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Thread: New Archeology Papers (Titles and Abstracts Only, Please)

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    New Archeology Papers (Titles and Abstracts Only, Please)

    Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge
    David J. Nash, T. Jake R. Ciborowski, J. Stewart Ullyott, Mike Parker Pearson, Timothy Darvill, Susan Greaney, Georgios Maniatis1 and Katy A. Whitaker

    Abstract
    The sources of the stone used to construct Stonehenge around 2500 BCE have been debated for over four centuries. The smaller “bluestones” near the center of the monument have been traced to Wales, but the origins of the sarsen (silcrete) megaliths that form the primary architecture of Stonehenge remain unknown. Here, we use geochemical data to show that 50 of the 52 sarsens at the monument share a consistent chemistry and, by inference, originated from a common source area. We then compare the geochemical signature of a core extracted from Stone 58 at Stonehenge with equivalent data for sarsens from across southern Britain. From this, we identify West Woods, Wiltshire, 25 km north of Stonehenge, as the most probable source area for the majority of sarsens at the monument.
    YFull: YF14620 (Dante Labs 2018)

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  3. #2
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    ... Middle Neolithic ritual funerary practices of the Iberian Peninsula

    The exceptional finding of Locus 2 at Dehesilla Cave and the Middle Neolithic ritual funerary practices of the Iberian Peninsula
    Daniel García-Rivero, Ruth Taylor, Cláudia Umbelino, T Douglas Price, Esteban García-Viñas, Eloísa Bernáldez-Sánchez, Guillem Pérez-Jordà, Leonor Peña-Chocarro, María Barrera-Cruz, Juan F Gibaja-Bao, Manuel J Díaz-Rodríguez, Patricia Monteiro, Juan C Vera-Rodríguez, Javier Pérez-González

    Abstract

    There is a significant number of funerary contexts for the Early Neolithic in the Iberian Peninsula, and the body of information is much larger for the Late Neolithic. In contrast, the archaeological information available for the period in between (ca. 4800-4400/4200 cal BC) is scarce. This period, generally called Middle Neolithic, is the least well-known of the peninsular Neolithic sequence, and at present there is no specific synthesis on this topic at the peninsular scale. In 2017, an exceptional funerary context was discovered at Dehesilla Cave (Sierra de Cádiz, Southern Iberian Peninsula), providing radiocarbon dates which place it at the beginning of this little-known Middle Neolithic period, specifically between ca. 4800-4550 cal BC. Locus 2 is a deposition constituted by two adult human skulls and the skeleton of a very young sheep/goat, associated with stone structures and a hearth, and a number of pots, stone and bone tools and charred plant remains. The objectives of this paper are, firstly, to present the new archaeological context documented at Dehesilla Cave, supported by a wide range of data provided by interdisciplinary methods. The dataset is diverse in nature: stratigraphic, osteological, isotopic, zoological, artifactual, botanical and radiocarbon results are presented together. Secondly, to place this finding within the general context of the contemporaneous sites known in the Iberian Peninsula through a systematic review of the available evidence. This enables not only the formulation of explanations of the singular new context, but also to infer the possible ritual funerary behaviours and practices in the 5th millennium cal BC in the Iberian Peninsula.
    YFull: YF14620 (Dante Labs 2018)

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    Emergence of corpse cremation during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Southern Levant

    Emergence of corpse cremation during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Southern Levant: A multidisciplinary study of a pyre-pit burial
    Fanny Bocquentin , Marie Anton, Francesco Berna, Arlene Rosen, Hamoudi Khalaily, Harris Greenberg, Thomas C. Hart, Omri Lernau, Liora Kolska Horwitz

    Abstract

    Renewed excavations at the Neolithic site of Beisamoun (Upper Jordan Valley, Israel) has resulted in the discovery of the earliest occurrence of an intentional cremation in the Near East directly dated to 7031–6700 cal BC (Pre-Pottery Neolithic C, also known as Final PPNB, which spans ca. 7100–6400 cal BC). The funerary treatment involved in situ cremation within a pyre-pit of a young adult individual who previously survived from a flint projectile injury. In this study we have used a multidisciplinary approach that integrates archaeothanatology, spatial analysis, bioanthropology, zooarchaeology, soil micromorphological analysis, and phytolith identification in order to reconstruct the different stages and techniques involved in this ritual: cremation pit construction, selection of fuel, possible initial position of the corpse, potential associated items and funerary containers, fire management, post-cremation gesture and structure abandonment. The origins and development of cremation practices in the region are explored as well as their significance in terms of Northern-Southern Levantine connections during the transition between the 8th and 7th millennia BC.

    The bones are distributed throughout the bottom of the pit, partly superimposed one on the other to a thickness of 40 cm. However, the density of remains was not very marked except at the centre of the pit (Fig 6). If there was an apparent anatomical disorder at first glance, by looking at the details some interesting patterning could be observed. Cranial and mandibular fragments were found only in the southern half of the structure. Next to the south wall on the upper level, we found the base of the skull (mandible reversed and occipital fragments); the rest of the cranial vault and face (frontal, maxillars, parietals and temporals) were found slightly lower down at the centre of the pit. Conversely, the cervical vertebrae were dispersed out from the centre to the northern half of the pit. The thoracic column and some of the ribs were concentrated in the centre, roughly following a west-east direction. The lumbar vertebrae were found in the middle and against the south-western wall of the structure with several vertebral fragments in close proximity to the sacrum, coccyx and the left coxal. The right coxal is found diametrically opposite to this coherent group, lying almost complete not far from the north-eastern wall of the pit. Altogether, despite an absence of articulated joints and dispersion of certain elements, the bones of the axial skeleton show some anatomical coherence
    YFull: YF14620 (Dante Labs 2018)

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    Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art (new book)

    Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art
    Rebecca Wragg
    Sykes Bloomsbury Sigma (2020)

    About Kindred

    In Kindred, Neanderthal expert Rebecca Wragg Sykes shoves aside the cliché of the shivering ragged figure in an icy wasteland, and reveals the Neanderthal you don't know, our ancestor who lived across vast and diverse tracts of Eurasia and survived through hundreds of thousands of years of massive climate change. This book sheds new light on where they lived, what they ate, and the increasingly complex Neanderthal culture that researchers have discovered.

    Since their discovery 150 years ago, Neanderthals have gone from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins. Our perception of the Neanderthal has changed dramatically, but despite growing scientific curiosity, popular culture fascination, and a wealth of coverage in the media and beyond are we getting the whole story? The reality of 21st century Neanderthals is complex and fascinating, yet remains virtually unknown and inaccessible outside the scientific literature.

    Based on the author's first-hand experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research and theory, this easy-to-read but information-rich book lays out the first full picture we have of the Neanderthals, from amazing new discoveries changing our view of them forever, to the more enduring mysteries of how they lived and died, and the biggest question of them all: their relationship with modern humans.

    BOOK REVIEW 18 August 2020 (in Nature)
    Horse eyeballs and bone hammers: surprising lives of the Neanderthals
    Rebecca Wragg Sykes’s book paints a vivid portrait of our adaptable ancient relatives.
    Josie Glausiusz
    YFull: YF14620 (Dante Labs 2018)

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    The rise and fall of viticulture in the Late Antique Negev Highlands ...

    The rise and fall of viticulture in the Late Antique Negev Highlands reconstructed from archaeobotanical and ceramic data
    Daniel Fuks, Guy Bar-Oz, Yotam Tepper, Tali Erickson-Gini, Dafna Langgut, Lior Weissbrod, and Ehud Weiss

    Significance

    Commercial production of luxury “Gaza wine” was long assumed to be the economic basis of Late Antique settlement in the Negev Desert. We present empirical evidence for local viticulture of scale and its connection to Mediterranean trade. Offering unprecedented testimony to the globalization of an ancient production economy in a marginal environment, our archaeobotanical and ceramic dataset illuminates the rise and fall of local viticulture in the fourth to sixth centuries of the common era (CE). Decline likely resulted from market contraction triggered by plague and climate change rather than Islamic conquest, exposing systemic vulnerabilities of Negev agricultural commercialization. In millennial-scale Negev history, the Late Antique commercial florescence is anomalous, lasting about two centuries before reverting to smaller settlement and survival–subsistence strategies.

    Abstract

    The international scope of the Mediterranean wine trade in Late Antiquity raises important questions concerning sustainability in an ancient international economy and offers a valuable historical precedent to modern globalization. Such questions involve the role of intercontinental commerce in maintaining sustainable production within important supply regions and the vulnerability of peripheral regions believed to have been especially sensitive to environmental and political disturbances. We provide archaeobotanical evidence from trash mounds at three sites in the central Negev Desert, Israel, unraveling the rise and fall of viticulture over the second to eighth centuries of the common era (CE). Using quantitative ceramic data obtained in the same archaeological contexts, we further investigate connections between Negev viticulture and circum-Mediterranean trade. Our findings demonstrate interrelated growth in viticulture and involvement in Mediterranean trade reaching what appears to be a commercial scale in the fourth to mid-sixth centuries. Following a mid-sixth century peak, decline of this system is evident in the mid- to late sixth century, nearly a century before the Islamic conquest. These findings closely correspond with other archaeological evidence for social, economic, and urban growth in the fourth century and decline centered on the mid-sixth century. Contracting markets were a likely proximate cause for the decline; possible triggers include climate change, plague, and wider sociopolitical developments. In long-term historical perspective, the unprecedented commercial florescence of the Late Antique Negev appears to have been unsustainable, reverting to an age-old pattern of smaller-scale settlement and survival–subsistence strategies within a time frame of about two centuries.
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    Skeletal remains of over 1,500 people unearthed at Osaka site reveal city's past

    Skeletal remains of over 1,500 people unearthed at Osaka site reveal city's past

    OSAKA -- The buried skeletal remains of over 1,500 people originating from the Edo (1603-1868) to Meiji (1868-1912) periods have been found at a site north of JR Osaka Station earmarked for redevelopment, local cultural bodies announced on Aug. 13.
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    New AMS 14C dates track the arrival and spread of broomcorn millet cultivation and agricultural change in prehistoric Europe

    Broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is not one of the founder crops domesticated in Southwest Asia in the early Holocene, but was domesticated in northeast China by 6000 BC. In Europe, millet was reported in Early Neolithic contexts formed by 6000 BC, but recent radiocarbon dating of a dozen 'early' grains cast doubt on these claims. Archaeobotanical evidence reveals that millet was common in Europe from the 2nd millennium BC, when major societal and economic transformations took place in the Bronze Age. We conducted an extensive programme of AMS-dating of charred broomcorn millet grains from 75 prehistoric sites in Europe. Our Bayesian model reveals that millet cultivation began in Europe at the earliest during the sixteenth century BC, and spread rapidly during the fifteenth/fourteenth centuries BC. Broomcorn millet succeeds in exceptionally wide range of growing conditions and completes its lifecycle in less than three summer months. Offering an additional harvest and thus surplus food/fodder, it likely was a transformative innovation in European prehistoric agriculture previously based mainly on (winter) cropping of wheat and barley. We provide a new, high-resolution chronological framework for this key agricultural development that likely contributed to far-reaching changes in lifestyle in late 2nd millennium BC Europe

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    An ancient whistle was crafted from a human thigh bone

    Death is not the end: radiocarbon and histo-taphonomic evidence for the curation and excarnation of human remains in Bronze Age Britain
    Cremated and unburnt human remains have been recovered from a variety of British Bronze and earliest Iron Age archaeological contexts (c. 2500–600 BC). Chronological modelling of 189 new and extant radiocarbon dates from a selection of these deposits provides evidence for the curation of human remains for an average of two generations following death, while histological analysis of bone samples indicates mortuary treatment involving both excarnation and the exhumation of primary burials. Curated bones came from people who had been alive within living or cultural memory, and their power probably derived from relationships between the living and the dead.

    An ancient whistle was crafted from a human thigh bone
    Prehistoric people kept the bones of relatives and friends for generations as relicts.

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    Rapid radiation of humans in South America after the last glacial maximum: A radiocarbon-based study

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0236023


    Abstract

    The early peopling of the Americas has been one of the most hotly contested topics in American anthropology and a research issue that draws archaeologists into a multidisciplinary debate. In South America, although the background data on this issue has increased exponentially in recent decades, the core questions related to the temporal and spatial patterns of the colonization process remain open. In this paper we tackle these questions in the light of the quantitative analysis of a screened radiocarbon database of more than 1600 early dates. We explore the frequency of radiocarbon dates as proxies for assessing population growth; and define a reliable and statistically well supported lower chronological bound (not to the exact date) for the earliest human arrival. Our results suggest that the earliest chronological threshold for the peopling of South America should be between 16,600 and 15,100, with a mean estimated date ~ 15,500 cal BP (post Last Glacial Maximum). Population would have grown until the end of Antarctic Cold Reversal stadial ~12,500 cal BP at the time of the main extinctions of megafauna–, when the increase rate slows, probably as a result of the changes that occurred in the trophic niche of humans.

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    Nebra Sky Disk is 1,000 years younger than previously assumed

    Critical comments on the find complex of the so-called Nebra Sky Disk
    Rupert Gebhard & Rüdiger Krause
    published online: 3 Sept 2020
    Abstract – The “Nebra Sky Disk” was reportedly discovered in 1999 as part of a hoard during an illegal excavation. In elaborate and
    long-lasting investigations an attempt was made to verify both the reported site location and the affiliation of the objects independently from
    the information given by the finders. Yet, a critical examination of the published results by the authors does not allow the conclusion that
    the site investigated in a re-excavation is correct, nor that the ensemble itself fulfils the criteria of a closed find (hoard). On the contrary,
    according to the excavation findings the ensemble could not have been in situ at the site named. The scientific examination of the objects
    contradicts rather than confirm their belonging together. If the disk is considered – as required by these facts – as a single object, it cannot
    be integrated into the Early Bronze Age motif world. Instead, a chronological embedment in the first millennium BC seems most likely. On
    the basis of this overall assessment, all further conclusions and interpretations of the cultural context and the meaning of the Nebra disk
    that have been made so far will have to be subjected to a critical discussion.

    Nebra Sky Disk is 1,000 years younger than previously assumed
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