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The archaeological sequence from the Orgnac 3 site presents the opportunity to observe behavioral aspects characterizing the beginnings of the main Neanderthal technological strategies employed in Europe until marine isotopic stage (MIS) 3. In this site, the Levallois debitage method appears in the middle of the sequence (MIS 9) and develops at about 300,000 BP at the top of the sequence (MIS 8). The Levallois method is best represented in level 1, making the site one of the oldest examples of Levallois technology. Orgnac 3 indicates the emergence of new technological behavior in southern France and Europe around the limit between isotopic stages 9 and 8. In order to provide new evidence on pre-Neanderthal behavior, new data from level 1 were obtained by comparing stone processing systems with faunal remains. Lithic and bone assemblages display evidence of one to several occupations by horse and bovid hunters during predominantly cool climatic conditions. Animal carcass processing is principally associated with standardized knapping, which produced most of the tool supports. Small and large flakes bear little retouch. Behavioral modifications appeared later than changes in human anatomical traits and did not follow a particular rhythm. New behavioral aspects emerged in Europe as early as MIS 12, as indicated by subsistence strategies, and specialized and selective hunting and butchering strategies. During MIS 10, new technological behavior (pre-Levallois knapping) appeared. However, at Orgnac 3, the archaeological record reveals several stages. From MIS 9–8 and until MIS 7, strategies adopted by Neanderthals became systematic, independent of climatic conditions. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of early Neanderthal behavior, i.e., of human history.
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Human cannibalism is currently recorded in abundant archaeological assemblages of different chronologies. The TD6 level of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos), at more than 800 ka, is the oldest case known at present. The analysis of cranial and postcranial remains of Homo antecessor has established the presence of various alterations of anthropic origin (cut marks and bone breakage) related with exploitation of carcasses. The human remains do not show a specific distribution, and they appeared mixed with lithic tools and bones of other taxa. Both nonhuman and human remains show similar evidence of butchering processes. The strati-graphic evidence and the new increment of the collection of remains of Homo antecessor have led us to identify a succession of cannibalism events in a dilated temporal sequence. These data suggest that hunting strategies and human meat consumption were frequent and habitual actions. The numerous evidences of cannibalism, the number of individuals, their age profile, and the archaeostratigraphic distribution suggest that cannibalism in TD6 was nutritional. This practice, accepted and included in their social system, is more ancient cultural cannibalism than has been known until now. 2010 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
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The dispersal of hominins may have been favored by the opening of the landscape during the Early-Middle Pleistocene transition (EMP) in Western Europe. The structure of the small-vertebrate assemblages of the archaeo-paleontological karstic site of Gran Dolina in Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain) shows important environmental and climatic changes in the faunal succession, across the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary at 780 ka. These changes are interpreted to indicate impoverishment of the forests, along with an increase in dry meadows, and open lands in general that entailed a tendency towards the loss of diversity in small-vertebrate communities above the EMP. We evaluate variation in diversity of the faunal succession of Gran Dolina using Shannon's Second Theorem as an index of ecosystem structure. The long cultural-stratigraphic sequence of Gran Dolina during the EMP is somewhat similar in its completeness and continuity to that in the locality of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in the Upper Jordan Valley. We also evaluate related data including faunal and floral (pollen) succession. Both localities present cold, dry and humid, warm fluctuations at the transition between the Early and the Middle Pleistocene. Comparisons between these sites present opportunities to understand large-scale climatic changes.
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The earliest hominin occupation of Europe is one of the most debated topics in palaeoanthropology. However, the purportedly oldest of the Early Pleistocene sites in Eurasia lack precise age control and contain stone tools rather than human fossil remains. Here we report the discovery of a human mandible associated with an assemblage of Mode 1 lithic tools and faunal remains bearing traces of hominin processing, in stratigraphic level TE9 at the site of the Sima del Elefante, Atapuerca, Spain. Level TE9 has been dated to the Early Pleistocene (approximately 1.2-1.1 Myr), based on a combination of palaeomagnetism, cosmogenic nuclides and biostratigraphy. The Sima del Elefante site thus emerges as the oldest, most accurately dated record of human occupation in Europe, to our knowledge. The study of the human mandible suggests that the first settlement of Western Europe could be related to an early demographic expansion out of Africa. The new evidence, with previous findings in other Atapuerca sites (level TD6 from Gran Dolina), also suggests that a speciation event occurred in this extreme area of the Eurasian continent during the Early Pleistocene, initiating the hominin lineage represented by the TE9 and TD6 hominins.
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Sima de los Huesos is one of the most complex Pleistocene sites at Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain). This pit has yielded a number of 28 hominids dated around 400 kyr. This is the most complete collection of Middle Pleistocene Homo heidelbergensis around the world. Sima de los Huesos was never a hominid occupation place, since no traces of habitation has been discovered, nor a carnivores net, because there are not herbivores remains. However, it contains a large variety of carnivores, such as foxes, large felidae, wolfs, mustelids, and bears. The presence of these specimens may be explained as several events of natural falling, hibernation and catastrophic death, particularly clear for the bears' case. This may be supported by the fact that all these specimens are present along the whole sedimentary sequence. On the contrary, human remains are mostly concentrated inside a quite discrete sedimentary level, which cannot be explained by any kind of catastrophic nor attritional event, according with the age's profile. The recent finding of an Acheulean handaxe at the Sima de los Huesos cave site casts light on the evolution of human behaviour during the Middle Pleistocene. It is a finely flaked quartzite handaxe, which is associated with the hominid assemblage. The particular nature of the deposit involving its taphonomy, palaeontology, and technology points to a symbolic meaning both of the tool and the human accumulation. This would support the hypothesis of human mortuary practices performed at the Sima around 400 kyr ago. This discovery allows us to extend human complex behaviour and symbolism of mortuary rituals 300 kyr earlier than broadly heretofore accepted. To cite this article: E. Carbonell, M. Mosquera, C. R. Palevol 5 (2006).
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The Sierra de Atapuerca sites (Spain) have yielded excellent data and they represent the longest chronological sequence discovered in Europe to date, covering the late Early Pleistocene to the late Middle Pleistocene. In view of these exceptional characteristics, this work aims to meet three objectives: to characterise the technological features of various key European sites in relation to the significant factors observed through the Atapuerca sequence; to evaluate whether technological evolution in Europe during the Early and the Middle Pleistocene is consistent with that of Atapuerca; and finally, to consider the possibility of extrapolating population inferences from Atapuerca to the rest of the continent.
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A lithic tool has appeared for the first time at Sima de los Huesos (Atapuerca, Spain). It is a finely flaked quartzite handaxe, which is associated with the hominid assemblage of a MNI of 27 Homo heidelbergensis, dated more than 350,000 years ago. The particular nature of the deposit involving its taphonomy, paleontology, and technology points to a symbolic meaning both of the tool and the human accumulation.
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Subsistence strategies are a set of actions and measures chosen by hominins in a specific place and at a specific time to obtain the means necessary to survive and reproduce as individuals and as a group. Choosing successful actions and measures increases the group's means of survival, which in turn gives rise to an increase in population, thereby ensuring the continuity of the group. Some authors believe that Early Pleistocene hominin settlements were marginal and discontinuous due to their lack of social networks and cultural acquirements. However, the faunal remains recovered in the caves of Gran Dolina (levels 3–4 and 6) and Sima del Elefante (levels 9–14) in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain) show that the subsistence strategies of Early Pleistocene hominins in Europe were successful enough to allow hominin groups to survive and reproduce in sufficient numbers. Therefore, these first humans would have the ability to maintain a continuous occupation of Europe.
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This article reviews the evidence for planning behaviour in Middle Pleistocene hominids. It documents the way in which raw material procurement and tool production were structured during the Middle Pleistocene occupations of the Spanish sites of Sierra de Atapuerca, Torralba, Ambrona and Aridos. Differences in the use of raw materials for different kinds of tool or end-product allow inferences to be drawn about pre-Neanderthal intentionality and cognitive ability. The overall pattern of technological behaviour demonstrated by this study is far removed from the purely ‘opportunistic’ and can reasonably be described as involving both forethought and planning. The work is presented from a techno-economic perspective based on the differential use of raw material types present in the lithic assemblages of these sites, and the proximity of sources of these raw materials in the surrounding landscape.
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Homo is the only genus that responds to environmental pressures by adopting such strategies as non-standardized behaviour, a general diet, and technology. Considering that basic idea, this paper introduces the general hypothesis that the Pliocene and Early Pleistocene Homo dispersals within and out of Africa were consequences of that human characteristic behaviour. In particular, they were driven by a process starting with the emergence of technology, followed in a second phase by its socialization. From this point, social reorganization within communities (changing behaviours and social, cultural and economic strategies) occurred, driving demographic growth, and frequently geographic expansion.
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Microscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction methods were used to analyse 415 samples of natural and archaeological flint from Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain) in order to define the different types from Neogene and Cretaceous formations in the study area, infer their genetic context and ascertain the supply sources used by hunter-gatherers who exploited this area in the Upper Pleistocene. A statistical classification model was also designed using linear discriminatory analysis and support vector machines which permitted the differentiation of the flint on an age basis.
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This paper deals with the question of human dispersals out of Africa. Some hypotheses concerning dispersals for both Mode 1 and Mode 2 technologies are presented. We suggest that early humans were technically split into at least two groups, those producing Oldowan (Mode 1) and those producing the more advanced Acheulean (Mode 2). Environmental changes caused a major faunal dispersal at around 1 my, which may have facilitated the first human dispersal toward Eurasia. However, this first dispersal involved only Mode 1 technology, although Mode 2 was already well developed. Therefore, we suggest that the main cause for this dispersal must have involved differential subsistence strategies, such as the competition for resources between Mode 1- and Mode 2-producing populations, which drove the former, but not the latter populations out of the Rift System to other areas. Although Mode 1 technology was highly effective in successfully facing the new Eurasian environments, when the African areas with Mode 2 became saturated, this technical system started to spread, replacing Mode 1 technology in Eurasia long after its initial settling.
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El trabajo de investigación que se presenta tiene por objeto la delimitación de los factores que intervienen en la variabilidad de la industria lítica de los yacimientos mencionados en el título. El planteamiento básico es la reconstrucción de los procesos que han intervenido en la formación del registro lítico, mediante el estudio de las secuencias de producción, y las variaciones que pueden tener lugar a partir de la funcionalidad de las ocupaciones. El estudio del material se ha realizado teniendo en cuenta la utilización diferencial de las materias primas, el tipo e intensidad de configuración del instrumental y la presencia o ausencia de las secuencias de configuración completas. Con este fin se incluye una metodología, en gran medida original, especialmente elaborada para satisfacer estos planteamientos. Además, han sido tratados los datos aportados por anteriores estudios zooarqueológicos sobre los yacimientos, con objeto de comparar en cada caso los datos tecnológicos con los subsistenciales.
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Gran Dolina is part of an archaeological and paleontological complex located in the Sierra de Atapuerca karstic system (Burgos, Spain). The Trinchera del Ferrocarril sites were discovered as a consequence of the construction of a railway for the transport of minerals at the end of the nineteenth century. The systematic excavation of the upper Gran Dolina levels was initiated in 1981. In 1993, a 6 m(2)biostratigraphic survey pit was started, reaching level TD6 in 1994. This level was excavated during four consecutive years, yielding human fossils, identified as Homo antecessor, in association with lithic and faunal remains, dating to more than 0.78 m.y.a.