Susan M. Mentzer

Susan M. Mentzer
Senckenberg Research Institute · Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment

PhD, Anthropology, University of Arizona

About

80
Publications
23,295
Reads
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1,311
Citations
Citations since 2016
55 Research Items
1146 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
Introduction
Susan Mentzer is a permanent researcher in the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen (HEP-Tübingen). She also runs the Microanalytics Laboratory for the Geoarchaeology Working Group in the Institute for Archaeological Sciences.
Additional affiliations
January 2017 - present
Senckenberg Research Institute
Position
  • Researcher
October 2013 - present
University of Tuebingen
Position
  • Instructor
Description
  • Chemistry for Archaeologists, Anthropogenic Deposits, FTIR in Archaeology
September 2011 - present
University of Tuebingen
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Institute for Archaeological Sciences Geoarchaeology Working Group
Education
January 2006 - August 2011
The University of Arizona
Field of study
  • Anthropology, Geosciences
August 2003 - December 2005
The University of Arizona
Field of study
  • Anthropology
August 1999 - May 2003
Boston University
Field of study
  • Archaeology, Earth Sciences

Publications

Publications (80)
Article
Full-text available
The archaeological record, particularly of shellfish, from the Klasies River main site (KRM) is important in understanding the fluctuating nature of coastal occupational patterns and changing coastal ecologies. In this paper, we provide new uranium–thorium (U-Th) dates for one of the earlier phases of coastal exploitation at KRM, and the microstrat...
Article
Full-text available
Mwanganda's Village (MGD) and Bruce (BRU) are two open-air site complexes in northern Malawi with deposits dating to between 15 and 58 thousand years ago (ka) and containing Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic assemblages. The sites have been known since 1966 and 1965, respectively, but lacked chronometric and site formation data necessary for their inte...
Article
Full-text available
High-resolution sediment analysis allowed us to identify two Middle Bronze Age (MBA 1, 1650–1550 cal a BCE) byre-houses at the waterlogged site of Oppeano “4D”, south of Verona (Veneto region, NE Italy). The site lies in a low-lying valley incised by the Adige River in its LGM alluvial fan. In this fluvio-palustrine environment burial and taphonomi...
Article
Full-text available
Klasies River Main site, on South Africa’s southern Cape coast, has contributed significantly to understanding Late Pleistocene human evolution. Excavations across this complex of caves and rock shelters have uncovered important assemblages of human fossils, faunal remains and lithic artefacts which have allowed interpretations of human anatomy and...
Article
Full-text available
Significance DNA preserved in sediments has emerged as an important source of information about past ecosystems, independent of the discovery of skeletal remains. However, little is known about the sources of sediment DNA, the factors affecting its long-term preservation, and the extent to which it may be translocated after deposition. Here, we sho...
Chapter
Die geoarchäologische Forschung ist in starkem Maße vom jeweiligen Naturraum und seiner geomorphologischen und klimageographischen Ausstattung abhängig. Das Kapitel betrachtet zunächst fluviale Systeme in humiden und ariden Räumen, das heißt Flusslandschaften im Hinblick auf ihre Bedeutung für die menschliche Besiedelungsgeschichte und ihre Erforsc...
Chapter
The ability to make and use fire can be considered as a behavioural threshold in human evolution. The aim of this chapter is to present an overview of the research on fire among Neanderthals. We compiled and reviewed the archaeological evidence and scientific studies on the topic, including different methodological approaches, theoretical considera...
Article
Recent research in the southern Central Balkans has resulted in the discovery of the first Middle Paleolithic sites in this region. Systematic excavations of Velika and Mala Balanica, and Pešturina (southern Serbia) revealed assemblages of Middle Paleolithic artifacts associated with hominin fossils and animal bones. This paper focuses on Pešturina...
Article
Full-text available
Modern Homo sapiens engage in substantial ecosystem modification, but it is difficult to detect the origins or early consequences of these behaviors. Archaeological, geochronological, geomorphological, and paleoenviron-mental data from northern Malawi document a changing relationship between forager presence, ecosystem organization, and alluvial fa...
Article
Full-text available
A complete Middle Stone Age ochre piece was unintentionally collected and fully preserved within a micromorphological block sample intended to characterise a 74 ± 3 ka occupation horizon at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Previously recovered ochre pieces from the same stratigraphic context (Still Bay) have displayed intricate modification patterns wit...
Article
Full-text available
The archaeological assemblage recovered from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) levels in Blombos Cave, South Africa, is central to our understanding of the development of early modern humans. Here, we demonstrate that the cultural and technological innovations inferred from the Blombos Cave MSA record also correlate with significant shifts in site use and...
Article
Water Canyon is a rare buried, multicomponent, stratified Paleoindian site in west‐central New Mexico. This paper presents a geoarchaeological assessment of the site as part of a broader interdisciplinary investigation of its paleoenvironmental history and archaeology. The archaeology is associated with ancient wetland deposits (Stratum 6) within a...
Article
Faunal remains play an important role in helping reconstruct Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence and mobility strategies. However, differential bone preservation is an issue in southern European prehistoric sites, which often makes morphological identification impossible. Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) is a new, low-cost method th...
Article
Full-text available
The process of sheep and goat (caprine) domestication began by 9000 to 8000 BCE in Southwest Asia. The early Neolithic site at Aşıklı Höyük in central Turkey preserves early archaeological evidence of this transformation, such as culling by age and sex and use of enclosures inside the settlement. People’s strategies for managing caprines evolved at...
Presentation
Full-text available
Series of step by step instructions for collecting a micromorphology block encased in plaster. Use as a guide in the field, or for teaching purposes.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper the new excavations at Klasies River main site are introduced and the first results presented and linked with previous work, establishing a baseline for future reporting. Data from the earliest phase of the SAS member, comprising the basal SASU and SASL sub-members from caves 1 and 1A are discussed. A new U-Th date of 126.0 ± 1.5 ka o...
Article
Caves, rockshelters, and fissures are nonanthropogenic landscape features that—due to their ready functions as natural traps, shelters and raw material sources—contain archaeological sites ranging in age from Lower Paleolithic to ethnographic. Many applications of archaeological science to these settings center on reconstructing site formation proc...
Article
Full-text available
Rockshelters contain some of the most important archives of human activity in Australia but most research has focused on artifacts and cultural context. This study explores geomorphological and geoarchaeological approaches for understanding a sandstone rockshelter in interior northern Australia: Gledswood Shelter 1. At this site, magnetic susceptib...
Article
Full-text available
Aşıklı’daki mikromorfoloji çalışmaları 1990ların başında, Prof. Ufuk Esin başkanlığında sürdürülen ilk dönem kurtarma kazılarıyla, dünyada mikromorfoloji analizlerinin kuramsal ve terminolojik altlığının oturduğu ve arkeolo- jideki kullanımının ivme kazandığı dönemle eş zamanlı olarak başlamıştır. 2010 yılındaAşıklı’da yeniden başlayan ikinci dönem...
Article
Full-text available
Achieving an accurate perception of time and context remains a major challenge in archaeology. This paper highlights the potential benefits of microstratigraphic study to address this goal, drawing on case studies from Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Iron Age archaeological sites. First, we discuss the importance of site format...
Chapter
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is used for studying the crystal structure of inorganic and organic substances. In geosciences, the most common application of XRD is in the analysis of powder samples. A typical X-ray powder diffractometer consists of a water-cooled X-ray tube, a detector for recording the intensities of X-rays scattered by the analysed sam...
Chapter
Bone, teeth and other hard tissues derived from animals are a major artefact class of many archaeological sites. This chapter summarizes the optical properties of bone, teeth, antler and keratin tissues. Different bones that comprise the fin rays show particular shapes that allow for their identification in thin section. Taphonomic processes that i...
Chapter
Microscopic X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (Micro-XRF) shows much promise for studies that integrate micromorphological observations from thin sections with data regarding elemental composition of different sediments and materials. The strengths of the technique include minimal sample preparation, and its suitability for analysis of different port...
Chapter
Many analytical techniques – beyond optical petrography – can be applied to micromorphological samples, which include thin sections and resin-impregnated sediment blocks. A relatively recent development, the use of stable isotope mass spectrometry on powders drilled from archaeological sediment blocks was first reported in Mentzer & Quade. Isotopic...
Chapter
Combustion features are sedimentary deposits or structures that contain physical remnants of fire. In archaeological sites, combustion features are typically – but not always – anthropogenic in origin, resulting from both intentional and unintentional burning. Integration of micromorphological observations with the analytical techniques may be esse...
Article
Full-text available
Everyone agrees that fire has played an important part in the history of the genus Homo. However, because of the sometimes ephemeral and ambiguous nature of the evidence for fire in the Paleolithic record, establishing when and how hominins actively interacted with fire has been difficult. Over the past several decades, multiple techniques have bee...
Poster
Full-text available
Visualization of the effects of heat in thin sections of archaeological sediments adds a new interpretational layer of fire-related events in archaeological deposits. Tracing the intensity of heat in a two-dimensional space allows to evaluate the effects that physical reworking or chemical alteration have on microarchaeological fire proxies. By app...
Article
Full-text available
Elands Bay Cave (EBC) is one of the key sites for the analysis of the Late Pleistocene/Holocene record in southern Africa. It typifies an area of study, the West Coast of South Africa, which benefits from a long history of research, from the 1960s until today. The 2011 project of EBC was initiated within the framework of the Middle Stone Age (MSA)...
Article
Elands Bay Cave is a small coastal rock shelter formed in quartzite that contained up to ca. 3 m of anthropogenic and geogenic deposits with archaeological materials dating to the Middle Stone Age through Later Stone Age. Today, only the lower portion of the sedimentary sequence, comprising ca. 1.2 m of sediment remains. A geoarchaeological study o...
Article
Full-text available
The Southern Montane Forest-Grassland mosaic ecosystem in the humid subtropics southern Rift Valley of Africa comprised the environmental context for a large area in which modern human evolution and dispersal occurred. Variable climatic conditions during the Late Pleistocene have ranged between humid and hyperarid, changing the character of the eco...
Poster
Full-text available
The identification of wood ash in archaeological contexts using soil micromorphology is largely based on the observation of rhombic, carbonate pseudomorphs of calcium oxalate crystals. The in situ preservation of this particular proxy is an important requirement for establishing the presence of certain types of combustion features in archaeological...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Aşıklı Höyük is the oldest Aceramic Neolithic tell in the Cappadocia region of Central Anatolia, Turkey, an area of Central Anatolia which has a distinct geologic and geographic structure. The Aşıklı Project first started in 1989, directed by Prof. Ufuk Esin of Istanbul. The current work at the site, which started in 2010, is led by Prof. Mihriban...
Article
Full-text available
The ash altar to Zeus, located on a peak of Mt. Lykaion (Greece), consists of a thick, anthropogenic deposit that formed as a result of repeated deposition of burnt offerings. Excavations conducted from 2007 to 2010 uncovered evidence of a long history of use of the mountain summit as a purely ritual locality. Micromorphological analyses of sedimen...
Article
Full-text available
Carbonate is abundant in many Neolithic tells and is a potentially useful archive for dating and climate reconstruction. In this paper, we focus on the mineralogy, radiocarbon dating, and stable isotope systematics of carbonate in hackberry endocarps. Hackberry fruits and seeds are edible in fresh and stored forms, and they were consumed in large q...
Article
Full-text available
Combustion features inform archaeologists about the prehistoric use of space, subsistence behaviors, and tempo of site visitation. Their study in the field is difficult because burned sediments are susceptible to reworking and diagenesis. Microarchaeological analyses, including micromorphology, are essential for documenting the composition, preserv...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Archaeological evidence from Sonora, Mexico, indicates that the earliest widespread and recognizable group of hunter-gatherers (“Clovis”) were in place ∼13,390 y ago in southwestern North America. This is the earliest well-documented population on the continent and suggests that the unique Clovis artifact style originated in the southw...
Article
Full-text available
Significance This article provides original results on the formative conditions of sheep domestication in the Near East. To our knowledge, none of the results has been published before, and the results are expected to be of wide interest to archaeologists, biologists, and other professionals interested in evolutionary and cultural processes of anim...