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Shanidar Cave and the Baradostian, a Zagros Aurignacian industry

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Abstract

Whilst there has been significant interest in the origins and spread of the Aurignacian industry, usually linked with the dispersal of anatomically modern humans into Europe, comparatively little attention has been paid to possible origins or movements further east. Recent work at Shanidar Cave, a site better known for the Neanderthal evidence discovered by Ralph Solecki in his 1951–1960 excavations, has recovered new information on the ‘Baradostian’ Upper Palaeolithic in Iraq. This paper reviews the regional evidence for the Baradostian as an example of the Zagros Aurignacian and discusses its place in debates about Neanderthal/Modern Human relations.

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... Dates were taken from Adler et al., 2008;Alex et al., 2017;Bar-Yosef & Phillips, 1977;Bar-Yosef & Belfer-Cohen, 2004;Baykara et al., 2015;Bazgir et al., 2017;Becerra-Valdivia et al., 2017;Belfer-Cohen & Bar-Yosef, 2015;Boaretto et al., 2021;Boëda et al., 2015;Bosch et al., 2015;Cullen et al., 2021;Douka, 2013;Douka et al., 2013;Egeland et al., 2016;Ekshtain et al., 2019;Friesem et al., 2019;Gilead & Bar-Yosef, 1993;Glauberman et al., 2020aGlauberman et al., , 2020bGoder-Goldberger and Bar-Matthews, 2019;Goder-Goldberger et al., 2020;Griggo, 2004;Hauck, 2011;Henry, 2003: Table 3.3; Heydari-Guran et al., 2021a;2021b;Heydari-Guran & Ghasidian, 2017;Kadowaki, 2018;Kadowaki et al., 2019aKadowaki et al., , 2019bKandel et al., 2017;Kuhn et al., 2009;Malinsky-Buller et al. In prep;Marks, 1983a;Mercier et al., 1995;Moncel et al., 2013;Phillips, 1988;Pomeroy et al., 2020;Oron & Goren-Inbar, 2014;Otte et al., 2011;Rebollo et al., 2011;Reynolds et al., 2018;Richter et al., 2001Richter et al., , 2021Rink et al., 2001;Schwarcz & Ring, 1998;Sherriff et al., 2019;Stutz et al., 2015;Valladas et al., 1999;van der Plicht et al., 1989;and Ziaei et al., 1990 archeological assemblages are found in caves and rockshelter sites among which are Manot, Area C Units 6-7, Kebara III-IV, Qafzeh E, Üçağizli I B-C, and Ksar Akil XVI-XX (Abulafia et al., 2021;Bar-Yosef & Belfer-Cohen, 2004;Bar-Yosef & Belfer-Cohen, 2019;Bergman, 1987Bergman, , 2003Kuhn et al., 2003Kuhn et al., , 2009Ohnuma & Bergman, 1990). In the arid and semi-arid regions, the Ahmarian is found in rockshelters and open-air sites, near springs or seasonal water sources (Gladfelter, 1997;Henry, 1995;Schuldenrein & Clark, 1994). ...
... The Middle Paleolithic sequence is at least 7 m thick (Layer D) and is sub-divided into seven horizons (Solecki & Solecki, 1993). The lithic assemblages from Shanidar were never studied fully and only partial collections were published (Akazawa, 1975;Dockall, 2016;Lindley, 2005;Nymark, 2021;Reynolds et al., 2018;Skinner, 1965). Little is known of the Shanidar Layer D assemblage characteristics beyond the low density of lithics. ...
... No Levallois cores are noted, although Levallois flakes and a point were found (Akazawa, 1975;Dockall, 2016;Lindley, 2005;Nymark, 2021:327;Skinner, 1965;Solecki & Solecki, 1993). Renewed excavations at the site support the initial observation that the contact between layer D (MP) and layer C (UP) is disturbed by a rockfall (Reynolds et al., 2018). ...
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Classification of the Paleolithic into Lower, Middle, and Upper has both chronological and cultural meanings serving as a framework for reconstructing cultural evolution and interpreting behavioral processes. Traditionally, the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition in Eurasia is regarded as a bio-cultural turning point, in which local Neanderthals were replaced by incoming Homo sapiens populations, carrying with them a novel technological repertoire. As such, the basic classification of archeological data into broad spatially and temporally coherent blocks is not neutral and disconnected from the paradigmatic view of a “transition” as a developmental event. Initially, the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) was introduced to describe the first cultural stage within the Upper Paleolithic and was later modified to define the cultural transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic. In the last 20 years, the IUP has increasingly been used as a chronological-biological taxonomic unit to describe modern human dispersals into Eurasia, overriding its use within a cultural taxonomic system. In this paper, we evaluate the applicability of the term as a taxonomic unit. The construction of a chronicle and histories, based on well-documented and published data from the late Middle Paleolithic through to the earliest Upper Paleolithic sites across southwest Asia, are used to evaluate the applicability of the term Initial Upper Paleolithic as a taxonomic unit. Within this perspective, the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition is viewed as a social and demographic process that is manifested differently in each of the sub-regions of southwest Asia: the Levant, Southern Caucasus, Armenian Highlands, and the Zagros.
... The impression that the northern Zagros Epipalaeolithic was largely confined to the Lateglacial is widespread in the literature, due to the perceived inhospitality of the region for human habitation during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) [26,27]. Two lines of evidence have been invoked in support this argument: (a) at Shanidar the~20,000 year gap that separates the Baradostian Layer C, dated between~42,000-35,000 cal BP [28] from the base of the Zarzian Layer B2, and (b) the late onset of the Zarzian at the two excavated type sites, Zarzi and Palegawra. Wahida's 1971 re-excavation of Zarzi did not produce radiocarbon dates. ...
... Hole and Flannery [31], Wahida [11] and Olszewski [58] have all proposed that some continuity existed between the Baradostian and the Zarzian. The best examples of Baradostian assemblages come from Shanidar C [28] and Yafteh [59] where recent radiocarbon dates place their main Baradostian phases before 35,000 BP. The best candidate for a later Baradostian phase comes from the upper part of the (undated) long Baradostian sequence excavated at Warwasi (Levels P-Z, excluding R) [58]. ...
... Some assemblages (e.g., Shanidar C) display a greater emphasis on flake production represented by both debitage and blanks, while others (e.g., Pa Sangar, Warwasi P-Z) include more evidence for blade/bladelet production and blanks. Higher proportions of Font Yves/El Wad/Arjineh points, carinated scrapers and polyhedric/carinated burins are associated with more flake-oriented assemblages while more backed blades, Dufour bladelets and other retouched bladelets (sometimes called microliths) are found in the bladelet-oriented assemblages [11,28,58,60]. In some ways this mirrors the distinctions identified between the Levantine Aurignacian and Ahmarian industries. ...
Article
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Palegawra cave, alongside its neighbouring Zarzi, has been an emblematic site of the Epipalaeolithic (Zarzian) cultural horizon in the NW Zagros of Southwest Asia ever since its first exploration in 1951 by Bruce Howe and Robert Braidwood in the context of the Iraq-Jarmo project. At the time scientific excavation, sampling and analysis methods were either under-developed or did not exist. In this paper we present the first results of new excavations at Palegawra conducted in 2016–2017 by the Eastern Fertile Crescent (EFEC) project, a research collaboration of the University of Liverpool and the Sulaymaniyah Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage. Our research has produced the first radiometric evidence pushing back the chronology of the NW Zagros Epipalaeolithic to the Last Glacial Maximum, thus fully aligning it with Epipalaeolithic facies until now known only from the Levant and the south Anatolian coast. We have also unearthed, for the first time in the Palaeolithic of the Zagros, direct archaeobotanical evidence for hitherto elusive Zarzian plant exploitation and the vegetation of the NW Zagros piedmont zone from the LGM to the end of the Lateglacial (~19,600–13,000 cal BP). The new Palegawra chronology alongside our detailed studies of its material culture and faunal and botanical assemblages suggest that the prevailing Epipalaeolithic habitation pattern in the NW Zagros (centred on generalised persistent occupations of small caves and rock-shelters alongside task-oriented ephemeral open-air campsites) remained an enduring characteristic of the Zarzian horizon throughout this period. The Palegawra data clearly show that neither resource levels and climate conditions nor geographic and/or cultural isolation provide adequate explanations for the stability and longevity of Zarzian lifeways during this long timespan. More fieldwork is required, including the discovery, excavation and intensive sampling of other Zarzian sites, for reaching a data-informed understanding of the nature and evolution of the NW Zagros Epipalaeolithic.
... Solecki defined the lithic industry of Layer C as a unique UP blade and burin industry which is closely related to the European Aurignacian and presented it as the earliest manifestation of Aurignacian in the Near East (Solecki 1958). This issue again has been recently raised in the new excavations at Shanidar (Reynolds et al. 2018). Furthermore, based on Solecki's definition for the UP assemblage of the Northern Zagros, in the West-Central Zagros Mountains, the lithic industries of the UP were called Baradostian as well (Hole and Flannery 1967;Olszewski 1993). ...
... Excavations conducted by Howe in 1960 yielded the most complete Paleolithic sequence of 55 arbitrary 10cm layers covering the MP (CCC-JJ), UP-Early Baradostian (AA-II) and Late Baradostian (Z-P) ( Figure 5)-and Epipaleolithic (Zarzian [A-O]) in Kermanshah (Olszewski and Dibble 1994). Despite the lack of absolute dating, the site is described as demonstrating a gradual gained in the old excavations (Reynolds et al. 2018;Shidrang 2015) and suggest that the lithics considered in this research are representative of the entire assemblage from each site. ...
Article
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The Upper Paleolithic (UP) assemblages from the Zagros Mountain range were traditionally assigned to the Baradostian cultural group based on the original definition from Layer C at Shanidar Cave. New chronological information from three UP core areas of the Zagros—the Northern, West-Central and Southern Zagros—points to the roughly simultaneous appearance of UP technological traits in at least the Northern and Southern Zagros, while techno-typological analysis suggests a significant degree of variability among the UP assemblages from different parts of the region. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that colonization of the Iranian Plateau occurred by different groups of hunter-gatherers that simultaneously occupied different parts of the Zagros and developed their own cultural identity as reflected in their lithic assemblages. This paper describes five UP sites, including Shanidar in the Northern Zagros Mountains, Yafteh, Pasangar, and Warwasi in the West-Central Zagros, and Ghār-e Boof in the Southern Zagros Mountains. Lithic techno-typological analysis from these UP assemblages reveals a more dynamic and complex nature of the UP populations in the Zagros than once thought. This paper hypothesizes that the variability among the UP assemblages indicates a limited interaction between UP populations throughout the Zagros. While Shanidar Baradostian techno-typological characteristics and raw material economy indicate more interaction towards the North, the Rostamian of the Southern Zagros stands in contrast to the UP assemblages from the Lorestan and Kermanshah (LaK) regions of West-Central Zagros. As Shanidar was culturally less connected to the southern parts of the Zagros, the question of the Baradostian as a widespread technocomplex diffusing towards the West-Central and Southern Zagros is debatable. The same appears to be true for the Rostamian cultural tradition in terms of connectivity to the West-Central Zagros, as the Rostamian is widespread throughout the Southern Zagros. Therefore, the homogeneity model of the UP that presented the Baradostian as typical for the entire Zagros is no longer valid and should be reconsidered.
... Palaeolithic research in Iran has seen a major increase over the past two decades, where especially new fieldwork has contributed to a substantial growth in our knowledge on human behavioural evolution. Acceleration in knowledge production on the Middle Palaeolithic (MP) of the Zagros Mountains in particular has mainly come from two avenues of investigation: excavation (Heydari-Guran et al., 2021;Pomeroy et al., 2020, Pomeroy et al., 2017Reynolds et al., 2015;Bazgir et al., 2014;Biglari et al., 2009;Jaubert et al., 2009), and field surveys (Heydari-Guran, 2014;Alibaigi et al., 2011;Khosrowzadeh, 2011, Khosrowzadeh, 2010a, Khosrowzadeh, 2010bRoustaei, 2010;Biglari and Ghafari, 2004;Roustaei et al., 2004;Biglari, 2001;Biglari and Heydari, 2001), augmented by and facilitating studies of old and new collections, overviews, and syntheses (Nymark, 2021;Heydari-Guran and Ghasidian, 2020;Yousefi et al., 2020;Campana and Crabtree, 2019;Reynolds et al., 2018;Becerra-Valdivia et al., 2017;Tsanova, 2013;Claud et al., 2012;Vahdati Nasab, 2011;Vahdati Nasab and Vahidi, 2011;Otte et al., 2009;Scott and Marean, 2009;Braun, 2005;Marean and Cleghorn, 2003). ...
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This paper presents evidence for some of the highest-altitude Middle Palaeolithic land-use in southwest Asia identified through field surveys in the Miankouh region of the Bakhtiari highlands within the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Through identification of two vertically connected but distinct ecozones, patterned distribution of stone tool production and use suggests more complex seasonal mobility and land-use patterns than hitherto recognised.
... La datation du Baradostien est en cours de clarification . Des recherches ré centes en Iran ont ré vé lé de nouveaux sites, dont certains contiennent des restes fragmentaires de squelettes né andertaliens (Heydari-Guran et Ghasidian, 2020 ;Heydari-Guran et al., 2015, 2021Trinkaus et Biglari, 2006), et les nouvelles fouilles de la grotte de Shanidar, au Kurdistan irakien, ont mis à jour du maté riel mousté rien du Zagros accompagné de dates radiomé triques, d'archives palé oé cologiques et de restes né andertaliens (Pomeroy et al., 2017(Pomeroy et al., , 2020a(Pomeroy et al., , 2022bReynolds et al., 2018 ;Tilby et al., 2022). La combinaison de ces nouvelles donné es permet de mieux dé finir l'activité né andertalienne dans le Zagros et ses contextes climatiques et palé oé cologiques (Fig. 1). ...
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Current research on the prehistory of the Near East is proceeding at a pace unmatched since the ‘golden era of archaeology’ immediately preceding World War II. Iran, because of its great archeological potential and its stable political situation, has become a prime target for new investigations. Expeditions from the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, France, and Japan have all made substantial contributions to knowledge of Iranian prehistory in the last five years. One recurrent problem in the new research, however, is a lack of coordination and communication between expeditions, which means that many opportunities for useful cooperation are lost. For example, in 1961 we surveyed in some 15 valleys in western Iran, plotting the distribution of pre-Uruk settlements. Unbeknown to us, at least one American and one Danish survey team crossed our path, duplicated many of our survey runs, and excavated one of the sites found on our project. We later learned that we, in turn, had duplicated several survey runs made previously by a British team, who were interested mainly in later sites but would have been happy to share their data on sites in our range of interest. Had all of us known what our colleagues were doing, we could have saved ourselves many hours of duplication. This situation is worsened by the fact that many surveys and test-excavations remain unpublished, and diagnostic artifacts remain undescribed. With regard to pottery sequences, the urgency of the problem has recently been stressed by one of our colleagues (Young 1966: footnote 28).
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This paper re-examines lithic technological variability of the Early Ahmarian, one of the early Upper Palaeolithic cultural entities in the Levant, which has often been regarded as a precursor of the Protoaurignacian (the early Upper Palaeolithic in Europe) in arguments for the occurrence of a cultural spread in association with the dispersal of Homo sapiens from the Levant to Europe. Using quantitative data on several lithic techno-typological attributes, we demonstrate that there is a significant degree of variability in the Early Ahmarian between the northern and southern Levant, as previously pointed out by several researchers. In addition, we suggest that the technology similar to the southern Early Ahmarian also existed in the northern Levant, i.e., the Ksar Akil Phase 4 group (the KA 4 group), by introducing new Upper Palaeolithic assemblages from Wadi Kharar 16R, inland Syria. We then review currently available stratigraphic records and radiocarbon dates (including a new date from Wadi Kharar 16R), with special attention to their methodological background. As a result, we propose alternative chronological scenarios, including one that postulates that the southern Early Ahmarian and the KA 4 group appeared later than the northern Early Ahmarian with little or no overlap. On the basis of the alternative scenarios of chronological/geographical patterns of the Early Ahmarian variability, we propose four possible relationships between the Protoaurignacian and the Early Ahmarian, including a new scenario that the appearance of the Protoaurignacian preceded those of similar technological entities in the Levant, i.e., the southern Early Ahmarian and the KA 4 group. If the last hypothesis is substantiated, it requires us to reconsider the model of a Levantine origin of the Protoaurignacian and its palaeoanthropological implications. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
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A key event in human evolution is the expansion of modern humans of African origin across Eurasia between 60 and 40 thousand years (kyr) before present (bp), replacing all other forms of hominins. Owing to the scarcity of human fossils from this period, these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations remain largely enigmatic. Here we describe a partial calvaria, recently discovered at Manot Cave (Western Galilee, Israel) and dated to 54.7 ± 5.5 kyr bp (arithmetic mean ± 2 standard deviations) by uranium-thorium dating, that sheds light on this crucial event. The overall shape and discrete morphological features of the Manot 1 calvaria demonstrate that this partial skull is unequivocally modern. It is similar in shape to recent African skulls as well as to European skulls from the Upper Palaeolithic period, but different from most other early anatomically modern humans in the Levant. This suggests that the Manot people could be closely related to the first modern humans who later successfully colonized Europe. Thus, the anatomical features used to support the 'assimilation model' in Europe might not have been inherited from European Neanderthals, but rather from earlier Levantine populations. Moreover, at present, Manot 1 is the only modern human specimen to provide evidence that during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic interface, both modern humans and Neanderthals contemporaneously inhabited the southern Levant, close in time to the likely interbreeding event with Neanderthals.
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Dating the timing of the replacement of local Neandertal populations by modern humans in western Eurasia at the dawn of the Upper Palaeolithic remains challenging due to the scarcity of the palaeontological evidence and to the complexity of the archaeological record. Furthermore, key specimens have been discovered in the course of excavations that unfortunately did not meet today's archaeological standards. The importance of site-formation processes in the considered time period makes it sometimes difficult to precisely assign fragmentary remains a posteriori to distinct techno-complexes. The improvements in dating methods have however allowed for the clarification of many chronological issues in the past decade. Archaeological and palaeontological evidence strongly suggest that the initial modern colonization of eastern Europe and central Asia should be related to the spread of techno-complexes assigned to the Initial Upper Palaeolithic. This first expansion may have started as early as 48 ka cal BP. The earliest phases of the Aurignacian complex (Protoaurignacian and Early Aurignacian) seem to represent another modern wave of migrations, starting in the Levant area. The expansion of this techno-complex throughout Europe completed the modern colonization of the continent. The interpretation of a third group of industries referred to as “transitional assemblages” in western and central Europe is much debated. At least in part, these assemblages might have been produced by Neandertal groups that may have survived until c. 41 ka cal BP, according to the directly dated Neandertal specimens of Saint-Césaire (France) and Spy (Belgium).
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The Out-of-Africa model holds that anatomically modern humans (AMH) evolved and dispersed from Africa into Asia, and later Europe. Palaeoanthropological evidence from the Near East assumes great importance, but AMH remains from the region are extremely scarce. 'Egbert', a now-lost AMH fossil from the key site of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and 'Ethelruda', a recently re-discovered fragmentary maxilla from the same site, are two rare examples where human fossils are directly linked with early Upper Palaeolithic archaeological assemblages. Here we radiocarbon date the contexts from which Egbert and Ethelruda were recovered, as well as the levels above and below the findspots. In the absence of well-preserved organic materials, we primarily used marine shell beads, often regarded as indicative of behavioural modernity. Bayesian modelling allows for the construction of a chronostratigraphic framework for Ksar Akil, which supports several conclusions. The model-generated age estimates place Egbert between 40.8-39.2 ka cal BP (68.2% prob.) and Ethelruda between 42.4-41.7 ka cal BP (68.2% prob.). This indicates that Egbert is of an age comparable to that of the oldest directly-dated European AMH (Peştera cu Oase). Ethelruda is older, but on current estimates not older than the modern human teeth from Cavallo in Italy. The dating of the so-called "transitional" or Initial Upper Palaeolithic layers of the site may indicate that the passage from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic at Ksar Akil, and possibly in the wider northern Levant, occurred later than previously estimated, casting some doubts on the assumed singular role of the region as a locus for human dispersals into Europe. Finally, tentative interpretations of the fossil's taxonomy, combined with the chronometric dating of Ethelruda's context, provides evidence that the transitional/IUP industries of Europe and the Levant, or at least some of them, may be the result of early modern human migration(s).
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Southwest Asia is a key region in current debates surrounding the appearance of the first cultures attributed to anatomically modern humans, particularly the Aurignacian and preceding cultural units of the Iranian Zagros, Levant, and the Balkans (Baradostian, Ahmarien, Kozarnikien, etc.). The Zagros mountain range encompasses an immense territory that remains understudied with regard to the Upper Paleolithic as well as the first bladelet industries traditionally presumed to be the work of anatomically modern humans. Concerning the emergence of the Aurignacian, the sites of Warwasi rockshelter and Yafteh cave in the central Zagros are considered to show evidence of in situ evolution of the Upper Paleolithic from the local Mousterian. This hypothesis is tested by way of a taphonomic, techno-typological and economic approach applied to the Upper Paleolithic levels of Warwasi (spits LL-AA) and Yafteh (the series from the lower part of the sequence). A comparison of the techno-economic features of both assemblages demonstrates a conceptual bond with contemporaneous techno-complexes from Levant and Europe (Ahmarian, Protoaurignacian, etc.). The techno-typological Middle Paleolithic character of the Warwasi lithic assemblage permits a discussion of a possible in situ dependence/continuum from the Mousterian or perhaps particular activities linked to the type of the occupation of the site. However, bladelet technology cannot be considered as rooted in the Zagros Mousterian. Consequently the origin of the Aurignacian sensu stricto has to be reconsidered.
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"In 1949 C.S. Coon identified two fossils remains as human from well within the Middle Paleolithic levels of Bisitun Cave, Kermanshah, Iran. One, an incisor, is bovid and should be deleted from further human paleontological consideration. The second is a human right radius proximal diaphysis. Comparison of its diaphyseal dimensions to those of Neandertal and Middle Paleolithic early modern human right radii aligns it predominantly with the Neandertals (and Upper Paleolithic modern humans) but separate from the available sample of southwest Asian Middle Paleolithic early modern humans."
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The transition from the Middle Paleolithic (MP) to Upper Paleolithic (UP) is marked by the replacement of late Neandertals by modern humans in Europe between 50,000 and 40,000 y ago. Châtelperronian (CP) artifact assemblages found in central France and northern Spain date to this time period. So far, it is the only such assemblage type that has yielded Neandertal remains directly associated with UP style artifacts. CP assemblages also include body ornaments, otherwise virtually unknown in the Neandertal world. However, it has been argued that instead of the CP being manufactured by Neandertals, site formation processes and layer admixture resulted in the chance association of Neanderthal remains, CP assemblages, and body ornaments. Here, we report a series of accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates on ultrafiltered bone collagen extracted from 40 well-preserved bone fragments from the late Mousterian, CP, and Protoaurignacian layers at the Grotte du Renne site (at Arcy-sur-Cure, France). Our radiocarbon results are inconsistent with the admixture hypothesis. Further, we report a direct date on the Neandertal CP skeleton from Saint-Césaire (France). This date corroborates the assignment of CP assemblages to the latest Neandertals of western Europe. Importantly, our results establish that the production of body ornaments in the CP postdates the arrival of modern humans in neighboring regions of Europe. This new behavior could therefore have been the result of cultural diffusion from modern to Neandertal groups.
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Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the Balkan Peninsula occupies a strategic geographic position regarding the various scenarios for the dispersal of anatomically modern humans (AMH). The aim of this paper is to compare two lithic assemblages from the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic, one in the Middle East (Yafteh, excavations by M. Otte: Otte et al., 2007) and the other from the Eastern Balkans (Kozarnika, level VII, excavation N. Sirakov: Guadelli et al., 2005, Sirakov et al., 2007). We discuss the variability of these industries in techno-economic, typological, and cultural terms before considering them against the backdrop of their broader theoretical context. The appearance and subsequent spread of bladelet production during the early Upper Palaeolithic allows us to not only reevaluate possible connections between different regional groups, but also to consider their relevance to the main models concerning AMH expansion across Europe.
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The Yafteh cave in Iran has an intact Aurignacian sequence over 2m deep. First explored by Frank Hole and Kent Flannery in the 1960s, its strata and assemblage are here re-evaluated at first hand by a new international team. The authors show that the assemblage is genuine Aurignacian and dates back to about 35.5K uncal BP. They propose it as emerging locally and even as providing a culture of origin for modern humans in West Asia and Europe.
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The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition is often linked with a bio-cultural shift involving the dispersal of modern humans outside of Africa, the concomitant replacement of Neanderthals across Eurasia, and the emergence of new technological traditions. The Zagros Mountains region assumes importance in discussions concerning this period as its geographic location is central to all pertinent hominin migration areas, pointing to both east and west. As such, establishing a reliable chronology in the Zagros Mountains is crucial to our understanding of these biological and cultural developments. Political circumstance, coupled with the poor preservation of organic material, has meant that a clear chronological definition of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition for the Zagros Mountains region has not yet been achieved. To improve this situation, we have obtained new archaeological samples for AMS radiocarbon dating from three sites: Kobeh Cave, Kaldar Cave, and Gh are Boof (Iran). In addition, we have statistically modelled previously published radiocarbon determinations for Yafteh Cave (Iran) and Shanidar Cave (Iraqi Kurdistan), to improve their chronological resolution and enable us to compare the results with the new dataset. Bayesian modelling results suggest that the onset of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zagros Mountains dates to 45,000e40,250 cal BP (68.2% probability). Further chronometric data are required to improve the precision of this age range.
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The Neanderthal remains from Shanidar Cave, excavated between 1951 and 1960, have played a central role in debates concerning diverse aspects of Neanderthal morphology and behaviour. In 2015 and 2016, renewed excavations at the site uncovered hominin remains from the immediate area where the partial skeleton of Shanidar 5 was found in 1960. Shanidar 5 was a robust adult male estimated to have been aged over 40 years at the time of death. Comparisons of photographs from the previous and recent excavations indicates that the old and new remains were directly adjacent to one another, while the disturbed arrangement and partial crushing of the new fossils is consistent with descriptions and photographs of the older discoveries. The newly-discovered bones include fragments of several vertebrae; a left hamate; part of the proximal left femur and a heavily crushed partial pelvis; and the distal half of the right tibia and fibula and associated talus and navicular. All these elements were previously missing from Shanidar 5, and morphological and metric data are consistent with the remains belonging to this individual. A newly-discovered partial left pubic symphysis indicates an age at death of 40–50 years. The combined evidence strongly indicates that the new finds can be attributed to Shanidar 5. Ongoing analyses of associated samples, including for sediment morphology, palynology, and dating, will therefore offer new evidence as to how this individual was deposited in the cave, and permit new analyses of the skeleton itself and broader discussion of Neanderthal morphology and variation.
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Although a rich record of Pleistocene human-associated archaeological assemblages exists, the scarcity of hominin fossils often impedes the understanding of which hominins occupied a site. Using targeted enrichment of mitochondrial DNA we show that cave sediments represent a rich source of ancient mammalian DNA that often includes traces of hominin DNA, even at sites and in layers where no hominin remains have been discovered. By automation-assisted screening of numerous sediment samples we detect Neandertal DNA in eight archaeological layers from four caves in Eurasia. In Denisova Cave we retrieved Denisovan DNA in a Middle Pleistocene layer near the bottom of the stratigraphy. Our work opens the possibility to detect the presence of hominin groups at sites and in areas where no skeletal remains are found.
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The Upper Palaeolithic (UP) record of the Zagros Mountains is of critical importance for our understanding of the dispersal of modern humans into Southwest Asia. Most researchers interpret the record as reflecting the existence of two developmentally related cultural groups, the Baradostian of the early UP and the Zarzian of the late UP or Epipalaeolithic. In this paper we analyse techno-typological characteristics of early UP assemblages from the Zagros to assess the degree of variability. We use here new chronometric and typo-technological data from the early UP assemblages of the cave site Gha ¯ re Boof in the north western Fars province of Iran and compare these data with key sites of the Zagros UP, including Shanidar, Warwasi and Yafteh. Our study reveals important technological differences between assemblages from these sites, which led us to argue that the UP record of the Zagros Mountain range reflects multiple technological traditions instead of a single one. We further argue that a model reflecting a mosaic pattern for the evolution of the early UP in the Zagros Mountains fits better with the increasing evidence for a chronologically deep and spatially complex process of the spread of modern human populations over Southwest Asia.
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Refining and interpreting the chronology of the so-called Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition continues to be a contentious issue, polarizing the opinion of archaeologists, anthropologists and dating experts alike. Bayesian modelling has become an important means for organizing and interpreting an increasing number of available radiocarbon dates. Here we address what we consider important oversights in recent models purportedly demonstrating a chronological overlap between the Mousterian and Châtelperronian and a very early appearance of the Aurignacian in Western Europe. When faced with closer scrutiny, the integrity of several dated contexts appears less than ideal, questioning either the reliability of the ages obtained and/or their use in such models. Bayesian modelling can in some instances present an illusion of higher resolution and reliability; however, our comprehension of the chronology of the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition may be in more need of taphonomic revisions of archaeological contexts than it is of new statistical models.
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Few events of European prehistory are more important than the transition from ancient to modern humans around 40 000 years ago, a period that unfortunately lies near the limit of radiocarbon dating. This paper shows that as many as 70 per cent of the oldest radiocarbon dates in the literature may be too young, due to contamination by modern carbon. Future dates can be made more secure — and previous dates revised — using more refined methods of pre-treatment described here.
Article
The re-study of the "Baradostian" materials from the excavations of Frank Hole, as well as Ralph Solecki, both in the US and in Iran clearly indicates strong technical and stylistic similarities with the European Aurignacian. "Old" C14 dates (38-40 kyr BP) sustain the idea that this would explain why: 1. Modern Humans appeared so quickly in both Europe and the Levant; 2. the Levant Aurignacian dates are so "young"; 3. there is no Aurignacian whatsoever in Africa; 4. a cultural link can be traced from Middle East to the Balkans, either by the northern (no Azov Sea at that time) or by the southern Black Sea coast.
Article
Radiocarbon dating of material from Late Pleistocene archaeological sites is challenging. Small amounts of modern 14C-labelled contamination will significantly affect the reliability of dates from the period, producing erroneous results. Recent developments in sample pre-treatment chemistry have shown that problems in reliable age determination during this period are surmountable. In this paper we provide an example of one such case, from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transitional site of the Grotta di Fumane, in northern Italy. We AMS dated two fractions of the same charcoal samples derived from a series of superimposed Mousterian, Aurignacian and Gravettian levels excavated at the site. One fraction was treated using the routine acid–base–acid (ABA) method, the other with the more rigorous acid–base-oxidation/stepped combustion (ABOx–SC) method. The latter method produced consistently older, and almost certainly more reliable, results. The eruption of the known-age Campanian Ignimbrite from the Phlegrean Fields near present-day Naples at 39.3ka yr BP seals Ulluzzian and Proto Aurignacian levels in the south of Italy. Equivalent cultural levels are present at Fumane and the results obtained with the ABOx–SC methods are consistent with the ages inferred for sites in the south of Italy based on the presence of the Campanian Ignimbrite. New results from a sample found beneath the Campanian Ignimbrite at the Russian site of Kostenki, obtained using both the ABA and ABOx–SC, methods are also presented. They support the conclusion reached at Fumane by demonstrating that, in many cases, the ABOX–SC treatment effectively removes contamination where the ABA treatment does not. The results of the work offer a sobering examination of the problems inherent in the current radiocarbon database relating to the period, and highlight the dangers of an uncritical use of the corpus of 14C results obtained over the last few decades. Based on our results, we predict that more than 70% of the 53 previously available determinations from Fumane are erroneously young. A way forward is suggested, using these improved chemical preparation methods, applying analytical methods to characterise the material dated, and testing existing site chronologies to establish which previous determinations are liable to be inaccurate.
Article
Analysis of soil samples from the Shanidar IV burial. Shanidar cave, revealed the same pollens throughout the sequence, with variations in frequency. However, samples 313 and 314 contained, in addition, several pollen clusters of as many as 100 pollen grains, evidence that complete flowers were introduced into the burial cave.
Article
The discovery of pollen clusters of different kinds of flowers in the grave of one of the Neanderthals. No. IV, at Shanidar cave, Iraq, furthers our acceptance of the Neanderthals in our line of evolution. It suggests that, although the body was archaic, the spirit was modern.
Article
During the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, a technocomplex known as the Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanowician (LRJ), characterized by the presence of leaf-points made from blades, was found across the north-western European plain from Wales to Poland. Given the rarity and paucity of these assemblages, often mixed with other industries in collections from ancient excavations, many scholars have questioned the relevance of the definition of such a technocomplex. Nonetheless, based on technological and typological as well as chronological and geographic considerations, a precise study of available data shows that the LRJ cannot be considered as a facies of another technocomplex (Aurignacian, Szeletian or Bohunician). Identification of the LRJ also allows questions generally related to the ‘transitional industries’ to be tackled, such as their relation to either the last Neanderthals or the first European Homo sapiens sapiens and whether this complex is best explained as an independent development or as the result of acculturation. Given available data, the LRJ appears more likely to have been authored by Neanderthals, and is unlikely to be the result of acculturation processes.
Article
Renewed excavations in Kebara cave (Mt Carmel) made it possible to obtain a series of radiocarbon dates from the Upper Paleolithic layers of the site. The various readings indicate the presence of early Ahmarian industries around 43 –36 kabpwhile the Levantine Aurignacian is dated to 36 –32 kabp. Combined with the previously published TL dates for the uppermost Mousterian layers it is suggested that during the transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic, the cave was abandoned and that this cultural phase should be dated toc. 46 /45 –43 /42 kabp.
Article
Thesis--Columbia University. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 153-158). Microfilm of typescript.
Article
Eshkaft-e Gavi is a cave located in the southern Zagros Mountains of Iran and is one of the few archaeological sites in the region to preserve both Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic occupations. Excavation of the site in the 1970s yielded an assemblage of lithic and faunal remains, including ten hominin specimens: a mandibular molar, four cranial fragments, a clavicular diaphysis, the proximal half of a metacarpal, a fragment of os coxa, the proximal diaphysis of a juvenile femur, and a patella. The bones derive from a minimum of four individuals, including two juveniles. Although many of these remains could be Epi-Paleolithic in age, one of the juvenile specimens-the mandibular molar-occurs at the base of the cave's Upper Paleolithic sequence. The remains are very fragmentary, but those that preserve diagnostic morphology indicate that they represent modern humans. The molar is taxonomically diagnostic, thus confirming the association of the Aurignacian-like Baradostian Industry with modern humans. Four of the specimens-a piece of frontal bone, the clavicle, the juvenile femur, and the patella-display clear evidence for intentional butchery in the form of stone-tool cutmarks. These cutmarked specimens, along with a fragment of parietal bone, are also burned. Although this evidence is consistent with cannibalism, the small sample makes it difficult to say whether or not the individuals represented by the hominin remains were butchered and cooked for consumption. Nevertheless, the cutmarked Eshkaft-e Gavi specimens add to a growing sample of hominin remains extending back into the Plio-Pleistocene that display evidence of intentional defleshing.
Article
In the article "Prehistory in Shanidar Valley, Northern Iraq" by R. S. Solecki [Science 139, 179 (1963)], reference 4 in the caption for Fig. 12, should have read "J. Franklin Ewing, S.J."
  • B Barzilai
  • O Hershkovitz
  • I Marder
  • O Berna
  • F Caracuta
  • V Abulafia
  • T Davis
  • L Goder-Goldberger
  • M Lavi
  • R Mintz
  • E Regev
  • L Bar-Yosef
  • D Mayer
  • J.-M Tejero
  • R Yeshurun
  • A Ayalon
  • M Bar-Matthews
  • G Yasur
  • A Frumkin
  • B Latimer
  • M G Hans
  • E Boaretto
Alex, B., Barzilai, O., Hershkovitz, I., Marder, O., Berna, F., Caracuta, V., Abulafia, T., Davis, L., Goder-Goldberger, M., Lavi, R., Mintz, E., Regev, L., Bar-Yosef Mayer, D., Tejero, J.-M., Yeshurun, R., Ayalon, A., Bar-Matthews, M., Yasur, G., Frumkin, A., Latimer, B., Hans, M.G., Boaretto, E., 2017. Radiocarbon chronology of Manot cave, Israel and upper paleolithic dispersals. Sci. Adv. 3, e1701450.
A tale of three caves: why was our species so sucessful at colonising new environments? Stichting Nederlands Museum voor Anthropologie en Praehistorie
  • G Barker
Barker, G., 2017. A tale of three caves: why was our species so sucessful at colonising new environments? Stichting Nederlands Museum voor Anthropologie en Praehistorie, Amsterdam. Bar-Yosef, O., 2006. Defining the Aurignacian. In: Bar-Yosef, O., Zilhao, J. (Eds.), Towards a definition of the Aurignacian. Proceedings of the symposium held in Lisbon, Portugal, June 25-30, 2002. Instituto Português de Arqueologia (Trabalhos de Arqueologia 45), Lisbon, pp. 11-18.
Defining the Aurignacian
  • O Bar-Yosef
Bar-Yosef, O., 2006. Defining the Aurignacian. In: Bar-Yosef, O., Zilhao, J. (Eds.), Towards a definition of the Aurignacian. Proceedings of the symposium held in Lisbon, Portugal, June 25-30, 2002. Instituto Português de Arqueologia (Trabalhos de Arqueologia 45), Lisbon, pp. 11-18.
Towards a definition of the Aurignacian
  • O Bar-Yosef
  • J Zilhao
Bar-Yosef, O., Zilhao, J., 2006. Towards a definition of the Aurignacian. Proceedings of the symposium held in Lisbon, Portugal, June 25-30, 2002. Instituto Português de Arqueologia (Trabalhos de Arqueologia 45), Lisbon.