Paul B Pettitt

Paul B Pettitt
Durham University | DU · Department of Archaeology

About

172
Publications
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6,058
Citations
Citations since 2016
34 Research Items
2709 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400

Publications

Publications (172)
Article
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How have our visual brains evolved, and exactly how did this constrain the specific way that animals were depicted in Upper Palaeolithic art? Here, we test predictions derived from visual neuroscience in this field. Using the example of open-air Upper Palaeolithic rock art of Portugal’s Côa Valley, we point out the frequently recurring outline stra...
Article
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La découverte d’une mandibule néandertalienne dans la grotte du Boquete de Zafarraya en1983, fut à l’origine de l’extraordinaire recherche pluridisciplinaire engagée par Cecilio Barroso-Ruíz et Henry de Lumley et menée par plusieurs équipes espagnoles et françaises, appartenant à différentes universités et institutions scientifiques.
Article
A collection of 141 bone and antler tools and debitage pieces recovered from the River Užava at the village of Sise constitutes the largest Mesolithic osseous assemblage in western Latvia. Radiocarbon dating of 12 pieces suggests that most of this collection dates from the 6 th millennium calBC. We present a general analysis, highlighting typical a...
Article
The authors examine the arguments and validity of the conclusions of a recent statistical study of the chronology of human activity in Chauvet Cave. At first sight the study seems to present a considerable advance in the understanding of the cave's art, and, in particular, a validation of the arguments for an early (presumed Aurignacian) age for it...
Article
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Mortuary behavior (activities concerning dead conspecifics) is one of many traits that were previously widely considered to have been uniquely human, but on which perspectives have changed markedly in recent years. Theoretical approaches to hominin mortuary activity and its evolution have undergone major revision, and advances in diverse archeologi...
Article
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The physical nature of cave walls and its impact on Upper Palaeolithic image making and viewing has frequently been invoked in explanations about the function of cave art. The morphological features (convexities, concavities, cracks and ridges) are frequently incorporated into the representations of prey animals that dominate the art, and several s...
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In recent years, a thanatology of primates has become a respectable research topic, and although still sparse, observations among several taxa have shown how complex responses to the dead can be. In human evolutionary archeology, re-analysis of old ‘burial’ sites is slowly revising our view on the development of specifically human responses to the...
Article
Fast and slow science and the Palaeolithic dating game - Volume 93 Issue 370 - Paul Pettitt
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Michael Marshall discusses research which suggests the missing fingers in Ice Age hand stencils were due to ritual amputation, not frostbite
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Slimak et al. challenge the reliability of our oldest (>65,000 years) U-Th dates on carbonates associated with cave paintings in Spain. They cite a supposed lack of parietal art for the 25,000 years following this date, along with potential methodological issues relating to open-system behavior and corrections to detrital or source water 230Th.We s...
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Societies, including those of humans, have evolved multiple ways of dealing with death across changing circumstances and pressures. Despite many studies focusing on specialized topics, for example necrophoresis in eusocial insects, mortuary activities in early human societies, or grief and mourning in bereavement, there has been little attempt to c...
Article
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Palaeoanthropology, or more precisely Palaeolithic archaeology, offers the possibility of bridging the gap between mortuary activities that can be observed in the wider animal community and which relate to chemistry and emotion; to the often-elaborate systems of rationalization and symbolic contextualisation that are characteristic of recently obse...
Article
The timing and nature of the emergence of art in human evolution has been one of the more debated subjects in palaeoanthropology in the last few years, and one of the areas where archaeology has made impressive advances. Here, we discuss the first evidence of figurative art on portable materials in the north of Spain. After analysis of the stratigr...
Article
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We gained new insights on Epigravettian funerary behavior at the Arene Candide cave through the osteological and spatial analysis of the burials and human bone accumulations found in the cave during past excavations. Archaeothanathological information on the human skeletal remains was recovered from diaries, field pictures and notes, and data from...
Article
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Archaeologists have struggled for more than a century to explain why the first representational art of the Upper Palaeolithic arose and the reason for its precocious naturalism. Thanks to new data from various sites across Europe and further afield, as well as crucial insights from visual science, we may now be on the brink of bringing some clarity...
Article
Archaeologists have struggled for more than a century to explain why the first representational art of the Upper Palaeolithic arose and the reason for its precocious naturalism. Thanks to new data from various sites across Europe and further afield, as well as crucial insights from visual science, we may now be on the brink of bringing some clarity...
Article
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Neandertal cave art It has been suggested that Neandertals, as well as modern humans, may have painted caves. Hoffmann et al. used uranium-thorium dating of carbonate crusts to show that cave paintings from three different sites in Spain must be older than 64,000 years. These paintings are the oldest dated cave paintings in the world. Importantly,...
Article
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Several proponents of costly signalling theory (CST) have noted its potential for understanding prehistoric art. We use the Late Upper Palaeolithic art of Lascaux Cave (Dordogne, France) as a test case as to whether we may be able to identify an assertive, individual style in Palaeolithic art. The cave’s abundant images represent one of the most st...
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In 2011 we undertook an informed analysis of the context and positioning of stencils in La Garma and El Castillo caves, taking a number of observations and measurements of each visible hand stencil. By focussing on the context of hand stencils we planned to widen our understanding of stencils by exploring processes of individual decision-making mad...
Article
U-series dating is a precise and accurate geochronological tool which is widely applied to date secondary CaCO3 formation, for example in speleothem based palaeoclimate research. It can also be employed to provide chronological constraints for archaeological sites which have a stratigraphic relationship with speleothem formations. We present in det...
Article
The chronology of European Upper Palaeolithic cave art is poorly known. Three chronometric techniques are commonly applicable: AMS 14C, TL and U-Th, and in recent years the efficacy of each has been the subject of considerable debate. We review here the use of the U-Th technique to date the formation of calcites that can be shown to have stratigrap...
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The authors disentangle the fascinating tale of the investigations in Kent's Cavern, iconic site for the acceptance of early man. The drawings they have discovered in the archives of the Geological Society are the only ones known from the earliest excavations and they are published here for the first time. As this paper shows, it takes intellectual...
Article
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Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind - Cook Jill . Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind. 288 pages, numerous illustrations. 2013. London: British Museum Press; 978-0-7141-2333-2 hardback £ 25. - Volume 87 Issue 337 - Paul Bahn, Paul Pettitt
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Zubrow Ezra , Audouze Françoise & Enloe James G. (ed.). The Magdalenian household: unraveling domesticity. x+335 pages, 123 figures, 24 tables. 2010. Albany (NY): State University of New York Press; 978-1-4384-3367-7 hardback $75; 978-1-4384-3366-0 paperback $29.95. - Volume 85 Issue 329 - Paul Pettitt
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Here we report on isotope and faunal evidence for intensive use of freshwater resources by Late Upper Palaeolithic humans from the Šandalja II site in Croatia. Carbon and nitrogen bone collagen isotopic analysis of humans and fauna from the site indicate that the main protein source in human diets at this time was freshwater fish, which is in contr...
Article
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Recently, radiocarbon chronology has playedthe central role in debates over the nature ofthe Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition inEurope. Here, we raise some concerns aboutboth the efficacy of radiocarbon dating to theseareas, and the way in which it is employed toreconstruct human palaeodemography. We cen-tre our concerns on the study by Bocq...
Article
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We are pleased to present here a preliminary account of the first discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. On 14 April 2003 we made the first discovery of Palaeolithic cave art in Britain. Since portable art of the period has long been known in this country (Sieveking 1972; Campbell 1977: vol. 2, figs 102, 105, 143), it has always seemed prob...
Article
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It is now 20 years since the discovery of the Grotte Chauvet with its impressive cave art, but controversy continues over the antiquity of the images. Radiocarbon assays have been used to argue that the ‘black series’ charcoal drawings date to the Aurignacian period, more than 20 000 years earlier than traditional stylistic models would suggest. Th...
Article
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New discoveries of cave art at Chauvet and elsewhere have produced radiocarbon dates which may seem startlingly early and demand dramatic revision to the traditional stylistic sequence. The authors warn that the radiocarbon dates may themselves need better validation.
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Quartär. Internationales Jahrbuch für Eiszeitalter- und Steinzeitforschung/International Yearbook for Ice Age and Stone Age Research, Band 55 (2008). 163 pages, 95 illustrations, 2 tables. English and German text. 2008. Rahden: Marie Leidorf; ISSN: 0375-7471; ISBN 978-3-86757-921-6 hardback €59.90. - Volume 83 Issue 319 - Paul Pettitt
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It is widely recognised that when marine resources form a significant proportion of the human diet, this results in radiocarbon ages for human remains that are significantly older than the contemporary atmosphere. While there has been widespread assessment of marine <sup>14</sup>C reservoir ages, there has been litle study of the freshwater equival...
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The famous upper Palaeolithic (Gravettian) burial with shell ornaments known as "Il Principe" was discovered in Italy sixty years ago. Here the authors present recent scientific research on his skeleton, leading to new assessments of the date of the burial and indications of diet.
Article
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The hand stencils of European Paleolithic art tend to be considered of pre-Magdalenian age and scholars have generally assigned them to the Gravettian period. At El Castillo Cave, application of U-series dating to calcite accretions has established a minimum age of 37,290 years for underlying red hand stencils, implying execution in the earlier par...
Chapter
Burial provides an extreme case of a detaching ritual…the evidence for Neanderthal burial had the sense of adieu rather than an au revoir. The latter might be expected with a true detaching ritual since it implies meeting again in some other context. Human interactions with the dead constitute some of the most profound human characteristics which c...
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N 0 k m 400 Hand stencils are an intriguing feature of prehistoric imagery in caves and rockshelters in several parts of the world, and the recent demonstration that the oldest of those in Western Europe date back to 37 000 years or earlier further enhances their significance. Their positioning within the painted caves of France and Spain is far fr...
Article
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Transitions, such as the one from the Upper to Late Palaeolithic in Europe, are episodes of cultural and demographic change, which raise questions about possible causal connections between environmental changes and human behaviour. The workshop The Upper-Late Palaeolithic Transition in Western Central Europe. Typology, Technology, Environment and D...
Article
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A series of undoubtedly Palaeolithic engraved figures have been recorded for the first time in the United Kingdom in Church Hole Cave, Creswell Crags. The first recorded images were thought initially to be two birds and a large ibex. This paper presents the preliminary results of the first systematic survey of the caves for engravings which identif...
Article
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It is now three decades since Waterbolk introduced evaluation criteria to 14C chronology. Despite this, and other subsequent attempts to introduce quality control in the use of 14C data, no systematic procedure has been adopted by the archaeological community. As a result, our databases may be significantly weakened by questionable dates and/or que...
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The lower part of a sediment core taken from the Ezero lake, next to Tell Ezero, in the Thracian Plain, Bulgaria, covers the period 15500–13500 calBP (Greenland Ice Core Stages G1-1c–1e). The recovery of plant macrofossils as well as pollen grains indicated that, far from a largely treeless grassy steppe vegetation, there were stands of trees and b...
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John Lubbock's Pre-Historic Times (1865) was the first publication to use the terms 'Palaeolithic' and 'Neolithic' to define major periods of early prehistory. Because of this he has come to be seen as one of the most influential figures in the history of prehistoric archaeology. We examine this image here, in terms of his influence on contemporari...
Conference Paper
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Paleolithic cave art is an exceptional archive of early human symbolic behavior, but because obtaining reliable dates has been difficult, its chronology is still poorly understood after more than a century of study. We present uranium-series disequilibrium dates of calcite deposits overlying or underlying art found in three caves, including the UNE...
Article
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Recent anatomical analyses of a human maxilla found in 1927 in the Vestibule at Kent's Cavern, Devon, UK, have been interpreted as confirming its taxonomic status as Homo sapiens, while Bayesian modelling of dated fauna apparently ‘associated’ with it has been interpreted as suggesting a calendar age for the maxilla of around 44,200–41,500 years BP...
Article
Raw material movements and group mobility in the British Final Magdalenian is poorly understood. Following a review of the British Final Magdalenian (Creswellian), this paper presents preliminary results of a major LA-ICP-MS trace elemental characterization of British bedrock flint regions, and compare to these characterizations of artefacts from t...
Article
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Dating Cave Paintings A number of caves in Europe contain exquisite ancient art. Most of the art has been thought to be produced during the time of last glaciation by recently arrived modern humans, but dating of the art has been problematic because the art contains only minimal amounts of carbon for radiocarbon dating. Pike et al. (p. 1409 ; see t...
Article
Spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) remains have been recovered from British Middle and Upper Pleistocene sites at intervals within the period 700–730 ka BP. Morphological studies have suggested that hyaenas of the Last Interglacial sensu stricto (Ipswichian: Marine Isotope Stage [MIS] 5e, 130–115 ka BP) and Last Glacial (Devensian: MIS 3, 61–24 ka BP...
Article
The British Palaeolithic provides the first academic synthesis of the entire British Palaeolithic, from the earliest occupation (currently understood to be around 980,000 years ago) to the end of the Ice Age. Landscape and ecology form the canvas for an explicitly interpretative approach aimed at understanding the how different hominin societies ad...
Article
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This article discusses the archaeology of religion and ritual in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic, focusing on the pre-modern hominins of the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Homo. The history of current world religions carries two major observations for the emergence of extant religions over the course of human evolution. First, these '...