Publications by authors named "Adam Brumm"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Oldest cave art found in Sulawesi.

Sci Adv 2021 Jan 13;7(3). Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU), Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Indonesia harbors some of the oldest known surviving cave art. Previously, the earliest dated rock art from this region was a figurative painting of a Sulawesi warty pig (). This image from Leang Bulu' Sipong 4 in the limestone karsts of Maros-Pangkep, South Sulawesi, was created at least 43,900 years ago (43.9 ka) based on Uranium-series dating. Here, we report the Uranium-series dating of two figurative cave paintings of Sulawesi warty pigs recently discovered in the same karst area. The oldest, with a minimum age of 45.5 ka, is from Leang Tedongnge. The second image, from Leang Balangajia 1, dates to at least 32 ka. To our knowledge, the animal painting from Leang Tedongnge is the earliest known representational work of art in the world. There is no reason to suppose, however, that this early rock art is a unique example in Island Southeast Asia or the wider region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abd4648DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806210PMC
January 2021

Portable art from Pleistocene Sulawesi.

Nat Hum Behav 2020 06 16;4(6):597-602. Epub 2020 Mar 16.

Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

The ability to produce recognizable depictions of objects from the natural world-known as figurative art-is unique to Homo sapiens and may be one of the cognitive traits that separates our species from extinct hominin relatives. Surviving examples of Pleistocene figurative art are generally confined to rock art or portable three-dimensional works (such as figurines) and images engraved into the surfaces of small mobile objects. These portable communicative technologies first appear in Europe some 40 thousand years ago (ka) with the arrival of H. sapiens. Conversely, despite H. sapiens having moved into Southeast Asia-Australasia by at least 65 ka, very little evidence for Pleistocene-aged portable art has been identified, leading to uncertainties regarding the cultural behaviour of the earliest H. sapiens in this region. Here, we report the discovery of two small stone 'plaquettes' incised with figurative imagery dating to 26-14 ka from Leang Bulu Bettue, Sulawesi. These new findings, together with the recent discovery of rock art dating to at least 40 ka in this same region, overturns the long-held belief that the first H. sapiens of Southeast Asia-Australasia did not create sophisticated art and further cements the importance of this behaviour for our species' ability to overcome environmental and social challenges.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0837-6DOI Listing
June 2020

Earliest hunting scene in prehistoric art.

Nature 2019 12 11;576(7787):442-445. Epub 2019 Dec 11.

Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Humans seem to have an adaptive predisposition for inventing, telling and consuming stories. Prehistoric cave art provides the most direct insight that we have into the earliest storytelling, in the form of narrative compositions or 'scenes' that feature clear figurative depictions of sets of figures in spatial proximity to each other, and from which one can infer actions taking place among the figures. The Upper Palaeolithic cave art of Europe hosts the oldest previously known images of humans and animals interacting in recognizable scenes, and of therianthropes-abstract beings that combine qualities of both people and animals, and which arguably communicated narrative fiction of some kind (folklore, religious myths, spiritual beliefs and so on). In this record of creative expression (spanning from about 40 thousand years ago (ka) until the beginning of the Holocene epoch at around 10 ka), scenes in cave art are generally rare and chronologically late (dating to about 21-14 ka), and clear representations of therianthropes are uncommon-the oldest such image is a carved figurine from Germany of a human with a feline head (dated to about 40-39 ka). Here we describe an elaborate rock art panel from the limestone cave of Leang Bulu' Sipong 4 (Sulawesi, Indonesia) that portrays several figures that appear to represent therianthropes hunting wild pigs and dwarf bovids; this painting has been dated to at least 43.9 ka on the basis of uranium-series analysis of overlying speleothems. This hunting scene is-to our knowledge-currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1806-yDOI Listing
December 2019

Early dates for 'Neanderthal cave art' may be wrong.

J Hum Evol 2018 12 30;125:215-217. Epub 2018 Aug 30.

Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2018.08.004DOI Listing
December 2018

A reassessment of the early archaeological record at Leang Burung 2, a Late Pleistocene rock-shelter site on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

PLoS One 2018 11;13(4):e0193025. Epub 2018 Apr 11.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

This paper presents a reassessment of the archaeological record at Leang Burung 2, a key early human occupation site in the Late Pleistocene of Southeast Asia. Excavated originally by Ian Glover in 1975, this limestone rock-shelter in the Maros karsts of Sulawesi, Indonesia, has long held significance in our understanding of early human dispersals into 'Wallacea', the vast zone of oceanic islands between continental Asia and Australia. We present new stratigraphic information and dating evidence from Leang Burung 2 collected during the course of our excavations at this site in 2007 and 2011-13. Our findings suggest that the classic Late Pleistocene modern human occupation sequence identified previously at Leang Burung 2, and proposed to span around 31,000 to 19,000 conventional 14C years BP (~35-24 ka cal BP), may actually represent an amalgam of reworked archaeological materials. Sources for cultural materials of mixed ages comprise breccias from the rear wall of the rock-shelter-remnants of older, eroded deposits dated to 35-23 ka cal BP-and cultural remains of early Holocene antiquity. Below the upper levels affected by the mass loss of Late Pleistocene deposits, our deep-trench excavations uncovered evidence for an earlier hominin presence at the site. These findings include fossils of now-extinct proboscideans and other 'megafauna' in stratified context, as well as a cobble-based stone artifact technology comparable to that produced by late Middle Pleistocene hominins elsewhere on Sulawesi.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193025PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5894965PMC
July 2018

Early human symbolic behavior in the Late Pleistocene of Wallacea.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 04 3;114(16):4105-4110. Epub 2017 Apr 3.

Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 4111.

Wallacea, the zone of oceanic islands separating the continental regions of Southeast Asia and Australia, has yielded sparse evidence for the symbolic culture of early modern humans. Here we report evidence for symbolic activity 30,000-22,000 y ago at Leang Bulu Bettue, a cave and rock-shelter site on the Wallacean island of Sulawesi. We describe hitherto undocumented practices of personal ornamentation and portable art, alongside evidence for pigment processing and use in deposits that are the same age as dated rock art in the surrounding karst region. Previously, assemblages of multiple and diverse types of Pleistocene "symbolic" artifacts were entirely unknown from this region. The Leang Bulu Bettue assemblage provides insight into the complexity and diversification of modern human culture during a key period in the global dispersal of our species. It also shows that early inhabitants of Sulawesi fashioned ornaments from body parts of endemic animals, suggesting modern humans integrated exotic faunas and other novel resources into their symbolic world as they colonized the biogeographically unique regions southeast of continental Eurasia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1619013114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5402422PMC
April 2017

Age and context of the oldest known hominin fossils from Flores.

Nature 2016 06;534(7606):249-53

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth &Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Recent excavations at the early Middle Pleistocene site of Mata Menge in the So'a Basin of central Flores, Indonesia, have yielded hominin fossils attributed to a population ancestral to Late Pleistocene Homo floresiensis. Here we describe the age and context of the Mata Menge hominin specimens and associated archaeological findings. The fluvial sandstone layer from which the in situ fossils were excavated in 2014 was deposited in a small valley stream around 700 thousand years ago, as indicated by (40)Ar/(39)Ar and fission track dates on stratigraphically bracketing volcanic ash and pyroclastic density current deposits, in combination with coupled uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating of fossil teeth. Palaeoenvironmental data indicate a relatively dry climate in the So'a Basin during the early Middle Pleistocene, while various lines of evidence suggest the hominins inhabited a savannah-like open grassland habitat with a wetland component. The hominin fossils occur alongside the remains of an insular fauna and a simple stone technology that is markedly similar to that associated with Late Pleistocene H. floresiensis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17663DOI Listing
June 2016

Homo floresiensis-like fossils from the early Middle Pleistocene of Flores.

Nature 2016 06;534(7606):245-8

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth &Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

The evolutionary origin of Homo floresiensis, a diminutive hominin species previously known only by skeletal remains from Liang Bua in western Flores, Indonesia, has been intensively debated. It is a matter of controversy whether this primitive form, dated to the Late Pleistocene, evolved from early Asian Homo erectus and represents a unique and striking case of evolutionary reversal in hominin body and brain size within an insular environment. The alternative hypothesis is that H. floresiensis derived from an older, smaller-brained member of our genus, such as Homo habilis, or perhaps even late Australopithecus, signalling a hitherto undocumented dispersal of hominins from Africa into eastern Asia by two million years ago (2 Ma). Here we describe hominin fossils excavated in 2014 from an early Middle Pleistocene site (Mata Menge) in the So'a Basin of central Flores. These specimens comprise a mandible fragment and six isolated teeth belonging to at least three small-jawed and small-toothed individuals. Dating to ~0.7 Ma, these fossils now constitute the oldest hominin remains from Flores. The Mata Menge mandible and teeth are similar in dimensions and morphological characteristics to those of H. floresiensis from Liang Bua. The exception is the mandibular first molar, which retains a more primitive condition. Notably, the Mata Menge mandible and molar are even smaller in size than those of the two existing H. floresiensis individuals from Liang Bua. The Mata Menge fossils are derived compared with Australopithecus and H. habilis, and so tend to support the view that H. floresiensis is a dwarfed descendent of early Asian H. erectus. Our findings suggest that hominins on Flores had acquired extremely small body size and other morphological traits specific to H. floresiensis at an unexpectedly early time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17999DOI Listing
June 2016

Revised stratigraphy and chronology for Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua in Indonesia.

Nature 2016 Apr 30;532(7599):366-9. Epub 2016 Mar 30.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Homo floresiensis, a primitive hominin species discovered in Late Pleistocene sediments at Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia), has generated wide interest and scientific debate. A major reason this taxon is controversial is because the H. floresiensis-bearing deposits, which include associated stone artefacts and remains of other extinct endemic fauna, were dated to between about 95 and 12 thousand calendar years (kyr) ago. These ages suggested that H. floresiensis survived until long after modern humans reached Australia by ~50 kyr ago. Here we report new stratigraphic and chronological evidence from Liang Bua that does not support the ages inferred previously for the H. floresiensis holotype (LB1), ~18 thousand calibrated radiocarbon years before present (kyr cal. BP), or the time of last appearance of this species (about 17 or 13-11 kyr cal. BP). Instead, the skeletal remains of H. floresiensis and the deposits containing them are dated to between about 100 and 60 kyr ago, whereas stone artefacts attributable to this species range from about 190 to 50 kyr in age. Whether H. floresiensis survived after 50 kyr ago--potentially encountering modern humans on Flores or other hominins dispersing through southeast Asia, such as Denisovans--is an open question.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17179DOI Listing
April 2016

Earliest hominin occupation of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Nature 2016 Jan;529(7585):208-11

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth &Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Sulawesi is the largest and oldest island within Wallacea, a vast zone of oceanic islands separating continental Asia from the Pleistocene landmass of Australia and Papua (Sahul). By one million years ago an unknown hominin lineage had colonized Flores immediately to the south, and by about 50 thousand years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) had crossed to Sahul. On the basis of position, oceanic currents and biogeographical context, Sulawesi probably played a pivotal part in these dispersals. Uranium-series dating of speleothem deposits associated with rock art in the limestone karst region of Maros in southwest Sulawesi has revealed that humans were living on the island at least 40 thousand years ago (ref. 5). Here we report new excavations at Talepu in the Walanae Basin northeast of Maros, where in situ stone artefacts associated with fossil remains of megafauna (Bubalus sp., Stegodon and Celebochoerus) have been recovered from stratified deposits that accumulated from before 200 thousand years ago until about 100 thousand years ago. Our findings suggest that Sulawesi, like Flores, was host to a long-established population of archaic hominins, the ancestral origins and taxonomic status of which remain elusive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature16448DOI Listing
January 2016

Scraper reduction and "imposed form" at the Lower Palaeolithic site of High Lodge, England.

J Hum Evol 2011 Feb 19;60(2):185-204. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

This paper investigates patterns of scraper retouch at the Lower Palaeolithic site of High Lodge, England. The unifacial scrapers from High Lodge are intensively retouched tools with regular and complex shapes that have been routinely interpreted as evidence of intentional design. The primary aim is to determine whether the different scraper types identified in the assemblage represent discrete and discontinuous implement categories made according to fixed designs, or rather, points or stages along one or more reduction continuums. To achieve this, we apply a range of quantitative measures of artifact reduction to all complete single, double, convergent, and transverse scrapers from the site (n=165). Our results indicate that morphological and typological diversity in the High Lodge scraper assemblage can be parsimoniously explained as a result of both the extent to which implements were resharpened during use and subtle variability in the nature of blank forms selected for retouch. Accordingly, we critique the notion that high levels of morphological complexity in retouched Lower Palaeolithic tool types necessarily reflect the imposition of preconceived forms on stones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.09.005DOI Listing
February 2011

Hominins on Flores, Indonesia, by one million years ago.

Nature 2010 Apr 17;464(7289):748-52. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Previous excavations at Mata Menge and Boa Lesa in the Soa Basin of Flores, Indonesia, recovered stone artefacts in association with fossilized remains of the large-bodied Stegodon florensis florensis. Zircon fission-track ages from these sites indicated that hominins had colonized the island by 0.88 +/- 0.07 million years (Myr) ago. Here we describe the contents, context and age of Wolo Sege, a recently discovered archaeological site in the Soa Basin that has in situ stone artefacts and that lies stratigraphically below Mata Menge and immediately above the basement breccias of the basin. We show using (40)Ar/(39)Ar dating that an ignimbrite overlying the artefact layers at Wolo Sege was erupted 1.02 +/- 0.02 Myr ago, providing a new minimum age for hominins on Flores. This predates the disappearance from the Soa Basin of 'pygmy' Stegodon sondaari and Geochelone spp. (giant tortoise), as evident at the nearby site of Tangi Talo, which has been dated to 0.90 +/- 0.07 Myr ago. It now seems that this extirpation or possible extinction event and the associated faunal turnover were the result of natural processes rather than the arrival of hominins. It also appears that the volcanic and fluvio-lacustrine deposits infilling the Soa Basin may not be old enough to register the initial arrival of hominins on the island.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature08844DOI Listing
April 2010

Stone artifacts and hominins in island Southeast Asia: new insights from Flores, eastern Indonesia.

J Hum Evol 2007 Jan 18;52(1):85-102. Epub 2006 Aug 18.

Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, 2351, Australia.

This study reexamines the current understanding of Pleistocene stone-artifact assemblages in island Southeast Asia. A differentiation has long been made between assemblages of large-sized "core tools" and assemblages of small-sized "flake tools." "Core tool" assemblages are often argued to be the handiwork of early hominin species such as Homo erectus, while small-sized "flake tool" assemblages have been attributed to Homo sapiens. We argue that this traditional Southeast Asian perspective on stone tools assumes that the artifacts recovered from a site reflect a complete technological sequence. Our analyses of Pleistocene-age artifact assemblages from Flores, Indonesia, demonstrate that large pebble-based cores and small flake-based cores are aspects of one reduction sequence. We propose that the Flores pattern applies across island Southeast Asia: large-sized "core tool" assemblages are in fact a missing element of the small-sized flake-based reduction sequences found in many Pleistocene caves and rock-shelters. We conclude by discussing the implications of this for associating stone-artifact assemblages with hominin species in island Southeast Asia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.08.002DOI Listing
January 2007

Early stone technology on Flores and its implications for Homo floresiensis.

Nature 2006 Jun;441(7093):624-8

Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200, Australia.

In the Soa Basin of central Flores, eastern Indonesia, stratified archaeological sites, including Mata Menge, Boa Lesa and Kobatuwa (Fig. 1), contain stone artefacts associated with the fossilized remains of Stegodon florensis, Komodo dragon, rat and various other taxa. These sites have been dated to 840-700 kyr bp (thousand years before present). The authenticity of the Soa Basin artefacts and their provenance have been demonstrated by previous work, but to quell lingering doubts, here we describe the context, attributes and production modes of 507 artefacts excavated at Mata Menge. We also note specific similarities, and apparent technological continuity, between the Mata Menge stone artefacts and those excavated from Late Pleistocene levels at Liang Bua cave, 50 km to the west. The latter artefacts, dated to between 95-74 and 12 kyr ago, are associated with the remains of a dwarfed descendent of S. florensis, Komodo dragon, rat and a small-bodied hominin species, Homo floresiensis, which had a brain size of about 400 cubic centimetres. The Mata Menge evidence negates claims that stone artefacts associated with H. floresiensis are so complex that they must have been made by modern humans (Homo sapiens).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04618DOI Listing
June 2006