Monday, July 16, 2018

Discussion: Are the Origins of Indo-European Languages Explained by the Migration of the Yamnaya Culture to the West?

Leo S. Klejn, Wolfgang Haak, Iosif Lazaridis, Nick Patterson, David Reich, Kristian Kristiansen, Karl-Göran Sjogren, Morten Allentoft, Martin Sikora and Eske Willerslev
European Journal of Archaeology
February 2018
(Link) open access

Abstract

Two co-authored articles in Nature (Haak et al., 2015; Allentoft et al., 2015) caused a sensation.They revealed genetically the mass migration of steppe Yamnaya culture people in the Early Bronze Age to central and northern Europe. The authors considered this event as the basis of the spread of Indo- European languages. In response, the Russian archaeologist, Leo S. Klejn, expresses critical remarks onthe genetic inference, and in particular its implications for the problem of the origins of Indo-Europeanlanguages. These remarks were shown to the authors and they present their objections. Klejn, however,has come to the conclusion that the authors objections do not assuage his doubts. He analyses these objections in a further response.

Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments

Adrianne Jeffries
The New York Times
July 13th, 2018
(Link)

"These are some of the 23,005 YouTube comments that form the basis of a new paper by Ms. Amarasekara and Will Grant, a lecturer at Australian National University, published last week in the journal Public Understanding of Science. They found a tough environment for women who create YouTube videos centered on science, drawing both more comments per view than men and also a higher proportion of critical comments as well as remarks about their appearances."

Archaeologists and Astronomers Solve the Mystery of Chile's Stonehenge

The saywas are close to the ancient pathways of the Qhapaq Ñan – an Inca road network stretching from southern Colombia to central Chile. Photograph: Christian Handl/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock 


Laurence Blair
The Guardian
July 16, 2018

". . . the saywas had a simultaneous calendrical, ritual and political purpose. The uncannily precise solar phenomenon above the Inca stonework was designed to broadcast the “sacred power” of the Inca, even 1,000 miles away from Cuzco, Sanhueza suggested. Others marked borders between different climactic zones."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateau since about 2.1 million years ago

Zhaoyu Zhu, Robin Dennell, Weiwen Huang, Yi Wu, Shifan Qiu, Shixia Yang, Zhiguo Rao, Yamei Hou, Jiubing Xie, Jiangwei Han and Tingping Ouyang 
Nature Letters
July 11, 2018
(Link)

Abstract

Considerable attention has been paid to dating the earliest appearance of hominins outside Africa. The earliest skeletal and artefactual evidence for the genus Homo in Asia currently comes from Dmanisi, Georgia, and is dated to approximately 1.77–1.85 million years ago (Ma)[1].  Two incisors that may belong to Homo erectus come from Yuanmou, south China, and are dated to 1.7 Ma[2]; the next-oldest evidence is an H. erectus cranium from Lantian (Gongwangling)—which has recently been dated to 1.63 Ma[3]—and the earliest hominin fossils from the Sangiran dome in Java, which are dated to about 1.5–1.6 Ma[4]. Artefacts from Majuangou III[5] and Shangshazui[6] in the Nihewan basin, north China, have also been dated to 1.6–1.7 Ma. Here we report an Early Pleistocene and largely continuous artefact sequence from Shangchen, which is a newly discovered Palaeolithic locality of the southern Chinese Loess Plateau, near Gongwangling in Lantian county. The site contains 17 artefact layers that extend from palaeosol S15—dated to approximately 1.26 Ma—to loess L28, which we date to about 2.12 Ma. This discovery implies that hominins left Africa earlier than indicated by the evidence from Dmanisi.

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

Eleanor M.L. Scerri, Mark G. Thomas, Andrea Manica, Philipp Gunz, Jay T. Stock, Chris Stringer, Matt Grove, Huw S. Groucutt, Axel Timmermann, G. Philip Rightmire, Francesco d’Errico, Christian A. Tryon, Nick A. Drake, Alison S. Brooks, Robin W. Dennell, Richard Durbin, Brenna M. Henn, Julia Lee-Thorp, Peter deMenocal, Michael D. Petraglia, Jessica C. Thompson, Aylwyn Scally, Lounès Chikhi
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
July 11, 2018
(Link) open access

Highlights

The view that Homo sapiens evolved from a single region/population within Africa has been given primacy in studies of human evolution.

However, developments across multiple fields show that relevant data are no longer consistent with this view.

We argue instead that Homo sapiens evolved within a set of interlinked groups living across Africa, whose connectivity changed through time.

Genetic models therefore need to incorporate a more complex view of ancient migration and divergence in Africa.

We summarize this new framework emphasizing population structure, outline how this changes our understanding of human evolution, and identify new research directions.

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.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Summer Reading

Hello to you, dear reader.

This summer, I am reading the exciting and well researched book "Early Human Life on the Southeastern Coastal Plain" edited by Albert C. Goodyear and Christopher R. Moore (Link).  Chapter 2 of this book describes in depth all the archaeological levels of the Topper site including the layers that have been dated to well before the Clovis period.  I'll have more to say when I'm finished reading.

Wishing you an enjoyable summer.

Marnie

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Initial Upper Paleolithic of Kamenka site, Zabaikal region (Siberia): A closer look at the blade technology

N. Zwyns, L. V. Lbova
Archaeological Research in Asia
2018
(Link) (open access pdf)

Abstract

In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to blade-based lithic assemblages that display a speci
c suite of features and date back to the beginning of the MIS3. Previously we reported strong similarities between ex-amples from the Siberian Altai and North Mongolia, but little is known about what generates the variabilityobserved at the assemblage level. The site of Kamenka is particularly relevant to address these issues for severalreasons. First, it documents some of the earliest occurrences of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zabaikal region.Second, the fast burial of the archaeological layer and the bone preservation provide groundwork to discusshuman subsistence strategies. Third, the dominant raw material sources could be distant and fall outside of thedaily foraging radius. Here we give a closer look at the Kamenka A blade assemblage to model the reductionsequences. Our analyses con
rm that the blade technology
 
ts a conservative de
nition of the Initial UpperPaleolithic in Asia. Considering other lines of evidence (such as spatial distribution, or fauna analyses), wediscuss the impact of mobility, site function and raw material procurement strategies on the assemblage com-position. We conclude that while some of these parameters may a
ff 
ect the tool types and reduction stagesrepresented within the assemblage, the blade reduction method does not show substantial di
ff 
erences betweenneighboring regions
In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to blade-based lithic assemblages that display a speci
c suite of features and date back to the beginning of the MIS3. Previously we reported strong similarities between ex-amples from the Siberian Altai and North Mongolia, but little is known about what generates the variabilityobserved at the assemblage level. The site of Kamenka is particularly relevant to address these issues for severalreasons. First, it documents some of the earliest occurrences of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zabaikal region.Second, the fast burial of the archaeological layer and the bone preservation provide groundwork to discusshuman subsistence strategies. Third, the dominant raw material sources could be distant and fall outside of thedaily foraging radius. Here we give a closer look at the Kamenka A blade assemblage to model the reductionsequences. Our analyses con
rm that the blade technology
 
ts a conservative de
nition of the Initial UpperPaleolithic in Asia. Considering other lines of evidence (such as spatial distribution, or fauna analyses), wediscuss the impact of mobility, site function and raw material procurement strategies on the assemblage com-position. We conclude that while some of these parameters may a
ff 
ect the tool types and reduction stagesrepresented within the assemblage, the blade reduction method does not show substantial di
ff 
erences betweenneighboring regions.
In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to blade-based lithic assemblages that display a speci
c suite of features and date back to the beginning of the MIS3. Previously we reported strong similarities between ex-amples from the Siberian Altai and North Mongolia, but little is known about what generates the variabilityobserved at the assemblage level. The site of Kamenka is particularly relevant to address these issues for severalreasons. First, it documents some of the earliest occurrences of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zabaikal region.Second, the fast burial of the archaeological layer and the bone preservation provide groundwork to discusshuman subsistence strategies. Third, the dominant raw material sources could be distant and fall outside of thedaily foraging radius. Here we give a closer look at the Kamenka A blade assemblage to model the reductionsequences. Our analyses con
rm that the blade technology
 
ts a conservative de
nition of the Initial UpperPaleolithic in Asia. Considering other lines of evidence (such as spatial distribution, or fauna analyses), wediscuss the impact of mobility, site function and raw material procurement strategies on the assemblage com-position. We conclude that while some of these parameters may a
ff 
ect the tool types and reduction stagesrepresented within the assemblage, the blade reduction method does not show substantial di
ff 
erences betweenneighboring regions.
In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to blade-based lithic assemblages that display a speci
c suite of features and date back to the beginning of the MIS3. Previously we reported strong similarities between ex-amples from the Siberian Altai and North Mongolia, but little is known about what generates the variabilityobserved at the assemblage level. The site of Kamenka is particularly relevant to address these issues for severalreasons. First, it documents some of the earliest occurrences of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zabaikal region.Second, the fast burial of the archaeological layer and the bone preservation provide groundwork to discusshuman subsistence strategies. Third, the dominant raw material sources could be distant and fall outside of thedaily foraging radius. Here we give a closer look at the Kamenka A blade assemblage to model the reductionsequences. Our analyses con
rm that the blade technology
 
ts a conservative de
nition of the Initial UpperPaleolithic in Asia. Considering other lines of evidence (such as spatial distribution, or fauna analyses), wediscuss the impact of mobility, site function and raw material procurement strategies on the assemblage com-position. We conclude that while some of these parameters may a
ff 
ect the tool types and reduction stagesrepresented within the assemblage, the blade reduction method does not show substantial di
ff 
erences betweenneighboring regions.
In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to blade-based lithic assemblages that display a specific suite of features and date back to the beginning of the MIS3. Previously we reported strong similarities between examples from the Siberian Altai and North Mongolia, but little is known about what generates the variability observed at the assemblage level. The site of Kamenka is particularly relevant to address these issues for several reasons. First, it documents some of the earliest occurrences of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zabaikal region. Second, the fast burial of the archaeological layer and the bone preservation provide groundwork to discuss human subsistence strategies. Third, the dominant raw material sources could be distant and fall outside of the daily foraging radius. Here we give a closer look at the Kamenka A blade assemblage to model the reduction sequences. Our analyses confirm that the blade technology fits a conservative definition of the Initial Upper Paleolithic in Asia. Considering other lines of evidence (such as spatial distribution, or fauna analyses), we discuss the impact of mobility, site function and raw material procurement strategies on the assemblage composition. We conclude that while some of these parameters may affect the tool types and reduction stages represented within the assemblage, the blade reduction method does not show substantial differences between neighboring regions.