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Archaeozoological analyses of large mammals from the prehistoric cave site of Lazaret, France: A case study of Archaeostratigraphic Unit 28

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The Lazaret Cave in Nice, France, is a systematically excavated key site in Southern Europe for carrying out investigations on the transition between the Acheulean and Mousterian cultures. It is a reference site for the reconstruction of paleoenvironments, bio-stratigraphy and for understanding cultural evolution, behaviour and lifestyle of preneanderthals, the last contemporaries of late Middle Pleistocene. In this paper, we aim to present the results concerning the archaeozoological studies conducted on the large mammal remains recovered from the Archaeostratigraphic Unit 28 of the cave’s deposit, which is dated to the Upper Middle Pleistocene (Marine Isotopic Stage 6). This unit has also yielded a rich lithic industry associated with the definite evidence of human presence in the cave in the form of four preneanderthal remains. The faunal spectra comprise 8 species of ungulates and 7 species of carnivores. Cervus elaphus, Capra ibex and Bos primigenius dominate the assemblage while the other taxa are represented minimally. Taphonomic studies reveal that humans were the primary agents of accumulation resulting from hunting activities, transporting and exploiting/processing of carcasses of certain species for nutritive purposes. The intrusive nature of carnivores, with scarce remains, is ascertained by their presence between two human occupation levels as shown by characteristic modifications made by them on bones. A study of ungulate dentition show that the cave was tentatively occupied or used temporarily from autumn to the end of winter. In terms of palaeoecology, the faunal species represent a mixture of varying landscapes with mountain, forest and open grassland habitats and an environment tending towards climate cooler than the present. Keywords: Lazaret cave. Stratigraphic Unit 28. Large mammals. Archaeozoology. Taphonomy.
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Comité Organizador del congreso:
Lucía Agudo Pérez
Carlos Duarte
Asier García Escárzaga
Antonio Higuero Pliego
Jeanne Marie Geiling
Sara Nuñez de la Fuente
Fco. Javier Rodríguez Santos
Roberto Suárez Revilla
Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, IIIPC
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Portada: © Andrea Sanz, Elena Miraores, Pascual Mercé y Pilar Pujol
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entrada principal, en el interior de la ermita de San Antonio Abad en Villahermosa del río, provincia de Castellón. El descubri-
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399
IX Jornadas de Jóvenes en Investigación Arqueológica. Santander 8-11 de junio de 2016
Resumen
La Cueva de Lazaret en Niza (Francia) constituye un
yacimiento clave, excavado sistemáticamente, del Sur de
Europa para investigar la transición de la cultura Achelen-
se a la Musteriense. Es una localidad de referencia para las
reconstrucciones paleoambientales y bioestratigrácas y
para el conocimiento de la evolución de la cultura, el com-
portamiento y el modo de vida los preneandertales, los
últimos habitantes de nales del Pleistoceno Medio. En
este trabajo se presentan los resultados relaticos al estudio
arqueozoológico de grandes mamíferos recuperados de la
Unidad Arqueoestratigráca 28 del depósito de la cueva,
cronológicamente correspondiente a nales del Pleistoce-
no Medio (Estadio Isotópico Marino 6). Esta unidad ha
reportado también un conjunto abundante de industria lí-
tica asociada a claras evidencias de presencia humana en la
cueva, teniendo en cuenta la recuperación de cuatro restos
de preneandertales. La asociación faunística comprende 8
especies de ungulados y 7 especies de carnívoros. Cervus
elaphus, Capra ibex y Bos primigenius/Bison priscus
son las especies dominantes, mientras que el resto de es-
pecie se encuentra mínimamente representadas. El estudio
tafonómico evidencia que los humanos fueron el agento
primario de acumulación, ejerciendo tanto caza selectiva
como no-selectiva, transportando y explotando/proce-
sando las carcasas de determinadas especies por razones
nutritivas. La naturaleza intrusiva de los carnívoros, repre-
sentados por escasos restos, es conrmada por su presencia
en medio de dos niveles de ocupación, como demuestran
las modicaciones características realizadas por estos en
los elementos. Un estudio de la dentición de los ungula-
dos muestra que la cueva fue provisionalmente ocupada
o usada de forma temporal de otoño a nales de invier-
no. Desde un punto de vista paleoecológico, las especies
representan una mezcla de diversos paisajes de montaña,
bosque y prado abierto y un clima con una tendencia más
fría que en la actualidad.
Palabras clave: Cueva de Lazaret. Unidad Arqueoestratigrá-
ca 28. Grandes mamíferos. Arqueozoología. Tafonomía.
Abstract
e Lazaret Cave in Nice, France, is a systematically
excavated key site in Southern Europe for carrying out in-
Archaeozoological analyses of large
mammals from the prehistoric cave
site of Lazaret, France: A case study of
Archaeostratigraphic Unit 28
Sharada Channarayapatna1, Patricia Valensi2 , Ursula un Hohenstein1
1 Department of Humanities, Section of Prehistoric and Anthropological Sciences, Palazzo Turchi di Bagno, Corso
Ercole I d’Este 32, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy. chnsrd@unife.it, u.thun@unife.it
2 UMR 7194 CNRS, Département préhistoire MNHN, Musée de Préhistoire, 171 Montée du Château, Tourrette-
Levens 06690, France. pvalensi06@gmail.com
vestigations on the transition between the Acheulean and
Mousterian cultures. It is a reference site for the recons-
truction of paleoenvironments, bio-stratigraphy and for
understanding cultural evolution, behaviour and lifestyle
of preneanderthals, the last contemporaries of late Midd-
le Pleistocene. In this paper, we aim to present the results
concerning the archaeozoological studies conducted on
the large mammal remains recovered from the Archaeos-
tratigraphic Unit 28 of the cave’s deposit, which is dated to
the Upper Middle Pleistocene (Marine Isotopic Stage 6).
is unit has also yielded a rich lithic industry associated
with the denite evidence of human presence in the cave in
the form of four preneanderthal remains. e faunal spec-
tra comprise 8 species of ungulates and 7 species of carni-
vores. Cervus elaphus, Capra ibex and Bos primigenius
dominate the assemblage while the other taxa are repre-
sented minimally. Taphonomic studies reveal that humans
were the primary agents of accumulation resulting from
hunting activities, transporting and exploiting/processing
of carcasses of certain species for nutritive purposes. e
intrusive nature of carnivores, with scarce remains, is ascer-
tained by their presence between two human occupation
levels as shown by characteristic modications made by
them on bones. A study of ungulate dentition show that
the cave was tentatively occupied or used temporarily from
autumn to the end of winter. In terms of palaeoecology,
the faunal species represent a mixture of varying landsca-
pes with mountain, forest and open grassland habitats and
an environment tending towards climate cooler than the
present.
Keywords: Lazaret cave. Stratigraphic Unit 28. Large mam-
mals. Archaeozoology. Taphonomy.
1. Introduction
Strategically located on the French Mediterra-
nean coast, the Palaeolithic cave of Lazaret in Nice
(Fig. 1a; 43° 41’ 25” N, 17’ 42” E) qualies as a
reference site for investigating the transition between
IX Jornadas de Jóvenes en Investigación Arqueológica
400
Figura 1. a) Localización del municipio de Muras, en color rojo. b) Situación de los yacimientos castrexos.
Sharada Channarayapatna, Patricia Valensi Y Ursula un Hohenstein
Acheulean and Mousterian cultures, for reconstruc-
ting the dynamics of palaeoclimate and bio-strati-
graphy of South-eastern France and North-western
Italy, and for understanding the culturally evolving
lifestyle of preneanderthals, who inhabited this cave
intermittently. Dug out from dolomitic limestones
of Lower Jurassic, it opens out on the western slope
of Mont Boron, at 26m absolute altitude and 100m
from the sea (Fig. 1b). The cavity’s dimensions are
35m length, 4-14m width and ceiling height of 15m.
Since its rst mention by François Emmanuel Fodéré
in 1821, the cave was subsequently subjected to ex-
cavations by F.C.E. Octobon (1950-1965) and H. de
Lumley (1967-2014) which helped to delineate four
main stratigraphic units: basal marine beaches A and
B (respectively attributed to Marine Isotope Stage
(MIS) 9 and 7) overlain by stratigraphic complex C,
made of continental formations 6m thick and topped
by stalagmitic oors D and E (Lumley et al., 2001;
Lumley et al., 2004). Comprising a succession of gra-
vel with blocks in a red clayey silt matrix correlating
to three periodic sedimentary cycles, complex C is
further split into CI, CII Lower (archaeostratigraphic
units (henceforth AU) 26 to 29), CII Upper (AU 13 to
25), and CIII (AU 1 to 12) (Fig. 1c). Together with 25
hominid fossils assigned to preneanderthals (Lumley
et al., 2012) and abundant faunal remains recovered
till date, Units CI and CII have yielded a biface rich
Acheulian lithic industry whereas Unit CIII is attribu-
ted to Epi-acheulean culture, highlighted by the oc-
currence of ake tools (with few Levallois debitage)
and scarcity of bifaces (Cauche, 2012; Cauche and
Lebègue, 2008).
Taking account of association of large mam-
mals and rodents, the evolutionary stage of some
taxa, as well as palaeoecological data ascertained
Figura 1. (a) Map showing the location of Lazaret cave in Nice, France; (b) View of western slope of Mont Boron facing the Mediterranean Sea where
the cave, pointed with yellow arrow, is situated in Nice, France; (c) Stratigraphic section of the ‘well’ excavated at the front of Lazaret cave with AU 28
marked in yellow rectangle; (d) View of the excavated oor of AU 28 with stratigraphic section O/P on the le and 17/18 on the right.
401
Santander 8-11 de junio de 2016
from previous multidisciplinary studies at the site,
these archaeological sediments were attributed to the
last cold period of the Middle Pleistocene (i.e. MIS
6) (Valensi, 2000; Valensi et al., 2007; Hanquet et al.,
2010). Paleontological data concord with radiometric
dating, done using the combined ESR/U–Th method
on well-preserved Cervus elaphus tooth enamel, which
yields ages between 120 and 190 kyr for the CIII and
CII stratigraphic units (Michel et al., 2009; Michel et
al., 2011). In particular, Archaeostratigraphic unit
28 (henceforth AU 28), the faunal remains of which
form the scope for this paper, belongs to the top of
CII Lower between 412- 432cm and is dated to 170
kyr (MIS 6.4) (Fig. 1d). Other salient nds from this
unit include a transitional lithic industry (2019 arti-
facts with 42 bifaces), 4 human remains (frontal, fe-
mur, fragment of mandibular molar and a deciduous
tooth), a hearth and a profusion of boulders, rocks
and stones indicating a cooler climate (Lumley et al.,
2012: 51). In this paper, we aim to discuss the com-
position, source of accumulation and signicance of
AU 28’s faunal spectra.
2. Material and Methods
The 7346 faunal remains of AU 28 came from
90m2 oor area excavated from 2010-12. Restoration
was carried out for remains found heavily coated
with limestone encrustations containing calcite and
iron oxides. Water was minimally used for cleaning
and some fragile or altered bones were consolidated
using paraloid B72. Internationally established stan-
dard protocols for archaeozoological analyses were
followed (Lyman, 1994, 2008; Reitz and Wing, 1999).
Remains were primarily categorised into identiable
and unidentiable. Anatomic and taxonomic classi-
cation was achieved chiey through comparison with
reference skeletons, both modern and those recove-
red from previous excavations housed at the Labora-
tory of Lazaret for identiable remains. Publications
such as Barone (1976), Hillson (2005), Pales and
Garcia (1981), Pales and Lambert (1971) and Schmid
(1972) were additionally consulted for identication
of anatomy and taxon in the absence of reference
skeletal specimens. During analysis, some remains
could not be conclusively ascertained to a particular
species. For instance, for closely related species with
morphological similarity like Bos primigenius and Bison
priscus, a broad category ‘Bos/Bison’ was created and
elements were assigned to it. Apart from general di-
mensions, remains were recorded by part, portion,
Archaeozoological analyses of large mammals from the prehistoric cave site of Lazaret, France
side, fusion state, long bone fracture morphology
and fragmentation indices (shaft circumference and
length- Bunn 1982, 1983; Villa and Mahieu, 1991).
The tooth-eruption and wear stages were determined
using detailed data from modern populations of deer
(Riglet, 1977; Klein et al., 1981; Klein et al., 1983), ibex
(Couturier, 1961) and roe deer (Paulus, 1973; van Lae-
re et al., 1998; Valensi and Psathi 2004). Taphonomic
study concentrated on both pre- and post- deposi-
tional alterations produced by natural and anthropic
agents. Comprehensive information of each remain
was fed into a database management software. Quan-
tication of identied remains addressed queries re-
lated to relative frequencies of taxa through Num-
ber of identied specimens (NISP) and Minimum
number of individuals combination (MNIc) (Lyman,
2008; Reitz and Wing, 2008). The latter was calcu-
lated considering the most abundant element with
laterality, age, sex and size variations. Age prole of
species was assessed from dentition wear stages and
epiphyseal fusion of long bones. While some remains
were photographed in situ, some select others were
photographed after their restoration and analysis.
3. Results
By virtue of their nature and composition, com-
pact bones (as well as teeth and extremities of limbs)
were better preserved. The cave’s karstic environment
played a favourable role in their fairly good preserva-
tion as evidenced by the presence of fragile yet in-
tact bones like sternum, rib cartilage and foetal bones
in the assemblage. Taxonomically identied remains
amounted to 2256 (31%) and anatomic identica-
tion without taxonomic specicity was possible for
243 remains. In this category, 77 additional remains
were attributed to the Order Artiodactyla since dis-
tinguishing morphological features for more precise
identication were absent. High degree of fragmen-
tation rendered 4770 (65%) fragments unidentiable
(Table. 1). The rate of determination was 30.7%. Al-
together, 4 Orders comprising 7 families, 15 genera
and 16 species composed the faunal diversity of AU
28. The whole values, percentages of NISP per taxon
and total NISP revealed the predominance of same
genera and species.
3.1. Species
The ungulates dominate the assemblage with
97.9% remains while the carnivores comprised 2.1%.
IX Jornadas de Jóvenes en Investigación Arqueológica
402
Out of 2209 ungulate remains, the families of Cer-
vidae (75.1% NISP and 76.7% NISP per taxon) and
Bovidae (22.6% NISP and 20.3% NISP per taxon) had
better representation than the families of Equidae and
Elephantidae (0.1% NISP and NISP per taxon each).
The carnivores in an otherwise herbivore-dominated
AU 28 assemblage were 47 in total. The family of Ca-
nidae (0.8% NISP and 40.4% NISP per taxon) was be-
tter represented than Ursidae (0.7% NISP and 38.3%
NISP per taxon) and Felidae (0.4% NISP and 21.3%
NISP per taxon) (Fig. 2).
Cervus elaphus (74.9% NISP and 32% MNI), Ca-
pra ibex (14.3% NISP and 18% MNI) and Bos/Bison
(5.6% NISP and 8% MNI), in descending order of
representation, formed the major portion of ungulate
remains. Among the 1690 red deer remains, all skele-
tal elements were well represented. The population
structure of red deer, derived from wearing stages
of mandibular dentition which were in majority, was
distributed over all age groups (Fig. 2). Interesting in-
formation about their mortality came from 2 maxillae
with varying wear stages of deciduous molars and
different eruption stages of rst permanent molar.
They indicated two different periods of slaughter. In
accordance with Riglet (1977), the rst maxilla (Fig.
3a) was attributed to a 5 month young individual as
second lobe of D4 was not used and the M1 was in
the course of eruption (slaughter in October). In the
second maxilla attributed to a young individual of 9
months (slaughter in February), molars had greater
wear and M1 had completely erupted with a worn
rst lobe. The examination of red deer skulls with or
without pedicles of antlers allowed to decipher that
both sexes were impartially hunted (Fig. 2). The se-
cond dominant species was ibex (323 remains) with
individuals referable to all age groups. Sexing of the
horn cores was possible in case of 13 fragments, 11
to males and 2 to females (Fig. 3b). Morphological
study conducted on P3 and the lower P4 as well as
upper M3 conrmed that the Lazaret ibex belonged
to the Alpine line, while also presenting an archaic
morphology (Crégut-Bonnoure, 1995; Valensi, 2009).
Similar to red deer, the skeletal remains of ibex were
abundant and came from all parts of the skeleton. In
this AU, unlike previous units, aurochs (determined
precisely from dental remains) were better represen-
ted with 9 remains (0.4% NISP) while 117 remains
were attributed to the combined Bos/Bison category.
Sharada Channarayapatna, Patricia Valensi Y Ursula un Hohenstein
Figura 2. Summary of identication, species composition and population structure of the fauna from AU 28 of Lazaret cave. NISP, Number of
identied specimens; MNIc, Minimum number of individuals combination; J, Juvenile; JA, Juvenile adult; A, Adult; MA, Mature adult; SA, Senile
adult; M, Month; Y, Years.
403
Santander 8-11 de junio de 2016
One juvenile individual’s left tibia, 2 adult individuals’
left radii aided in MNI derivation. Auroch was well
represented by mandible, scapula, radius-ulna, pelvis
and short bones. Strong presence of nutritious parts
such as long bones, crania and elements of thorax
(ribs and vertebrae) over others in auroch/bison cate-
gory revealed a change in selective transport strategy
probably inuenced by the animal’s size and carcass
weight. Long bones of red deer, ibex and auroch/bi-
son, whose length and circumference fragmentation
indices were recorded, revealed that majority of them
had lengths less than half of the original length and
incomplete circumferences, characteristic of anthro-
pogenic assemblages (Bunn, 1983; Villa and Mahieu,
1991; Valensi, 2000; Valensi et al., 2013). The long
bones in case of fresh breakage had spiral fractures
while in dry bones, the breakage had fracture mor-
phology rather transverse or longitudinal. Long bo-
nes shafts with more than half of the original length
or nearly complete circumferences, attributed to car-
nivore accumulated and modied assemblages, were
hardly present (Bunn 1983; Villa and Mahieu, 1991;
Valensi, 2000; Valensi et al., 2013).
Archaeozoological analyses of large mammals from the prehistoric cave site of Lazaret, France
A more sporadic presence was recorded for
other ungulate species. Diaphyses of femur and rib
accounted for at least 1 individual of Palaeoloxodon
antiquus (0.1% NISP and 2% MNI). The Equus tauba-
chensis (0.1% NISP and 2% MNI) at Lazaret was of
a large size. While the cranium was represented by a
fragment of zygomatic, post-cranial element identi-
ed was a left humerus diaphysis, together attributed
to 1 individual. A pelvic fragment yielded evidence of
1 adult individual of Megaloceros giganteus (0.05% NISP
and 2% MNI). Capreolus capreolus (0.2% NISP and 2%
MNI) was represented by 4 elements, namely a proxi-
mal fragment of ulna, a cervical vertebra, a fragment
of caudal face of femur diaphysis and a rst phalanx,
attributable to 1 adult individual. The Rupicapra rupi-
capra (2.7% NISP and 8% MNI) with 61 remains had
the highest representation of this species in this AU
at Lazaret cave. A minimum number of 4 individuals
from all age groups was estimated. Both axial and
appendicular elements were well represented.
The carnivores’ contribution was characterized
mainly by Canis lupus (0.7% NISP and 4% MNI),
Ursus spelaeus (0.4% NISP and 4% MNI), Ursus arctos
Figura 3. Faunal remains of ungulates and carnivores identied in AU 28 of Lazaret cave. (a) Le maxilla with D2, D3, D4 and an erupting M1
(R10-CR96-4050) of a juvenile red deer (Cervus elaphus); (b) View of the horn core (S15-HG94-4692) of female ibex (Capra ibex); (c) On top, right
rib (S13-FE109-4707) and at bottom, 14th le rib (O8-AE103-2749) of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus); (d) Right maxilla (R16-IB90-5505) of cave lynx
(Lynx spelaeus). Scale bars are 2cm each.
IX Jornadas de Jóvenes en Investigación Arqueológica
404
and Lynx spelaeus (0.2% NISP and 4% MNI each) in
descending order while the other species were scar-
cely represented. Nearly 1000 wolf remains from the
beginning of the excavations till present, including 16
remains (2 adult individuals) from this level, made it
the most abundant carnivore on site in terms of re-
mains. Post cranial skeletal elements included a pate-
lla, a lumbar vertebra and long bones. Cranial remains
included 3 fragments of mandible and isolated teeth.
Three remains such as mandibular elements related
to the same adult individual through association and
a calcaneum were positively attributed to Vulpes vulpes
(0.1% NISP and 2% MNI). The 2 species of bear
had a minimum of 1 juvenile and 1 adult individual
each in both cases. While skeletal parts of cave bear
included long bones, limb extremities, ribs (Fig. 3c),
vertebrae and tarsus; brown bear was represented by
an incomplete cranial fragment (palatine), an upper
second left incisor, a lumbar vertebra, a patella and an
unfused distal end of rst phalanx. Three elements,
a fragment of right temporal (cranium), a lumbar
Sharada Channarayapatna, Patricia Valensi Y Ursula un Hohenstein
vertebra, and the distal portion of second phalanx,
could not be accurately attributed to a particular spe-
cies and were thus placed under the broader category
of genus Ursus. Merely 4 Lynx spelaeus (0.2% NISP
and 4% MNI) remains were identied, represented
by dental elements (Fig. 3d), scapula and femur attri-
butable to 1 juvenile and 1 adult individual. Panthera
pardus (0.1% NISP and 4% NISP) represented by ra-
dii and a phalanx was identied in the assemblage.
The presence of Felis silvestris (0.1% NISP and 2%
MNI) was attested by 3 remains, 2 unfused femurs
of both lateralities and an unfused ulna, reasoned to
belong to the same juvenile individual.
2.2. Taphonomy
Taphonomical studies clearly established AU
28 to be an anthropic unit. Out of 215 evidences
of modications by biological agents on identied
remains, 87% were anthropic marks while only 13%
were of carnivore origin. Altogether, 16 red deer, 9
Figura 4. Examples of faunal remains from AU 28 of Lazaret cave with taphonomic marks. (a) Right mandible (O12-EF90-2686) of red deer (Cer-
vus elaphus) with cut marks marked with a white rectangle; (b) Tibia diaphysis (T9-BT44-1770) of chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) with percussion
notch shown by an arrow mark; (c) Right radius diaphysis (U15-HT96-3670) of red deer (Cervus elaphus) with an adherent ake marked with a
white square; (d) Medial view of right scapula (N8-AB93-3162) of ibex (Capra ibex) with a pit mark made by carnivore tooth on the supraglenoidal
tubercle marked with a white circle. Scale bars are 2cm each
405
Santander 8-11 de junio de 2016
Archaeozoological analyses of large mammals from the prehistoric cave site of Lazaret, France
ibex, 4 aurochs, 4 chamois and 1 roe deer were trans-
ported back to the cave by humans during this unit’s
occupation period. Anthropic marks indicated that
the aim of processing was denitely food extraction
and optimum exploitation of carcasses. All neces-
sary successive stages in the butchery process such as
skinning (on mandible) (Fig. 4a), limb disarticulation,
deeshing (vertebrae, ribs, and long bones), tendon
recuperation, extraction of brain (cranium) and long
bone fracturing to procure marrow were observed
in the assemblage. 42 cut marks (33 on red deer, 7
on ibex, and rest on other ungulates) caused by li-
thic tools were documented primarily on meat rich
remains such as upper front limb (8), lower hind limb
(10) and axial elements (11). Percussion notches/in-
ner conchoidal scars (86 on red deer and 12 on ibex)
were present mostly found on 75 long bone diaphysis
(Fig. 4b) and the rest on other elements. Adhering
akes (5 on red deer (Fig. 4c), 2 on bovine and rest on
other ungulates) only on the long bone diaphysis fur-
ther conrmed this observation. Red deer long bone
diaphyses also evidenced the impact of percussion.
Moreover, scraping marks were observed primarily
on limb bones (14), axial elements (3) of red deer (14)
and ibex (3) and the rest on other skeletal elements
of remaining ungulates. Roe deer bones demonstra-
ted fresh anthropic fractures.
An interesting evidence of wolf consuming other
animals came from 2 skeletal elements, which showed
conspicuous teeth marks in the form of gnawing and
pits. The size and shape of these marks matched well
with the size of wolf teeth. The tibia of wolf bore a
distinct pit mark at the proximal end. By its dimen-
sions and appearance, it can be said that another wolf
or a different carnivore of similar comparable size
gnawed it. The other remain is an unfused long bone
of wolf, which bore gnaw marks on the metaphysis
that are typical of carnivore tooth action. The dorsal
part of scapula of cave lynx also bore a pit mark left
by the tooth of a wolf-sized carnivore. Carnivorous
alterations on other species or meat-rich bones are re-
lated primarily to small ungulates (chamois) or larger
ungulates of juvenile age (red deer and ibex (Fig. 4d)).
The remains of elephant, giant deer, bear and
leopard had no distinct alterations. Hence, low repre-
sentation and insufcient taphonomic information
made it difcult to infer how they got incorporated in
the assemblage. Taphonomic marks pertaining to na-
tural post-depositional agents were few. Weathering
(4 remains) and root impressions (3 remains) were
visible only on long and at bones of principal un-
gulates, which suggests rapid burial and subsequently
good preservation by the cave’s sediments. Mangane-
se oxide (295 remains) and concretions (253 remains)
were present in greater numbers mostly on red deer
and ibex remains.
3. Discussion
Considering the faunal association of AU 28 at
Lazaret cave, which delivered 16 species, and their
taphonomic modications, this unit was clearly an
accumulation of anthropic origin. In general, the Pa-
laeolithic humans intentionally and consistently broke
long bones, jaws and skulls of ungulates to extract
marrow, brain and other nutritive tissues by imple-
menting strategies of non-selective hunting (all age
groups and both sexes) and non-selective transport
of entire or nearly complete carcasses of small and
medium-sized ungulates but selective hunting and
selective transport of large sized mammals using an
acheulian lithic tool-kit. The anthropic marks obser-
ved on the material indicate that the aim of proces-
sing was food extraction and optimum utilisation or
exploitation of carcasses: skinning (mandible), limb
disarticulation, deeshing (vertebrae, ribs, long bo-
nes), tendon recuperation, extraction of the brain
(cranium) and long bone fracturing (humerus, radius,
tibia and metapodia) to extract the marrow, were ob-
served. The deer and ibex were, as in overlying units,
the most abundant species in the assemblage. A study
of red deer teeth and antlers showed a long duration
occupation of the cave for several months, main-
ly from autumn to the end of winter. These results
are similar with those obtained in AU 26 (M’Hamdi,
2012) and quite different from AU 25 where an au-
tumn hunting episode has been highlighted (Valensi
et al., 2013). In AU 28, antlers were numerous as do-
cumented in the preceding units and continued to be
so in this unit. They indicated intentional collection
for usage by humans and need to be studied further
in detail. Nevertheless, many skeletal elements of au-
roch and chamois brought originality to this unit. The
assemblage also comprised ungulates infrequent in
Lazaret cave such as elephant and giant deer.
Fragmentation due to post-depositional factors
played a secondary role. The origin of accumulation
of carnivore bones came under heavy speculation in
this unit because of few numbers and random distri-
bution on the cave oor. Nearly all cranial, axial and
appendicular bones are represented in the combined
IX Jornadas de Jóvenes en Investigación Arqueológica
406
Sharada Channarayapatna, Patricia Valensi Y Ursula un Hohenstein
assemblage of all carnivore species in AU 28. It is
more likely that most of these carnivores were be-
tween 2 human occupation levels (AU 27 and AU 28
or AU 28 and AU 29). It cannot be asserted if the
carnivores had themselves intruded, occupied the
cave briey, died there and hence their bones got in-
corporated with the rest of the assemblage or if one
carnivore hunted its co-species or other carnivores,
and whether some or whole carcass of the prey was
brought into the cave for consumption by the pre-
dator. There is some evidence for this presumption
as there are marks made by carnivore teeth such as
gnawing and pits on vertebrae and shafts and ends of
bones. If carnivores had areas of preference for their
activities inside the cave and if these could be discer-
ned in the archaeological record and its distribution,
then in the case of AU 28, it was not clearly possible.
The anthropogenic cause of such modications can-
not be ruled out completely but to corroborate this
premise, there were no visible alterations on bones
such as butchering marks, percussion marks or lle-
ting marks to suggest so.
Palaeoenvironmentally, the faunal spectra of AU
28 reected a climate tending towards increasing coo-
ling. A mosaic landscape comprising open environ-
ments was well represented by the abundance of cha-
mois and the presence of horse and giant deer. Cats,
bears and red deer highlighted the establishment of
temperate forests. Presence of red deer, auroch, roe
deer and elephant demonstrated that this micro-re-
gion acted as a refuge for temperate species during
the glacial periods of Quaternary.
Acknowledgements
We thank Prof. Henry de Lumley for providing
us access to the faunal material from AU 28 for analy-
sis. We also extend our gratitude to the laboratory sta-
ff and students in the excavation team who worked
from 2010 to 2012 at Lazaret cave.
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