Late Upper Paleolithic occupation at Cooper’s Ferry, Idaho, USA, ~16,000 years ago
Loren Davis et al.
Science, 30 August 2019, Pages 891-897
Radiocarbon dating of the earliest occupational phases at the Cooper’s Ferry site in western Idaho indicates that people repeatedly occupied the Columbia River basin, starting between 16,560 and 15,280 calibrated years before the present (cal yr B.P.). Artifacts from these early occupations indicate the use of unfluted stemmed projectile point technologies before the appearance of the Clovis Paleoindian tradition and support early cultural connections with northeastern Asian Upper Paleolithic archaeological traditions. The Cooper’s Ferry site was initially occupied during a time that predates the opening of an ice-free corridor (≤14,800 cal yr B.P.), which supports the hypothesis that initial human migration into the Americas occurred via a Pacific coastal route.
Cranial deformation and genetic diversity in three adolescent male individuals from the Great Migration Period from Osijek, eastern Croatia
Daniel Fernandes et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2019
Three individuals dating to the Great Migration Period (5th century CE) were discovered in a pit at the Hermanov vinograd site in Osijek, Croatia. We were inspired to study these individuals based on their unusual burial context as well as the identification of two different types of artificial cranial deformation in two of the individuals. We combine bioarchaeological analysis with radiographic imaging, stable isotopes analysis, and ancient DNA to analyze their dietary patterns, molecular sex, and genetic affinities in the context of the archaeological data and their bioarchaeological attributes. While all three individuals were adolescent males with skeletal evidence of severe malnutrition and similar diets, the most striking observation is that they had major differences in their genetic ancestry. Results of the genetic analyses of the nuclear ancient DNA data for these individuals indicate that the individual without artificial cranial deformation shows broadly West Eurasian associated-ancestry, the individual with tabular oblique-type has East Asian ancestry and the third individual with circular erect-type has Near Eastern associated-ancestry. Based on these results, we speculate that artificial cranial deformation type may have been a visual indicator membership in a specific cultural group, and that these groups were interacting intimately on the Pannonian Plain during the Migration Period.
Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use
Lucas Stephens et al.
Science, 30 August 2019, Pages 897-902
Environmentally transformative human use of land accelerated with the emergence of agriculture, but the extent, trajectory, and implications of these early changes are not well understood. An empirical global assessment of land use from 10,000 years before the present (yr B.P.) to 1850 CE reveals a planet largely transformed by hunter-gatherers, farmers, and pastoralists by 3000 years ago, considerably earlier than the dates in the land-use reconstructions commonly used by Earth scientists. Synthesis of knowledge contributed by more than 250 archaeologists highlighted gaps in archaeological expertise and data quality, which peaked for 2000 yr B.P. and in traditionally studied and wealthier regions. Archaeological reconstruction of global land-use history illuminates the deep roots of Earth’s transformation and challenges the emerging Anthropocene paradigm that large-scale anthropogenic global environmental change is mostly a recent phenomenon.
Engagement in agricultural work is associated with reduced leisure time among Agta hunter-gatherers
Mark Dyble et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, August 2019, Pages 792–796
A long-standing hypothesis suggests that the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture results in people working harder, spending more time engaged in subsistence activities and having less leisure time. However, tests of this hypothesis are obscured by comparing between populations that vary in ecology and social organization, as well as subsistence. Here we test this hypothesis by examining adult time allocation among the Agta — a population of small-scale hunter-gatherers from the northern Philippines who are increasingly engaged in agriculture and other non-foraging work. We find that individuals in camps engaging more in non-foraging work spend more time involved in out-of-camp work and have substantially less leisure time. This difference is largely driven by changes in the time allocation of women, who spend substantially more time engaged in out-of-camp work in more agricultural camps. Our results support the hypothesis that hunting and gathering allows a significant amount of leisure time, and that this is lost as communities adopt small-scale agriculture.
Burying power: New insights into incipient leadership in the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic from an outstanding burial at Baʻja, southern Jordan
Marion Benz et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2019
In 2016, an extraordinary burial of a young adult individual was discovered at the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (LPPNB, 7,500–6,900 BCE) settlement of Baʻja in southern Jordan. This burial has exceptional grave goods and an elaborate grave construction. It suggests discussing anew reconstructions of early Neolithic social structures. In this article, we will summarize former theories on the emergence of leadership and hierarchies and present a multivariate model according to which anthropological and archaeological data of the burial will be analyzed. In conclusion, we surmise that early Neolithic hierarchization in southern Jordan was based on corporate pathways to power rather than self-interested aggrandizers. However, some aspects of the burial point to regional exchange networks of prestige goods, a trait considered characteristic of network based leadership. In line with anthropological and sociological research, we argue that pathways to power should be considered as relational processes that can be understood only when comparing traits of the outstanding person to her/his social environment.
Large-scale mitogenomic analysis of the phylogeography of the Late Pleistocene cave bear
Joscha Gretzinger et al.
Scientific Reports, August 2019
The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is one of the Late Pleistocene megafauna species that faced extinction at the end of the last ice age. Although it is represented by one of the largest fossil records in Europe and has been subject to several interdisciplinary studies including palaeogenetic research, its fate remains highly controversial. Here, we used a combination of hybridisation capture and next generation sequencing to reconstruct 59 new complete cave bear mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from 14 sites in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. In a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, we compared them to 64 published cave bear mtDNA sequences to reconstruct the population dynamics and phylogeography during the Late Pleistocene. We found five major mitochondrial DNA lineages resulting in a noticeably more complex biogeography of the European lineages during the last 50,000 years than previously assumed. Furthermore, our calculated effective female population sizes suggest a drastic cave bear population decline starting around 40,000 years ago at the onset of the Aurignacian, coinciding with the spread of anatomically modern humans in Europe. Thus, our study supports a potential significant human role in the general extinction and local extirpation of the European cave bear and illuminates the fate of this megafauna species.
Mapping human mobility during the third and second millennia BC in present-day Denmark
Karin Margarita Frei et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2019
We present results of the largest multidisciplinary human mobility investigation to date of skeletal remains from present-day Denmark encompassing the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. Through a multi-analytical approach based on 88 individuals from 37 different archaeological localities in which we combine strontium isotope and radiocarbon analyses together with anthropological investigations, we explore whether there are significant changes in human mobility patterns during this period. Overall, our data suggest that mobility of people seems to have been continuous throughout the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. However, our data also indicate a clear shift in mobility patterns from around 1600 BC onwards, with a larger variation in the geographical origin of the migrants, and potentially including more distant regions. This shift occurred during a transition period at the beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age at a time when society flourished, expanded and experienced an unprecedented economic growth, suggesting that these aspects were closely related.