Publications by authors named "Marian Vanhaeren"

11 Publications

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Quantitative methods demonstrate that environment alone is an insufficient predictor of present-day language distributions in New Guinea.

PLoS One 2020 7;15(10):e0239359. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

CNRS, MCC, De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (PACEA), Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France.

Environmental parameters constrain the distributions of plant and animal species. A key question is to what extent does environment influence human behavior. Decreasing linguistic diversity from the equator towards the poles suggests that ecological factors influence linguistic geography. However, attempts to quantify the role of environmental factors in shaping linguistic diversity remain inconclusive. To this end, we apply Ecological Niche Modelling methods to present-day language diversity in New Guinea. We define an Eco-Linguistic Niche (ELN) as the range of environmental conditions present in the territory of a population speaking a specific language or group of languages characterized by common language traits. In order to reconstruct the ELNs, we used Papuan and Austronesian language groups, transformed their geographical distributions into occurrence data, assembled available environmental data for New Guinea, and applied predictive architectures developed in the field of ecology to these data. We find no clear relationship between linguistic diversity and ELNs. This is particularly true when linguistic diversity is examined at the level of language groups. Language groups are variably dependent on environment and generally share their ELN with other language groups. This variability suggests that population dynamics, migration, linguistic drift, and socio-cultural mechanisms must be taken into consideration in order to better understand the myriad factors that shape language diversity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239359PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7540881PMC
November 2020

An Early Instance of Upper Palaeolithic Personal Ornamentation from China: The Freshwater Shell Bead from Shuidonggou 2.

PLoS One 2016 26;11(5):e0155847. Epub 2016 May 26.

Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

We report the discovery and present a detailed analysis of a freshwater bivalve from Shuidonggou Locality 2, layer CL3. This layer is located c. 40 cm below layer CL2, which has yielded numerous ostrich eggshell beads. The shell is identified as the valve of a Corbicula fluminea. Data on the occurrence of this species in the Shuidonggou region during Marine Isotope Stage 3 and taphonomic analysis, conducted in the framework of this study, of a modern biocoenosis and thanatocoenosis suggest that the archeological specimen was collected at one of the numerous fossil or sub-fossil outcrops where valves of this species were available at the time of occupation of level CL3. Experimental grinding and microscopic analysis of modern shells of the same species indicate that the Shuidonggou shell was most probably ground on coarse sandstone to open a hole on its umbo, attach a thread, and use the valve as a personal ornament. Experimental engraving of freshwater shells and microscopic analysis identify an incision crossing the archaeological valve outer surface as possible deliberate engraving. Reappraisal of the site chronology in the light of available radiocarbon evidence suggests an age of at least 34-33 cal kyr BP for layer CL3. Such estimate makes the C. fluminea recovered from CL3 one of the earliest instances of personal ornamentation and the earliest example of a shell bead from China.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155847PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881959PMC
July 2017

Ornaments reveal resistance of North European cultures to the spread of farming.

PLoS One 2015 8;10(4):e0121166. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199 (UMR5199), de la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (PACEA), Université de Bordeaux, Talence, France.

The transition to farming is the process by which human groups switched from hunting and gathering wild resources to food production. Understanding how and to what extent the spreading of farming communities from the Near East had an impact on indigenous foraging populations in Europe has been the subject of lively debates for decades. Ethnographic and archaeological studies have shown that population replacement and admixture, trade, and long distance diffusion of cultural traits lead to detectable changes in symbolic codes expressed by associations of ornaments on the human body. Here we use personal ornaments to document changes in cultural geography during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. We submitted a binary matrix of 224 bead-types found at 212 European Mesolithic and 222 Early Neolithic stratigraphic units to a series of spatial and multivariate analyses. Our results reveal consistent diachronic and geographical trends in the use of personal ornaments during the Neolithisation. Adoption of novel bead-types combined with selective appropriation of old attires by incoming farmers is identified in Southern and Central Europe while cultural resistance leading to the nearly exclusive persistence of indigenous personal ornaments characterizes Northern Europe. We argue that this pattern reflects two distinct cultural trajectories with different potential for gene flow.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0121166PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4390204PMC
March 2016

An ochered fossil marine shell from the mousterian of fumane cave, Italy.

PLoS One 2013 10;8(7):e68572. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Sezione di Preistoria e Antropologia, Università di Ferrara, Corso Ercole I d'Este 32, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy.

A scanty but varied ensemble of finds challenges the idea that Neandertal material culture was essentially static and did not include symbolic items. In this study we report on a fragmentary Miocene-Pliocene fossil marine shell, Aspamarginata, discovered in a Discoid Mousterian layer of the Fumane Cave, northern Italy, dated to at least 47.6-45.0 Cal ky BP. The shell was collected by Neandertals at a fossil exposure probably located more than 100 kms from the site. Microscopic analysis of the shell surface identifies clusters of striations on the inner lip. A dark red substance, trapped inside micropits produced by bioeroders, is interpreted as pigment that was homogeneously smeared on the outer shell surface. Dispersive X-ray and Raman analysis identify the pigment as pure hematite. Of the four hypotheses we considered to explain the presence of this object at the site, two (tool, pigment container) are discarded because in contradiction with observations. Although the other two ("manuport", personal ornament) are both possible, we favor the hypothesis that the object was modified and suspended by a 'thread' for visual display as a pendant. Together with contextual and chronometric data, our results support the hypothesis that deliberate transport and coloring of an exotic object, and perhaps its use as pendant, was a component of Neandertal symbolic culture, well before the earliest appearance of the anatomically modern humans in Europe.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0068572PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3707824PMC
March 2014

Thinking strings: additional evidence for personal ornament use in the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa.

J Hum Evol 2013 Jun 14;64(6):500-17. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Université Bordeaux 1, CNRS UMR 5199 PACEA, Equipe Préhistoire, Paléoenvironnement, Patrimoine, Avenue des Facultés, F-33405 Talence, France.

Here we report on newly identified beads recovered from four Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave and, in particular, on a cluster of 24 perforated Nassarius kraussianus shells that probably originate from a single beadwork. Contextual information, morphometric, technological and use-wear analysis of the 68 published beads and those recently found, coupled with experimental reproduction of wear patterns, allow us to reconstruct the most probable way in which the N. kraussianus shells were strung. The results reveal unexpected regularities but also variability through the various levels that we interpret as resulting from changes in beadwork manufacture and design over time. The Blombos Cave beads may document one of the first examples of changes in social norms affecting the production and design of symbolic material culture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.02.001DOI Listing
June 2013

Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Jan 11;107(3):1023-8. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

University of Bristol, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Bristol BS8 1UU, United Kingdom.

Two sites of the Neandertal-associated Middle Paleolithic of Iberia, dated to as early as approximately 50,000 years ago, yielded perforated and pigment-stained marine shells. At Cueva de los Aviones, three umbo-perforated valves of Acanthocardia and Glycymeris were found alongside lumps of yellow and red colorants, and residues preserved inside a Spondylus shell consist of a red lepidocrocite base mixed with ground, dark red-to-black fragments of hematite and pyrite. A perforated Pecten shell, painted on its external, white side with an orange mix of goethite and hematite, was abandoned after breakage at Cueva Antón, 60 km inland. Comparable early modern human-associated material from Africa and the Near East is widely accepted as evidence for body ornamentation, implying behavioral modernity. The Iberian finds show that European Neandertals were no different from coeval Africans in this regard, countering genetic/cognitive explanations for the emergence of symbolism and strengthening demographic/social ones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0914088107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824307PMC
January 2010

Out of Africa: modern human origins special feature: additional evidence on the use of personal ornaments in the Middle Paleolithic of North Africa.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2009 Sep 28;106(38):16051-6. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199, De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie, University of Bordeaux, Talence 33405, France.

Recent investigations into the origins of symbolism indicate that personal ornaments in the form of perforated marine shell beads were used in the Near East, North Africa, and SubSaharan Africa at least 35 ka earlier than any personal ornaments in Europe. Together with instances of pigment use, engravings, and formal bone tools, personal ornaments are used to support an early emergence of behavioral modernity in Africa, associated with the origin of our species and significantly predating the timing for its dispersal out of Africa. Criticisms have been leveled at the low numbers of recovered shells, the lack of secure dating evidence, and the fact that documented examples were not deliberately shaped. In this paper, we report on 25 additional shell beads from four Moroccan Middle Paleolithic sites. We review their stratigraphic and chronological contexts and address the issue of these shells having been deliberately modified and used. We detail the results of comparative analyses of modern, fossil, and archaeological assemblages and microscopic examinations of the Moroccan material. We conclude that Nassarius shells were consistently used for personal ornamentation in this region at the end of the last interglacial. Absence of ornaments at Middle Paleolithic sites postdating Marine Isotope Stage 5 raises the question of the possible role of climatic changes in the disappearance of this hallmark of symbolic behavior before its reinvention 40 ka ago. Our results suggest that further inquiry is necessary into the mechanisms of cultural transmission within early Homo sapiens populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0903532106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752514PMC
September 2009

Cutmarked human remains bearing Neandertal features and modern human remains associated with the Aurignacian at Les Rois.

J Anthropol Sci 2009 ;87:153-85

UPR 2147, Dynamique de l'Evolution Humaine, CNRS, 44 Rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014 Paris, France.

The view that Aurignacian technologies and their associated symbolic manifestations represent the archaeologicalproxy for the spread of Anatomically Modern Humans into Europe, is supported by few diagnostic human remains, including those from the Aurignacian site of Les Rois in south-western France. Here we reassess the taxonomic attribution of the human remains, their cultural affiliation, and provide five new radiocarbon dates for the site. Patterns of tooth growth along with the morphological and morphometric analysis of the human remains indicate that a juvenile mandible showing cutmarks presents some Neandertal features, whereas another mandible is attributed to Anatomically Modern Humans. Reappraisal of the archaeological sequence demonstrates that human remains derive from two layers dated to 28-30 kyr BP attributed to the Aurignacian, the only cultural tradition detected at the site. Three possible explanations may account for this unexpected evidence. The first one is that the Aurignacian was exclusively produced by AMH and that the child mandible from unit A2 represents evidence for consumption or, more likely, symbolic use of a Neandertal child by Aurignacian AMH The second possible explanation is that Aurignacian technologies were produced at Les Rois by human groups bearing both AMH and Neandertal features. Human remains from Les Rois would be in this case the first evidence of a biological contact between the two human groups. The third possibility is that all human remains from Les Rois represent an AMH population with conserved plesiomorphic characters suggesting a larger variation in modern humans from the Upper Palaeolithic.
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September 2009

82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2007 Jun 4;104(24):9964-9. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, 10001 Rabat, Morocco.

The first appearance of explicitly symbolic objects in the archaeological record marks a fundamental stage in the emergence of modern social behavior in Homo. Ornaments such as shell beads represent some of the earliest objects of this kind. We report on examples of perforated Nassarius gibbosulus shell beads from Grotte des Pigeons (Taforalt, Morocco), North Africa. These marine shells come from archaeological levels dated by luminescence and uranium-series techniques to approximately 82,000 years ago. They confirm evidence of similar ornaments from other less well dated sites in North Africa and adjacent areas of southwest Asia. The shells are of the same genus as shell beads from slightly younger levels at Blombos Cave in South Africa. Wear patterns on the shells imply that some of them were suspended, and, as at Blombos, they were covered in red ochre. These findings imply an early distribution of bead-making in Africa and southwest Asia at least 40 millennia before the appearance of similar cultural manifestations in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703877104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1891266PMC
June 2007

Nassarius kraussianus shell beads from Blombos Cave: evidence for symbolic behaviour in the Middle Stone Age.

J Hum Evol 2005 Jan 21;48(1):3-24. Epub 2004 Dec 21.

CNRS UMR 5199 PACEA, Institut de Préhistoire et de Géologie du Quaternaire, Avenue des Facultés, F-33405 Talence cedex, France.

Since 1991, excavations at Blombos Cave have yielded a well-preserved sample of faunal and cultural material in Middle Stone Age (MSA) levels. The uppermost MSA phase, M1, is dated to c. 75 ka by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermoluminescence, and the middle M2 phase to a provisional c. 78 ka. Artefacts unusual in a MSA context from these phases include bifacial points, bone tools, engraved ochre and engraved bone. In this paper, we describe forty-one marine tick shell beads recovered from these MSA phases and tick shell beads from Later Stone Age (LSA) levels at Blombos Cave and the Die Kelders site. Thirty-nine shell beads come from the upper M1 phase and two from M2. Morphometric, taphonomic and microscopic analysis of modern assemblages of living and dead tick shell demonstrate that the presence of perforated Nassarius kraussianus shells in the Blombos MSA levels cannot be due to natural processes or accidental transport by humans. The types of perforation seen on the MSA shells are absent on modern accumulations of dead shells and not attributable to post-depositional damage. Their location, size, and microscopic features are similar to those obtained experimentally by piercing the shell wall, through the aperture, with a sharp bone point. Use-wear, recorded on the perforation edge, the outer lip, and the parietal wall of the aperture indicates the shells having being strung and worn. MSA shell beads differ significantly in size, perforation type, wear pattern and shade compared to LSA beads and this eliminates the possibility of mixing across respective levels. Thirty-one beads were found in four groups of five to twelve beads, each group being recovered in a single square or in two adjacent sub-squares during a single excavation day. Within a group, shells display a similar shade, use-wear pattern and perforation size suggesting their provenance from the same beadwork item, lost or disposed during a single event. The likely symbolic significance of these finds suggests levels of cognitively modern behaviour not previously associated with MSA people.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2004.09.002DOI Listing
January 2005

Middle Stone Age shell beads from South Africa.

Science 2004 Apr;304(5669):404

Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen, Norway.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1095905DOI Listing
April 2004