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Earliest human occupations at Dmanisi (Georgian Caucasus) dated to 1.85–1.78 Ma


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The early Pleistocene colonization of temperate Eurasia by Homo erectus was not only a significant biogeographic event but also a major evolutionary threshold. Dmanisi's rich collection of hominin fossils, revealing a population that was small-brained with both primitive and derived skeletal traits, has been dated to the earliest Upper Matuyama chron (ca. 1.77 Ma). Here we present archaeological and geologic evidence that push back Dmanisi's first occupations to shortly after 1.85 Ma and document repeated use of the site over the last half of the Olduvai subchron, 1.85-1.78 Ma. These discoveries show that the southern Caucasus was occupied repeatedly before Dmanisi's hominin fossil assemblage accumulated, strengthening the probability that this was part of a core area for the colonization of Eurasia. The secure age for Dmanisi's first occupations reveals that Eurasia was probably occupied before Homo erectus appears in the East African fossil record.
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Earliest human occupations at Dmanisi
(Georgian Caucasus) dated to 1.851.78 Ma
Reid Ferring
, Oriol Oms
, Jordi Agustí
, Francesco Berna
, Medea Nioradze
, Teona Shelia
, Martha Tappen
Abesalom Vekua
, David Zhvania
, and David Lordkipanidze
Department of Geography, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203;
Department of Geology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra,
Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution, Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies, 43005 Tarragona, Spain;
of Earth Sciences Ardito Desio,Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy;
Georgian National Museum, 0105 Tbilisi, Georgia; and
Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Contributed by David Lordkipanidze, April 28, 2011 (sent for review February 27, 2011)
The early Pleistocene colonization of temperate Eurasia by Homo
erectus was not only a signicant biogeographic event but also
a major evolutionary threshold. Dmanisis rich collection of homi-
nin fossils, revealing a population that was small-brained with
both primitive and derived skeletal traits, has been dated to the
earliest Upper Matuyama chron (ca. 1.77 Ma). Here we present
archaeological and geologic evidence that push back Dmanisis
rst occupations to shortly after 1.85 Ma and document repeated
use of the site over the last half of the Olduvai subchron, 1.851.78
Ma. These discoveries show that the southern Caucasus was occu-
pied repeatedly before Dmanisis hominin fossil assemblage accu-
mulated, strengthening the probability that this was part of a core
area for the colonization of Eurasia. The secure age for Dmanisis
rst occupations reveals that Eurasia was probably occupied be-
fore Homo erectus appears in the East African fossil record.
Lower Paleolithic
In recent years, paleoanthropologists have intensied the search
for evidence for one of the most signicant events in human
evolution: the dispersal of early Homo from Africa to Eurasia.
That Homo erectus was the rst hominin to leave Africa and
colonize Eurasia has been accepted by paleoanthropologists for
over a century. However, models that linked the rst African
exodus to increases in stature, encephalization, and technolog-
ical advances (13) have been challenged by discoveries at
Dmanisi (4). Dmanisi is located in the southern Georgian Cau-
casus (41°2010N and 44°2038E), 55 km southwest of Tbilisi
(Fig. 1). The prehistoric excavations at Dmanisi have been
concentrated in the central part of a promontory that stands
above the conuence of the Masavera and Pinasauri rivers.
Lower Pleistocene deposits are preserved below the Medieval
ruins and above the 1.85-Ma Masavera Basalt (Fig. 1). Those
excavations yielded numerous exceptionally preserved hominin
fossils. Stratigraphic studies revealed that that all of those
hominin fossils are from sediments of stratum B, dated to ca.
1.77 Ma, based on
Ar dates, paleomagnetism, and pale-
ontologic constraints (4, 5). In the main excavations, no artifacts
or fossils have been found in the older stratum A deposits, which
conformably overlie the Masavera Basalt. Dmanisis rich col-
lection of hominin fossils reveals a population with short stature
and cranial capacities of only 600775 cc (49). Artifact as-
semblages are all indicative of a Mode I technology, with no
bifacial tools (10). Recently completed testing in the M5 sector
of Dmanisi has yielded in situ artifacts and faunal remains from
the older stratum A deposits, pushing back Dmanisis occupa-
tional history into the upper Olduvai subchron. These ndings
indicate that African and Eurasian theaters for the evolution of
early humans had been established even earlier than thought
previously, with implications for the age of dispersals not only
within Eurasia but also between Eurasia and Africa. This article
describes the results of these investigations at Dmanisi and their
implications for future research.
Geology and Geochronology of the M5 Section. The M5 test unit is
situated 85 m west of the block 1 excavations (Fig. 1). A narrow
geologic trench and then a 2 ×2-m test unit exposed 6.2 m of
deposits overlying the Masavera Basalt (Fig. 2). This thick expo-
sure of conformably bedded deposits is divided into nine strati-
graphic units, named A1 to B5 (SI Text and Table S1). At M5, as in
the main excavation areas, stratum A deposits display normal
geomagnetic polarity and are correlated with the upper Olduvai
subchron. The stratum B deposits all display reverse polarity and
are correlated with the earliest Upper Matuyama chron. Stratum
A1, which conformably overlies the Masavera Basalt, is a massive
to weakly laminated bed of silt and ne sand-sized black volcanic
glass shards and tears, with rare obsidian granules. The only
pedogenic features of these deposits are rare carbonate laments.
These sediments and the Masavera Basalt contain olivine, in-
dicating rapid deposition with little weathering (SI Text). Here,
and across the site, the A1a ashes quickly lled the lowest
depressions on the irregular basalt surface. A1b deposits are glass
sands and ne obsidian granules, indicative of erosional sorting of
A1 sediments from a higher position.
Stratum A2 is a black, indurated ne to medium silt ash. These
sediments show evidence of moderate pedogenesis, including
many carbonate laments, veins and concretions, and thin clay
and carbonate pore linings (Table S2). Micromorphological
analysis of stratum A2 in the main excavations record similar
pedogenic features (11). The substrata of A2 lack olivine and
contain clay minerals supporting the soil morphological evidence
for cyclic deposition and stability; however, the clear contacts
between the substrata indicate serial ash falls that promoted the
stratication of artifacts in this unit. Strata A3 and A4 are rm
dark reddish brown silt ashes with common carbonate laments
and pore linings.
The weak to moderate soil development in each of the stratum
A deposits is illustrated by the weak structure, high porosity, and
lack of argillic (clay-enriched) horizons. All of the strata A soils
here have pedogenic carbonates, indicating a drier setting and
probably slower rates of weathering. However, above stratum
A2a, those carbonate fabrics are limited to laments, pore linings,
and rhizomorphs; these are Stage I soil carbonates (12), indicating
brief periods of surface stability and weathering.
Author contributions: R.F. and D.L. designed research; R.F., O.O., J.A., F.B., M.N., T.S., M.T.,
A.V., and D.Z. performed research; R.F., O.O., F.B., and M.T. analyzed data; M.N., T.S., and
D.Z. conducted eldwork; and R.F. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conict of interest.
See Commentary on page 10375.
To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: or dlordkipanidze@
Present address: Archaeology Department, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215.
This article contains supporting information online at
June 28, 2011
vol. 108
no. 26
Accordingly, the entire suite of sediments in stratum A can be
viewed as a cumulic sedimentary prole consisting of a series of
ash fall events, alternating and overprinted by weakly developed
soils stabilized by grasses, a few shrubs, and rare trees (13). Al-
though stratum A deposits also accumulated in the areas of main
excavations, they experienced more erosion, leaving thinner and
sometimes incomplete sections. In those main excavations, all of
the hominin fossils and thousands of mammal fossils have been
recovered from reversely polarized strata B1xB1z pipe and gully
sediments (4, 10), which are notably absent at the A4/B1 contact
in the M5 section (Fig. 2).
The M5 paleomagnetic data are in accord with the results of
previous studies in the main excavation areas (4, 5) as well as
lithostratigraphic correlation of the deposits between the two areas
of the site (Fig. 2 and Fig. S1). Although a single sample from the
top of stratum A exhibited normal inclination and reversed decli-
nation (i.e., south directed but downward dipping), this sample
is not sufcient to indicate the Olduvai/Upper Matuyama transi-
tion. Here, the magnetostratigraphy and
Ar dating of the
Masavera Basalt (4) constrain the age of stratum A deposits and
the recently discovered artifact and faunal assemblages between
1.85 Ma and 1.78 Ma, the age of the Olduvai/Upper Matuyama
reversal (14). Moreover, the lowest artifacts, in stratum A2a, are
separated from the Masavera Basalt by the unweathered stratum
A1 ashes, showing that these artifacts must be close in age to the
basalt, i.e., just after 1.85 Ma.
Archaeological Assemblages. Excavations at M5 produced a total of
122 lithic artifacts, including 49 from stratum B (SI Text and
Tables S2 and S3). The 73 artifacts from stratum A were re-
covered over a vertical range of 1.5 m in strata A2aA4a (Fig. 2
and Table 1). The bones were all unidentiable but included 32
fragments from A4 and two long bone fragments from A2a; a
hyaena coprolite was recovered from A3. All of the bones were
quite weathered, in contrast to the well-preserved bones from the
rapidly deposited pipe and gully lls in the main excavation (5,
15). These M5 faunas and artifacts record serial living surfaces
as supported by the stratigraphic separations, ne-grained sedi-
ments, and associated soil features (SI Text and Table S1). The
location of M5 and the stratigraphic range of the recently discov-
ered nds emphasize that the site-wide spatial and stratigraphic
distribution of artifacts and faunas at Dmanisi is both extensive and
dense. This nding reveals that the site was inhabited many times,
implying an established, apparently quite mobile population.
The stratum A artifact assemblage is dominated by akes but
includes cores and core/choppers (Table 1 and Fig. 3). No
retouched tools were found, but these are rare in the larger
samples of artifacts from the Dmanisi excavations (10). Of the 73
akes in stratum A, 48 are complete or proximal fragments with
platforms. The size and raw materials of distal ake fragments
indicate that breakage has not unduly inated the sample size. The
dorsal scar patterns on the akes are predominantly unidirectional
(Fig. 3 BE). However, four of the larger akes, each of a different
raw material, reveal core rotation to produce thick akes with one
sharp edge (Fig. 3 FG). Dorsal cortex forms indicate that the
tuffs were principally acquired from Cretaceous bedrock exposed
near the site, whereas the other raw materials were well-rounded
alluvial cobbles from more distant channel and/or terrace sources.
The one complete core, mentioned above, has unidirectional
aking from a roughly facetted platform of nearly 90°. The four
core fragments are all tuff and have ake scars on two or three
surfaces. Two core/choppers with bifacial platforms, one of green
tuff and the other basalt, were recovered in stratum A2b.
The artifacts from stratum A differ from those in stratum B in
terms of raw material selection and reduction intensity (Table 1
and Tables S3 and S4). Compared with stratum B raw materials,
stratum A artifacts have a high proportion of red tuff, which is very
rare in the materials from blocks 1 and 2. The stratum A sample
has no andesite and only two pieces of basalt; excluding tuffs,
those materials dominate artifacts from stratum B, both in M5
and the main excavation areas (10). Three akes of rhyodacite,
a black, near-glassy material, are the rst reported incidences of
this material recovered at Dmanisi (Fig. 3F). This material has
been found in outcrops 15 km west of the site and as cobbles in
the Masavera River gravels. A notable difference between the
strata A and B assemblages is that only 29% of the stratum A
akes have dorsal cortex, compared with 71% in stratum B.
Debitage from stratum B in the main excavations has a similarly
high proportion of cortical pieces (10), suggesting that, during the
earlier occupations, either cores were more intensively reduced or
selected akes were made elsewhere and carried to the site.
Larger samples, with good prospects for retting, will allow
comparisons of Dmanisis earliest assemblages with those from
contemporary and earlier African sites. Progress in the study of
Mode I industries (1618) reveals knapping skills that were nei-
ther simplistic nor static and that raw material quality was a major
factor in technological variation among these early assemblages.
The stratied lithic assemblages at M5 afrm that the site was
occupied repeatedly during the late Olduvai subchron, ca. 1.85
1.78 Ma. The stratied nds in stratum B deposits, including all
of the Dmanisi hominins, extend the range of Dmanisis occu-
pations to ca. 1.77 Ma, with a minimum age of ca. 1.76 Ma, based
on stratigraphic correlation of Dmanisi sediments to the nearby
Zemo Orozmani locality (4). It is now clear that Dmanisi was
occupied repeatedly over an interval of as much as 80 ka,
strongly suggesting a sustained regional population. The recently
discovered data show that Dmanisi was occupied at the same
time as, if not before, the rst appearance of Homo erectus in
east Africa (1, 19). This scenario has important implications for
understanding the origins, dispersal, and biological variability of
our rst cosmopolitan ancestor. The case for a possible Eurasian
Fig. 1. Dmanisi promontory and map of excavation areas. Sediments be-
neath Medieval ruins in blocks 1 and 2 yielded Dmanisis assemblage of early
Homo fossils, dated to ca. 1.77 Ma. The recent discovery of stratied stone
artifacts in Unit M5, push back even farther the age of Dmanisisrst
occupations to the late Olduvai subchron, 1.851.78 Ma.
Ferring et al. PNAS
June 28, 2011
vol. 108
no. 26
origin of Homo erectus (1, 20) is increasingly supported by chro-
nometric and biogeographic evidence.
The initial occupations of Dmanisi are possibly older than the
rst appearance of Homo erectus in East Africa. With the ex-
ception of the surface nd of a human occipital fragment (KNM-
ER 2598) at Koobi Fora, the earliest appearance of African Homo
erectus is considered to be ca. 1.78 Ma (21) but probably is closer
to 1.65 Ma (22). The newly dated horizons at Dmanisi also ac-
commodate the increasingly older ages documented for hominin
fossils in both eastern and western Eurasia. Human presence in
China is dated to ca. 1.7 Ma (23, 24), and Homo erectus fossils
in Java are dated to ca. 1.6 Ma (25). The earliest occupations of
Flores are now dated in excess of 1 Ma (26). The record of col-
onization of Western Europe is also >1 Ma (2729). The in-
creasingly older age of Eurasian occupations by early Homo is
important for dening patterns of dispersal and adaptations in
environmental context (3, 3032).
The possibility that Homo erectus evolved in Eurasia provokes
two obvious corollaries. The rst, that a more primitive ancestor
arrived from Africa more than ca. 1.85 Ma (1, 19), is consistent
with anatomical analyses of both the Dmanisi fossils (17) and
those of Homo oresiensis (33). The second, that Homo erectus
Table 1. Lithic artifacts from M5
Raw material
Stratum A Stratum B Total, %
A2a A2b A2c A3 A4 B1a B1c B2 A B
Red tuff 8 6/2 6 2 2 1 35.6 2.0
Brown tuff 1 13/1 4/2 3 1 32.9 2.0
Tan tuff 4 5 1 1/1 1 8/3 13.7 28.6
Green tuff 2/1 2 3 6.8 6.1
Vitreous green tuff 1 4 10.2
Rhyolite 2 1 1 1 4.1 2.0
Andesite /1 2/1 1/4 18.4
Rhyodacite 2 1 4.1
Basalt /1 1 /1 9/2 2.7 24.5
Aplite 1 2.0
Diorite 1 2.0
Chert 1 2.0
Total 11 28/5 11/2 11 6 2/2 6/2 28/9 73 49
Single digits are counts of akes; n/nshows counts of akes/cores.
Fig. 2. Stratigraphy and archaeological discoveries in Unit M5. The 6.2-m section shows that Dmanisis sedimentary/geomagnetic record spans the late
Olduvai subchron (stratum A) through earliest Upper Matuyama chron (stratum B). Test excavations recovered 73 stone artifacts from strata A2A4, which are
rmly dated to 1.851.78 Ma.
| Ferring et al.
may have migrated back to Africa, receives support from the
conclusion that Homo erectus and Homo habilis survived as
contemporaries after the appearance of the former in the East
African fossil record (34).
Although the presence of hominins beyond East Africa as
early as 1.9 Ma is documented at Ain Hanech in North Africa
(35), claims for occupations of that age or somewhat earlier in
Israel (36) and Pakistan (37, 38) are based on lithic materials
collected from gravels. Although it seems ever more probable
that hominins were in Eurasia before Dmanisi was rst occupied,
well-dated materials in unequivocal contexts are required. Both
the age and evolutionary afliations of the earliest hominins to
arrive in Eurasia remain to be determined by new discoveries.
This important, unresolved issue in human evolution is a call for
the aggressive survey for evidence of even earlier colonists.
For magnetostratigraphic study, one to four samples were obtained from each
studied horizon. All samples were collected by hand after exposure of fresh
sediment that was oriented with a magnetic compass. Remanent magneti-
zation measurements were carried out with a 2G Enterprises high-resolution
cryogenic magnetometer with superconducting quantum interference device
(SQUID) sensors at the Paleomagnetism Laboratory of the Scientic Technical
Services of Barcelona University. After measuring the natural remanent
magnetization, a stepwise demagnetization was applied at least to one
specimen per horizon. Demagnetization of 99 samples was done thermally
because it was observed to be an efcient method in previous studies (4, 10).
Samples were demagnetized from room temperature to 600 °C, generally
with an 8- to 10-step protocol. Both normal and reverse polarities are found
along the section. Reverse polarity levels display a low-temperature second-
ary component, which was completely removed at 200 °C. For all of the
studied levels, a high-temperature component (between 200° and 600 °C)
was used to calculate a primary component, considered a characteristic
remanent magnetization (see declination and inclination values in Fig. 2). See
also SI Methods.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank Gilberto Artioli, Giuseppe Corti, Alberto
Agnelli, and Michael Rhodes for conducting and/or interpreting the miner-
alogical analyses, and Gocha Kiladze and the entire Dmanisi team for their
ne research. We also thank Bernard Wood, Jay Quade, and Philip Rightmire
for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was supported
by National Science Foundation Grants BCS-0324567 and BCS-1025245, the
L. S. B. Leakey Foundation, the Georgian National Science Foundation, a Rolex
Award for Enterprise, BP Georgia, the Fundación Duques de Soria, Spanish
Ministry of Science and Innovation Projects GENCAT09-324 and MICIN09-7986,
and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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| Ferring et al.
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... We find that there were many periods of more woody Green Sahara intervals, including a particularly woody vegetation (over 50% C 3 ) interval at~2.2 Ma in the Nile River catchment (Fig. 2a), generally coinciding with the first dispersal out of Africa 77,78 . A large, vegetated area connecting east and northern Africa may have triggered a pull-type response in hominins that were now able to survive using larger cranial capacity 79 and move in the lush, ecologically connected, region of northeastern Africa. ...
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The eastern Mediterranean sapropels, paced by insolation, provide a unique archive of African monsoon strength over the Late Neogene. However, the longer-term climate of this region lacks characterization within the context of changes in ice volume, sea surface temperature gradients, and terrestrial ecosystems. Here, we examine C28n-alkanoic acid leaf wax hydrogen and carbon isotopes in sapropels, sourced from northeast Africa, along with vegetation-corrected precipitation isotopes, derived from astronomically dated sediment cores from ODP 160 Sites 966 and 967 since 4.5 million years ago. Despite sampling only wet-phase sapropels for African monsoon variability, we find a larger range in hydrogen isotopes than previously published data across wet-dry precession cycles, indicating the importance of long-term modulation of Green Sahara phases throughout the Neogene. An influence of orbital properties on regional monsoonal hydroclimate is observed, controlling up to 50% of total hydrogen isotope variance, but large changes outside of these typical frequencies account for at least 50% of the total variance. This secular trend may track changes in ice volume, tropical sea surface temperature, sea surface temperature gradients, or even lower-frequency orbital cycles. Long-term hydroclimate and environmental shifts provide new contexts for milestone events in northeast African hominin dispersal and evolution.
... Les premières migrations « Out of Africa » des hominines vers l'Europe sont enregistrées en Géorgie, à Dmanisi, un site préhistorique daté à 1,8 Ma par la méthode 40 Ar/ 39 Ar (Garcia et al., 2010 ;Ferring et al., 2011). Les hominines découverts à Dmanisi, occupaient le site au cours d'un climat chaud et sec, similaire au climat méditerranéen actuel (Blain et al., 2014). ...
In Africa, the scarcity of hominin remains found in direct association with stone tools has hindered attempts to link Homo habilis and Homo erectus with particular lithic industries. The infant mandible discovered in level E at Garba IV (Melka Kunture) on the highlands of Ethiopia is critical to this issue due to its direct association with an Oldowan lithic industry. Here we use synchrotron imaging to examine the internal morphology of the unerupted permanent dentition and confirm its identification as Homo erectus. Additionally, we utilize new palaeomagnetic ages to show that 1) the mandible in level E is ca. 2 million-years-old, and represents one of the earliest Homo erectus fossils, and 2) that overlying level D, ca. 1.95 million-years-old, contains the earliest known Acheulean assemblage.
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The oldest known hominin remains in Europe [~1.5 to ~1.1 million years ago (Ma)] have been recovered from Iberia, where paleoenvironmental reconstructions have indicated warm and wet interglacials and mild glacials, supporting the view that once established, hominin populations persisted continuously. We report analyses of marine and terrestrial proxies from a deep-sea core on the Portugese margin that show the presence of pronounced millennial-scale climate variability during a glacial period ~1.154 to ~1.123 Ma, culminating in a terminal stadial cooling comparable to the most extreme events of the last 400,000 years. Climate envelope-model simulations reveal a drastic decrease in early hominin habitat suitability around the Mediterranean during the terminal stadial. We suggest that these extreme conditions led to the depopulation of Europe, perhaps lasting for several successive glacial-interglacial cycles.
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Hominins emerging from Africa in the Pleistocene required sources of vitamins in addition to sources of energy and nutrient substance (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). Most of their vitamin requirements could be provided by eating the flesh of herbivores but vitamin C is in low concentrations in animal muscle tissue. Lack of vitamin C causes the fatal disease of scurvy. In southern Eurasia, hominins would have been able to harvest fruits and vegetables throughout the year but as they migrated further to the north, they would encounter regions in which no plants were growing in mid-winter. Vitamin C is enriched in organ meats but their mass was probably too low for adequate provision. Storage of summer crops of fruit was possible. Hominins could however fulfil ascorbic acid requirements by drinking aqueous extracts from the needles of pines and other conifers which contain adequate amounts of vitamin C to satisfy human needs. Evidence is shown of pine needle and related consumption in Paleolithic sites.
Body mass is a critical variable in many hominin evolutionary studies, with implications for reconstructing relative brain size, diet, locomotion, subsistence strategy, and social organization. We review methods that have been proposed for estimating body mass from true and trace fossils, consider their applicability in different contexts, and the appropriateness of different modern reference samples. Recently developed techniques based on a wider range of modern populations hold promise for providing more accurate estimates in earlier hominins, although uncertainties remain, particularly in non-Homo taxa. When these methods are applied to almost 300 Late Miocene through Late Pleistocene specimens, the resulting body mass estimates fall within a 25-60 kg range for early non-Homo taxa, increase in early Homo to about 50-90 kg, then remain constant until the Terminal Pleistocene, when they decline.
En el presente trabajo utilizamos la caracterización del experimento científico propuesta por el filósofo de la ciencia Mario Bunge para presentar una serie de cuatro experimentos en el campo de la tecnología lítica. Nos centramos en evaluar el grado de control de variables asumido en dichos experimentos, presentándolos de menor a mayor según dicho grado de control. Las temáticas abarcadas en los experimentos presentados son: (a) técnicas de talla en el yacimiento olduvayense de Dmanisi (Georgia); (b) eficacia funcional de los cepillos del yacimiento mesolítico de Parque Darwin (Madrid); (c) eficacia de diversas técnicas de tratamiento térmico en rocas silíceas; y (d) eficacia de una técnica especial de preparación de talones en la configuración de foliáceas del yacimiento solutrense de Las Delicias (Madrid). En cada caso discutimos el procedimiento de control de variables que ha sido empleado, así como la forma de presentar los datos generados. Por último, evaluamos la relevancia y el grado de contrastación que permite cada experimento, señalando la necesidad de diseñar experimentos que permitan un alto grado de replicabilidad y contrastación.Palabras clave: experimento; tecnología lítica; control de variables; técnicas de talla; tratamiento térmicoAbstract:In this paper we use the characterization of scientific experiment put forward by the philosopher of science Mario Bunge to present a series of four experiments in the field of lithic technology. We pay especial attention to how these experiments deal with control of variables and we present them in order from the lowest to the highest level of control. Topics of studied experiments include (a) knapping techniques in the Oldowan site of Dmanisi (Georgia), (b) functional utility of the rabots found in the Mesolithic site of Parque Darwin (Madrid, Spain), (c) effectiveness of different heat treatments techniques on siliceous rocks, and (d) usefulness for foliate production of a special technique of platform preparation identified at the Solutrean site of Las Delicias (Madrid, Spain). In each experiment we discuss how variables were controlled and how generated data were presented, with the final aim of assessing both the relevance and the degree of replicability of experiments. We stress the necessity of devising experiments allowing for a high degree of replicability and contrast.Keywords: Experiment; Lithic Technology; Control of Variables; Knapping Techniques; Heat Treatment.
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The lithic industry discovered at the Dmanissi site, in Georgia is dated to between 1.81 and 1.7 Myrs and is in association with a rich faunal assemblage composed of large Quaternary vertebrates, as well as several hominid fossils attributed to Homo georgicus, and attests to the human presence on the border of Europe at the beginning of the Lower Pleistocene. The material taken into account in this study was excavated from 1991 to 1999 and comprises 4446 lithic pieces coming from Beds I through VI of the site. The assemblage is very homogenous from the base to the top of the deposits and shows no significative evolutionary tendencies. The lithic material includes a high proportion of whole pebbles (33.8% of the assemblage) coming from two nearby rivers, the Mashavera and the Pinezaouri. They are essentially of fine and coarse grained volcanic tuff, basalt, but also of rhyolite, granite, quartz, as well as other volcanic and metamorphic rocks. Pebbles used for percussion, shaping or debitage were chosen according to their petrographic nature, their morphology and their size. Whole pebbles with percussion marks situated on their extremities or with isolated removals showing convexe edges, are abundant (1.3% of the assemblage). Other pebbles showing percussion marks on a flat face, were used as anvils. Broken pebbles and pebble fragments are very numerous (30.4% of the assemblage). These often show percussion marks on their cortical surfaces. Fractures are generally related to violent percussion as the pebbles were used for striking instruments, or as they were intentionally broken. Some fractures may have been caused accidentally during flaking. Pebble tools represent 4.8% of the lithic assemblage and 10% of the industry, excluding whole and fractured pebbles. These include essentially the primary choppers (pebbles with isolated concave removal negatives) (6% of the industry and 60.1% of the pebble tools), choppers showing continuous cutting edges without a point (2.1% of the industry and 21.2% of the pebble tools). Chopping-tools are very rare (0.8% of the industry and 8.7% of the pebble tools). Although choppers without pointed cutting edges were made using very few removals (3.3 on average), they usually present a regular cutting edge and seem relatively standardised. Cores are well represented (5% of the industry, excluding whole and broken pebbles). They are characterized by a low degree of exploitation and by a frequence of cortical striking platforms. Cored knapped on a single face are most frequent, representing nearly half of the pieces (42.3%), while bifacial cores are present in smaller proportions (34.2%) and multifacial cores are rare (6.3%). Non-modified flakes are very numerous and usually of small size and intentional retouch is absent. On the other hand, the cuttingedges of many the pieces; broken pebbles, pebble tools, cores and flakes, show irregular micro-retouch and irregular retouch such as isolated notches or with continuous or overlapping configuration, sometimes associated with localised crush marks which appear to have been caused by intensive use and heavy working of the pieces. A total of 31.3% of the non-modified flakes show irregular retouch on their cutting edges. One of the main characteristics of the Dmanissi industry appears therefore to be the obtaining of flakes, most often of small size, to be used without modification. The technological and typological characteristics of the lithic industry from Dmanissi allow to attribute the assemblage to a "Pre-Oldowayen" cultural horizon (Lumley de et al., 2004), characterized by the absence of small retouched tools, which appears in East Africa from 2.55 Myrs ago. This cultural horizon is present at the border of Europe, at Dmanissi, around 1.81 Myrs ago and in Western Europe, on the shores of the Mediterranean, at Barranco León about 1.3 Myrs ago and at Fuente Nueva 3 about 1.2 Myrs ago. The lithic industry from the Dmanissi site seems anterior to the Oldowan cultural horizon, characterized by the presence of standardized small retouched tools, which appears in East Africa around 1.8 Myrs ago and emerges in Mediterranean Europe around 800 000 years ago.
Further investigations were carried out at Ain Hanech, Algeria in 1998 and 1999 to explore its potential for investigating early hominid behavioral patterns and adaptation. Research concentrated on the stratigraphy and dating, identifying new archaeological deposits, and excavating the Ain Hanech and El-Kherba localities. To enhance the chronological control within a biostratigraphic framework, the Ain Boucherit fossil-bearing stratum, yielding a Plio-Pleistocene fauna, is correlated with the regional stratigraphy. In the stratigraphic sequence, the Ain Boucherit stratum, located 13 m below the Ain Hanech Oldowan occurrences, is found in Unit Q of the Ain Hanech Formation. Unit Q shows a paleomagnetically reversed polarity, which may be correlated with an age earlier than the Olduvai normal subchron (1·95–1·77 Ma). Based on test trenches and stratigraphic analyses, additional Oldowan deposits A, B, and C are identified at Ain Hanech. All three deposits and the El-Kherba site contain Mode I technology artefacts associated with an Early Pleistocene fauna. El-Kherba is stratigraphically equivalent to Ain Hanech. These two archaeological sites are estimated to be dated to about 1·8 Ma. Further investigations were carried out at Ain Hanech, Algeria in 1998 and 1999 to explore its potential for investigating early hominid behavioral patterns and adaptation. Research concentrated on the stratigraphy and dating, identifying new archaeological deposits, and excavating the Ain Hanech and El-Kherba localities. To enhance the chronological control within a biostratigraphic framework, the Ain Boucherit fossil-bearing stratum, yielding a Plio-Pleistocene fauna, is correlated with the regional stratigraphy. In the stratigraphic sequence, the Ain Boucherit stratum, located 13 m below the Ain Hanech Oldowan occurrences, is found in Unit Q of the Ain Hanech Formation. Unit Q shows a paleomagnetically reversed polarity, which may be correlated with an age earlier than the Olduvai normal subchron (1·95–1·77 Ma). Based on test trenches and stratigraphic analyses, additional Oldowan deposits A, B, and C are identified at Ain Hanech. All three deposits and the El-Kherba site contain Mode I technology artefacts associated with an Early Pleistocene fauna. El-Kherba is stratigraphically equivalent to Ain Hanech. These two archaeological sites are estimated to be dated to about 1·8 Ma.
We present a magnetostratigraphic record from an IMAGES piston core in the western Philippine Sea that is tied to a marine oxygen isotope record for the past 2.14 million years. Using the Australasian microtektite layer as an independent marker, the lock-in depth of the Matuyama/Brunhes reversal was evaluated to be shallow, which suggests that the stratigraphic offsets between the observed and true geomagnetic reversals in this core are relatively small. The ages of geomagnetic reversals were astronomically calibrated by tuning the oxygen isotopic stratigraphy, yielding a chronology for the various subchrons of the Matuyama: Matuyama/Brunhes boundary, 781+/-3 ka (slightly above oxygen isotope Stage 19.3); top of the Kamikatsura polarity interval, 920+/-2 ka (Stage 23/24); base of the Kamikatsura polarity interval, 925+/-1 ka (Stage 24); top of the Jaramillo subchron, 988+/-3 ka (Stage 27); base of the Jaramillo subchron, 1072+/-2 ka (Stage 31); top of the Cobb Mountain subchron, 1173+/-4 ka (Stage 35/36); base of the Cobb Mountain subchron, 1185+/-5 ka (Stage 36); top of the Olduvai subchron, 1778+/-3 ka (Stage 63/64); base of the Olduvai subchron, 1945+/-4 ka (Stage 71/72); top of the Reunion II subchron, 2118+/-3 ka (Stage 80/81); and base of the Reunion II subchron, 2133+/-5 ka (Stage 81). This astronomically calibrated chronology provides accurate ages for short polarity intervals in the Matuyama chron, which were previously not well dated.
New paleomagnetic results from the Erk-el-Ahmar Formation, Israel, resolve age ambiguities of one of the oldest hominid sites outside Africa, where ancient Oldowan tools and artifacts were excavated. We identified in the section the upper and lower boundaries of the Olduvai subchron, and we conclude that these sediments were deposited between ca. 1.7 and 2.0 Ma. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that earliest hominid migrations from Africa to Eurasia during the early Paleolithic traversed the Levantine corridor.
Four human remains: one mandible, two skulls and one metatarsus were discovered between 1991 and 1999 at the open-air site of Dmanisi, Georgia, in a precise stratigraphic, palaeontological and archaeological context, in volcanic ashes dated to 1.81 ± 0.05 Ma. The first studies of these fossils enable the authors to compare them with the morphology of archaic African Homo erectus, ascribed to Homo ergaster, and to ascertain hominid presence at the gates of Europe 300 000 years earlier than the classical scenario forecasted. In September 2000, the discovery of a second more complete and robust mandible D 2600 presents a threefold interest: palaeontological, functional and pathological. A comparison with Homo habilis and Homo erectus leads to the recognition of a new Homo species: H. georgicus sp. nov. The morphofunctional characteristics and the antiquity of H. georgicus characterise the root of a long Eurasian line.