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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1057/S41599-021-00735-8

Modelling the end of the Acheulean at global and continental levels suggests widespread persistence into the Middle Palaeolithic

02 Mar 2021-Palgrave Communications (Springer Science and Business Media LLC)-Vol. 8, Iss: 1, pp 1-12
Abstract: The Acheulean is the longest cultural tradition ever practised by humans, lasting for over 1.5 million years. Yet, its end has never been accurately dated; only broad 300–150 thousand years ago (Kya) estimates exist. Here we use optimal linear estimation modelling to infer the extinction dates of the Acheulean at global and continental levels. In Africa and the Near East the Acheulean is demonstrated to end between 175 and 166 Kya. In Europe it is inferred to end between 141 and 130 Kya. The Acheulean’s extinction in Asia occurs later (57–53 Kya), while global models vary depending on how archaeological sites are selected (107–29 Kya). These models demonstrate the Acheulean to have remained a distinct cultural tradition long after the inception of Middle Palaeolithic technologies in multiple continental regions. The complexity of this scenario mirrors the increasingly dynamic nature of the Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record, suggesting contemporaneous hominin populations to have practised distinct stone-tool traditions.

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Topics: Acheulean (64%), Pleistocene (52%)
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7 results found


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1371/JOURNAL.PPAT.1009620
24 Jun 2021-PLOS Pathogens
Abstract: Questions persist as to the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence is building that its origin as a zoonotic spillover occurred prior to the officially accepted timing of early December, 2019. Here we provide novel methods to date the origin of COVID-19 cases. We show that six countries had exceptionally early cases, unlikely to represent part of their main case series. The model suggests a likely timing of the first case of COVID-19 in China as November 17 (95% CI October 4). Origination dates are discussed for the first five countries outside China and each continent. Results infer that SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China in early October to mid-November, and by January, had spread globally. This suggests an earlier and more rapid timeline of spread. Our study provides new approaches for estimating dates of the arrival of infectious diseases based on small samples that can be applied to many epidemiological situations.

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6 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41598-021-98897-7
05 Oct 2021-Scientific Reports
Abstract: South Asia hosts the world’s youngest Acheulean sites, with dated records typically restricted to sub-humid landscapes. The Thar Desert marks a major adaptive boundary between monsoonal Asia to the east and the Saharo-Arabian desert belt to the west, making it a key threshold to examine patterns of hominin ecological adaptation and its impacts on patterns of behaviour, demography and dispersal. Here, we investigate Palaeolithic occupations at the western margin of the South Asian monsoon at Singi Talav, undertaking new chronometric, sedimentological and palaeoecological studies of Acheulean and Middle Palaeolithic occupation horizons. We constrain occupations of the site between 248 and 65 thousand years ago. This presents the first direct palaeoecological evidence for landscapes occupied by South Asian Acheulean-producing populations, most notably in the main occupation horizon dating to 177 thousand years ago. Our results illustrate the potential role of the Thar Desert as an ecological, and demographic, frontier to Palaeolithic populations.

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Topics: Acheulean (62%)

2 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.JHEVOL.2021.102976
Abstract: Identifying when hominins first produced Lomekwian, Oldowan, and Acheulean technologies is vital to multiple avenues of human origins research. Yet, like most archaeological endeavors, our understanding is currently only as accurate as the artifacts recovered and the sites identified. Here we use optimal linear estimation (OLE) modelling to identify the portion of the archaeological record not yet discovered, and statistically infer the date of origin of the earliest flaked stone technologies. These models provide the most accurate framework yet for understanding when hominins first produced these tool types. Our results estimate the Oldowan to have originated 2.617 to 2.644 Ma, 36,000 to 63,000 years earlier than current evidence. The Acheulean’s origin is pushed back further through OLE, by at least 55,000 years to 1.815 to 1.823 Ma. We were unable to infer the Lomekwian’s date of origin using OLE, but an upper bound of 5.1 million years can be inferred using alternative nonparametric techniques. These dates provide a new chronological foundation from which to understand the emergence of the first flaked stone technologies, alongside their behavioral and evolutionary implications. Moreover, they suggest there to be substantial portions of the artifact record yet to be discovered.

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Topics: Oldowan (57%), Acheulean (54%), Archaeological record (53%)

2 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.QUAINT.2021.04.017
Abstract: In Prehistory, Paleolithic stone toolkits are allotted to distinct cultural phases, explained through a periodization that has been adopted as a strategic reference by specialists in lithic studies, based on: 1) the categorization of morpho-types observed in the assemblages; 2) the dominant manufacture technologies and 3) temporal categorizations based on geo-archeological data. Significant changes in toolkits are observed through time, signaling variations in extinct hominin behavioral configurations. They characterize the denominative classifications of the techno-complexes, presently defined under consensus. Applying the Homogeneity, Variability, Diversity, Multiplicity (HVDM) paradigm as a conceptual scheme for understanding the structural evolution of human technologies, we define the Multiplicity phase, exploring the techno-social consequences of changes materialized in the Late Acheulian of Western Europe, presaging the Middle Paleolithic world of the Neandertals and the arrival on the scene of our own species; Homo sapiens. During this period, in Western Europe, Homo heidelbergensis was undergoing biological transformations, which appear to have fused into a range of hominin forms, raising questions of intra-species contacts and cultural exchange on a backdrop of branching evolutionary configurations. Beyond handaxe production, this period is marked by significant social and behavioral revolutions: changes in landscape use, high population mobility and inter-connectivity, tool-type diversity, technological innovations, as well as the expansion of distinct hominin clades throughout the Old World. We examine the impulses for these changes, in particular, the prominent role played by the mastery of fire in revolutionizing human socialization processes.

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Topics: Middle Paleolithic (56%), Homo heidelbergensis (53%), Homo sapiens (51%)

1 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.QUAINT.2021.10.007
Abstract: The Azraq oasis in the Eastern Desert of Jordan has produced considerable stone artefacts attributed to the early Palaeolithic, yet relatively few data are available regarding the chronology and palaeoenvironmental contexts of the remains. In this study, we present stratigraphic, sedimentological, and micropalaeontological analyses of the Late Acheulean site SM1 located within the former Shishan Marsh, which we combine with geochronological and sedimentological data from 13 neighbouring geological exposures to reconstruct landscape evolution at the western margin of the Shishan Marsh. We then discuss the Late Quaternary palaeolandscapes of the Greater Azraq Oasis Area over the past c. 350 ka. Our work demonstrates that the central Azraq Basin experienced three local wetting-drying cycles since the late Middle Pleistocene that would have dramatically shifted the quantity and distribution of freshwater resources, ranging from expansive wetland landscapes to desert refugia characterised by isolated spring pools—changes that would have significantly impacted the mobility decisions and settlement patterns of Palaeolithic inhabitants. Our study highlights that developing long-term records of human-environment dynamics in arid environments requires a mosaic approach to palaeoenvironmental reconstruction that is nested within a well-developed understanding of landscape evolution.

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Topics: Acheulean (51%)

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101 results found


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1017/S0959774300001451
Robert Foley1, Marta Mirazón Lahr2Institutions (2)
Abstract: The origins and evolution of modern humans has been the dominant interest in palaeoanthropology for the last decade, and much archaeological interpretation has been structured around the various issues associated with whether humans have a recent African origin or a more ancient one. While the archaeological record has been used to support or refute various aspects of the theories, and to provide a behavioural framework for different biological models, there has been little attempt to employ the evidence of stone tool technology to unravel phylogenetic relationships. Here we examine the evidence that the evolution of modern humans is integrally related to the development of the Upper Palaeolithic and similar technologies, and conclude that there is only a weak relationship. In contrast there is a strong association between the evolution and spread of modern humans and Grahame Clark's Mode 3 technologies (the Middle Stone Age/Palaeolithic). The implications of this for the evolution of Neanderthals, the multiple pattern of human dispersals, and the nature of cognitive evolution, are considered.

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Topics: Stone tool (56%), Archaeological record (55%), Behavioral modernity (54%)

366 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1073/PNAS.0904119106
Jean-Jacques Hublin1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Western Eurasia yielded a rich Middle (MP) and Late Pleistocene (LP) fossil record documenting the evolution of the Neandertals that can be analyzed in light of recently acquired paleogenetical data, an abundance of archeological evidence, and a well-known environmental context. Their origin likely relates to an episode of recolonization of Western Eurasia by hominins of African origin carrying the Acheulean technology into Europe around 600 ka. An enhancement of both glacial and interglacial phases may have played a crucial role in this event, as well as in the subsequent evolutionary history of the Western Eurasian populations. In addition to climatic adaptations and an increase in encephalization, genetic drift seems to have played a major role in their evolution. To date, a clear speciation event is not documented, and the most likely scenario for the fixation of Neandertal characteristics seems to be an accretion of features along the second half of the MP. Although a separation time for the African and Eurasian populations is difficult to determine, it certainly predates OIS 11 as phenotypic Neandertal features are documented as far back as and possibly before this time. It is proposed to use the term "Homo rhodesiensis" to designate the large-brained hominins ancestral to H. sapiens in Africa and at the root of the Neandertals in Europe, and to use the term "Homo neanderthalensis" to designate all of the specimens carrying derived metrical or non-metrical features used in the definition of the LP Neandertals.

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Topics: Homo rhodesiensis (54%), Homo heidelbergensis (54%)

343 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NATURE10372
01 Sep 2011-Nature
Abstract: The Acheulian is one of the first defined prehistoric technocomplexes and is characterized by shaped bifacial stone tools. It probably originated in Africa, spreading to Europe and Asia perhaps as early as 1 million years (Myr) ago. The origin of the Acheulian is thought to have closely coincided with major changes in human brain evolution, allowing for further technological developments. Nonetheless, the emergence of the Acheulian remains unclear because well-dated sites older than 1.4Myr ago are scarce. Here we report on the lithic assemblage and geological context for the Kokiselei 4 archaeological site fromthe Nachukui formation(West Turkana,Kenya) that bears characteristic early Acheulian tools and pushes the first appearance datumfor this stone-age technology back to 1.76Myr ago. Moreover, co-occurrence of Oldowan and Acheulian artefacts at the Kokiselei site complex indicates that the two technologies are not mutually exclusive time-successive components of an evolving cultural lineage, and suggests that the Acheulian was either imported from another location yet to be identified or originated from Oldowan hominins at this vicinity. In either case, the Acheulian did not accompany the first human dispersal from Africa despite being available at the time. This may indicate that multiple groups of hominins distinguished by separate stone-tool-making behaviours and dispersal strategies coexisted in Africa at 1.76Myr ago.

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Topics: Oldowan (55%), Acheulean (53%)

328 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1098/RSTB.2010.0369
Dietrich Stout1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Although many species display behavioural traditions, human culture is unique in the complexity of its technological, symbolic and social contents. Is this extraordinary complexity a product of cognitive evolution, cultural evolution or some interaction of the two? Answering this question will require a much better understanding of patterns of increasing cultural diversity, complexity and rates of change in human evolution. Palaeolithic stone tools provide a relatively abundant and continuous record of such change, but a systematic method for describing the complexity and diversity of these early technologies has yet to be developed. Here, an initial attempt at such a system is presented. Results suggest that rates of Palaeolithic culture change may have been underestimated and that there is a direct relationship between increasing technological complexity and diversity. Cognitive evolution and the greater latitude for cultural variation afforded by increasingly complex technologies may play complementary roles in explaining this pattern.

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282 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1073/PNAS.1221285110
Abstract: The Acheulean technological tradition, characterized by a large (>10 cm) flake-based component, represents a significant technological advance over the Oldowan. Although stone tool assemblages attributed to the Acheulean have been reported from as early as circa 1.6–1.75 Ma, the characteristics of these earliest occurrences and comparisons with later assemblages have not been reported in detail. Here, we provide a newly established chronometric calibration for the Acheulean assemblages of the Konso Formation, southern Ethiopia, which span the time period ∼1.75 to <1.0 Ma. The earliest Konso Acheulean is chronologically indistinguishable from the assemblage recently published as the world’s earliest with an age of ∼1.75 Ma at Kokiselei, west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. This Konso assemblage is characterized by a combination of large picks and crude bifaces/unifaces made predominantly on large flake blanks. An increase in the number of flake scars was observed within the Konso Formation handaxe assemblages through time, but this was less so with picks. The Konso evidence suggests that both picks and handaxes were essential components of the Acheulean from its initial stages and that the two probably differed in function. The temporal refinement seen, especially in the handaxe forms at Konso, implies enhanced function through time, perhaps in processing carcasses with long and stable cutting edges. The documentation of the earliest Acheulean at ∼1.75 Ma in both northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia suggests that behavioral novelties were being established in a regional scale at that time, paralleling the emergence of Homo erectus-like hominid morphology.

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Topics: Acheulean (64%), Oldowan (57%)

262 Citations


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