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Abstract

The site of Combe-Grenal is arguably the reference site for the Mousterian of southwest France. Bordes excavated the site over a period of 13 years and generated a large collection of lithics and fauna from a deep series of 64 Lower and Middle Paleolithic levels. Though Bordes only partially published his work at the site, its long stratigraphic sequence and particularly its collections have been subjected to numerous studies over the years and have figured prominently in several long-running debates concerning the Mousterian. Recently, the authors undertook a project to inventory and analyzed these collections along with the documentation of their archaeological context. In so doing, however, a number of serious problems became apparent with the collection in its current state, problems that cannot easily be resolved given the state of the available documentation. These problems have important implications not only for results of studies based on these collections, but more generally, they also point to problems in terms of how archaeological collections are curated.

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... Of these, the upper 54 layers were attributed to the Middle Paleolithic with the remaining layers at the base were attributed to the Acheulian. Though a complete publication of the excavations was never made, the deep sequence with its substantial variability in stone tool industries and faunal assemblages made it the reference site for the late Middle Paleolithic of southwest France and as such its collections have been repeatedly studied over the years (see Turq, 2000;Dibble et al., 2009, andFaivre et al., 2014). ...
... Specimens came from secure stratigraphic contexts, each having been labeled with its couche number. These contexts were confirmed through cross-checking with the original field notes, which had been entered into a database for other related projects (Dibble et al., 2009). Preservation of bone and teeth was generally excellent across the entire assemblage, although a distinct collection bias toward identifiable specimens such as teeth, complete bones, and articular ends was evident (see Binford, 1981). ...
... It has been shown that the lithic M.P. Richards et al. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 14 (2017) 189-198 assemblages are not intact and that some, perhaps significant, movement of material between layers has occurred in the last decades since their excavation by Bordes (Dibble et al., 2009). This problem is largely (and unfortunately) unfixable because Bordes did not label each artifact with a unique ID number that could be linked back to the excavation notebooks where layer information was recorded. ...
Article
We report here on an isotopic study of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in Equus tooth enamel and dentine from multiple layers from the site of Combe Grenal, France, which date to between approximately 150,000 and 50,000 years BP. We found that there were significant variations in all three elemental isotope ratios through time, although the variations were not synchronous. This study shows the utility of using herbivore tooth dentine carbon and nitrogen isotope values as indicators of environmental changes, in addition to their use as dietary indicators.
... Based on information gleaned essentially from Bordes' excavation notebooks, Dibble et al. (2009) have recently highlighted certain problems with the stratigraphic integrity of particular lithic assemblages from Combe-Grenal currently housed at the Mus ee national de Pr ehistoire (Les Eyzies de Tayac). These authors focus particular attention on problems evident in the existing documentation concerning these contexts (excavation notebooks and spatial data) as well as cumulative errors connected to the repeated manipulation of the material over numerous years. ...
... Interestingly, the Levallois method is most prevalent in the scraperrich layer 7. In light of the questions raised by Dibble et al. (2009) concerning the stratigraphic integrity of some of the Combe-Grenal layers, it is entirely possible that the elevated presence of Levallois products in layer 6 may be due in part to their introduction from the immediately underlying Levallois-rich layer 7 via either errors in the field, post-excavation mixing or re-attribution. For instance, Dibble et al. (2009) note that the three-dimensional plotting of nearly 15% of the objects assigned to layer 11 during excavations are incompatible with their assignment to this layer. ...
... In light of the questions raised by Dibble et al. (2009) concerning the stratigraphic integrity of some of the Combe-Grenal layers, it is entirely possible that the elevated presence of Levallois products in layer 6 may be due in part to their introduction from the immediately underlying Levallois-rich layer 7 via either errors in the field, post-excavation mixing or re-attribution. For instance, Dibble et al. (2009) note that the three-dimensional plotting of nearly 15% of the objects assigned to layer 11 during excavations are incompatible with their assignment to this layer. Similarly, layer 16, which presents a stark technological departure from the underlying Quina layers given a mix of Discoid and Levallois elements and the anecdotal presence of blade/bladelet production (Faivre, 2012), may also have suffered some form of excavation bias. ...
Article
Disentangling the relative contribution of the various factors underlying Middle Palaeolithic industrial variability remains one of the foremost problems for researchers interested in Neandertal technological and behavioural adaptations. The site of Combe-Grenal (Dordogne) has figured prominently in these discussions given its long stratigraphic sequence and rich archaeological record that extends from MIS 6 to MIS 3 and contains all of F. Bordes' Mousterian facies. Departing from a strict typological approach, we provide a revised vision of the site's sequence focused on individualising lithic production systems. We investigate to what extent typologically different industries, beyond their separation imposed by the very idea of discrete Mousterian facies, nevertheless portray comparable production systems. By eschewing a chronology of the traditional Mousterian facies, our technological approach to the Combe-Grenal assemblages succeeded in identifying a clear stratigraphic succession where strictly typological approaches had previously failed. Moreover, comparison with other regional sequences shows the succession of Mousterian technological systems identified at Combe-Grenal not to be an exception in south-western France. We propose a revised chronology for the site's sequence based on a correlation of changes in the structure of regional faunal communities with independent palaeo-environmental data. Finally, comparing technological data with raw material provisioning strategies and elements of faunal exploitation, such as prey availability, provides insights concerning the interpretation of Mousterian variability and the investigation of changing patterns of Neandertal landscape use.
... Sixty-four layers ('beds') have been discerned, the upper 54 of which are Mousterian (Bordes and Prat 1965, Chase 1986a, Dibble et al. 2009b, Guadelli and Laville 1990, Jaubert 2002). ...
... Interestingly, Guadelli 's overview was based on more recent articles by Bordes, indicating that the industry of layer 8 had been revised ('denticulate' had become 'typical'). Despite some problematic issues with the lithic assemblages (Dibble et al. 2009b), it would seem that at least their typological attributions are solid, as type frequencies have been adequately preserved. ...
... Method of collecting Dibble and co-workers (Dibble et al. 2009b) comment, in the framework of an investigation of excavator bias and collection curation, that 'Bordes spent relatively little time instructing and supervising excavators, and so rules concerning what should be provenienced were poorly developed and were not communicated nor enforced among individual excavators.' ...
Data
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... Ainsi, si dans ce travail nous nous bornerons aux informations portant sur les collections en silex et sur leur contexte, rien n'empêche à l'avenir de rajouter des tables concernant d'autres types de vestiges ou d'analyses, comme les restes humains, l'industrie osseuse, les datations, les données de subsistance etc. Au sein d'un collectif de recherche, ce type de base peut se révéler être un outil extrêmement puissant pour croiser les données récoltées et produites par différents spécialistes.Malgré ce travail critique, il est tout à fait possible que le jeu de données d'occurrences final comporte des erreurs d'attribution. Celles-ci peuvent provenir de décalages entre la publication -qui est généralement une version synthétisée, lissée et interprétée des données brutes -et la réalité de la collection ou du terrain (e.g.,Bordes, 2002 ;Dibble et al., 2006Dibble et al., , 2009Dibble et al., , 2018Lacarrière et al., 2011 ;Gravina et Discamps, 2015 ; Ducasse et al., 2017 ;Vignoles et al., 2019). C'est pourquoi il est primordial en complément de ce travail bibliographique, de se confronter aux données de terrain, de revenir sur des collections anciennes qui n'ont pas été étudiées avec des méthodes récentes, afin de compléter les informations publiées et de les mettre en perspectives. ...
Thesis
L’un des enjeux majeurs de l’archéologie préhistorique est la définition des processus culturels à l’origine de la variabilité dans la culture matérielle des chasseurs-cueilleurs du passé. Dans cette thèse, nous proposons d’identifier certains des mécanismes à l’origine des trajectoires technologiques lithiques observées au Gravettien moyen – caractérisé par le Noaillien et le Rayssien (32-28.75 ka cal. BP) – et au Gravettien récent (28.75-26.5 ka cal. BP) en France et dans ses marges. Les unités archéologiques caractéristiques de ces périodes présentent une répartition géographique différente. Des changements technologiques majeurs sont chronologiquement associés à des périodes de forte instabilité climatique – telles que l’événement de Heinrich 3 (HE3) au Gravettien moyen, ou l’adoucissement climatique lié à l’interstade du Groënland 4 (GI 4) au Gravettien récent. Toutefois, la réalité d’une éventuelle relation causale entre variabilité technologique et écologique nécessite d’être testée plus précisément par le biais d’une approche quantitative et interdisciplinaire, visant à mieux mettre en relation des données archéologiques et environnementales.Dans cette optique, nous avons mis en place une approche intégrant l’étude typo-technologique de trois collections archéologiques – le niveau 10/11 de l’Abri du Facteur à Tursac, le gisement archéologique des Jambes à Périgueux et la séquence gravettienne du Flageolet I à Bézénac – et la modélisation de niches éco-culturelles, pour explorer les relations culture-environnement à différentes échelles. Nos résultats indiquent que les ruptures typo-technologiques observées sont concomitantes du changement des niches éco-culturelles dans des dimensions tant environnementales que géographiques. À partir de ces résultats, nous proposons l’action de trois mécanismes ayant pu influer sur ces trajectoires culturelles.• Au Gravettien moyen, la différenciation typo-technologique entre l’aire pyrénéo-cantabrique (Noaillien) et les territoires au nord de la Garonne (Noaillien et Rayssien) pourrait s’expliquer par les spécificités environnementales de chaque territoire, ainsi que par une probable spécialisation de la chasse au nord de la Garonne.• La généralisation de la méthode du Raysse au nord de la Garonne semble liée à un isolement démographique à mettre en relation avec des conditions inhospitalières dans le couloir de la Garonne et le désert périglaciaire des Landes. Dans ce contexte, des changements dans les modes de transmission ont pu favoriser la sélection de cette méthode au dépend d’autres pour la fabrication d’éléments d’armatures.• La disparition de la méthode du Raysse et le retour à des schémas de production de pointes à dos plus souples durant le Gravettien récent suggère un changement dans les normes entourant la fabrication d’éléments d’armatures, en lien avec une réorganisation territoriale des ressources liée à l’adoucissement du climat du GI 4.Ce scénario interprétatif met en évidence le rôle certes prépondérant de facteurs environnementaux, mais surtout leurs interactions avec des facteurs sociaux (e.g., stratégies de subsistance, organisation territoriale et technologique) dans la définition des mécanismes à l’origine des trajectoires technologiques et culturelles au Gravettien moyen et récent.
... Whilst such definitions can prove problematic they remain an essential component for understanding the depositional environments at a site and provide the basic, albeit occasionally, coarse unit for discussing hominin behaviour at a site, However, to understand what these abstract concepts mean for behaviour, both hominin or carnivore, it is important to consider the differing taphonomic resolutions, data scales and interpretive potentials. This revisitation of Swanscombe and Boxgrove forms part of a growing awareness of the importance of reassessing hominin behaviour at Palaeolithic sites, particularly in relation to older collections and fluvial localities (see Dibble et al., 2009;Smith, 2010Smith, , 2012aVilla, 1990;Villa et al., 2005). ...
Article
The identification of human butchery-signatures on fauna from Lower Palaeolithic sites is well documented and readily identifiable. Such bone surface modifications have the potential to provide not only information about past hominin meat-procurement behaviour but address the wider issue of competition for resources with other carnivore species. To understand and discuss these broader issues both hominin and natural bone surface modifications must be understood and contextualised within a sitespecific spatial and temporal framework. This paper presents new results from faunal analysis at two key British Lower Palaeolithic localities: Boxgrove and Swanscombe. It illustrates that different depositional environments and excavation histories have resulted in different scales and resolutions of available data and hence in varying interpretive potentials. At Swanscombe the archaeological record has been disturbed by both fluvial activity and excavation history providing a coarser-grained record of anthropogenic behaviour than previously acknowledged. Conversely, at Boxgrove, a finer-grained, higher resolution record of human behaviours has been preserved; this, combined with both an extensive and intensive excavation strategy, has allowed for a broader discussion of hominin landscape use, resource competition and meat-procurement behaviour. This paper highlights that assessing the specific depositional environment at each site is crucial to understanding Palaeolithic faunal assemblage formation and, consequently, the available data-resolution and behavioural interpretation.
... The majority of the collections reported by Nespoulet et al. (2008a) resulted from old excavations that did not employ modern, systematic standards of recording. Selective bias for certain types of stone tool artifacts versus others is also one of the issues of such old excavations (Dibble et al., 2005Dibble et al., , 2009 ). In addition, modern excavation methods e with regular sieving of the exhumed sediments e were not generally applied. ...
Article
Contrebandiers Cave preserves a Late Pleistocene sequence containing Middle Stone Age (MSA) so-called Maghrebian Mousterian and Aterian occupations, spanning from ∼126 to 95 ka (thousands of years ago), followed by spatially restricted Iberomaurusian industries. Micromorphological analyses, complemented by instrumental mineralogical identification and fabric orientation, allowed for the reconstruction of the main site formation processes at the site. Initial deposition is characterized by local reworking of marine shelly sands dating to Marine Isotopic Stage 5e (MIS5e). The subsequent stratification reveals sedimentary dynamics predominantly associated with gravity-driven inputs and contributions from weathering of the encasing bedrock, at the same time that anthropogenic sediments were being accumulated. The allochthonous components reflect soil degradation and vegetation changes around the cave during the last interglacial. Human occupations seems to be somewhat ephemeral in nature, with some stratigraphic units apparently lacking archaeological components, while in others the human-associated deposits (e.g., burned bones, charcoal, and ashes) can be substantial. Ephemeral breaks in sedimentation and/or erosion followed by stabilization are mainly discernible microscopically by the presence of phosphatic-rich laminae interpreted as short-lived surfaces, peaks of increased humidity and colonization by plants. More substantial erosion affects the uppermost Aterian layers, presumably due to localized reconfigurations of the cave's roof. The subsequent Iberomaurusian deposits are not in their primary position and are associated with well-sorted silts of aeolian origin. While the effects of chemical diagenesis are limited throughout the whole stratigraphic sequence, physical bioturbation (e.g., by wasps, rodents, and earthworms) is more pervasive and leads to localized movement of the original sedimentary particles.
... 3 Are diaries then made to be modified, overcome, overruled? H. L. Dibble and his team had to work hard from notebooks that were less than encouraging, as the reproduction of one page in the article shows, studying the excavations of none other than François Bordes at Combe Grenal (Dibble et al. 2009). Ultimately, their research is a good case study of how difficult it is to analyze a collection of artefacts produced by some other team's excavation; of how tantalizing this becomes if the respective excavation has not produced adequate records for it; and ultimately of how controversial it is to continue excavating when material from older excavations is not published or not even washed (cf. ...
Article
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Abstract In this article, I offer a number of perspectives on the theory and practice of archaeological recording. I start out by investigating the applicability of concepts from linguistic anthropology, social ontology and the philosophy of language to the process of creating the written documentation of the excavation. I then briefly present an array of case studies illus-trating the process of recording at Sardis (Turkey), Buenos Aires and the basin of the Limay river (Argentina), Waddi Rayyan (Jordan), sites excavated by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (Israel), Lake Vouliagmeni (Greece), University of Birmingham’s field schools (UK), Combe Capelle (France), and Mimbres sites (New Mexico, United States). In connection with this, I broach upon the use of GIS and laser scanning in recording. I conclude by pondering on how and if one could properly record a hypothetical site that would fall completely outside the archaeologist’s expectations and experience.
... At Combe-Grenal, insufficient communication of information during the excavations and imperfect curation and extensive handling of the material have impacted the lithic collections. These problems resulted in many inconsistencies between provenience and pieceplotting information, as well as instances of erroneous identification of trays of materials (Dibble et al., 2009). Many of these complications were attributed to cumulative errors produced while manipulating unlabeled artifacts over the years. ...
Article
The problem of Mousterian interassemblage variability is fundamental because it affects our models about social, technological and economic organization of Middle Paleolithic hominins. Particularly controversial is the issue of whether this variability reflects a chronological succession of industries or differences in ethnicity, site function, tool curation or raw material use, among others. Here, the chronological hypothesis is examined by correlating faunal data in southwest France with independently dated climatic events. In agreement with this hypothesis, our data show consistent patterns in lithic and faunal composition between sequences that are incompatible with scenarios assuming a coexistence or alternation of industries. Our results imply that industrial variability during the Late Pleistocene Middle Paleolithic follows distinct chronological stages not unlike those in later periods. Building on correlations indicating that archaeofaunas were tuned to climatic change induced by orbital forcing, we assess the implications of a new independently-derived chronology for our understanding of the Mousterian of France.
... La vida media de estos tipos de marcaje depende de las condiciones de almacenaje, así como de los materiales utilizados. Como consecuencia de la falta de un procedimiento fiable de identificación de los objetos arqueológicos, una parte importante del trabajo en museos consiste en repetir el marcaje de los mismos para prevenir la pérdida de información, especialmente en el caso de colecciones relevantes (Dibble et al., 2009). La aplicación de esta nueva técnica para la identificación de los artefactos facilita el almacenaje y archivo de los restos arqueológicos. ...
Article
Full-text available
Resumen El registro e inventariado de los materiales arqueológicos es una parte esencial de la investiga-ción arqueológica. Durante el trabajo de laboratorio, cada ítem es identificado individualmen-te. Esta tarea se realiza generalmente a mano, lo que facilita la pérdida de información debido a errores humanos. De este modo, números erróneos, ortografía ilegible o la desaparición del identificador de los artefactos son comunes. Ante la ausencia de un método fiable y duradero de marcado de los objetos, una parte importante del trabajo en los museos consiste en el re-inven-tariado de las colecciones. En este trabajo se presenta la utilización de los códigos Data Matrix (DM) para el catalogado del material arqueológico. Su uso en los yacimientos de Roca dels Bous y la Cova Gran de Santa Linya (Lleida, España) evidencia que la aplicación de esta técnica facilita el almacenaje y preservación de las colecciones arqueológicas. Palabras clave: códigos Datamatrix (DM); catalogado de artefactos; gestión de colecciones; contenidos multimedia. Resum. L'aplicació dels codis Datamatrix (DM) en el registre i catalogació arqueològica El registre i inventari del material arqueològic es una part essencial de la recerca arqueològica. Al llarg del treball de laboratori cada objecte és identificat individualment. Aquesta tasca es realitza generalment a mà, fet que facilita la pèrdua d'informació a causa d'errors humans. D'aquesta manera números erronis, ortografia illegible o la desaparició de l'identificador són molt comuns. Davant l'absència d'un mètode fiable de marcatge, una part important del treball als museus consisteix en el reinventariat de les col·leccions. En aquest treball es presenta la utilització dels codis Datamatrix (DM) en el catalogat del material arqueològic. El seu ús als jaciments de Roca dels Bous i la Cova Gran de Santa Linya (Lleida, Espanya) evidencia que l'aplicació d'aquesta nova tècnica facilita l'emmagatzematge i la preservació de col·leccions ar queo lògiques. Paraules clau: codis Datamatrix (DM); catalogat d'artefactes; gestió de col·leccions; continguts multimèdia.
... Schiffer 1983;1988), continued development and refinement of a taphonomie lithique (e.g. Bordes 2000;Tixier 1978;Villa 1982;, geoarchaeological contributions (Bertran & Lenoble 2002;Bertran et al. 2005;2010;Lenoble 2003;Lenoble et al. 2003;Texier 2000) and even an archival taphonomy (Dibble et al. 2009). As research by archaeologists into these processes has progressed, distinguishing genuine associations from happenstance has become central to the interpretative process, and is a matter explored by three papers herein (Monchot et al., Smith and de la Torre et al.). ...
Book
Animal procurement and tool production form two of the most tightly connected components of human behaviour. They are tied to our emergence as a genus, were fundamental to the dispersal of our species, and underpin the development of our societies. The interaction between these fundamental activities has been a subject of archaeological inference from the earliest days of the discipline, yet the pursuit of each has tended to encourage and entrench specialist study. As a result, our understanding of them has developed in full-view but in general isolation of one from the other. This volume begins the process of integrating what have all too often become isolated archaeological and interpretative domains. Exposing and exploring contexts spanning much of prehistory, and drawing data from a wide range of environmental settings, the book covers both sides of the complex inter-relationship between animals, the technologies used to procure them and those arising from them. In taking a more inclusive approach to the material, technological and social dynamics of early human subsistence we have returned to the earliest of those archaeological associations: that between stone tools and animal bones. In revealing the inter-dependence of their relationship, this volume takes what we hope will be a first step towards a revitalized understanding of the scope of past interactions between humans and the world around them.
... Notwithstanding its key importance, many researchers have highlighted that the recovery methods employed during Bordes' excavations at Combe-Grenal may have introduced important biases (Binford, 1981;Chase, 1986a;Marean, 1998;Marean and Kim, 1998;Dibble et al., 2009;Guadelli, 2012;Faivre et al., 2014). Both the extent of these recovery biases and their impact on skeletal part profiles and taxonomic composition, are, however, difficult to evaluate or test given the lack of detailed information concerning Bordes' recovery protocol. ...
... ArqueoUAB is not just a methodological tool for the recovery and storage of archaeological data. Thanks to its flexibility and the wide range of spatial analysis options made available, this system facilitates the development of hypotheses that can be tested as fieldwork progresses, since it makes it possible to detect elements that are not always easy to identify on site (MARTINEZ-MORENO et al, 2004;MORA et al., 2008;DIBBLE et al., 2009). ...
... The advantages of this procedure have been described in various publications5678. Along with three-dimensional positioning of objects [9], visual techniques help define the characteristics and geometry of the basic unit of analysis, in our case, the archaeological level or unit [8,10,11]. Such fieldwork methodology provides an object-based approach to the identification of significant assemblages, which improves the widely used concept of archaeological context [7,8]. ...
Article
This article presents a new method for labeling archaeological material, based on the use of data matrix (DM) codes. The information that identifies an artefact (site name, level or archaeological unit and consecutive number) is coded on very small labels (3 × 3 mm and 4 × 4 mm). This information is captured by a laser reader, which inputs it directly into a computer database. The system has been successfully applied to the pilot study presented here. Its use greatly improves provenance information and management of the archaeological record, and results in the more accurate processing of artefacts in fieldwork routines, laboratory activities and museum storage.
... During the second half of the twentieth century, techniques for recording the threedimensional coordinates of objects had been developed (Laplace-Jauretche and Méroc 1954) and adopted by prehistorians such as Bordes in his work at Combe Grenal and Pech de l'Azé I ). However, not all objects were provenienced in this way-often unretouched objects were simply collected and bagged by stratigraphic unit and possibly arbitrary depths (Dibble et al. 2009b), and smaller objects were not recovered with screens. It has also been shown that Bordes himself, considered by some to be the "father" of modern methods of Paleolithic archeology (Sackett 2014), had applied specific criteria for the recovery of faunal materials. ...
Article
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Initially excavated in the early twentieth century, La Ferrassie is one of the most important sites for the Middle Paleolithic of Western Europe. Aside from the numerous Neanderthal remains found there, the stone artifacts recovered from the site are featured prominently in discussion and debates of Mousterian variability. Recent renewed excavation of the site, however, suggests a considerable preference in the kinds of stone artifacts saved during the initial excavation. Here, we assess the nature and extent of this selection and its effects on the final collection. Results indicate that large, complete, retouched pieces were preferentially retained by the original excavators, and that the artifact collection available for study represents only 2–3% of the original lithic assemblage present in the deposits. This has significant implications for early interpretations of Mousterian industries that were based on such collections and their potential analytical value.
... This does, of course, help secure the integrity of the assemblage in accordance with its original site context, but with a lack of individual artefact ID's the original definition of the artefacts becomes preeminent. In turn, such a archival context creates an entrenchment of artefact definitions (see Dibble, et al. 2009). ...
Thesis
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Portable, composite tool kits have been essential to the prehistoric dispersals of people around the globe. Nowhere is this clearer than during Greenlandic prehistory. Archaeological studies of tool kits have been vital to our understanding of this unique area and period in human history. The present thesis proceeds from the recent culture-historical definition of the Greenlandic Dorset (ca. 800 – 200 cal. BC), a Paleo-Inuit tradition that branched off into Greenland from the Canadian Early Dorset. This was achieved by the construction of a standardised taxonomy of its tradition for producing lithic components, using the chaîne opératoire methodology. This provided a rigorous means to assign lithic artefacts – the dominant remains from the period – within a coherent chapter of eastern Arctic prehistory. As such, the definition of the Greenlandic Dorset erased the separation between the Independence II and Dorset 1 of northernmost and western Greenland respectively. However, interpretations on the Arctic lifeways of the period have become equally standardised. With circular logic, the taxonomy itself has based interpretations of social behaviour within the period as highly conservative. To address this issue, the present thesis contributes as follows: 1) Demonstrate that relational thinking is a useful framework for researching how technologies structured Arctic lifeways; 3) Showcasing how a Relational Approach can help us reach relational perspectives on Arctic lifeways through bottom-up lithic study; 3) A comprehensive case-study that offers a novel understanding of how people and tool kits co-created a unique period in Arctic prehistory.
... Because available lithic technological data derive from fieldwork conducted decades ago, as well as modern excavations, their quality is variable. For example, during the first half of the twentieth century, investigators sometimes only kept representative samples of excavated artifacts or, during the course of analysis and handling over the years, artifacts have been misplaced 58 . Furthermore, the excavated surface areas between sites vary, as does prehistoric site function. ...
Article
Full-text available
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84805-6 Neanderthals have often been seen as populations that sought refuge in southern regions of Europe during ice ages and whose ultimate disappearance could be attributed to their inability to adapt to climate change. An international team of archaeologists, ecologists, and climate modelers refute this idea by showing that Neanderthals in regions of Western Europe produced technological innovations to continue exploiting their habitual territories between 70,000–60,000 years before the present, when the climate cooled considerably.
... The notion of the regional fauna diversity at MIS 6 interval can be gained from local faunas recovered from the following localities: Lazaret, Romain-la-Roche (layers VI-VIII, 165-159 ka BP) , for MIS 6-MIS 5 -Stuttgart-Untertürkheim (lower travertine, 133-105 ka BP) (Wenzel, 1998a, b;Kuznetsova, 2000), for MIS 5 -Crumstadt 1, la Baume Moula-Guercy, Grand Abri aux Puces (level 2) (Quilès and Crégut -Bonnoure, 2006;Slimak et al., 2010), Gatzarria Cave (layer Cj, 100 ka BP) (Ready, 2013), Ciota Ciara Cave (s.u. 13, 14) (Berto et al., 2016;Buccheri et al., 2016), Cotencher (layer 13, 72.5 ± 9.4 ka BP) (Deák et al., 2019), Caverna delle Fate (layer IIb, 78-72 ka BP) (Valensi and Psathi, 2004;Valensi, 2009), for MIS 4 -Villa Sekkendorff (Forsten and Ziegler, 1995;Ziegler, 1996), Combe Grenal (layer 55, 61 ± 7 ka BP) (Dibble et al., 2009;Maureille et al., 2011) and Arma delle Manie (layer VII base, 60 ± 9 ka BP) (Djerrab and Camps, 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Middle Pleistocene – Late Pleistocene transition of European large mammal's fauna (Proboscidea, Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Carnivora, Hystrix and Castor) assemblages has been studied in 18 European regional faunal assemblages. This study is based on the data yielded from 423 palaeontological sites (758 localities) dated within interval of MIS 6–MIS 4. All the data was aggregated by 9 time intervals (time scale). For ten bioregions, we have been able to obtain descriptive models of evolution of their faunal assemblages. It allowed detecting common rules of changes in large mammals' fauna composition in Europe on the whole as well as changes in the distribution of individual species and their groups within the regions. We have studied the changes in biodiversity parameters (Shannon index, index of self-organization) and Mourelle–Ezcurra species turnover index within MIS 6–MIS 4 time interval. The evolution of European fauna was compared for MIS 6–MIS 5 transition and MIS 2–MIS 1 transition as well as influence of change in global temperature on these transitions was described. In addition, we have showed the correlation between modern species richness with the species richness in MIS 6, MIS 5 and MIS 4 and proposed the hypothesis of historical succession of European bioregions.
... Artifacts' use-lives continue long after their recovery during surveys and excavation, as they circulate within museums and research labs (Harris et al. 2019;Lucas 2012). The current Middle Paleolithic Combe-Grenal museum collection, for example, showed substantial differences between the stored assemblage inventories and descriptions of those same assemblages made created during Bordes' excavations (Dibble et al. 2009). Clearly then, just like sites, assemblages are not entities that relate solely to human action in the past. ...
Article
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The stone artifact record has been one of the major grounds for investigating our evolution. With the predominant focus on their morphological attributes and technological aspects of manufacture, stone artifacts and their assemblages have been analyzed as explicit measures of past behaviors, adaptations, and population histories. This analytical focus on technological and morphological appearance is one of the characteristics of the conventional approach for constructing inferences from this record. An equally persistent routine involves ascribing the emerged patterns and variability within the archaeological deposits directly to long-term central tendencies in human actions and cultural transmission. Here we re-evaluate this conventional approach. By invoking some of the known concerns and concepts about the formation of archaeological record, we introduce notions of aggregates and formational emergence to expand on the understanding of how artifacts accumulate, what these accumulations represent, and how the patterns and variability among them emerge. To infer behavior that could inform on past lifeways, we further promote a shift in the focus of analysis from the technological and morphological appearance of artifacts and assemblages to the practice of stone use. We argue for a more rigorous and multi-level inferential procedure in modeling behavioral adaptation and evolution.
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Study of the archaeological record underpins characterization of human behaviour in the past. However, site formation processes modify archaeological deposits affecting identification of activities and/or contexts which provide information on those behaviours. Such phenomena form palimpsests in which associations between artefacts and behaviour are not always clear.Roca dels Bous is a multi-layered Mousterian rock shelter where we apply a series of high-tech approaches. Design of a digital environment is connected with assessment of the influence of site formation processes on archaeological levels. We present examples of this application which represent a significant improvement in the quality of information recovered during fieldwork.Integration of these technologies enables development of a constructive approach to fieldwork which does not concentrate exclusively on the recovery and recording of artefacts during excavation with a view to their future 'reconstruction' through post-excavation techniques. Alternatively we propose to intervene directly with the archaeological record in parallel with its excavation. The application of new technologies integrates spatial and contextual information obtained during fieldwork with which to create hypotheses that will be verified or rejected according to data obtained in excavation. The continual interaction between data and hypotheses makes it possible to detect errors in interpretation of the archaeological record which would be difficult to recognise when applying post-excavation techniques where, at times, associated contextual evidence is lost.This approach reminds us of the difficulty in defining concepts such as 'spatial/temporal association' or 'archaeological level', which are basic to discussion in Archaeology. Finally, we think this constructive approach to fieldwork enables us to address the study of palimpsests, a key concept in the interpretation of the archaeological record.
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Despite a rich archaeological record, northwest Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, western, northern and eastern France) is often not included in detailed debates on Middle Palaeolithic lithic variability. This is, in part, related to a lack of contextual information for some assemblages, but also to a scarcity of widely accessible publications, especially in relation to early 20th century excavations. However, it is clear that across Europe, including in this northwest region, the late Middle Palaeolithic (here MIS 5d–3, ∼115–35 ka) is characterised by an increase in the use of bifacial technologies, and this paper provides a wider, integrative perspective on late Middle Palaeolithic bifacial tool variability in northwest Europe.
Article
Interpretation of variability in the Middle Paleolithic stone artifact record continues to be one of the major research questions in the Pleistocene archaeology of Europe. Current interpretations of this variability are shifting from culture-historical explanations towards ones related with Neandertal use of the landscape in economic sense: strategies of mobility and resource procurement. These interpretations nonetheless reduce this behavior to one meaning behind a particular set of techno-typological traits in the stone artifact record. Contributing to this problem is the conventional concept of this record as comprised of archaeological assemblages defined on the basis of natural interfaces and perceived as emic entities that contain functionally associated artifacts of time-averaged behavioral events. This dissertation investigates temporalities of processes related to stone provisioning by Neandertals during their use of the cave of Pech de l’Az� IV in south-west France to contribute to understanding the variability in their landscape use from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 until MIS 3 in this region. This stone artifact sequence is sampled by the same number of stone artifacts, following the general history of their accumulation. The analysis examines behavioral processes of stone movement, blank production, tool selection, and tool management, and the dynamics among these processes is used to infer the degree of variability in the use of this place and the degree of variability in the use of stone as components of variability in landscape use. The results show certain patterns in the association between different degrees of variability in landscape use and the three isotope stages and the record of particular techno-typological attributes. During MIS 5, the degree of variability in landscape use fluctuated more than during post-MIS 5 times, when the variability in this behavior was constantly higher. Low variability in landscape use left the record with higher incidences of Levallois elements, while moderate or high variability in this behavior produced the record that is technologically less uniform. Also, until MIS 3, there was a cyclical pattern in the degree of variability in landscape use. Finally, this dissertation argues for the abandonment of the concept of assemblage in stone artifact archaeology.
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Résumé : Le récolement des collections du Musée national de Préhistoire a permis, lors du travail sur la faune décou-verte au cours des fouilles de F. Bordes à Combe-Grenal, site de référence, l'identification d'un nouveau fossile humain, Combe-Grenal 31. Il provient de la couche 60. En fonction des vestiges archéologiques et paléontologiques qu'elle livre, et de comparaisons avec des niveaux aussi anciens de différents gisements, cette couche s'est probablement formée lors du dernier tiers du stade isotopique 6. Combe-Grenal 31 correspond à une incisive inférieure droite de la dentition déciduale d'un enfant d'environ 3 ans ± 12 mois. Sa couronne présente de grandes dimensions malgré une forte attrition de la face occlusale. La courbure de la face vestibulaire, ainsi que le tubercule lingual sont bien marqués. Les crêtes marginales sont un peu saillantes. Ses caractères morphologiques et leur comparaison avec d'autres fossiles européens ainsi que l'ellipse d'équiproba-bilité réalisée à partir des dimensions de la couronne nous permettent de souligner des similitudes avec les dents équi-valentes d'autres enfants néandertaliens des stades isotopiques 5, 4 ou 3 et deux spécimens européens rapportés au stade 6. The earliest Aquitanian child: Combe-Grenal 31 (Domme, France).
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As previously noted, the first edition of this book did not contain any discussion of theory nor for that matter practice in geoarchaeology. In many regards, the present chapter reprises much of that banished discussion, hence the seemingly heavy reliance on articles that date from that earlier time period. Those discussions are still germane and have been largely retained from those preceding edits as well as updated. Henry Frankel (2012) in his four-volume treatise on the controversy of continental drift and the rise of plate tectonics theory makes it clear that plate tectonics theory is just that—a theory. There is no agreed upon explanation for the origin nor the mechanism for movement of the Earth’s continental plates. Plates move; that is proven, but that is the mechanism, not the reason nor the explanation. That said, continental drift-plate tectonics theory is the greatest theoretical accomplishment of the twentieth century by earth science. Before that time, geology made, perhaps, two salient contributions to the general knowledge of the Earth system. The first was the principle of uniformitarianism, as proposed by James Hutton, and established in geology by Lyell, as more than just a “method” for describing the Earth. Likewise, geology’s recognition of the antiquity of the Earth expanded our understanding of the natural world. Arthur Holmes published The Age of the Earth: An Introduction to Geological Ideas (Holmes 1913/1927) in which he presented a range of 1.6–3.0 billion years.
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Archaeological collections are foundational to the discipline. Yet, researchers who study curated assemblages can face challenges. Here, we show how experimental archaeology can play a vital role in the interpretation of old archaeological collections. The Welling site, in Coshocton County, Ohio, is a multicomponent, stratified site with a substantial Clovis component in its lower levels. Using experimental flaked stone replication, we create an analog model of a “pure” Clovis bifacial debitage assemblage, as might be found at a lithic workshop. We predicted that if the Welling Clovis debitage assemblage was representative of a lithic workshop, then it would be similar to the experimental model. If the debitage assemblage was representative of a base camp, however, then it would be significantly different from the model because Clovis people would have been using, transporting, resharpening, rejuvenating, and recycling the debitage—all activities that would modify a “pure” Clovis bifacial debitage assemblage. Our statistical analyses supported the latter prediction. Overall, our study illustrates how productive the integration of experimental and archaeological data can be, and it emphasizes how important the curation and accessibility of both archaeological and experimental collections are to the discipline.
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As noted in the preceding chapter, geomorphology is a discipline more often found in the larger field of physical geography, at least in the United States and Great Britain, while sedimentology is a speciality area of geology. While some in archaeology may wonder at a partition in what is basically earth science, the location of geomorphology within geography has had some unexpected benefits, most notably the recognition and use of the burgeoning techniques of geographic information systems better known as GIS. Likewise geographers were quick to incorporate their traditional interest in remote sensing into GIS studies as well. Digitally based, these large-scale spatial analysis systems have proven to be a boon to geoarchaeological researchers. GIS frameworks, devised principally within geography, have made it possible to converge many different lines of data into synthetic map projections that can be manipulated and compared so as to yield new insights into the nature of archaeological sites and their locations. Had geomorphology been housed exclusively within geology departments, it is unlikely that GIS methodology would have entered the arsenal of archaeological geology as quickly as it has. Sedimentology and its close relationship to paleoenvironmental study, particularly in quaternary research, have continued to be a major component of archaeological geology. Likewise, the mapping the surface and subsurface of an archaeological locale provides crucial information as to the why of a site’s specific location and possible function.
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a b s t r a c t The classic Mousterian Debate of the 1970s has recently been revived, as researchers propose cultural, functional, and chronological interpretations for the Mousterian "technocomplexes". These interpretations, however, are likely to lead to the same impasse that was previously reached forty years ago. The root cause of the problem is analyzing assemblages according to taxonomic units, whether they are Bordian facies or chaîne opératoire technocomplexes, which conflate as well as mask multiple sources of variability. In this paper, we use a database of well-excavated, well-dated sites from the Middle and Upper Pleistocene in western Europe to track changes in key lithic variables through time. We show that the chronological patterning of typological and technological facies yields little information useful for elucidating the causes of Mousterian variability. When individual lithic variables from within assem-blages are plotted through time, however, new patterns of variability emerge. Our results show that bifaces are not characteristic only of the "Acheulean" and the "Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition." They occur continuously and in low frequencies across the European landscape from MIS 14 onwards. Second, we reveal chronological patterning in Levallois technology, which reaches a height of popularity between MIS 6-4. In the future, more progress in understanding technological behavior during the Paleolithic will be made if we compare the properties of the lithics themselves across assemblages, rather than comparing assemblage types.
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The archaeological record is the material basis on which the past is interpreted. His recovery has been the focus of methodological discussion and in recent years has been driven by the emergence of new technologies. In this paper we present the fieldwork methodology followed by the Centre d’Estudis del Patrimoni Arqueologic de la Prehistòria (CEPAP-UAB). The surface excavation is presented as a methodological proposal for the recovery of the archaeological record. Below is exposed to systematic for the acquisition; digitization; data integration and the subsequent generation of thematic maps that aimed to interpret the relationship between the different items or structures. The methodology shown constitutes the basis for creating working hypotheses are contrasted throughout the fieldwork and support the research base.
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Significant variability has been observed in the frequency of fire use over the course of the Late Pleistocene at several Middle Paleolithic sites in southwest France. In particular, Neandertals appear to have used fire more frequently during warm climatic periods and very infrequently during cold periods. After reviewing several lines of evidence and alternative explanations for this variability, the null hypothesis that these Neandertals were not able to make fire still stands.
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El registro arqueológico es la base material sobre la que se interpreta el pasado. Su recuperación ha sido foco de discusión metodológica y en los últimos años se ha visto impulsado por la irrupción de las nuevas tecnologías. En este trabajo exponemos la metodología de campo seguida por el Centre d’Estudis del Patrimoni Arqueològic de la Prehistòria (CEPAP-UAB). La excavación en extensión se presenta como propuesta metodológica para la recuperación del registro arqueológico. A continuación se expone la sistemática para la adquisición, digitalización, integración de los datos y la posterior generación de mapas temáticos dirigida a interpretar la relación entre los distintos ítems o estructuras. La metodología mostrada sirve como base para la creación de hipótesis de trabajo que se contrastan a lo largo del trabajo de campo y sustentan la base de la investigación.
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Mitoc–Malu Galben (Romania) is one of the key-sites for the Upper Palaeolithic in Eastern Europe, with abundant Upper Palaeolithic archaeological layers embedded in a ∼14 meters long loess-palaeosol sequence. The excavations in 1978–1990 yielded rich remains of Aurignacian and Gravettian workshops. From 1992 to 1995, an international collaboration helped better define their stratigraphical position, age, and typological characteristics. Since 2013, our team has conducted new fieldwork focusing on interdisciplinary study of site formation processes and a detailed technological study of the lithic artefacts. These different excavation phases have employed quite substantially different fieldwork methodologies. Here, we explore the impact of the changing excavation methodologies on the comparability of the generated assemblages by analyzing the frequency of bladelets among the elongated blanks as well as the length distribution of elongated blanks. Our preliminary study allows us to suggest that some of the assemblages seem to be influenced by the fieldwork methodology employed by each excavation phase, but more studies are needed to start to understand how the assemblages are biased.
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Analyses of archaeological material recovered from several Middle Paleolithic sites in southwest France have provided strong corroborating data on Neanderthal use of fire. Both direct and indirect data show that Neanderthals in this region were frequently and/or intensively using fire during warmer periods, but such evidence declines significantly in occupations that took place during colder periods. One possible explanation for this pattern is that it reflects the inability of Western European Neanderthals to make fire, simply because natural sources of fire occur much more frequently during warmer climatic periods. Regardless of the explanation, the long periods of diminished evidence of fire shows that, unlike modern humans, these hominins were not obligate fire users, and this fact in itself raises important questions of how they adapted, physiologically and/or technologically, to the generally harsh glacial conditions of the middle latitude of Europe and to reduced energy returns typical of raw food. As a corollary, it also raises questions regarding their need for and use of fire during the warmer periods. © 2017 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
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Assemblages of prehistoric horse teeth are aged to reveal the structure of the animal populations from which they were derived. The material is from French and German Pleistocene deposits, some natural and some archaeological in origin. Two systems of relative ageing are employed here: eruption-wear sequences and crown-height curves. The results suggest that the horses from the archaeological deposits examined here were probably not domesticated. -Author
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Paleolithic archaeologists have been recording the three-dimensional coordinates of excavated artifacts for several decades. These data, however, have been put to limited use. Z, or absolute elevation, in particular, is seldom used in analysis despite the fact that it speaks most directly to one of the more important areas of research we have—namely, behavioral change through time. This article addresses this deficiency in two ways. First, it examines the way in which we record elevations. The point is made that the elevations returned by high-resolution recording systems like total stations provide behavioral and site formation data that traditional recording systems are probably incapable of capturing. Second, elevation data from two Middle Paleolithic sites are used to examine changes in behavioral factors that structure the archaeological record and that apparently take place independent of changes in factors which structure the geological record. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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A detailed attribute analysis of notched flakes from upper layers of Combe Grenal, a key site in the debates about the nature of Middle Paleolithic assemblage variation in France, is used to evaluate the applicability to Combe Grenal of the reduction model offered by Holdaway, McPherron, and Roth as an explanation for morphological and size variation within notched specimens. We conclude that traditional implement types can be viewed as arbitrary divisions in a continuum of size and notch abundance, which can be explained by reference to a model of differential reduction. Specimens with greater numbers of notches are inferred to have been more reduced than specimens with fewer notches. Notch dimensions did not change as more notches were added, but complex notches were more commonly constructed in the middle of the reduction process rather than at the beginning or end. The location and abundance of notches were probably constrained by the size and shape of the flake blank: more notches were added to long flakes and to their distal end, indicating regular patterns of blank selection and treatment. These inferences can be used to suggest that flake blanks may have been an important factor in constraining the position, frequency, and perhaps even kind of notches that were placed on retouched flakes. We discuss implications of this proposition.
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Le fossile humain du Pech-de-l'he (commune de Carsac, Dordogne) est l'un des rares crânes immatures bien conserves du Paleolithique moyen europeen. Neanmoins, sa position chronostratigraphique n'a jamais ete claire. Decouvert en 1909 par L. Capitan et D. Peyrony, il a ete attribue au Mousterien de tradition acheuleenne (MTA). F. Bordes qui fouilla le site de 1949 a 1953 puis de 1970 a 1971, contesta cette attribution au debut des annees 70. Il proposa qu'un niveau Mousterien a denticule, voire Mousterien typique, ou bien un niveau Mousterien de type Quina ait livre ces restes humains. La decouverte de deux lettres adressees a M. Boule, l'une de L. Capitan, l'autre de D. Peyrony, nous permet de proposer que ce specimen provient d'un niveau archeologique MTA riche en outils du Paleolithique superieur. L'etude du contexte archeologique du gisement et des resultats inedits des fouilles F. Bordes montrent qu'il s'agit des niveaux 6 ou 7 attribues au MTA B. En considerant l'ensemble des donnees connues pour le Perigord, il est probable que le fossile du Pech-de-l'he soit recent dans la sequence chronologique du Wurm ancien (stade isotopique 3). 11 pourrait ainsi se placer parmi les Neandertaliens les plus tardifs de France. Seule la datation absolue des niveaux archeologiques du Pech-de-I'Aze Ib et celle du fossile lui-meme permettraient de confirmer ou d'infirmer cette hypothese.
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Ce travail concerne un materiel faunique de Combe-Grenal en partie inedit et revele la presence de 11 nouveaux taxons non signales dans la liste etablie en 1966 par F. Bordes et al. Certains d'entre eux font l'objet d'une justification de determination ; c'est le cas notamment d'un petit Cerf, probablement Cervus simplicidens, et du genre Hemitragus. Lors de travaux anterieurs, les niveaux acheuleens de Combe-Grenal ont ete situes au sein d'une meme biozone que les niveaux II a VIII de l'abri Suard (Charente) ( F. Delpech et al., 1995) qui correspond a une climatozone froide de la fin de l'avant dernier glaciaire se placant dans la chronologie isotopique a la fin du stade isotopique 6. Ce travail montre, en outre, que la sequence acheuleenne de Combe-Grenal se serait formee lors d'une periode relativement breve, plus proche de la fin du glaciaire que la periode de formation de l'abri Suard.
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Le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne est considéré par plusieurs auteurs comme un technocomplexe précurseur du Châtelperronien. Malgré l'apport de nouvelles données à propos du Châtelperronien, le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne n' a fait l'objet ces dernières années que de rares analyses détaillées. Pech-de-l'Azé I (Carsac, Dordogne) est un des rares gisements à avoir livré en stratigraphie plusieurs niveaux de Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne. Il représente de ce fait un site clé pour définir les comportements techniques et économiques dans ce contexte moustérien particulier. Nous avons engagé en 1999 un programme de recherche sur ce site dont les principaux objectifs sont: l'étude de la collection inédite F. Bordes (fouilles 1970-1971), l'analyse des processus de formation du gisement, la datation radiométrique des niveaux archéologiques et l'évaluation du potentiel d'information en terme de paléoenvironnement du site. Cette note présente la problématique et la méthodologie de ce projet ainsi que le résultat des premières évaluations concernant les processus de formation de la séquence, son âge radiométrique et les analyses des restes fauniques. The Mousterian of Acheulian tradition (MAT) is considered by many to be a forerunner of the Chatelperronian. Although there are new data concerning the latter, recent and detailed studies of the MAT are rare. Pech-de-l'Azé I (Carsac, Dordogne) is one of the few Middle Palaeolithic sites containing several levels of MAT, making it a key site for understanding the technical and economic behaviour underlying this industry. In 1999 we began a new study of the site with the following objectives: studying Bordes' unpublished collection from the 1970-1971 excavation (stone tool industry, utilized black colorants and faunal remains); identifying the site formation processes; obtaining radiometric dates; and evaluating the site potential for palaeo-environmental studies. The preliminary results of this ongoing project are presented here.
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Mortality profiles can be used to investigate modes of accumulation of fossil assemblages, including predation by ancient nonhuman and human (Homo) hunters. Prey age at death reflects hunting decisions and opportunities in terms of calories returned for energy spent and risks taken. Nonhuman carnivores commonly harvest vulnerable individuals (young and old), whereas humans consistently can take prime adults. As an example of how mortality profiles can be used to illuminate predator behavior, this article examines when the ability to select prime-age animals emerged during human behavioral evolution. Although it would be expected that the appearance of this behavior coincided with the appearance of morphologically and archaeologically modern humans, analyses of archaeological assemblages from western Europe and South Africa suggest that this trait was already present in archaic people who preceded modern humans. Studying age distributions in fossil assemblages is not without its limitations, including the difficulty of estimating age at death in fossil specimens, pre- and postdepositional biases, and reconstructing the age structure and behavior of prey herds. Nevertheless, valuable behavioral information can be gained by using controlled comparisons of many assemblages.
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In the late nineteenth century, the European Paleolithic was divided into stages, each of which was characterized by a distinct stone tool type known historically as a fossile directeur, or index fossil. Today, these index fossils are no longer explicitly used to date assemblages because they are known to overlap widely, but they continue to be used as key components in the periodization of the Paleolithic. This study addresses two major questions: (1) How have archaeologists justified retaining these index fossils to distinguish the Lower from the Middle Paleolithic? and (2) Does the diachronic patterning of these tool types support this periodization? The results reveal (1) that the overlap of index fossils was a known problem from the beginning and prehistorians repeatedly modified the classification to accommodate data which documented this overlap without rejecting its fundamental index-fossil-based core and (2) that, while temporal trends agreeing with the Lower/ Middle Paleolithic periodization can be identified, they are insignificant compared with the chronological variation observed in each of these tool types. The Lower/Middle Paleolithic periodization should therefore be revised on the basis of a comprehensive examination of multiple lines of evidence, not just lithic typology.
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The familiar debate concerning Middle Paleolithic variability has opposed stylistic vs. functional explanations based on the assumption that tool types and assemblage groups represent discrete, invariant entities. Middle Paleolithic variability, however, actually occurs continuously. Further, recent research shows that raw-material constraints and different degrees of artifact-reduction intensity constitute more basic and observable factors of variability than function and style. Thus, much of the variability in these assemblages appears to have been caused by toolmaking and tool-rejuvenation processes and/or by differential occupation intensity induced by environmental circumstances. The correct interpretation of these Middle Paleolithic assemblages must therefore consider these factors, as well as interregional stylistic drift, function, and diachronic change.
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In this study, we propose a method based on life tables currently used in population dynamics and ecology to compare the mortality curves of Equidae from anthropic and carnivore fossil assemblages with those from modern populations. The combined analysis of frequency (fx) with various ecological parameters such as mortality rate (qx), survival rate (lx), fecundity rate (mx), and killing factor (kx), established for each age class, allows us to characterize the stability of fossil populations. These ecological parameters, developed in demography, correspond to many curves and constitute a complementary approach to interpret the two main mortality models, attritional and catastrophic, often evoked in zooarchaeology. The age structures of fossil horses from the anthropic sites of Bau de l'Aubesier (Vaucluse, France) and Combe-Grenal (Dordogne, France) and the hyena den of Fouvent (Haute-Saône, France) are compared to typical catastrophic modern populations of Equidae from the National Park of Akagera (Rwanda). We also used data collected by the Bureau of Land Management for present day feral horses from Pryor Mountain (Montana, USA) which constitutes a reliable referential of a stable living population. The characterization of age structures in those different contexts is discussed as well as the impact of Neanderthals and hyenas on fossil assemblages.
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Existing archaeological collections hold great potential for archaeologists who seek to answer specific research questions with minimal investment of time and money. Unfortunately, biases introduced in the field and during curation require us to evaluate and reorganize collections before and during analysis. Biases are reflected in collections as a result of research design, recovery methods, interpersonal variability, and the storage of both objects and documentation. By comparing collections from two different excavations at the Middle Paleolithic site of Pech de l'Aze TV, France, a number of biases in the older collection were identified and corrected. While all older collections are not affected by the same problems, our experience serves as a useful example to others who work with them. [References: 41]
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Le fossile humain du Pech-de-l'hé (commune de Carsac, Dordogne) est l'un des rares crânes immatures bien conservés du Paléolithique moyen européen. Néanmoins, sa position chronostratigraphique n'a jamais été claire. Découvert en 1909 par L. Capitan et D. Peyrony, il a été attribué au Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne (MTA). F. Bordes qui fouilla le site de 1949 à 1953 puis de 1970 à 1971, contesta cette attribution au début des années 70. Il proposa qu'un niveau Moustérien à denticulé, voire Moustérien typique, ou bien un niveau Moustérien de type Quina ait livré ces restes humains. La découverte de deux lettres adressées à M. Boule, l'une de L. Capitan, l'autre de D. Peyrony, nous permet de proposer que ce spécimen provient d'un niveau archéologique MTA riche en outils du Paléolithique supérieur. L'étude du contexte archéologique du gisement et des résultats inédits des fouilles F. Bordes montrent qu'il s'agit des niveaux 6 ou 7 attribués au MTA B. En considérant l'ensemble des données connues pour le Périgord, il est probable que le fossile du Pech-de-l'hé soit récent dans la séquence chronologique du Würm ancien (stade isotopique 3). 11 pourrait ainsi se placer parmi les Néandertaliens les plus tardifs de France. Seule la datation absolue des niveaux archéologiques du Pech-de-I'Azé Ib et celle du fossile lui-même permettraient de confirmer ou d'infirmer cette hypothèse.
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Artifacts from recent excavation dispel some popular misconceptions about Neanderthal man.
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Denticulate Mousterian, considered as one of the traditional facies of Mousterian, is submitted to a critical re-examination. The preliminary development of a methodology suitable for the study of the notched pieces allowed to differentiate the pseudo-tools from the true notched pieces and thus to determine the techno-economic characteristics of the latter. The study of five lithic industries (Les Fieux, Saint-Césaire Egpf, IVb1 Hyène, Bison G and H) as well as a first analysis of the material of Combe-Grenal c. 11 and the retouched pieces of Mauran and La Borde demonstrate a certain constancy in the production schemes of the series attributed to Denticulate Mousterian. This study, coupled to a documentary review synthesizing the available bibliographical data, by the crossing of typological, technological and economic characters, allows to subdivide the Denticulate Mousterian in three groups. Each one of these groups shows many particular characteristics, in which the light quantitative variations can be linked to an adaptation to specific needs related to the type of occupation.
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Evidence relating to the ‘Mousterian’ period in the Périgord and adjacent areas of south-west France has increased strikingly—both in quantity and quality—during the past two decades (note 1, p. 166). New sites have been excavated (and old sites re-excavated) with the aid of much more refined techniques for separating the different strata and recording the finds than those employed hitherto; faunal remains have been subjected to closer and more systematic examination (Bouchud, 1966; Bordes and Prat, 1965); and the application of detailed palynological and sedimentological analyses has provided a relatively clear and firmly-established picture of the climatic and ecological conditions under which the Mousterian communities lived (Bordes et al. , 1966; Bonifay, 1964; Laville, 1964a, etc.). Perhaps the most impressive advances, however, have been made in studies of the Mousterian industries themselves. Extensive application of the quantitative techniques of analyses devised by Professor F. Bordes and M. Bourgon (1951b) has permitted for the first time an objective appraisal of the full range of typological and technical variability which the Mousterian assemblages of this region embrace. On the basis of these analyses it has been possible to divide the industries into a number of relatively well-defined taxonomic groups (Bordes, 1953, 1957b, 1961a, 1968, 98–105 etc.). Although based initially on a very small body of data (Bordes and Bourgon, 1951b; Bordes, 1953), subsequent analysis of a much larger number of industries has provided strong support for at least the major features of this taxonomic scheme (Mellars, 1967, 97–145).
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Based on the analysis of assemblages from the French sites of Peck de l'Aze I, La Quina, and Combe-Capelle bas, a model of stone-tool resharpening is proposed for middle Paleolithic notched tools. This model is based on the observation that tools with a larger number of notches have greater mean blank lengths irrespective of their typological designation. This pattern is then used to help investigate the relationship between raw material availability and tool reuse. Our results indicate that the number of notches found on a tool is a function of both the size of the tool blank and the availability of raw material.
Article
The behavioural significance of new patterns of variablity between Middle Palaeolithic assemblages is discussed. These consist of different frequencies in regularly retouched tools of any type, correlated with named Mousterian entities. The Charentian, for example, with an abundance of racloirs in particular, possesses high implement frequencies, whereas the Denticulate Mousterian, dominated by denticulated and notched implements, possesses fewer implements. Increased racloirs manufacture, however, is the main cause of high implement frequencies. It is possible that many racloirs were fine cutting implements extensively utilised, resharpened, and frequently replaced when circumstances required economising of lithic material. Denticulates and notches were made for processing harder materials by differnt kinetic actions, such as in woodworking, and lasted longer. Industries dominated by either racloirs or by denticulates and notches were all manufactured during the conditions of Early Wurnm glacial, but the former coincide most often with severe phases whereas the latter tend to occur during milder or temperate episodes an to cluster geographically within several areas of the Mediterranean basin. A model describes the indirect effect of bioclimatic changes on seasonal variations and how these condtion mobility and concentration patterns of ancient food-collecting populations. Artefactual characteristics such as those discussed here may be diagnostic of toolmaking habits modified as a consequence of interrelated changes in the environment and social morphology.
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In this study, we propose a method based on life tables currently used in population dynamics and ecology to compare the mortality curves of Equidae from anthropic and carnivore fossil assemblages with those from modern populations. The combined analysis of frequency (f x) with various ecological parameters such as mortality rate (q x), survival rate (l x), fecundity rate (m x), and killing factor (k x), established for each age class, allows us to characterize the stability of fossil populations. These ecological parameters, developed in demography, correspond to many curves and constitute a complementary approach to interpret the two main mortality models, attritional and catastrophic, often evoked in zooarchaeology. The age structures of fossil horses from the anthropic sites of Bau de l'Aubesier (Vaucluse, France) and Combe-Grenal (Dordogne, France) and the hyena den of Fouvent (Haute-Saoe, France) are compared to typical catastrophic modern populations of Equidae from the National Park of Akagera (Rwanda). We also used data collected by the Bureau of Land Management for present day feral horses from Pryor Mountain (Montana, USA) which constitutes a reliable referential of a stable living population. The characterization of age structures in those different contexts is discussed as well as the impact of Neanderthals and hyenas on fossil assemblages.
Article
RESUME Un examen detaille des ossements neandertaliens de Combe-Grenal (Dordogne) a permis de mettre en evidence des incisions sur trois fragments de mandibules et une portion d'humerus. Afin de determiner leur origine, celles-ci ont ete analysees en micro- scopie electronique a balayage et comparees avec les traces de boucherie presentes sur la faune du meme gisement. La majorite de ces incisions se sont averees etre des traces de decharnement qui traduisent essentiellement la desarticulation de la mandibule et du coude. Leur signification du point de vue paleth- nologique est discutee.
Article
The paper stresses that analysis should be designed to solve specific problems, and that a flexibility of attitude should be maintained which allows for the evolution of analytical techniques. The author considers functional and cultural interpretations of assemblage variation and expresses a preference for the latter. A breakdown system of stone artefact analysis is proposed, with a literal notation, and three new metrical indices. The validity of the Clactonian and Acheulian assemblage‐types is tested in the light of the theoretical discussion, and using a system of specific artefact‐types, as well as the quantitative features and metrical indices specially developed. A remarkable similarity between the Central and Western European Clactonian assemblages is suggested by this analysis. Finally the possibility of establishing a series of stages in the culture traditions, and the potential benefits from such a system, are briefly reviewed.
Article
In the Southern Vosges Mountains, Northeastern France, the Grande Pile peat bog (47° 44′ N, 6°30′14″ E, 330-m altitude, about 20 m deep) gives a continuous pollen sequence for the last 140,000 years, contrary to others in Northwestern and Central Europe which are all truncated. For the first time, in a region close to the type locatity for the Eem deposits and close to the Würm and Riss stratotypes, palynology demonstrates a complete “glacial-interglacial cycle” offering the possibility of studying the rapid degradation of vegetation at the end of the Last Interglacial, perhaps in sufficient detail to be useful soon in long-term global climate forecasting. The Grande Pile pollen sequence shows, between the classical Eemian Interglacial and the Last (Würm) Glaciation, two temperate intervals interpreted as interglacials (palynological definition): St. Germain I and St. Germain II. These are separated by two very cold phases, probably glacial: Melisey I and Melisey II. This sequence, not easily correlated with the classical European chronology of Woldstedt, agrees well with Frenzel's chronology and, therefore, makes the synchrony of the Alpine glaciations with those of Northern Germany questionable. An attempt is made to correlate the Grande Pile pollen sequence with other chronologies (e.g., deep sea curves based on foraminiferal fauna, oxygen isotopes, and carbonate content, Barbados sea levels, Rocky Mountains sequence) that span the period between 140,000 and 70,000 years BP.
Article
OBSERVATIONS are presented here on quantified aspects of Middle Palaeolithic variability which have not been studied systematically so far. The findings relate to differing degrees of secondary modification of lithic artefacts between assemblages. The variations correspond with distinct toolmaking entities defined for early Würm horizons in western Europe. They offer new perspectives, however, on the interpretation of Middle Palaeolithic inter-assemblage variability by suggesting the possible importance of non-cultural causes for some of this variability.
Article
Discusses thermoluminescence dates obtained for the Le Moustier sequence, and the implications thereof. In a succeeding issue, Nick Ashton & Jill Cook disagree with Mellars' reinterpretation of the Combe Grenal sequence in the light of the TL dates, but Mellars rebuts their arguments. (See also Ox AATA 25-1423 .) -- AATA
Article
The goal of this paper is to present the main conclusions of a taphonomic analysis of the lithics from Roc de Combe and Le Piage in order to test the reality of the Châtelperronian/Aurignacian interstratifications diagnosed at these two sites. The analysis includes data from unpublished sources and uses the search of refits across stratigraphic units as a testing device. Results are that the interstratifications do not correspond to a real archeological sequence, but are actually the result of post-depositional processes. At Roc de Combe, interstratified levels 9 and 10 were not recognized during the excavation and correspond in fact to a selection of putatively diagnostic tools in what appears to be a mixed zone that includes artifacts belonging to technocomplexes (from Mousterian to Gravettian) which, elsewhere at the site, follow the classic Aquitaine sequence. At Le Piage, the spatial and stratigraphic distribution of Châtelperron points was used to demonstrate the presence of an interstratification, but the refits show that those items derive from a zone located above the rockshelter and are redeposited on top of undisturbed Aurignacian assemblages. Portions of these sites are well-preserved and contain important cultural information contributing to an improved understanding of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in western France.
Article
Statistical analysis of Mousterian assemblages shows that they can be classified into several discrete types. It remains to explain the reasons for these differences. Two main points of view are possible: either they represent different traditions, or they represent different activities carried on at different places or times by essentially the same kind of people. The authors give their reasons for favouring the former interpretation.
Article
Study of the sedimentology of the palaeolithic rock shelters of Combe‐Grenal, Caminade, Pech‐de‐1'Azé, and Le Moustier has enabled the author to define the relative position of the Mousterian industries at these sites within the climatic chronology of the early Würm. Correlations established by sedimentology show the inter‐stratification and contemporaneity of the three cultural entities known as Ferrassie Mousterian, Quina Mousterian and Mousterian of Acheulian Tradition.
Article
THE cave and rock-shelter sites of south-western France have produced an exceptional wealth of cultural remains dating from the earlier part of the last glaciation. Much of the interest of these ‘Mousterian’ flint industries derives from the fact that they have frequently been found in association with neanderthal skeletal material, the evolutionary position of which is still far from settled. During the past fifteen years these assemblages have been the object of an intensive re-investigation by Prof. F. Bordes, and for this he has devised a standardized typological classification for comparing the numerous assemblages in quantitative terms. The statistical analyses provided by Bordes et al. have permitted the first detailed and objective comparison of French Mousterian industries, and as a result Bordes has identified five main groupings within the assemblages. These have been termed the ‘Mousterian of Acheulian tradition’, ‘Quina’, ‘Ferrassie’, ‘Typical’ and ‘Denticulate’ variants1.
Article
Prey age-at-death is often used to assess hunting strategies, but the age profiles of animals represented in Middle Palaeolithic ungulate assemblages vary through time and across space. Understanding this diversity is important for reconstructing human behavioural evolution. To explore this issue, I studied one species, red deer (Cervus elaphus), in late Acheulean and Middle Palaeolithic assemblages from France (Combe-Grenal, Lazaret, and Piégu) and northern Spain (Gabasa 1 and Labeko Koba). I reconstructed age distributions using three methods: histograms, boxplots of median crown heights, and modified triangular plots, and two tooth combinations: dp4/p4 and dp4/m1. Two modern samples served as comparative baselines: a sample of C. elaphus killed by modern hunters in western Montana, USA and a sample of C. elaphus hunted by wolves reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. The mortality distributions of the modern samples differ dramatically. The wolf-hunted sample contains more juvenile and old individuals, while the human-hunted sample has more young adults. The fossil age structures fall into two clusters: 1) Gabasa 1 and Labeko Koba with a high proportion of juvenile red deer and few prime-aged adults, and 2) Combe-Grenal, Lazaret, and Piégu with equal abundances of juvenile and prime-aged red deer. I consider possible explanations for this pattern. More sites and more detailed analyses are needed to determine conclusively that the difference is related ancient human behaviour and not other pre- and post-depositional processes. However, the assemblage from Gabasa Cave is important for demonstrating that deciduous teeth can be well preserved in the Late Pleistocene fossil record. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D. - Anthropology)--University of Arizona, 1983. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 309-319). Microfiche. s
Article
Diagnosed at Roc-de-Combe and Le Piage, the Châtelperronian / Aurignacian interstratifications are crucial in supporting the idea of a long contemporaneity between the last Neandertals and the first anatomically modern humans in southwestern Europe. A taphonomic analysis of the lithic industries at the two sites shows that: - the interstratifications result from post-depositional processes, often combined with errors in stratigraphic observations; - portions of these sites are well preserved and deserved further study. A techno-typologial study of the Aurignacian assemblages hence individualized shows that : - at Roc-de-Combe, the Aurignacian sequence starts with a classical Aurignacian I, - at Le Piage, above the Châtelperronian and below the early Aurignacian there is an industry unknown until now in the Aquitanian basin. These results allow us to discuss the validity of the general models conventionally used to explain the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Western Europe.