Publications by authors named "Carolina Mallol"

13 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Components of a Neanderthal gut microbiome recovered from fecal sediments from El Salt.

Commun Biol 2021 Feb 5;4(1):169. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

Unit of Microbiome Science and Biotechnology, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Via Belmeloro 6, Bologna, Italy.

A comprehensive view of our evolutionary history cannot ignore the ancestral features of our gut microbiota. To provide some glimpse into the past, we searched for human gut microbiome components in ancient DNA from 14 archeological sediments spanning four stratigraphic units of El Salt Middle Paleolithic site (Spain), including layers of unit X, which has yielded well-preserved Neanderthal occupation deposits dating around 50 kya. According to our findings, bacterial genera belonging to families known to be part of the modern human gut microbiome are abundantly represented only across unit X samples, showing that well-known beneficial gut commensals, such as Blautia, Dorea, Roseburia, Ruminococcus, Faecalibacterium and Bifidobacterium already populated the intestinal microbiome of Homo since as far back as the last common ancestor between humans and Neanderthals.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-01689-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864912PMC
February 2021

Characterisation of charred organic matter in micromorphological thin sections by means of Raman spectroscopy.

Archaeol Anthropol Sci 2021 6;13(1):13. Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Instituto Universitario de Bio-Orgánica Antonio González (IUBO), Universidad de La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Burned or charred organic matter in anthropogenic combustion features may provide important clues about past human activities related to fire. To interpret archaeological hearths, a correct identification of the organic source material is key. In the present work, Raman spectroscopy is applied to characterise the structural properties of char produced in laboratory heating- and open-fire experiments. This reference data set is compared to analyses of three different archaeological sites with Middle Palaeolithic combustion contexts. The results show that it is possible to determine whether a charred fragment is the product of burning animal-derived matter (e.g. meat) or plant-derived matter (e.g. wood) by plotting a few Raman spectral parameters (i.e. position of G and D bands, and intensity ratios / and /) against one another. The most effective parameters for discriminating animal- from plant-derived matter are the position of the G band and the / intensity ratio. This method can be applied on raw sample material and on uncovered micromorphological thin sections. The latter greatly compliments micromorphology by providing information about char fragments without any clear morphological characteristics. This study is the first of its kind and may provide archaeologists with a robust new method to distinguish animal- from plant-derived char in thin sections.

Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12520-020-01263-3.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12520-020-01263-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7788033PMC
January 2021

A revised AMS and tephra chronology for the Late Middle to Early Upper Paleolithic occupations of Ortvale Klde, Republic of Georgia.

J Hum Evol 2021 Feb 25;151:102908. Epub 2020 Dec 25.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, CT, USA. Electronic address:

The nature and timing of the shift from the Late Middle Paleolithic (LMP) to the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) varied geographically, temporally, and substantively across the Near East and Eurasia; however, the result of this process was the archaeological disappearance of Middle Paleolithic technologies across the length and breadth of their geographic distribution. Ortvale Klde rockshelter (Republic of Georgia) contains the most detailed LMP-EUP archaeological sequence in the Caucasus, an environmentally and topographically diverse region situated between southwest Asia and Europe. Tephrochronological investigations at the site reveal volcanic ash (tephra) from various volcanic sources and provide a tephrostratigraphy for the site that will facilitate future correlations in the region. We correlate one of the cryptotephra layers to the large, caldera-forming Nemrut Formation eruption (30,000 years ago) from Nemrut volcano in Turkey. We integrate this tephrochronological constraint with new radiocarbon dates and published ages in an OxCal Bayesian age model to produce a revised chronology for the site. This model increases the ages for the end of the LMP (∼47.5-44.2 ka cal BP) and appearance of the EUP (∼46.7-43.6 ka cal BP) at Ortvale Klde, which are earlier than those currently reported for other sites in the Caucasus but similar to estimates for specific sites in southwest Asia and eastern Europe. These data, coupled with archaeological, stratigraphic, and taphonomic observations, suggest that at Ortvale Klde, (1) the appearance of EUP technologies of bone and stone has no technological roots in the preceding LMP, (2) a LMP population vacuum likely preceded the appearance of these EUP technologies, and (3) the systematic combination of tephra correlations and absolute dating chronologies promises to substantially improve our inter-regional understanding of this critical time interval of human evolution and the potential interconnectedness of hominins at different sites.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2020.102908DOI Listing
February 2021

Micro-contextual identification of archaeological lipid biomarkers using resin-impregnated sediment slabs.

Sci Rep 2020 11 25;10(1):20574. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

Archaeological Micromorphology and Biomarkers Laboratory (AMBI Lab), Instituto Universitario de Bio-Orgánica "Antonio González", Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.

Characterizing organic matter preserved in archaeological sediment is crucial to behavioral and paleoenvironmental investigations. This task becomes particularly challenging when considering microstratigraphic complexity. Most of the current analytical methods rely on loose sediment samples lacking spatial and temporal resolution at a microstratigraphic scale, adding uncertainty to the results. Here, we explore the potential of targeted molecular and isotopic biomarker analysis on polyester resin-impregnated sediment slabs from archaeological micromorphology, a technique that provides microstratigraphic control. We performed gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectromety (GC-IRMS) analyses on a set of samples including drill dust from resin-impregnated experimental and archaeological samples, loose samples from the same locations and resin control samples to assess the degree of interference of polyester resin in the GC-MS and Carbon-IRMS signals of different lipid fractions (n-alkanes, aromatics, n-ketones, alcohols, fatty acids and other high polarity lipids). The results show that biomarkers within the n-alkane, aromatic, n-ketone, and alcohol fractions can be identified. Further work is needed to expand the range of identifiable lipid biomarkers. This study represents the first micro-contextual approach to archaeological lipid biomarkers and contributes to the advance of archaeological science by adding a new method to obtain behavioral or paleoenvironmental proxies.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77257-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689525PMC
November 2020

Fire and brief human occupations in Iberia during MIS 4: Evidence from Abric del Pastor (Alcoy, Spain).

Sci Rep 2019 12 4;9(1):18281. Epub 2019 Dec 4.

UDI de Prehistoria, Arqueología e Historia Antigua, Departamento de Geografía e Historia, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna, Spain.

There is a relatively low amount of Middle Paleolithic sites in Europe dating to MIS 4. Of the few that exist, several of them lack evidence for anthropogenic fire, raising the question of how this period of global cooling may have affected the Neanderthal population. The Iberian Peninsula is a key area to explore this issue, as it has been considered as a glacial refugium during critical periods of the Neanderthal timeline and might therefore yield archaeological contexts in which we can explore possible changes in the behaviour and settlement patterns of Neanderthal groups during MIS 4. Here we report recent data from Abric del Pastor, a small rock shelter in Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) with a stratified deposit containing Middle Palaeolithic remains. We present absolute dates that frame the sequence within MIS 4 and multi-proxy geoarchaeological evidence of in situ anthropogenic fire, including microscopic evidence of in situ combustion residues and thermally altered sediment. We also present archaeostratigraphic evidence of recurrent, functionally diverse, brief human occupation of the rock shelter. Our results suggest that Neanderthals occupied the Central Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula during MIS 4, that these Neanderthals were not undergoing climatic stress and they were habitual fire users.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-54305-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6892787PMC
December 2019

Geochemical Evidence for the Control of Fire by Middle Palaeolithic Hominins.

Sci Rep 2019 10 25;9(1):15368. Epub 2019 Oct 25.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA.

The use of fire played an important role in the social and technological development of the genus Homo. Most archaeologists agree that this was a multi-stage process, beginning with the exploitation of natural fires and ending with the ability to create fire from scratch. Some have argued that in the Middle Palaeolithic (MP) hominin fire use was limited by the availability of fire in the landscape. Here, we present a record of the abundance of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organic compounds that are produced during the combustion of organic material, from Lusakert Cave, a MP site in Armenia. We find no correlation between the abundance of light PAHs (3-4 rings), which are a major component of wildfire PAH emissions and are shown to disperse widely during fire events, and heavy PAHs (5-6 rings), which are a major component of particulate emissions of burned wood. Instead, we find heavy PAHs correlate with MP artifact density at the site. Given that hPAH abundance correlates with occupation intensity rather than lPAH abundance, we argue that MP hominins were able to control fire and utilize it regardless of the variability of fires in the environment. Together with other studies on MP fire use, these results suggest that the ability of hominins to manipulate fire independent of exploitation of wildfires was spatially variable in the MP and may have developed multiple times in the genus Homo.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51433-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6814844PMC
October 2019

An experimental approach to the preservation potential of magnetic signatures in anthropogenic fires.

PLoS One 2019 29;14(8):e0221592. Epub 2019 Aug 29.

Departamento de Geografía e Historia, Área de Prehistoria (Facultad de Humanidades), Universidad de La Laguna, Campus de Guajara, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.

Archaeomagnetic and rock-magnetic methods are of great value in the identification of archaeological fire, especially in Palaeolithic sites where evidence is usually scarce, ambiguous or poorly preserved. Although taphonomic processes can significantly modify Palaeolithic combustion structures, the extent to which such processes affect the magnetic record remains unknown. Here we report the results of an archaeomagnetic study involving five, two-to-five-year-old experimental combustion structures in open-air and cave settings. Some of these combustion structures involved post-combustion human actions such as trampling and relighting. Our results show pseudo-single domain (PSD) magnetite as the main magnetic carrier. Wood ash layers of combustion structures are the most magnetic facies followed by thermally altered sediments constituting the combustion substrates. A decreasing magnetic concentration pattern in depth was observed as a function of temperature. Positive correlation was found between good-quality directional data and macroscopically well-preserved combustion structures. Partial thermoremanent magnetization (pTRM) was the main magnetization mechanism identified in the combustion substrate facies. These data coupled with partial thermomagnetic curve experiments show the potential of these methods to estimate maximum temperatures of the last combustion event. Relightings show very good directional results, but they cannot be identified because the time between them is not enough to statistically distinguish directional variations of the local Earth´s magnetic field. The substrate sediment of an intensively trampled combustion structure yielded reliable archaeomagnetic directions. The results are discussed in terms of magnetization preservation potential and the effects of taphonomic processes on the archaeomagnetic record.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0221592PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6715203PMC
March 2020

Insights into the timing, intensity and natural setting of Neanderthal occupation from the geoarchaeological study of combustion structures: A micromorphological and biomarker investigation of El Salt, unit Xb, Alcoy, Spain.

PLoS One 2019 24;14(4):e0214955. Epub 2019 Apr 24.

Instituto Universitario de Biorgánica Antonio González, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Middle Paleolithic lithic and faunal assemblages throughout Eurasia reflect short-term Neanderthal occupations, which suggest high group mobility. However, the timing of these short-term occupations, a key factor to assess group mobility and territorial range, remains unresolved. Anthropogenic combustion structures are prominent in the Middle Paleolithic record and conceal information on the timing and intensity and natural setting of their associated human occupations. This paper examines a concentration of eleven combustion structures from unit Xb of El Salt, a Middle Paleolithic site in Spain through a geoarchaeological approach, in search of temporal, human impact and paleoenvironmental indicators to assess the timing, intensity and natural setting of the associated human occupations. The study was conducted using micromorphology, lipid biomarker analysis and compound specific isotope analysis. Results show in situ hearths built on different diachronic topsoils rich in herbivore excrements and angiosperm plant residues with rare anthropogenic remains. These data are suggestive of low impact, short-term human occupations separated by relatively long periods of time, with possible indicators of seasonality. Results also show an absence of conifer biomarkers in the mentioned topsoils and presence of conifer charcoal among the fuel residues (ash), indicating that fire wood was brought to the site from elsewhere. A microscopic and molecular approach in the study of combustion structures allows us to narrow down the timescale of archaeological analysis and contributes valuable information towards an understanding of Neanderthal group mobility and settlement patterns.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0214955PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481795PMC
December 2019

Early modern human settlement of Europe north of the Alps occurred 43,500 years ago in a cold steppe-type environment.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014 Oct 22;111(40):14394-9. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

Departments of Human Evolution and.

The first settlement of Europe by modern humans is thought to have occurred between 50,000 and 40,000 calendar years ago (cal B.P.). In Europe, modern human remains of this time period are scarce and often are not associated with archaeology or originate from old excavations with no contextual information. Hence, the behavior of the first modern humans in Europe is still unknown. Aurignacian assemblages--demonstrably made by modern humans--are commonly used as proxies for the presence of fully behaviorally and anatomically modern humans. The site of Willendorf II (Austria) is well known for its Early Upper Paleolithic horizons, which are among the oldest in Europe. However, their age and attribution to the Aurignacian remain an issue of debate. Here, we show that archaeological horizon 3 (AH 3) consists of faunal remains and Early Aurignacian lithic artifacts. By using stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental, and chronological data, AH 3 is ascribed to the onset of Greenland Interstadial 11, around 43,500 cal B.P., and thus is older than any other Aurignacian assemblage. Furthermore, the AH 3 assemblage overlaps with the latest directly radiocarbon-dated Neanderthal remains, suggesting that Neanderthal and modern human presence overlapped in Europe for some millennia, possibly at rather close geographical range. Most importantly, for the first time to our knowledge, we have a high-resolution environmental context for an Early Aurignacian site in Central Europe, demonstrating an early appearance of behaviorally modern humans in a medium-cold steppe-type environment with some boreal trees along valleys around 43,500 cal B.P.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1412201111DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4209988PMC
October 2014

Neanderthals from El Salt (Alcoy, Spain) in the context of the latest Middle Palaeolithic populations from the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula.

J Hum Evol 2014 Oct 22;75:1-15. Epub 2014 Jul 22.

Université Bordeaux, CNRS, MCC, PACEA, UMR 5199, F-33405 Talence cedex, France.

We present a bioanthropological study of dental remains recovered from El Salt Middle Palaeolithic site (Alcoy, Alicante, Spain). The dental remains were found in a sedimentary layer representing a calm depositional environment within a freshwater spring system. The corresponding archaeological context comprises a Middle Palaeolithic faunal and lithic assemblage that represents the last documented evidence of human occupation at the site, dating to between 47.2 ± 4.4 and 45.2 ± 3.4 ka (thousands of years ago). This evidence is overlain by an archaeologically sterile deposit dated to 44.7 ± 3.2 ka. Results show that the teeth belong to a single juvenile or young adult individual with morphological and metric features falling within the Neanderthal range of variability, although the considered traits are not taxonomically highly discriminant. The reported fossils are representative of the latest Middle Palaeolithic groups in the region and may be considered in the ongoing debate on the disappearance of Neanderthals and the end of the Middle Palaeolithic.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.02.019DOI Listing
October 2014

New evidence of early Neanderthal disappearance in the Iberian Peninsula.

J Hum Evol 2014 Oct 10;75:16-27. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Estación Volcanológica de Canarias, IPNA-CSIC, Av. Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez n.° 3, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.

The timing of the end of the Middle Palaeolithic and the disappearance of Neanderthals continue to be strongly debated. Current chronometric evidence from different European sites pushes the end of the Middle Palaeolithic throughout the continent back to around 42 thousand years ago (ka). This has called into question some of the dates from the Iberian Peninsula, previously considered as one of the last refuge zones of the Neanderthals. Evidence of Neanderthal occupation in Iberia after 42 ka is now very scarce and open to debate on chronological and technological grounds. Here we report thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates from El Salt, a Middle Palaeolithic site in Alicante, Spain, the archaeological sequence of which shows a transition from recurrent to sporadic human occupation culminating in the abandonment of the site. The new dates place this sequence within MIS 3, between ca. 60 and 45 ka. An abrupt sedimentary change towards the top of the sequence suggests a strong aridification episode coinciding with the last Neanderthal occupation of the site. These results are in agreement with current chronometric data from other sites in the Iberian Peninsula and point towards possible breakdown and disappearance of the Neanderthal local population around the time of the Heinrich 5 event. Iberian sites with recent dates (<40 ka) attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic should be revised in the light of these data.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.002DOI Listing
October 2014

The Neanderthal meal: a new perspective using faecal biomarkers.

PLoS One 2014 25;9(6):e101045. Epub 2014 Jun 25.

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Neanderthal dietary reconstructions have, to date, been based on indirect evidence and may underestimate the significance of plants as a food source. While zooarchaeological and stable isotope data have conveyed an image of Neanderthals as largely carnivorous, studies on dental calculus and scattered palaeobotanical evidence suggest some degree of contribution of plants to their diet. However, both views remain plausible and there is no categorical indication of an omnivorous diet. Here we present direct evidence of Neanderthal diet using faecal biomarkers, a valuable analytical tool for identifying dietary provenance. Our gas chromatography-mass spectrometry results from El Salt (Spain), a Middle Palaeolithic site dating to ca. 50,000 yr. BP, represents the oldest positive identification of human faecal matter. We show that Neanderthals, like anatomically modern humans, have a high rate of conversion of cholesterol to coprostanol related to the presence of required bacteria in their guts. Analysis of five sediment samples from different occupation floors suggests that Neanderthals predominantly consumed meat, as indicated by high coprostanol proportions, but also had significant plant intake, as shown by the presence of 5β-stigmastanol. This study highlights the applicability of the biomarker approach in Pleistocene contexts as a provider of direct palaeodietary information and supports the opportunity for further research into cholesterol metabolism throughout human evolution.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101045PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4071062PMC
November 2015

What's in a beach? Soil micromorphology of sediments from the Lower Paleolithic site of 'Ubeidiya, Israel.

Authors:
Carolina Mallol

J Hum Evol 2006 Aug 28;51(2):185-206. Epub 2006 Mar 28.

ESEP, Economies, Sociétés et Environnements Préhistoriques, UMR 6636 du CNRS, Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l'Homme, 5, rue du Château de l'Horloge, B.P.647, 13094 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 2, France.

A micromorphological study of archaeological sediments from the early Pleistocene site of 'Ubeidiya (Jordan Valley, Israel) was conducted to provide microenvironmental detail for the hominin occupation contexts and investigate site formation issues. Previous research shows that the hominin groups occupied the marshes and pebbly beaches at the shores of a lake during a regressive period, but given that some portions of the lithic and faunal assemblages are abraded and others fresh, there remains a question of whether the archaeological assemblages are in situ or reworked, and if reworked, by what mechanisms and from where. The rates of sedimentation within the regressive cycle, by which we can learn about the frequency and duration of exposed surfaces amenable for hominin occupation is also unknown. Finally, the artificial nature of some of the pebbly layers has been questioned. The micromorphological analysis yielded the identification of twelve microfacies; the majority of these represent fluvially derived floodplain soils or distal mudflow deposits, and a minor number are sediments of lacustrine origin: mudflats and shallow subaqueous sediments. These represent the natural habitats of the 'Ubeidiya hominins and might serve as a reference to similar contexts of other early hominin sites. The sedimentary model proposed here entails the rapid deposition of fluvially derived low-energy sediments at and around the shoreline, followed by prolonged periods of exposure, during which surfaces stabilized within a relatively wet, marshy environment. This interpretation suggests that the abraded portions of the archaeological assemblages are a result of prolonged surface exposure rather than high-energy transport from a distant source or to wave reworking at the shoreline, and supports the consideration of these assemblages as archaeological palimpsests, with locally reworked fresh and abraded elements. No micromorphological evidence supporting anthropogenic agency in the formation of the pebbly layers was found. The entire regressive cycle entailed unvarying climatic conditions with seasonal fluctuations and episodic lacustrine incursions, and with a trend towards arid conditions in the end.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.03.002DOI Listing
August 2006