jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

Using biomarkers from prehistoric human feces to track settlement and agriculture

For researchers who study Earth's past environment, disentangling the effects of climate change from those related to human activities is a major challenge, but now University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientists have used a biomarker from human feces in a completely new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape.

... D'Anjou carried out the work just north of the Arctic Circle, at Lake Liland in the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, where humans were thought to have lived in prehistoric settlements from the early Iron Age through the Viking period. They extracted two sediment cores from the lake bottom and used radiocarbon measurements and the presence of volcanic ash from Iceland to establish their chronology. The sediments provided a continuous record extending back roughly 7,000 years. [...] ScienceDaily

Actualización 29-11-12. Rastreando la actividad humana con excrementos
Los arqueólogos usan todo tipo de "marcadores" para rastrear la actividad humana a lo largo del tiempo, pero unos científicos estadounidenses son pioneros en el estudio de elementos poco ortodoxos: excrementos humanos.

Investigadores de una universidad de Estados Unidos fueron capaces de determinar la presencia y el tamaño de poblaciones de hace más de 7.000 años a través del análisis de sus excrementos...

Chipre. En la edad de bronce elaboraban cerveza

Arqueólogos británicos que trabajan en Chipre excavaron una estructura de dos metros cuadrados con cúpula que a su juicio era un horno para el secado de cereal malta para hacer cerveza hace 3500 años.

Los investigadores, de la Universidad de Manchester recrearon el proceso de elaboración de la cerveza aromatizándola con uvas e higos.

El jefe del equipo, Lindy Crewe, dijo que las personas de la edad de bronce parecía estar bien al tanto de las propiedades relajantes del alcohol, y dijo que se daba a los trabajadores a menudo como un incentivo para ayudar con la cosecha o con la construcción. BBC Mundo

Link 2: Bronze Age 'microbrewery' unearthed
Archaeologists working in western Cyprus are raising a glass to the discovery of a Bronze Age "microbrewery".

The team excavated a 2 metres x 2 metres mud-plaster domed structure which it says was used as a kiln to dry malt and make beer 3,500 years ago.

Beers of different flavours would have been brewed from malted barley and fermented with yeasts with an alcoholic content of around 5%. The yeast would have either been wild or produced from fruit such as grape or fig, according to the researchers.

Dr Lindy Crewe, from the University of Manchester, has led the excavation at the Early-Middle Bronze Age settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia, near Paphos, since 2007. She said: "Archaeologists believe beer drinking was an important part of society from the Neolithic onwards and may have even been the main reason that people began to cultivate grain in the first place...

France 3 - La conservation de la Grotte Chauvet Pont-d'Arc expliquée

France 3 - La conservation de la Grotte Chauvet... por Pole_Projet_Chauvet

Reportage de France 3 Rhône-Alpes sur la conservation de La Grotte Chauvet Pont-d'Arc diffusé en mai 2012.

An engraved stone artifact found at the Shuidonggou Paleolithic site, northwest China

This is the engraved stone artifact. Science China Press.

The origin and dispersal of modern humans and modern human behavior are key interests in Paleolithic archaeology and anthropology. Engraved objects are usually seen as a hallmark of cognition and symbolism, which are viewed as important features of modern human behavior. In recent years, engraved ochre, bones and ostrich eggs unearthed from various Paleolithic sites in Africa, the Near East and Europe have attracted the attention of many scholars. However, such items are rarely encountered at Paleolithic sites in East Asia. Here, we report a very important discovery of such a cultural relic. Professor Gao Xing and Dr. Peng Fei from the Laboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences found an engraved stone artifact in a stone tool assemblage unearthed at the famous Shuidonggou (SDG) Paleolithic site. This site is in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northwest China. This new discovery was announced in the Chinese Science Bulletin, 2012, No.26.

Dr. Peng Fei, Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and first author, described the finding: "This engraved stone artifact was a recent accidental discovery during our technological analysis of the stone tool assemblage unearthed at the Shuidonggou site in 1980. It is the first engraved non-organic artifact from the entire Paleolithic of China. However, it is not just a coincidence. We were aware that when analyzing the materials unearthed from the site during excavations in the 1920s, French archaeologist Henry Breuil observed parallel incisions on the surface of siliceous pebbles. Unfortunately, he did not provide details on those incised pebbles. So during our lithic analysis, we paid special attention to the possible existence of engraved objects." [...] eurekalert.org/

Link 2 (Article is published with open access).
Related post

Actualización 03-12-12. Hallan el primer artefacto grabado en China con una datación de 30.000 años
Este artefacto de piedra grabado fue accidentalmente descubierto durante nuestro reciente análisis del conjunto de herramientas líticas descubiertas en la zona de Shuidonggou en 1980", explicó el Dr. Fei Peng (izquierda), investigador postdoctoral en la Universidad de Graduados de la Academia de Ciencias de China, y autor principal de un artículo que informa sobre el hallazgo en el Boletín de Ciencias de China.

"Es el primer grabado en un artefacto no orgánico de todo el Paleolítico de China. Sin embargo, no es sólo una coincidencia. Éramos conscientes de que en el análisis de los materiales hallados en el sitio durante las excavaciones en la década de 1920, el arqueólogo francés Henry Breuil había observado incisiones paralelas en la superficie de guijarros silíceos. Por desgracia, no dio detalles sobre aquellas piedras incisas. Así que, durante el análisis lítico, hemos prestado especial atención a la posible existencia de objetos grabados", dijo el Dr. Peng...

Antiquity: Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf

For most of human history on this planet—about 90 per cent of the time—sea levels have been substantially lower than at present, exposing large tracts of territory for human settlement. Europe alone would have had a land area increased by 40 per cent at the maximum sea level regression (Figure 1). Although this has been recognised for many decades, archaeologists have resisted embracing its full implications, barely accepting that most evidence of Palaeolithic marine exploitation must by definition be invisible, believing that nothing has survived or can be found on the seabed, and preferring instead to emphasise the opportunities afforded by lower sea level for improved terrestrial dispersal across land bridges and narrowed sea channels.

In the past decade, opinions have begun to change in response to a number of factors: evidence that marine exploitation and seafaring have a much deeper history in the Pleistocene than previously recognised; the steady accumulation of new underwater Stone Age sites and materials, amounting now to over 3000 in Europe, and often with unusual and spectacular conditions of preservation; availability of new technologies and research strategies for underwater exploration; and the growth of targeted underwater research (Erlandson 2001; Bailey & Milner 2002; Anderson et al. 2010; Benjamin et al. 2011).

Read the full article on antiquity.ac.uk
Via Past Horizons

Palaeolithic Macedonia: Landscape in the Mist

 What do we know about paleolithic Macedonia? Some scarce finds, mostly stone tools, and usually “orphan”, and some general dating references maintain until today a fragmentary, rather distorted picture about this distant era, a picture which is being even more obscured by soil erosion and climate changes that occurred over the last 100,000 years.

Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Nikos Efstratiou, spoke about the need for new, dynamic approaches to this research field, in his announcement at the conference entitled “Hundred Years of Research in Prehistoric Macedonia”. [...] The Archaeology News Network

Italy. Skeletons in cave reveal Mediterranean secrets

Skeletal remains in an island cave in Favignana, Italy, reveal that modern humans first settled in Sicily around the time of the last ice age and despite living on Mediterranean islands, ate little seafood. The research is published November 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Marcello Mannino and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany. [...] ScienceDaily

Journal Reference:
Marcello A. Mannino, Giulio Catalano, Sahra Talamo, Giovanni Mannino, Rosaria Di Salvo, Vittoria Schimmenti, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Andrea Messina, Daria Petruso, David Caramelli, Michael P. Richards, Luca Sineo. Origin and Diet of the Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers on the Mediterranean Island of Favignana (Ègadi Islands, Sicily). PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e49802 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049802