Andrew Sorensen

Andrew Sorensen
Leiden University | LEI · Faculty of Archaeology

PhD

About

36
Publications
9,141
Reads
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179
Citations
Introduction
I am a postdoctoral researcher with the Human Origins and Material Culture Studies groups at Leiden University (The Netherlands) looking into Palaeolithic pyrotechnology (i.e., fire origins, uses, production and preservation), with a focus on Neandertals and early Modern Humans. I am very interested to learn of any prehistoric (esp. Palaeolithic) fire making tools you may have encountered in your research. Do send me a message if you have any specimens you would like to bring to my attention. Thank you!
Additional affiliations
July 2013 - present
Leiden University
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
February 2011 - February 2012
Leiden University
Field of study
  • Palaeolithic Archaeology, Material Culture and Artifact Studies
September 2000 - June 2004
Cornell College
Field of study
  • Geology, History

Publications

Publications (36)
Article
Full-text available
Fire use appears to have been relatively common among Neandertals in the Middle Palaeolithic. However, the means by which Neandertals procured their fire-either through the collection of natural fire, or by producing it themselves using tools-is still a matter of debate. We present here the first direct artefactual evidence for regular, systematic...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence for fire use becomes increasingly sparse the further back in time one looks. This is especially true for Palaeolithic assemblages. Primary evidence of fire use in the form of hearth features tends to give way to clusters or sparse scatters of more durable heated stone fragments. In the absence of intact fireplaces, these thermally altered...
Article
Full-text available
Both environmental and cultural factors dictate how, when and where hunter-gatherers use fire in the landscape, as well as how well evidence for any one fire will preserve in the archaeological record. Variability in the production and preservation of anthropogenic fire traces can potentially skew our perception of fire use in the past. With this i...
Chapter
Full-text available
The collection of the black minerals comprised primarily of manganese dioxide (MnO2 ) by Neandertals in France is a known archaeological phenomenon, with some of these blocks exhibiting evidence of having been abraded to produce powder. This has generally been interpreted as the production of black pigment that may have been applied to the body as...
Article
Full-text available
(Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 28) The ability to control fire is a pivotal trait of human culture and likely influenced both the physical and cultural development of our evolutionary lineage. We know fire fundamentally changed our relationship with the world by making previously uninhabitable climates tolerable, inedible foods pa...
Poster
Full-text available
The collection of the black minerals comprised primarily of manganese dioxide (MnO2) by Neandertals during the late Middle Palaeolithic in France is a known archaeological phenomenon, with some of these blocks exhibiting evidence of having been abraded to produce powder [1,2]. This has generally been interpreted as resulting from the production of...
Article
Full-text available
Prometheus stahl den Göttern das Feuer und brachte es auf die Erde. Doch wem gab er es? Die Untersuchungen des Autors belegen: Der Neandertaler war in der Lage, mit seinen Werkzeugen Feuer zu entfachen. Archäologie in Deutschland 04 2019
Presentation
Full-text available
The presence of evidence for fire use on an archaeological site, when available, is an important source of knowledge regarding the site’s occupants. Careful examination of the nature and frequency of combustion features and fire residues can potentially provide insights into, for example, how often fire was used at a site, the function of individua...
Data
Biface and pyrite fire making method
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The presence of fire proxy data within an archaeological layer, usually in the form of heated lithic debris or charred or combusted bone fragments, is often cited as evidence for on-site burning in the past. In instances where these data are tallied, the determined quantities are often used by archaeologists to infer the relative amount of fire use...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present here the first direct evidence for regular fire making by Neandertals. Isolated zones of macroscopic and microscopic traces suggesting repeated percussion and/or forceful abrasion with a hard mineral material were identified on dozens of large late Middle Palaeolithic bifacial tools using microwear analytical techniques. These bifaces we...
Data
fiReproxies source code, version 1.02. (R)
Data
Compressed folder containing simulations logs. Simulation logs 1–43 (See S2 Table). (ZIP)
Data
Thermal buffering (TB) value calculator based on known hearth widths and heat penetration depths. See Fig 3 for a visual representation of how the values obtained are used to calculate TB. (XLSX)
Data
Expanded version of Fig 6 displaying the charts comparing fire and lithic scatter placement scenarios between Layer 1 and Layer 2. Parameters: 1 fire, fire size 1, 4 lithic scatters, 30 occupations, 0–100% TB, 1% introduced lithics. FNP = Fire near previous, FR = Fires random, LSNF = Lithic scatters near fire, LSR = Lithic scatters random, LR = Lit...
Data
Quick reference list of abbreviations used in the text. (DOCX)
Data
fiReproxies user manual, version 1.02. (DOCX)
Data
List of simulation logs contained in S3 File. The parameters used for each simulation are defined, as are the figures and values mentioned in the text to which each simulation relates. (XLSX)
Data
Compressed folder containing the area files used in the simulations. Layer 1 = Cave Small, Layer 2 = Cave Large, Squares 4x4 to 25x25, Rectangles 2x4 to 18x36. (ZIP)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Fire use appears to have been relatively common among Neandertals in the Middle Palaeolithic [1]. Evidence for this practice ranges from occasional fragments of heated flint or charred/combusted bone to many tens of layers of combustion features stacked atop one another, depending on the frequency and degree of burning, the depositional setting and...
Presentation
This talk provides a broad overview of my PhD research to-date regarding Neandertal fire use practices and how they manifest in the archaeological record. I will primarily focus on the direct and indirect influence climate may have had not only on how Neandertals used fire, but also if or when any particular fire use event would preserve for poster...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The genus Homo has since its origins been subject, by and large, to the same whims of Nature endured by other creatures. In the recent past, however, cultural innovations like clothing and shelter helped our ancestors to work with (or buffer against) Nature to make life more comfortable. Harnessing fire was another. Prior to learning how to make fi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Two primary fire production methods are known from antiquity: wood-on-wood friction and stone-on-stone percussion. The more durable elements of the latter system (i.e. flint and pyrite/marcasite, aka sulphuric iron) are more likely to preserve in archaeological contexts. Yet, known evidence of fire making using flint “strike-a-lights” and sulphuric...
Book
Full-text available
Book of Abstracts for the first meeting of the Association of Archaeological Wear & Residue Analysts (AWRANA) held at Leiden University, the Netherlands, on 27-30 May, 2015. Includes attached Erratum.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The use of fire by Neandertals and their predecessors is currently a hot-button issue in the realms of Palaeolithic Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology. By and large, research within this vein focuses on the origins of “habitual” fire use, inferred from morphological changes within the human lineage observed in the fossil record, or from discerning...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The use of fire by Neandertals during the Middle Palaeolithic has been well established by archaeologists. Whether or not these people possessed the ability to make their fires artificially with the aid of tools, on the other hand, has not. To date, only one Neandertal tool exhibiting microwear traces suggestive of having been used briefly to make...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Clear examples of tools used to artificially ignite fire are absent in the archaeological record until the mid- to late Upper Palaeolithic. One explanation for this is that hominin groups up to this point were simply fire users, dependent on the environment to provide conflagrations for exploitation, as opposed to fire producers. An alternate scena...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological excavations were conducted in northeastern Missouri during the summer of 2008 by the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeology (OSA) for the Rockies Express-East pipeline (REX-East). This article presents the results of fieldwork at 23PI294 (Figure 1). These excavations yielded over 50,000 artifacts spanning thousands of yea...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This poster discusses the geomorphology of site 23PI294 located in the lower Salt River valley in northeast Missouri. Site 23PI294 is a prehistoric multicomponent site with a rich and complex geomorphic history that can be attributed to the close proximity of the site to the confluence of the Mississippi and Salt rivers, as well as its position wit...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Archaeological investigations were conducted on three presumed Late Woodland period sites, 13LN315, 13LN316, and 13LN323, located within the Palisades-Dows Nature Area, Linn County, Iowa. This study was conducted as a field school under the joint auspices of the University Of Iowa’s Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), Iowa City, and Cornell Co...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Chemostratigraphic analysis of palustrine carbonate beds in the Cedar Mountain Formation of Eastern Utah has yielded carbon and oxygen isotope data that 1) capture a carbon isotopic excursion curve that is believed to coincide with Oceanic Anoxic Event 1b described by existing oceanic core data, which demonstrates a link between marine, atmospheric...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Palustrine carbonate beds in the Early Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation of Eastern Utah capture the Aptian-Albian record of carbon isotope excursions associated with Oceanic Anoxic Event 1b, indicating a coupling between marine, atmospheric, and terrestrial carbon reservoirs during a dynamic period of global change. Peak d13C values greater than...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
I don't mind where in the world it is, so long as it's OLD! Linked sources are very welcome. Thanks!

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
It is generally taken for granted that fire use was a ubiquitous feature among the warm-adapted Homo sapiens (i.e. early Upper Palaeolithic groups) moving into Ice Age Europe ca. 45,000 years ago, but this is hardly supported by the archaeological record. Neandertals used fire regularly, yet the idea that they were able to produce fire at will remains heavily debated. Conversely, the claim that the modern humans were making fire is virtually uncontested despite the lack of direct archaeological evidence. This project addresses this claim and confronts this double standard using a two-pronged approach to fire use among early Upper Palaeolithic peoples: (1) The first objective is to compile a large body of relevant data (hearths, charcoal, fire-affected lithics, etc.) from minimally 300 Upper Palaeolithic sites dating to ca. 45,000–20,000 years ago. These data will help to diachronically explore trends in anthropogenic use and functions of fire. Such a dataset (similar to that compiled by Roebroeks and Villa in 2011 for the Lower–Middle Palaeolithic) is sorely lacking for the Upper Palaeolithic. (2) The second objective is to identify early Upper Palaeolithic fire-making tools, at present virtually unknown. Flint ‘strike-a-lights’ were struck against the mineral pyrite to make sparks, producing distinctive use-damage identifiable through microwear analysis. The applicability of chemical analysis for identifying associated residues will be investigated in the process. In brief, a comprehensive database of fire evidence in combination with a focussed search for fire-making tools will together test the long-held but unproved notion that fire-making was ubiquitous and essential for early Upper Palaeolithic peoples moving into and surviving in Ice Age Europe. This project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) through the Veni Innovational Research Incentives Scheme.