Publications by authors named "Michael D Petraglia"

39 Publications

Earliest known human burial in Africa.

Nature 2021 May 5;593(7857):95-100. Epub 2021 May 5.

UMR 5199 CNRS De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement, et Anthropologie (PACEA), Université Bordeaux, Talence, France.

The origin and evolution of hominin mortuary practices are topics of intense interest and debate. Human burials dated to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) are exceedingly rare in Africa and unknown in East Africa. Here we describe the partial skeleton of a roughly 2.5- to 3.0-year-old child dating to 78.3 ± 4.1 thousand years ago, which was recovered in the MSA layers of Panga ya Saidi (PYS), a cave site in the tropical upland coast of Kenya. Recent excavations have revealed a pit feature containing a child in a flexed position. Geochemical, granulometric and micromorphological analyses of the burial pit content and encasing archaeological layers indicate that the pit was deliberately excavated. Taphonomical evidence, such as the strict articulation or good anatomical association of the skeletal elements and histological evidence of putrefaction, support the in-place decomposition of the fresh body. The presence of little or no displacement of the unstable joints during decomposition points to an interment in a filled space (grave earth), making the PYS finding the oldest known human burial in Africa. The morphological assessment of the partial skeleton is consistent with its assignment to Homo sapiens, although the preservation of some primitive features in the dentition supports increasing evidence for non-gradual assembly of modern traits during the emergence of our species. The PYS burial sheds light on how MSA populations interacted with the dead.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03457-8DOI Listing
May 2021

The Middle to Later Stone Age transition at Panga ya Saidi, in the tropical coastal forest of eastern Africa.

J Hum Evol 2021 Apr 11;153:102954. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745, Jena, Germany; Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 600 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, D.C., USA; School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

The Middle to Later Stone Age transition is a critical period of human behavioral change that has been variously argued to pertain to the emergence of modern cognition, substantial population growth, and major dispersals of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. However, there is little consensus about when the transition occurred, the geographic patterning of its emergence, or even how it is manifested in the stone tool technology that is used to define it. Here, we examine a long sequence of lithic technological change at the cave site of Panga ya Saidi, Kenya, that spans the Middle and Later Stone Age and includes human occupations in each of the last five Marine Isotope Stages. In addition to the stone artifact technology, Panga ya Saidi preserves osseous and shell artifacts, enabling broader considerations of the covariation between different spheres of material culture. Several environmental proxies contextualize the artifactual record of human behavior at Panga ya Saidi. We compare technological change between the Middle and Later Stone Age with on-site paleoenvironmental manifestations of wider climatic fluctuations in the Late Pleistocene. The principal distinguishing feature of Middle from Later Stone Age technology at Panga ya Saidi is the preference for fine-grained stone, coupled with the creation of small flakes (miniaturization). Our review of the Middle to Later Stone Age transition elsewhere in eastern Africa and across the continent suggests that this broader distinction between the two periods is in fact widespread. We suggest that the Later Stone Age represents new short use-life and multicomponent ways of using stone tools, in which edge sharpness was prioritized over durability.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.102954DOI Listing
April 2021

Nubian Levallois technology associated with southernmost Neanderthals.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 15;11(1):2869. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Centre for Quaternary Research, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, UK.

Neanderthals occurred widely across north Eurasian landscapes, but between ~ 70 and 50 thousand years ago (ka) they expanded southwards into the Levant, which had previously been inhabited by Homo sapiens. Palaeoanthropological research in the first half of the twentieth century demonstrated alternate occupations of the Levant by Neanderthal and Homo sapiens populations, yet key early findings have largely been overlooked in later studies. Here, we present the results of new examinations of both the fossil and archaeological collections from Shukbah Cave, located in the Palestinian West Bank, presenting new quantitative analyses of a hominin lower first molar and associated stone tool assemblage. The hominin tooth shows clear Neanderthal affinities, making it the southernmost known fossil specimen of this population/species. The associated Middle Palaeolithic stone tool assemblage is dominated by Levallois reduction methods, including the presence of Nubian Levallois points and cores. This is the first direct association between Neanderthals and Nubian Levallois technology, demonstrating that this stone tool technology should not be considered an exclusive marker of Homo sapiens.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82257-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884387PMC
February 2021

Monumental landscapes of the Holocene humid period in Northern Arabia: The mustatil phenomenon.

Holocene 2020 Dec 17;30(12):1767-1779. Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Between 10 and six thousand years ago the Arabian Peninsula saw the most recent of the 'Green Arabia' periods, when increased rainfall transformed this generally arid region. The transition to the Neolithic in Arabia occurred during this period of climatic amelioration. Various forms of stone structures are abundant in northern Arabia, and it has been speculated that some of these dated to the Neolithic, but there has been little research on their character and chronology. Here we report a study of 104 'mustatil' stone structures from the southern margins of the Nefud Desert in northern Arabia. We provide the first chronometric age estimate for this type of structure - a radiocarbon date of ca. 5000 BC - and describe their landscape positions, architecture and associated material culture and faunal remains. The structure we have dated is the oldest large-scale stone structure known from the Arabian Peninsula. The mustatil phenomenon represents a remarkable development of monumental architecture, as hundreds of these structures were built in northwest Arabia. This 'monumental landscape' represents one of the earliest large-scale forms of monumental stone structure construction anywhere in the world. Further research is needed to understand the function of these structures, but we hypothesise that they were related to rituals in the context of the adoption of pastoralism and resulting territoriality in the challenging environments of northern Arabia.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683620950449DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7575307PMC
December 2020

Human footprints provide snapshot of last interglacial ecology in the Arabian interior.

Sci Adv 2020 Sep 18;6(38). Epub 2020 Sep 18.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, D-07743 Jena, Germany.

The nature of human dispersals out of Africa has remained elusive because of the poor resolution of paleoecological data in direct association with remains of the earliest non-African people. Here, we report hominin and non-hominin mammalian tracks from an ancient lake deposit in the Arabian Peninsula, dated within the last interglacial. The findings, it is argued, likely represent the oldest securely dated evidence for in Arabia. The paleoecological evidence indicates a well-watered semi-arid grassland setting during human movements into the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia. We conclude that visitation to the lake was transient, likely serving as a place to drink and to forage, and that late Pleistocene human and mammalian migrations and landscape use patterns in Arabia were inexorably linked.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba8940DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500939PMC
September 2020

Fluted-point technology in Neolithic Arabia: An independent invention far from the Americas.

PLoS One 2020 5;15(8):e0236314. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

New World archaeologists have amply demonstrated that fluted point technology is specific to Terminal Pleistocene American cultures. Base-fluted, and rarer tip-fluted, projectile points from the Americas have been well-documented by archaeologists for nearly a century. Fluting is an iconic stone tool manufacturing method and a specific action that involves the extraction of a channel flake along the longitudinal axis of a bifacial piece. Here we report and synthesize information from Neolithic sites in southern Arabia, demonstrating the presence of fluting on a variety of stone tool types including projectile points. Fluted projectile points are known from both surface sites and stratified contexts in southern Arabia. Fluting technology has been clearly identified at the Manayzah site (Yemen) dating to 8000-7700 cal. BP. Examination of fluted points and channel flakes from southern Arabia enable a reconstruction of stone tool manufacturing techniques and reduction sequences (chaines opératoires). To illustrate the technological similarities and contrasts of fluting methods in Arabia and the Americas, comparative studies and experiments were conducted. Similarities in manufacturing approaches were observed on the fluting scars of bifacial pieces, whereas technological differences are apparent in the nature and localization of the flute and, most probably, the functional objective of fluting in economic, social and cultural contexts. Arabian and American fluted point technologies provide an excellent example of convergence of highly specialized stone tool production methods. Our description of Arabian and American fluting technology demonstrates that similar innovations and inventions were developed under different circumstances, and that highly-skilled and convergent production methods can have different anthropological implications.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236314PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7406013PMC
September 2020

Bows and arrows and complex symbolic displays 48,000 years ago in the South Asian tropics.

Sci Adv 2020 Jun 12;6(24):eaba3831. Epub 2020 Jun 12.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Archaeologists contend that it was our aptitude for symbolic, technological, and social behaviors that was central to rapidly expanding across the majority of Earth's continents during the Late Pleistocene. This expansion included movement into extreme environments and appears to have resulted in the displacement of numerous archaic human populations across the Old World. Tropical rainforests are thought to have been particularly challenging and, until recently, impenetrable by early . Here, we describe evidence for bow-and-arrow hunting toolkits alongside a complex symbolic repertoire from 48,000 years before present at the Sri Lankan site of Fa-Hien Lena-the earliest bow-and-arrow technology outside of Africa. As one of the oldest rainforest sites outside of Africa, this exceptional assemblage provides the first detailed insights into how our species met the extreme adaptive challenges that were encountered in Asia during global expansion.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba3831DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7292635PMC
June 2020

Human responses to climate and ecosystem change in ancient Arabia.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 04;117(15):8263-8270

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 07745 Jena, Germany.

Recent interdisciplinary archaeological and paleoenvironmental research in the Arabian peninsula is transforming our understanding of ancient human societies in their ecological contexts. Hypotheses about the cultural and demographic impacts of a series of droughts have primarily been developed from the environmental and archaeological records of southeastern Arabia. Here we examine these human-environment interactions by integrating ongoing research from northern Arabia. While droughts and extreme environmental variability in the Holocene had significant impacts on human societies, responses varied across space and time and included mobility at various scales, as well as diverse social, economic and cultural adaptations, such as the management of water resources, the introduction of pastoral lifeways, and the construction of diverse types of stone structures. The long-term story of human societies in Arabia is one of resilience in the face of climate change, yet future challenges include rising temperatures and flash flooding. The history of human responses to climatic and ecosystem changes in Arabia can provide important lessons for a planet facing catastrophic global warming and environmental change.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1920211117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7165439PMC
April 2020

Trajectories of cultural innovation from the Middle to Later Stone Age in Eastern Africa: Personal ornaments, bone artifacts, and ocher from Panga ya Saidi, Kenya.

J Hum Evol 2020 04 9;141:102737. Epub 2020 Mar 9.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, D-07745 Jena, Germany; School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia; Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. N.W., Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada; Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20560, USA.

African Middle Stone Age (MSA) populations used pigments, manufactured and wore personal ornaments, made abstract engravings, and produced fully shaped bone tools. However, ongoing research across Africa reveals variability in the emergence of cultural innovations in the MSA and their subsequent development through the Later Stone Age (LSA). When present, it appears that cultural innovations manifest regional variability, suggestive of distinct cultural traditions. In eastern Africa, several Late Pleistocene sites have produced evidence for novel activities, but the chronologies of key behavioral innovations remain unclear. The 3 m deep, well-dated, Panga ya Saidi sequence in eastern Kenya, encompassing 19 layers covering a time span of 78 kyr beginning in late Marine Isotope Stage 5, is the only known African site recording the interplay between cultural and ecological diversity in a coastal forested environment. Excavations have yielded worked and incised bones, ostrich eggshell beads (OES), beads made from seashells, worked and engraved ocher pieces, fragments of coral, and a belemnite fossil. Here, we provide, for the first time, a detailed analysis of this material. This includes a taphonomic, archeozoological, technological, and functional study of bone artifacts; a technological and morphometric analysis of personal ornaments; and a technological and geochemical analysis of ocher pieces. The interpretation of the results stemming from the analysis of OES beads is guided by an ethnoarcheological perspective and field observations. We demonstrate that key cultural innovations on the eastern African coast are evident by 67 ka and exhibit remarkable diversity through the LSA and Iron Age. We suggest the cultural trajectories evident at Panga ya Saidi were shaped by both regional traditions and cultural/demic diffusion.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.102737DOI Listing
April 2020

The Paleolithic in the Nihewan Basin, China: Evolutionary history of an Early to Late Pleistocene record in Eastern Asia.

Evol Anthropol 2020 May 20;29(3):125-142. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

The Nihewan Basin of China preserves one of the most important successions of Paleolithic archeological sites in Eurasia. Stratified archeological sites and mammalian fossils, first reported in the 1920s, continue to be recovered in large-scale excavation projects. Here, we review key findings from archeological excavations in the Nihewan Basin ranging from ~1.66 Ma to 11.7 ka. We place particular emphasis on changes in stone tool technology over the long term. Though Pleistocene lithic industries from East Asia are often described as simple in character, re-evaluation of the stone tool evidence from the Nihewan Basin demonstrates significant, though periodic, innovations and variability in manufacturing techniques through time, indicating adaptive and technological flexibility on the part of hominins. Synthesis of paleoenvironmental and archeological data indicate changes in hominin occupation frequency in the Nihewan Basin, with chronological gaps suggesting that continuous presence in high, seasonal latitudes was not possible prior to the Late Pleistocene.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/evan.21813DOI Listing
May 2020

The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula.

Sci Rep 2018 11 29;8(1):17165. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural-technological tradition in human evolutionary history. However, considerable gaps remain in understanding the chronology and geographical distribution of Acheulean hominins. We present the first chronometrically dated Acheulean site from the Arabian Peninsula, a vast and poorly known region that forms more than half of Southwest Asia. Results show that Acheulean hominin occupation expanded along hydrological networks into the heart of Arabia from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7 until at least ~190 ka ̶ the youngest documented Acheulean in Southwest Asia. The site of Saffaqah features Acheulean technology, characterized by large flakes, handaxes and cleavers, similar to Acheulean assemblages in Africa. These findings reveal a climatically-mediated later Acheulean expansion into a poorly known region, amplifying the documented diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour across the Old World and elaborating the terminal archaic landscape encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35242-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265249PMC
November 2018

Acheulean technology and landscape use at Dawadmi, central Arabia.

PLoS One 2018 27;13(7):e0200497. Epub 2018 Jul 27.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Despite occupying a central geographic position, investigations of hominin populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Lower Palaeolithic period are rare. The colonization of Eurasia below 55 degrees latitude indicates the success of the genus Homo in the Early and Middle Pleistocene, but the extent to which these hominins were capable of innovative and novel behavioural adaptations to engage with mid-latitude environments is unclear. Here we describe new field investigations at the Saffaqah locality (206-76) near Dawadmi, in central Arabia that aim to establish how hominins adapted to this region. The site is located in the interior of Arabia over 500 km from both the Red Sea and the Gulf, and at the headwaters of two major extinct river systems that were likely used by Acheulean hominins to cross the Peninsula. Saffaqah is one of the largest Acheulean sites in Arabia with nearly a million artefacts estimated to occur on the surface, and it is also the first to yield stratified deposits containing abundant artefacts. It is situated in the unusual setting of a dense and well-preserved landscape of Acheulean localities, with sites and isolated artefacts occurring regularly for tens of kilometres in every direction. We describe both previous and recent excavations at Saffaqah and its large lithic assemblage. We analyse thousands of artefacts from excavated and surface contexts, including giant andesite cores and flakes, smaller cores and retouched artefacts, as well as handaxes and cleavers. Technological assessment of stratified lithics and those from systematic survey, enable the reconstruction of stone tool life histories. The Acheulean hominins at Dawadmi were strong and skilful, with their adaptation evidently successful for some time. However, these biface-makers were also technologically conservative, and used least-effort strategies of resource procurement and tool transport. Ultimately, central Arabia was depopulated, likely in the face of environmental deterioration in the form of increasing aridity.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200497PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6063418PMC
January 2019

Did Our Species Evolve in Subdivided Populations across Africa, and Why Does It Matter?

Trends Ecol Evol 2018 08 11;33(8):582-594. Epub 2018 Jul 11.

Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique (EDB UMR 5174), Université de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, CNRS, IRD, UPS. 118 route de Narbonne, Bat 4R1, 31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France; Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, P-2780-156, Oeiras, Portugal.

We challenge the view that our species, Homo sapiens, evolved within a single population and/or region of Africa. The chronology and physical diversity of Pleistocene human fossils suggest that morphologically varied populations pertaining to the H. sapiens clade lived throughout Africa. Similarly, the African archaeological record demonstrates the polycentric origin and persistence of regionally distinct Pleistocene material culture in a variety of paleoecological settings. Genetic studies also indicate that present-day population structure within Africa extends to deep times, paralleling a paleoenvironmental record of shifting and fractured habitable zones. We argue that these fields support an emerging view of a highly structured African prehistory that should be considered in human evolutionary inferences, prompting new interpretations, questions, and interdisciplinary research directions.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2018.05.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092560PMC
August 2018

Publisher Correction: 78,000-year-old record of Middle and Later Stone Age innovation in an East African tropical forest.

Nat Commun 2018 06 5;9(1):2242. Epub 2018 Jun 5.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, Jena, D-07745, Germany.

The originally published version of this Article contained an error in Fig. 3, whereby an additional unrelated graph was overlaid on top of the magnetic susceptibility plot. Furthermore, the Article title contained an error in the capitalisation of 'Stone Age'. Both of these errors have now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04753-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5988799PMC
June 2018

78,000-year-old record of Middle and Later stone age innovation in an East African tropical forest.

Nat Commun 2018 05 9;9(1):1832. Epub 2018 May 9.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, Jena, D-07745, Germany.

The Middle to Later Stone Age transition in Africa has been debated as a significant shift in human technological, cultural, and cognitive evolution. However, the majority of research on this transition is currently focused on southern Africa due to a lack of long-term, stratified sites across much of the African continent. Here, we report a 78,000-year-long archeological record from Panga ya Saidi, a cave in the humid coastal forest of Kenya. Following a shift in toolkits ~67,000 years ago, novel symbolic and technological behaviors assemble in a non-unilinear manner. Against a backdrop of a persistent tropical forest-grassland ecotone, localized innovations better characterize the Late Pleistocene of this part of East Africa than alternative emphases on dramatic revolutions or migrations.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04057-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943315PMC
May 2018

Homo sapiens in Arabia by 85,000 years ago.

Nat Ecol Evol 2018 05 9;2(5):800-809. Epub 2018 Apr 9.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Understanding the timing and character of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa is critical for inferring the colonization and admixture processes that underpin global population history. It has been argued that dispersal out of Africa had an early phase, particularly ~130-90 thousand years ago (ka), that reached only the East Mediterranean Levant, and a later phase, ~60-50 ka, that extended across the diverse environments of Eurasia to Sahul. However, recent findings from East Asia and Sahul challenge this model. Here we show that H. sapiens was in the Arabian Peninsula before 85 ka. We describe the Al Wusta-1 (AW-1) intermediate phalanx from the site of Al Wusta in the Nefud desert, Saudi Arabia. AW-1 is the oldest directly dated fossil of our species outside Africa and the Levant. The palaeoenvironmental context of Al Wusta demonstrates that H. sapiens using Middle Palaeolithic stone tools dispersed into Arabia during a phase of increased precipitation driven by orbital forcing, in association with a primarily African fauna. A Bayesian model incorporating independent chronometric age estimates indicates a chronology for Al Wusta of ~95-86 ka, which we correlate with a humid episode in the later part of Marine Isotope Stage 5 known from various regional records. Al Wusta shows that early dispersals were more spatially and temporally extensive than previously thought. Early H. sapiens dispersals out of Africa were not limited to winter rainfall-fed Levantine Mediterranean woodlands immediately adjacent to Africa, but extended deep into the semi-arid grasslands of Arabia, facilitated by periods of enhanced monsoonal rainfall.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0518-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5935238PMC
May 2018

On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives.

Science 2017 12;358(6368)

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Strasse 10, D-07743 Jena, Germany.

The traditional "out of Africa" model, which posits a dispersal of modern across Eurasia as a single wave at ~60,000 years ago and the subsequent replacement of all indigenous populations, is in need of revision. Recent discoveries from archaeology, hominin paleontology, geochronology, genetics, and paleoenvironmental studies have contributed to a better understanding of the Late Pleistocene record in Asia. Important findings highlighted here include growing evidence for multiple dispersals predating 60,000 years ago in regions such as southern and eastern Asia. Modern humans moving into Asia met Neandertals, Denisovans, mid-Pleistocene , and possibly , with some degree of interbreeding occurring. These early human dispersals, which left at least some genetic traces in modern populations, indicate that later replacements were not wholesale.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aai9067DOI Listing
December 2017

The lithic assemblages of Donggutuo, Nihewan basin: Knapping skills of early pleistocene hominins in North China.

PLoS One 2017 21;12(9):e0185101. Epub 2017 Sep 21.

State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Donggutuo (DGT) is one of the richest archaeological localities in the Nihewan Basin of North China, thereby providing key information about the technological behaviours of early hominins in eastern Asia. Although DGT has been subject of multiple excavations and technological studies over the past several decades, few detailed studies on the lithic assemblages have been published. Here we summarize and describe the DGT lithic assemblages, examining stone tool reduction methods and technological skills. DGT dates to ca. 1.1 Ma, close to the onset of the mid-Pleistocene climate transition (MPT), indicating that occupations at DGT coincided with increased environmental instability. During this time interval, the DGT knappers began to apply innovative flaking methods, using free hand hard hammer percussion (FHHP) to manufacture pre-determined core shapes, small flakes and finely retouched tools, while occasionally using the bipolar technique, in contrast to the earlier and nearby Nihewan site of Xiaochangliang (XCL). Evidence for some degree of planning and predetermination in lithic reduction at DGT parallels technological developments in African Oldowan sites, suggesting that innovations in early industries may be situational, sometimes corresponding with adaptations to changes in environments and local conditions.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185101PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5608319PMC
October 2017

Fruits of the forest: Human stable isotope ecology and rainforest adaptations in Late Pleistocene and Holocene (∼36 to 3 ka) Sri Lanka.

J Hum Evol 2017 05 21;106:102-118. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

School of Archaeology, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.

Sri Lanka has yielded some of the earliest dated fossil evidence for Homo sapiens (∼38-35,000 cal. years BP [calibrated years before present]) in South Asia, within a region that is today covered by tropical rainforest. Archaeozoological and archaeobotanical evidence indicates that these hunter-gatherers exploited tropical forest resources, yet the contribution of these resources to their overall subsistence strategies has, as in other Late Pleistocene rainforest settings, remained relatively unexplored. We build on previous work in this tropical region by applying both bulk and sequential stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis to human and faunal tooth enamel from the sites of Batadomba-lena, Fa Hien-lena, and Balangoda Kuragala. Tooth enamel preservation was assessed by means of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. We use these data to produce a detailed stable isotope ecology for Late Pleistocene-Holocene foragers in Sri Lanka from ∼36-29,000 to 3000 cal. years BP, allowing us to test the degree of human tropical forest resource reliance over a considerable time period. Given that non-human primates dominate the mammalian assemblages at these sites, we also focus on the stable isotope composition of three monkey species in order to study their ecological preferences and, indirectly, human hunting strategies. The results confirm a strong human reliance on tropical forest resources from ∼36-29,000 cal. years BP until the Iron Age ∼3 cal. years BP, while sequential tooth data show that forest resources were exploited year-round. This strategy was maintained through periods of evident environmental change at the Last Glacial Maximum and upon the arrival of agriculture. Long-term tropical forest reliance was supported by the specialised capture of non-human primates, although the isotopic data revealed no evidence for niche distinction between the hunted species. We conclude that humans rapidly developed a specialisation in the exploitation of South Asia's tropical forests following their arrival in this region.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.01.015DOI Listing
May 2017

Reply to Westaway and Lyman: Emus, dingoes, and archaeology's role in conservation biology.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 08 26;113(33):E4759-60. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena D-07743, Germany;

View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1610697113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4995951PMC
August 2016

Reply to Ellis et al.: Human niche construction and evolutionary theory.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 08 15;113(31):E4437-8. Epub 2016 Jul 15.

School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom;

View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1609617113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4978256PMC
August 2016

Ecological consequences of human niche construction: Examining long-term anthropogenic shaping of global species distributions.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 Jun;113(23):6388-96

School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom;

The exhibition of increasingly intensive and complex niche construction behaviors through time is a key feature of human evolution, culminating in the advanced capacity for ecosystem engineering exhibited by Homo sapiens A crucial outcome of such behaviors has been the dramatic reshaping of the global biosphere, a transformation whose early origins are increasingly apparent from cumulative archaeological and paleoecological datasets. Such data suggest that, by the Late Pleistocene, humans had begun to engage in activities that have led to alterations in the distributions of a vast array of species across most, if not all, taxonomic groups. Changes to biodiversity have included extinctions, extirpations, and shifts in species composition, diversity, and community structure. We outline key examples of these changes, highlighting findings from the study of new datasets, like ancient DNA (aDNA), stable isotopes, and microfossils, as well as the application of new statistical and computational methods to datasets that have accumulated significantly in recent decades. We focus on four major phases that witnessed broad anthropogenic alterations to biodiversity-the Late Pleistocene global human expansion, the Neolithic spread of agriculture, the era of island colonization, and the emergence of early urbanized societies and commercial networks. Archaeological evidence documents millennia of anthropogenic transformations that have created novel ecosystems around the world. This record has implications for ecological and evolutionary research, conservation strategies, and the maintenance of ecosystem services, pointing to a significant need for broader cross-disciplinary engagement between archaeology and the biological and environmental sciences.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1525200113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988612PMC
June 2016

The Lithic Assemblages of Xiaochangliang, Nihewan Basin: Implications for Early Pleistocene Hominin Behaviour in North China.

PLoS One 2016 20;11(5):e0155793. Epub 2016 May 20.

State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Xiaochangliang (XCL), located in the Nihewan Basin of North China, is a key archaeological locality for understanding the behavioural evolution of early humans. XCL dates to ca. 1.36 Ma, making it one of the earliest sites in Northeast Asia. Although XCL represents the first excavation of an Early Pleistocene site in the Nihewan Basin, identified and excavated in the 1970's, the lithic assemblages have never been published in full detail. Here we describe the lithic assemblages from XCL, providing information on stone tool reduction techniques and the influence of raw materials on artefact manufacture. The XCL hominins used both bipolar and freehand reduction techniques to manufacture small flakes, some of which show retouch. Bipolar reduction methods at XCL were used more frequently than previously recognized. Comparison of XCL with other Early Pleistocene sites in the Nihewan Basin indicates the variable use of bipolar and freehand reduction methods, thereby indicating a flexible approach in the utilization of raw materials. The stone tools from XCL and the Nihewan sites are classifiable as Mode I lithic assemblages, readily distinguished from bifacial industries manufactured by hominins in Eastern Asia by ca. 800 ka.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155793PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874576PMC
July 2017

Rethinking the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa.

Evol Anthropol 2015 Jul-Aug;24(4):149-64

Current fossil, genetic, and archeological data indicate that Homo sapiens originated in Africa in the late Middle Pleistocene. By the end of the Late Pleistocene, our species was distributed across every continent except Antarctica, setting the foundations for the subsequent demographic and cultural changes of the Holocene. The intervening processes remain intensely debated and a key theme in hominin evolutionary studies. We review archeological, fossil, environmental, and genetic data to evaluate the current state of knowledge on the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. The emerging picture of the dispersal process suggests dynamic behavioral variability, complex interactions between populations, and an intricate genetic and cultural legacy. This evolutionary and historical complexity challenges simple narratives and suggests that hybrid models and the testing of explicit hypotheses are required to understand the expansion of Homo sapiens into Eurasia.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/evan.21455DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6715448PMC
May 2016

Direct evidence for human reliance on rainforest resources in late Pleistocene Sri Lanka.

Science 2015 Mar;347(6227):1246-9

School of Archaeology, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Dyson Perrins Building, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.

Human occupation of tropical rainforest habitats is thought to be a mainly Holocene phenomenon. Although archaeological and paleoenvironmental data have hinted at pre-Holocene rainforest foraging, earlier human reliance on rainforest resources has not been shown directly. We applied stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis to human and faunal tooth enamel from four late Pleistocene-to-Holocene archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. The results show that human foragers relied primarily on rainforest resources from at least ~20,000 years ago, with a distinct preference for semi-open rainforest and rain forest edges. Homo sapiens' relationship with the tropical rainforests of South Asia is therefore long-standing, a conclusion that indicates the time-depth of anthropogenic reliance and influence on these habitats.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa1230DOI Listing
March 2015

Unexpected technological heterogeneity in northern Arabia indicates complex Late Pleistocene demography at the gateway to Asia.

J Hum Evol 2014 Oct 8;75:125-42. Epub 2014 Aug 8.

School of Archaeology, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, New Barnett House, 28 Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HU Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

The role and significance of the Arabian Peninsula in modern human dispersals out of Africa is currently contentious. While qualitative observations of similarities between Arabian Middle Palaeolithic and African Middle Stone Age (MSA) assemblages have been made, these inferences remain untested and often situated within overly broad dichotomies (e.g., 'Africa' versus the 'Levant'), which distort concepts of geographic scale and subsume local variability. Here, we quantitatively test the hypothesis that assemblages from Jubbah, in the Nefud Desert of northern Saudi Arabia are similar to MSA industries from northeast Africa. Based on the quantitative analysis of a suite of metric and morphological data describing lithic reduction sequences, our results show that early and late core reduction at Jubbah is distinct from equivalent northeast African strategies, perhaps as a result of raw material factors. However, specific techniques of core shaping, preparation and preferential flake production at Jubbah draw from a number of methods also present in the northeast African MSA. While two Jubbah lithic assemblages (JKF-1 and JKF-12) display both similarities and differences with the northeast African assemblages, a third locality (JSM-1) was significantly different to both the other Arabian and African assemblages, indicating an unexpected diversity of assemblages in the Jubbah basin during Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS 5, ∼125-70,000 years ago, or ka). Along with evidence from southern Arabia and the Levant, our results add quantitative support to arguments that MIS 5 hominin demography at the interface between Africa and Asia was complex.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.07.002DOI Listing
October 2014

Continuity of mammalian fauna over the last 200,000 y in the Indian subcontinent.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014 Apr 7;111(16):5848-53. Epub 2014 Apr 7.

Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom.

Mammalian extinction worldwide during the Late Pleistocene has been a major focus for Quaternary biochronology and paleoecology. These extinctions have been variably attributed to the impacts of climate change and human interference. However, until relatively recently, research has been largely restricted to the Americas, Europe, and Australasia. We present the oldest Middle-Late Pleistocene stratified and numerically dated faunal succession for the Indian subcontinent from the Billasurgam cave complex. Our data demonstrate continuity of 20 of 21 identified mammalian taxa from at least 100,000 y ago to the present, and in some cases up to 200,000 y ago. Comparison of this fossil record to contemporary faunal ranges indicates some geographical redistribution of mammalian taxa within India. We suggest that, although local extirpations occurred, the majority of taxa survived or adapted to substantial ecological pressures in fragmented habitats. Comparison of the Indian record with faunal records from Southeast and Southwest Asia demonstrates the importance of interconnected mosaic habitats to long-term faunal persistence across the Asian tropics. The data presented here have implications for mammalian conservation in India today, where increasing ecological circumscription may leave certain taxa increasingly endangered in the most densely populated region of the world.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1323465111DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000863PMC
April 2014