requirements, using a known ethnographic watering cycle. This demonstrates that in almost every instance the channel size was of the same order of magnitude as that predicted from the requirements. The construction of the Inter-valley canal to bring water to the state lands in Moche was a technological disaster.
Location of Varna and Durankulak, Bulgaria.
Faunal stable isotope data from the Durankulak settlement and the Varna cemetery
Stable isotope data for Durankulak outliers
continued )
Stable isotope analyses have been applied to human and faunal bone collagen from the Varna I and Durankulak cemeteries to explore palaeodietary adaptations in the Neolithic and Eneolithic (Copper Age). The results suggest both populations primarily utilised terrestrial, C3-based diets, despite their proximity to the Black Sea. The wider δ15N range of the Durankulak humans likely indicates the differential utilisation of terrestrial meat sources, which is probably related to the degree to which primary and/or secondary ovicaprid products were consumed, particularly since ovicaprid δ15N values differ from other herbivores. The isotopic distribution of Varna I reflects a linear relationship between δ15N and δ13C, suggesting that a minority of individuals enriched in both isotopic parameters supplemented their diets with marine resources. These burials include the well known ‘chieftain’ (burial 43) and show notable material wealth by way of grave goods. At the population level, however, there is no significant correlation between stable isotope values and material wealth at Varna I, a fact with implications for theories regarding emergent social/economic hierarchies in Balkan prehistory. Five burials at Durankulak were found to have relatively enriched δ13C and δ15N values with respect to the rest of the population. These burials reflect a prominently marine-based or mixed terrestrial C3-based diet that included C4 inputs, possibly from millet, for which the limitations of stable isotope analysis on bulk collagen are not able to differentiate. AMS dating has shown that these burials belong to a much later period.
Locations of soil sampling sites in the southeastern Colorado Plateau. White squares indicate locations of Nutria (N), Bear Canyon (BC), and Pescado (P) field systems in the Zuni region. White circles refer to water sampling sites discussed in Benson et al. (2009). Small black dots indicate the location of soil sites. Thick black line marks the periphery of the San Juan Basin. The ellipse indicates the location of the Chaco Halo as defined in this paper. Large black squares indicate locations of tree-ring records used to construct the precipitation history shown in Fig. 1. North is at the top of the figure.  
Al, La, Sr, and 87 Sr/ 86 Sr values of Farmington cobs and soils.
Zuni synthetic soil-water 87 Sr/ 86 Sr values.
Strontium isotope, Sr, and Al values for cobs and synthetic soil waters discussed in this study. GCD ¼ Gallo Cliff Dwelling; CK ¼ Chetro Ketl, First Set refers to cobs published in Benson et al. (2009); Second Set refers to cobs analyzed in this paper.  
87 Sr/ 86 Sr box-and-whisker diagrams for clean cobs that date to the A.D. 1180s compared with 87 Sr/ 86 Sr box-and-whisker diagrams for 14 soils areas depicted in Fig. 2. CS ¼ Chuska Slope, CFP ¼ Chaco Canyon floodplain, CSV ¼ Chaco Canyon sidevalley tributaries (alluvial fans), URC ¼ Upper Rio Chaco; ZBC ¼ Zuni Bear Canyon, ZN ¼ Zuni Nutria, ZP ¼ Zuni Pescado, MVMD ¼ Mesa Verde-McElmo Dome (northeastern San Juan Basin); TO ¼ Totah, NWSJ ¼ Northwestern San Juan Basin, MC ¼ Middle Chinle, Di ¼ Dinetah; DP ¼ Defiance Plateau, WRP ¼ Western Rio Puerco, LM ¼ Lobo Mesa, Rm ¼ Red Mesa Zuni Sr-isotope measurments are listed in (Table 3).
Between A.D. 1181 and 1200, in the early part of a climatically wet period, corn was imported to Chaco Canyon from a region outside the Chaco Halo (defined in this paper as the region between the base of the Chuska Mountains and Raton Wells). Strontium-isotope (87Sr/86Sr) analyses of 12 corn cobs dating to this period match 87Sr/86Sr ratios from five potential source areas, including: the Zuni region, the Mesa Verde-McElmo Dome area, the Totah, the Defiance Plateau, and Lobo Mesa. The latter two areas were eliminated from consideration as possible sources of corn in that they appear to have been unpopulated during the time period of interest. Therefore, it appears that the corn cobs were imported from the Zuni region, the Mesa Verde-McElmo Dome area, or the Totah area during a time when the climate was relatively wet and when a surplus of corn was produced in regions outside Chaco Canyon. Based on proximity to and cultural affiliation with Chaco Canyon, it is hypothesized that the corn probably was imported from the Totah.
The leprosy known today primarily from tropical areas was a relatively common disease in European Middle Ages. This article describes two skeletons bearing palaeopathological indications of leprosy from a cemetery at Žatec in North-West Bohemia (Czech Republic). The archaeological context clearly shows that these individuals were buried prior to the second decade of the 12th century, and most probably in the second half of 11th century. This rules out the possibility that these individuals might have contracted the disease in connection with the Crusades, in which a Bohemian contingent under Prince Vladislav II participated from 1141 to 1142. Molecular genetic methods were applied to detect specific DNA fragments of the causative agent of leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae. The nasal concha of one individual yielded DNA that could be directly sequenced after isolation and amplification. The vertebral body of the second individual, on the other hand, did not provide DNA of sufficient quality for direct sequencing and only weak amplification was detectable. The morphological and genetic analyses both indicate that leprosy existed prior to the Crusades in medieval Bohemia, albeit that its prevalence was probably not as great as in northern or western Europe.
While use of polyethylene glycols, PEG, polymers for archaeological wood conservation has been well established, there is almost no study of such composite materials with carbon thirteen high-resolution solid-sate NMR. We demonstrate that NMR is an useful analytical tool to characterize rapidly samples of conserved wooden objects. By choosing an appropriate value of the contact time (from 3 to 5 ms) for which the PEG component gives only a small residual NMR signal in the CP-MAS experiment, it is possible to edit selectively the spectra of the wood components. It allows one to visualize the degradation extent of the archaeological wood even when the conservation processes have been already applied. Moreover, by studying the kinetics of CP-MAS experiments, the time constants, T1ρH and TCH values for PEG moiety were computed. From these data, it is shown that either in the crude commercial product or in incorporated in archaeological woods, two components are present and they are the signatures of crystalline (or ordered) and amorphous (or disordered) molecular domains. Moreover, it was shown in the archaeological woods that almost 30% of PEG was in close molecular interactions with lignins. This study is the first evidence that the PEG in conserved wood can interact at a molecular level with wood components. It also demonstrates that the PEG diffuses inside the residual cell walls of archaeological wood. This data are important for scientists in charge of process development for the conservation of wooden artifacts.
Sections of human hair from naturally desiccated Sudanese Nubian mummies representing X-Group (AD 350–550) and Christian (AD 550–1300) periods in the Wadi Halfa area were analysed by Journal of Archaeological Science, 20 (1993) 657. These data can be interpreted in terms of a model of annual variation of food consumption that apparently remained stable for more than 1000 years. The diet oscillated annually between consumption of 75% C3foods (wheat and barley) in winter, to as much as 75% of C4foods (millet and sorghum) in the summer. There was little use of stored summer foods in the winter, whereas a small amount (c. 25%) of winter foods were present in the summer diet; part of this may be a carry-over in the form of a C3isotopic signal in the flesh of C3-fed animals. This evidently small use of stored grains suggests that grain storage facilities (granaries) were largely used as emergency measures. During normal years, the diet in a given season was dominated by freshly harvested crops.
The layer-7 living floor at Ushki-1 consisted of 11 discernible dwelling features (numbered 1e11 on this map, after Dikov, 1993) and a human burial pit feature saturated with red ochre, located in the north-central area of the excavation. The samples dated in this study came from dwelling features 8, 10, and 11, in the western area of the site. The map also shows approximate locations of the two stratigraphic profiles. Goebel et al. (2003) sampled for dating in 2000.  
Previous 14 C dates for layer 7 of the Ushki-1 and Ushki-5 sites.
New AMS 14 C dates for layer 7 of the Ushki-1 site.
For many years cultural layer 7 at the Ushki sites, Kamchatka was considered to represent the earliest human occupation of Beringia, because four radiocarbon dates indicated an age of 16,000–17,000 calendar years ago (cal BP). In 2003, however, Goebel et al. reported that layer 7 more likely formed only 13,000 cal BP, nearly 4000 years later than N.N. Dikov, the site’s primary excavator, originally reported. Some researchers have downplayed the significance of the new dates, continuing to regard Dikov’s early dates as evidence that at least some of the hearth and dwelling features previously excavated at Ushki-1 date to as early as 17,000 cal BP. Here we present four new radiocarbon dates (and two previously unpublished dates) on curated charcoal from hearth features excavated at Ushki-1 more than 20 years ago. They indicate that these hearths and associated dwelling features date to about 13,000 cal BP. We now know 15 radiocarbon dates on charcoal from a variety of features and profiles across Ushki-1 and Ushki-5 that indicate the age of layer 7 is about 13,000 cal BP. We discount the four 16,000–17,000 cal BP dates, first, because two of them came from a deeply dug human burial pit and were likely secondarily introduced into the burial; second, because provenience data for the other two dated samples were never reported and do not exist in the records of the radiocarbon laboratories that produced them; and, third, because sediments immediately underlying layer 7 at Ushki-1 are only a few centuries earlier than 13,000 cal BP, providing an important lower-limiting age for the layer-7 occupation. We conclude that the age of all of the layer-7 features at Ushki-1 and Ushki-5 should be considered to be about 13,000 cal BP, at least until the earlier obtained old dates of 16,000–17,000 cal BP can be replicated.
The reconstruction of woodland history is important in relation to archaeological, ecological, biogeographical and evolutionary problems, and insect remains are a significant source of relevant information. Fully natural interglacial and Holocene ‘waterlogged’ deposits assumed to have formed in woodland generally contain abundant macrofossils of both plants and insects indicative of trees. In contrast, British archaeological deposits rich in macrofossil remains of trees often lack, or contain very few, tree-associated insects. To cast light on this contradiction, assemblages of insect (Coleoptera and Hemiptera) remains from a range of modern deposits with various spatial relationships to woodland and trees have been analysed. The proportions of tree-associated insects varied greatly. There was a general trend from higher values in woodland and near to isolated trees of species supporting a rich insect fauna, to low or zero values where there were no trees. However, low values sometimes occurred in woods or near trees, so that rarity of tree-associated insects in archaeological deposits does not always carry the implication of a treeless environment. Further investigation is suggested, with emphasis on the importance of identifying isolated trees, scrub and hedges as a resource for humans and wildlife in the past.
Tooth enamel is considered very stable against post-mortem alteration and therefore is a preferred study material for isotopic analyses in the context of palaeoecology. The range of isotopic variation within one given tooth has important implications for the sampling procedure especially if microsamples are used. Thus, the awareness of intra-tooth isotopic variability is undeniable for the study of palaeoclimate as well as for the reconstruction of palaeodiet and the inferred use of ecological niches in the past. In Neolithic tooth enamel (Bovidae and Equidae from Ain Ghazal, Jordan) carbonate was analysed for δ13C and δ18O in order to trace intra-tooth variation. Up to 13 enamel samples were taken per tooth from crown to root in horizontal layers with a drill. The variation of isotopic values is higher in equid than in bovid tooth enamel. Results for δ13C in a given tooth vary within a range up to 2·9 per mil (PDB) in equid enamel, but remain within the frame of either C3or C4feeders, and do not indicate a clear shift from C3or C4plant consumption for a given individual. Results for δ18O vary up to 6·9 per mil (PDB) within one given tooth in equids. This approach offers several methodological perspectives. First, the sampling of many individuals of one species at a given site over a longer time period should permit a comparison of stable isotope variations, both synchronically and diachronically. From the high time resolution possible via intra- and inter-tooth isotopic variability we may better monitor seasonality or reconstruct climatic changes. Information on short-term climatic variation could provide important arguments for the discussion of cultural developments at a given archaeological site. Here we emphasize the methodological aspect and its implications. A better understanding of the site of Ain Ghazal and its development reflected in settlement size, artefacts, and architecture will be possible, however, here we present preliminary data.
Preference for antler over bone is a feature of the late Roman to early medieval industry based on skeletal materials, whose key product is the composite comb. Using static three-point bending tests, the mechanical properties of dry bone and antler are compared and the superiority of antler, in the form of greater toughness, is demonstrated. By the same method the rationale behind the construction of composite combs is explained. An empirical appreciation of these mechanical factors by the manufacturers is implied by the results of these objective tests.
Bone collagen extracted from 14 humans from the Mesolithic cemetery of Vasilyevka II was analysed for their δ13C and δ15N ratios. This cemetery is one of only two later Mesolithic cemeteries from the Dnieper Rapids region, being dated to 7300–6220 cal BC on the basis of three radiocarbon determinations. This analysis provides insights into the nature of the diet of the Dnieper populations at the very end of the Mesolithic period, prior to the adoption of pottery in the region, and the assumed shift towards the exploitation of domesticates in the economies of the populations of the Dnieper region, and considers these in relation to broader temporal indicators of diet in the region.
Since the early 1990s, excavations of a protohistoric lakeside settlement in the Korça basin carried out by a French–Albanian archaeological team have induced geomorphological and palynological studies about the sedimentary records of Lake Maliq. These studies allow us to distinguish a series of centennial-scale high and low lake level events between 4200 and 4000 cal BP (2899–2637 BC/2843–2416 BC) and 2600 cal BP (822–671 BC), probably due to large-scale climate changes (in the Mediterranean basin). In addition, the sediment sequence also gives evidence of a millennial-scale trend of lake level rise. It appears to be an interplay between lake level rises and falls against tectonic subsidence of the basin allowing accommodation space for sediment deposition.The variations of the lake's level and the lake's surface area influenced the development and the abandonment of the nearby lakeside settlements (like the tell of Sovjan). In order to prepare an archaeological survey around the now dried up lake, we made a 3D model of the Holocene deposit from the lake including these lake level results, geomorphological mapping, excavation data, numerous core logs, AMS 14C dating and SRTM DEM data. The GIS model allowed us to propose four palaeogeographical reconstructions of the extension of Lake Maliq: around 14,000 BP, during the Mesolithic (around 9000 BP – 8781–8542 BC), the Early/Middle Bronze Age transition (around 3800 BP – 2310–2042 BC) and the Iron Age (2600 BP – 822–671 BC). A map of the thickness of the sediments above potential archaeological layers is also proposed.
The cell wall of mycobacteria includes an unusual outer membrane of extremely low permeability. This cell envelope consists of a characteristic cell wall skeleton, a mycoloyl arabinogalactan peptidoglycan complex, and related hydrophobic components that contribute to the cell surface properties. In this study 1400-year-old mycolic acids as unique tuberculosis biomarkers have been extracted and identified for the first time by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI TOF MS) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). The data suggest that the MALDI TOF MS has potential as a rapid and reproducible technique for the detection and identification of ancient mycobacterial infections.
The remains of Henry V's flagship, the Grace Dieu, currently lie buried within the inter-tidal sediments of the River Hamble (S. England). Previous archaeological investigations have been hindered by difficult excavation conditions resulting in a poor understanding of the dimensions, shape and degradation state of the hull's deeper structure. This study therefore aimed to image, characterize and reconstruct the buried remains of this vessel using a high-resolution 3D acoustic sub-bottom Chirp system with RTK-GPS positioning capability. The accurate navigation and high-resolution data that were acquired enabled the construction of a full 3D image of the site that not only identified the remains of the wooden hull, but also features buried within it. In addition, the degradation state of these buried wooden remains were investigated by calculating reflection coefficients while a hypothetical larger reconstruction of the Grace Dieu's hull was achieved, through the use of the ShipShape ship design software package.The results of this project demonstrate that (i) acoustic data can be used to successfully image buried wooden shipwrecks, (ii) artefacts are buried within the hull of the Grace Dieu, (iii) there is variation in the degradation state of the buried timbers, as calculated from the acoustic data, with the shell of the vessel being moderately well preserved, and (iv) the Grace Dieu was a very large ship for its time (possibly over 60 m long and 16 m wide).The outcomes of this research not only have considerable implications for the management and monitoring of submerged and buried archaeological sites but also for planning intrusive surveys, should they be required.
This article presents and discusses the chronological layout of the final Mousterian and Uluzzian levels of Fumane Cave in northern Italy using 14C, ESR and TL methods. Given its complex sedimentary and cultural succession, Fumane is a key site to assess the Middle–Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southern Europe and to explore Neanderthal behaviour and to compare it with the first Aurignacians. Large ranges defined by the ESR and TL dates cover the radiocarbon ages for units from A11 to A4, respectively, from 42.8 to 32.5 ka BP become progressively younger in agreement with the stratigraphy, despite high dispersions within the same unit. Our estimates using chronometric data seem to support the hypothesis that the sequence may cover almost 10,000 radiocarbon yr and that from comparison with the sedimentological and palaeoecological data, the late Middle Palaeolithic and the early Upper Palaeolithic at Fumane occur in sediments formed under moderately cool to mild climatic conditions correlated to the Hengelo-Interstadial, shifting towards cooler and drier conditions. Finally, comparisons between the Fumane data set and other sites in the North-Adriatic region are discussed.
This paper presents new AMS radiocarbon dating results of six ungulate bones from the current excavation of Isturitz Cave, France, layer C 4c4. The assemblage from this layer exhibits a suite of traits closely aligned with the Early Aurignacian, but with some aspects that bear strong similarities with the Protoaurignacian, with possible in situ technological transformation. Accurate and precise dating of the late Middle Palaeolithic and the early Upper Palaeolithic periods is critical to our understanding of the possible relationship between final Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe. As such, a rigorous set of sample selection and evaluation protocols was developed and used in this research. Among these, only cutmarked bones were selected and a total of 31 targets were made, giving a weighted average of 37,180 ± 420 BP for this assemblage and providing a terminus ante quem for the ornaments, decorated artefact and amber pendants beneath it. The implications and importance of these results to debates concerning the chronological relationship between the Châtelperronian, Protoaurignacian and Early Aurignacian and associated debates regarding hominin dispersal, interaction and the timing of technical and cultural innovations are discussed.
This study presents the results of 44 new 14C analyses of Danish Early Iron Age textiles and skins. Of 52 Danish bog finds containing skin and textile items, 30 are associated with bog bodies. Until now, only 18 of these have been dated. In this paper we add dates to the remaining finds. The results demonstrate that the Danish custom of depositing clothed bodies in a bog is centred to the centuries immediately before and at the beginning of the Common Era. Most of these bodies are carefully placed in the bog – wrapped or dressed in various textile and/or skin garments. The care with which these people were placed in the bog indicates that they represent a hitherto unrecognised burial custom supplementing the more common burial pratice for this period.
Users in the Quaternary and Archaeological Sciences have expressed a general desire for significant improvements in the accuracy and precision of radiocarbon dating results in general but also allied to the measurement of small samples. The accuracy and precision of measurement has also been the focus of some attention within the 14C community. As a result, the 14C community has undertaken a wide-scale, far-reaching and evolving programme of inter-comparisons, to the benefit of laboratories and users alike, the most recent being completed in 2001. The information arising from the studies is important for the appropriate interpretation of the scientific evidence provided by 14C analyses in calibration and construction of chronologies where assemblages of dates are frequently assessed.In this paper, some preliminary findings from the Fourth International Radiocarbon Inter-comparison, completed in 2001, will be reviewed and some conclusions drawn with regard to accuracy and precision of 14C dates.
The time of appearance of a persistent and demographically-viable hunter-gatherer population in late Pleistocene southern South America must be determined by evaluating evidence from as large as possible a sample of candidate archaeological sites in the region. We co-ordinated the AMS dating of multiple bone and charcoal samples from previously-excavated strata at the following sites: Arroyo Seco 2, Paso Otero 5, Piedra Museo, and Cueva Tres Tetas (all in Argentina), and Cueva del Lago Sofia 1 and Tres Arroyos (both in Chile). With one possible exception, we did not obtain new results to confirm earlier observations of pre-Clovis-age cultural activity at any of the sites considered in this study. The possible exception, Arroyo Seco 2, is considered in detail elsewhere [Politis G., Gutierrez M.A., Scabuzzo, C. (Eds), in press. Estado actual de las Investigaciones en el sitio 2 de Arroyo Seco (región pampeana, Argentina). Serie Monográfica INCUAPA 5. Olavarría]. However, our results for the samples which were the most preferred indicators of cultural events (hearth charcoal and cut-marked bone) confirm that people were in the southern cone of South America at or soon after 11,000 BP (13,000 cal BP). Considered alongside recent age estimates for the Clovis culture in North America, these results imply the contemporaneous emergence of a consistent and archaeologically-robust human occupation signal at widely-separated locations across the Western Hemisphere. Such findings suggest that Palaeoindian demic expansion may have involved more than one terminal Pleistocene dispersal episode.
Three fragments of charcoal taken from different parts of the lowermost bed containing Aurignacian artifacts at El Castillo Cave yielded AMS dates of 37·7 (± 1·8) ka bp, 38·5 (± 1·8) ka bp, and 40·0 (± 2·1) ka bp (average 38·7 ± 1·9 ka bp). These dates are almost identical to new AMS dates from l'Arbreda cave in Catalunya on the same cultural horizon (average 38·5 ± 1·0 ka bp) and are significantly older than the earliest dates for Aurignacian industries in the Aquitaine and in other parts of Central and Western Europe.
The cultural transition from Mousterian to Aurignacian is abrupt at l'Arbreda Cave and occurs within a homogeneous sedimentary unit with no visible lithologic changes. Fragments of milligram-size charcoal were collected immediately above and below the cultural boundary for radiocarbon dating by accelerator. Four charcoal fragments from the lowest basal Aurignacian level yielded dates of 37·7 ± 1·0, 37·7 ± 1·0, 39·9 ± 1·2, and 38·7 ± 1·2 ka bp (average 38·5 ± 1·0 ka bp). These ages are similar to three dates from the same cultural horizon at El Castillo Cave in Cantabria and both sets of dates are significantly older than the earliest reported for the Aurignacian in the Aquitaine and in other parts of Central and Western Europe. The dates are in accord with similarly early dates for Aurignacian in Bulgaria and suggest that appearance of Aurignacian peoples is synchronous across Europe. Three fragments from the uppermost Mousterian level yielded dates of 39·4 ± 1·4, 34·1 ± 0·75, and 41·4 ± 1·6 ka bp. Discounting the spurious 34·1 ka bp result, these dates are slightly older (average 40·4 ± 1·4 ka bp) but overlap with counting error the basal Aurignacian dates. The data show that the transition from Mousterian to Aurignacian was chronologically abrupt at this location. These results strongly support the replacement hypothesis.
Although minor climatic and sea-level changes have been documented for the South Pacific during the late Holocene, our understanding of the consequent impact of these changes on the marine 14C reservoir, and therefore the 14C content of shellfish, is limited. Ultimately, this has implications for documenting the chronology of human movement and adaptation in this region. In this paper we compare marine reservoir (ΔR) data obtained from tightly controlled archaeological proveniences with known-age, pre-AD 1950 shells from the southern Cook Islands, American Samoa, and Marquesas Islands. Results indicate that there has been no significant change in the near-shore marine reservoir in these three locations over the last ca. 750 years. Furthermore, known-age, pre-AD 1950 shell samples provide more precise ΔR values for use in sample calibration than archaeological paired shell/charcoal samples. This is attributed in part to the limitations of assigning provenance and age to material from archaeological sites. On the basis of these results we conclude that the known-age, pre-AD 1950 shell derived ΔR values can be used to calibrate shell 14C results from deposits of late Holocene age.
New radiometric data are reported from the recent excavation of the type locality of the Early Upper Palaeolithic entity of the Bohunician. Recently obtained radiocarbon (14C) data on charcoal are compared with new Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating of sediment. OSL ages were determined on sediment from the archaeological occupation at Brno-Bohunice, as well as from the over- and underlying loessic sediments. Multiple techniques were applied, which all gave congruent results. While a dual protocol (post IR-OSL) failed the quality criteria tests, ages were obtained by Multiple-Aliquot-Additive-Dose (MAAD) on polymineral material and Single-Aliquot-Regeneration (SAR) on fine grain quartz extract as well as on polymineral material. Fading tests show significant loss of Infrared Stimulated Luminescence (IRSL) after storage for 3 and 12 months for one sample, but little or no fading for others. The resulting (uncorrected) age estimates are smaller than those on quartz by OSL methods. The latter are considered to be more reliable estimates of the sedimentation age of these deposits. The measured OSL doses do not show a simple distribution and the lowest 5% was used for age calculation to represent the most likely sedimentation age. The quartz from the loess overlying the archaeological layer is OSL dated to 30.9 ± 3.1 ka, while the sediment for the paleosol which contains the archaeological layer gave an age of 58.7 ± 5.8 ka. The attribution of this paleosol to the Hengelo interstadial is therefore questionable. However, if the Hengelo interstadial is correlated with the Dansgaard/Oeschger (D/O) event 12, statistical agreement within 2-σ is achieved. The OSL result for the archaeological layer is in accordance with a weighted average TL date on heated flint artifacts of 48.2 ± 1.9 ka from this layer as well as calibrated radiocarbon data (CalPal Hulu 2007) from nearby locations. However, radiocarbon data on charcoal samples obtained during excavation at Brno-Bohunice 2002 provide age estimates between 30 and 40 ka 14C-years, which translate to approximately (33) 35–44 ka on the calendric time scale according to the Hulu 2007 model. For the underlying loess a depositional age of 104.3 ± 10.6 ka was obtained by OSL. The presented OSL ages indicate that a simple correlation of soil sequences between sites within a region has to be verified by chronometric dating.
The spread of early farming in Europe is revisited using a sample of 3072 audited 14C calBC dates from 940 georeferenced early Neolithic sites. The surface expansion of early Neolithic has been reconstituted using the kriging technique of spatial interpolation. Centres of renewed expansion, of contact zones, and the main routes of expansion have been highlighted by means of a vector map, representing the gradient. The expansion of the agricultural system on the map, was not uniform and regular across Europe as a whole, but proceeded in leaps. With the scale of detection of the 500-year isochrones, several leaps are identifiable: at 8000 calBC crossing the Taurus barrier, 6700–6100 calBC crossing the southern Adriatic barrier, 6100–5600 calBC crossing the Central European agro-ecological barrier and 5000–4000 calBC expanding on the other, marginal zones. Using a vector map, 10 points of renewed expansion and nine contact zones, were detected. The whole does not correspond to a process of homogeneous diffusion, approximately steady, but a process marked by phases of geographical expansion and stasis.
Excavations at two pre-Columbian sites at Paradise Park, Parish of Westmoreland, Jamaica, revealed significant changes in mollusk use through time. The sites are located on a low dune ridge in a tropical forest between a mangrove swamp and sawgrass morass on Bluefields Bay. One site (Wes-15a) dates to the 9th century AD and contains only Ostionan (redware) pottery. It is located 240 m to the east of a Meillacan (White Marl/Montego Bay style) site dated to the 15th century AD (Wes-15b). The molluscan fauna in the Ostionan site is dominated by species that prefer freely circulating, high salinity seagrass habitats (i.e., Strombidae, Cardiidae, and Veneridae). In marked contrast, Lucinidae and Melongenidae dominate the Meillacan deposits, taxa that favor habitats of low circulation, lower salinity, and muddier substrates that are often associated with mangroves in Jamaica. Cultural and environmental factors that may have contributed to the observed shift in resource use are discussed.
The north-east mainland of Scotland and the archipelagos Orkney and Shetland formed a distinct geographical and cultural region throughout the Holocene. Synthesis of over 40 archaeo-ichthyological assemblages dating from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages reveals long-term patterns of marine resource exploitation. Some deep-water fishing may have occurred in the earliest periods, but littoral taxa were of considerable importance until the end of the Iron Age. The Iron Age/Viking Age transition was marked by increased exploitation of large cod family fishes, probably caught from boats with hand lines. This change could imply a substantial migration of Norse primary producers in addition to Norse elite dominance of the Iron Age population. Cod fishing may have intensified in the Middle Ages—possibly to fuel an export trade in dried fish. The size of Mediaeval fish assemblages is greater and butchery patterns are consistent with the production of dried products. However, comparable procedures of recovery and analysis would improve interpretation of these patterns. Recommendations are offered to enhance the effectiveness of future zooarchaeological syntheses.
We have analysed human and animal collagen samples from three geographically and temporally distinct cemeteries at the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. All sites display strikingly high average values of δ15N: Kellis 1 (Late Ptolemaic–Early Roman period) 18·0 per mil Kellis 2 (Romano-Christian period) 18·0 per mil, and ‘ein Tirghi (Roman period) 17·0 per mil. Rainfall at Dakhleh is essentially zero. The δ15N values for humans and animals lie on the respective quasi-linear relationship between rainfall and δ15N found by Heaton et al . (1986). Data from Dakhleh and other sites suggest that a single linear trend describes the rainfall-δ15N relationship in a wide range of sites. This correlation is believed to be due to a combination of two effects: excretion of excess15N-depleted urea in order to increase osmolality of urine (Ambrose & DeNiro, 1986 a , b) and15N-enrichment in arid-region plants, as a result of15N-enrichment in soils. Higher δ15N values in human consumers were acquired through consumption of animal-derived protein. High δ15N in desert soils may be caused by volatilization of isotopically light ammonia formed during bacterial activity, an effect which increases near to the soil surface.
Hone stone trade and use during the period of Scandinavian-English interaction (9th–15th centuries AD) was dominated by two metamorphic petrological types represented by the “Norwegian Ragstone” (NR) a quartz-mica schist, and the “Purple Phyllite” (PP) a quartz-mica phyllite, and finds are abundant throughout the Viking world. Petrology associates the NR type with the known quarries at Eidsborg, southern Norway, and this has been endorsed by isotopic evidence. The source of the PP type remains unknown, but has been postulated to be a second facies of Eidsberg material, or even a Variscan phyllite from Belgium. It was the purpose of this study to further refine the possible source area of the PP material. Age data now indicate a “Caledonian” source for the PP type. Within Europe the superposition of metamorphic belts has led to the occurrence of both schist and phyllitic metamorphic lithologies. Petrological criteria therefore rarely provide evidence of the source of such rocks. The zonation of Europe by metamorphic belts does, however, allow isotopic age studies to be used as an aid to provenancing. The PP hones exhibit a range of mineralogy which may indicate a variety of sources, although no archaeological sites capable of producing such a quantity of material have been identified within the Viking world. The evidence, however, indicates a source in the Norwegian Caledonides.
Over 300 colonial coarse earthenwares kiln wasters uncovered from 16 potter's workshops in southern Québec were analysed using inductively coupled-plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES). A sub-sample was analysed through inductively coupled-plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). These analyses were first conducted for the needs of defining ceramic reference groups, but the study also demonstrates that major elements and ICP-AES geochemical datasets can be particularly instructive for the sourcing of ceramics made out of glacial clays.
An extraordinarily well-preserved skeleton of a child, interred in a stone sarcophagus in the Late-Roman era, was discovered in the city of Mainz (Germany) in 1998, covered with a puff pastry-like substance assumed to be adipocere. It is the first time that this substance, which is derived from fat under oxygen-deficient conditions and prevents corpses from decaying, has been discovered on corpses buried under conditions described in the present paper.The body was buried at groundwater level (2.9 m below surface) in a moist zone close to the Rhine that was affected by seasonally fluctuating groundwater levels. The fluctuating groundwater levels would appear to have had an effect on the degradation of the interred body. The discovery of the skeleton gave us an excellent opportunity to examine fatty acid material which had been subjected to prolonged fluctuating aerobic and anaerobic conditions in a moderate environment. The body's fatty acid composition and 13C abundance were determined and compared with modern adipocere values. Element analysis of the stone sarcophagus in which the child was buried provided information on the burial environment. Our findings indicate that fatty material must have been converted into adipocere under anaerobic conditions in periods of high water levels, leaving the material open to decay during periods of low water levels. The fact that the excavated body was still covered with adipocere 1600 years after the burial clearly shows the robustness of the material against decay.
Top-cited authors
Steve Weiner
  • Weizmann Institute of Science
Rosa Maria Albert
  • ICREA - Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
Ruth Shahack-Gross
  • University of Haifa
Geert J J Verhoeven
  • Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology
Philippe De Smedt
  • Ghent University