Thursday, September 22, 2011

It is our motherland and it is our backbone . . .


The Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem land, Australia, talk about their culture.

Aboriginal Australians were early human trans-continental explorers

A new study reveals that "Australian Aboriginal ancestors split from the first modern human populations to leave Africa, between 64,000 and 75,000 years ago, at least 24,000 years before other [modern] human migrations."

Link

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reflections on Human Evolution in Africa

Apologies to the readers of this blog for not giving an update for several months.

Over the last several months, I had a wonderful summer with my family, spending part of it in the Channel Islands of California which are not only very beautiful, but also of scientific interest because they were briefly connected to the California mainland by ice during the last ice age.  Plant and animal species such as an ironwood tree and a miniature fox show parallel evolution since the last glacial maximum from their mainland counterparts.

There have been several interesting scientific announcements since my last post, the most relevant that of Michael F. Hammer's work in which he postulates that contemporary Africans share a small amount of DNA with a branch of the human tree that split from the main branch of homo sapiens approximately 700,000 years ago.  He states that the estimates indicate that this event or events occured between 20,000 and 60,000 ya.

So now, contemporary Africans join contemporary non-Africans in showing traces of admixture with archaic humans sometime in the last 100,000 years.  This is certainly interesting.  Blogs and researchers are abuzz with discussions of Neanderthals, Denisovans and African admixture.  Researchers are mining the small portions of the genome that are inherited from these ancient admixture events.

I have to admit though, that I am a bit blase about it all.  It's too early to say, but thus far, the contribution to modern humans from these admixture events seems to be in very small quantities, at least since Africans and non-Africans have split. 

In my last post, I referenced the text The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns.  I've spent quite a bit of the summer reading this extraordinary book.  I am still not done. 

What have I learned?  For one, it is humbling to read this book and I can only begin by saying that we are ignorant of Africa, and stunningly so.

Hammer's research is only a first clue to the remarkable human diversity that must have existed across Africa.  If we are to comprehend the many times that humans and archaic humans walked out of Africa, we will have to look much deeper than we do now.  We will have to look in Africa and not just at the point of surmised departure.  It is in Africa that most of our genome evolved for most of its history.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns

Thurstan Shaw, Editor

First published in 1993 by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001

I'm enjoying this definitive reference on Saharan and West African prehistory.  It's the best reference I've found so far on describing the climatic fluctuations in the Sahara and West Africa that have influenced population movements and the development of sedentism.  Some of the chapters are available on Google Books:

Chapter 10, authored by Wilma Wetterstrom, discusses the transition from hunting and gathering in the Nile valley to horticulture.

Chapter 11 discusses the emergence of horticulture in the Sahara.  The chapter is authored by Alfred Muzzolini.  He discusses the impact of the Post-Aterian hyperarid phase between 18,000 and 12,000 ya.

In Chapter 12, Bassey W. Andah examines the early farming traditions of West Africa.

Chapter 13 is an examination of the Kintampo complex and development of sedentism in sub-Sahelian West Africa.  The chapter is authored by James Anquandah, Chairman of the Research Unit of the National Slave Route Project of the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations (Ghana); Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Chapter 14 explores the antecedents to the Kintampo complex in West Africa, taking a view from Central Ghana.  It is authored by Ann Brower Stahl.

The chapters are replete with excellent maps and drawings.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA in the Nigerian Cross River Region, Ghana and Cameroon

Veeramah et al
(Link)

This paper contains extensive data sets of mtDNA and y-chromosome DNA for Nigerian Cross River populations, Nigerian Igbo, Cameroon and Ghanaian populations.  Relative homogeneity of Cross River and Ghanaian populations is demonstrated, compared to Cameroon populations.

Chad Basin mtDNA

The blog For what they were... we are brings attention to this important paper on Chad Basin mtDNA population structure. 

MtDNA Diversity of Ghana: a forensic and phylogeographic view

Fendt et al
(Link)

Abstract:


West Africa is characterized by a migration history spanning more than 150,000 years. Climate changes but also political circumstances were responsible for several early but also recent population movements that shaped the West African mitochondrial landscape. The aim of the study was to establish a Ghanaian mtDNA dataset for forensic purposes and to investigate the diversity of the Ghanaian population sample with respect to surrounding populations. We sequenced full mitochondrial control regions of 193 Akan people from Ghana and excluded two apparently close maternally related individuals due to preceding kinship testing. The remaining dataset comprising 191 sequences was applied as etalon for quasi-median network analysis and was subsequently combined with 99 additional control region sequences from surrounding West African countries. All sequences were incorporated into the EMPOP database enriching the severely underrepresented African mtDNA pool. For phylogeographic considerations, the Ghanaian haplotypes were compared to those of 19 neighboring populations comprising a total number of 6198 HVS1 haplotypes. We found extensive genetic admixture between the Ghanaian lineages and those from adjacent populations diminishing with geographical distance. The extent of genetic admixture reflects the long but also recent history of migration waves within West Africa mainly caused by changing environmental conditions. Also, evidence for potential socio-economical influences such as trade routes is provided by the occurrence of U6b and U6d sequences found in Dubai but also in Tunisia leading to the African West Coast via Mauritania and Senegal but also via Niger, Nigeria to Cameroon.

Population comparisons

"Ghana sequences clustered together with those populations being geographically closest (Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso) which could reflect recent maternal gene flow and admixture among those areas. Also, geographically more distant populations clustered together such as Tunisia, Morocco, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Egypt as well as Ethiopia and Kenya, but also Senegal and Mauritania."

The data suggests that West African women of the Niger and Volta River basins cluster together genetically.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Drums and Drumming Language across West Africa


Much has been written of West African drumming languages.  West African drums are the primary instrument at weddings, funerals, parties and celebrations and form the sound of inspiration and communication for fishing, farming and defence in West African life.

Missionaries John Carrington and his wife documented drumming language as it was used in the Congo in the early 20th century(1, 2).  The Carringtons described how surrogate drumming language was used to convey phrases of the two toned Kele language.  With two drums, the tonality of Kele could be conveyed.  Although specific vowel and consonant sounds were lost when played on the drum, it was possible, by adding extra phrasing, to reconstruct phrases of spoken Kele on the drums.

Like Kele, most other Niger Congo languages in West Africa are essentially two toned, including Akan languages.  The specifics of Akan languages I have discussed in the post  Akan Language:  Vowel Harmony, Tone and Downdrift.

West African drummed surrogates for spoken languages are conveyed using four essential methods:

  • two drums that communicate a limited vocabulary by mimicking basic dual toned intonation,
  • multiple drums (more than two) to convey greater tonal complexity than two toned methods,
  • a single pressure drum that is closely modulated to mimic spoken languages with tones, downstepping and downdrifting, or
  • a single Djembe drum, mode modulated by hand technique

Pressure Drums

In general, the pressure drum pitch is modulated by holding it under the arm and pressuring the drum strings. This modulates the tension on the drum head resonator.  Since these drums must be held under the arm, they are moderate in size.  The resulting moderate amplitude of the sound produced limits the distance their signal can travel to communal settings and the marketplace.  Pressure drums are usually struck with a hammer, which means that the attempt to modulate the tonal quality through the striking method is limited.


Long Distance Fixed Tension Drums

Fixed tension drums are generally designed to be both louder and wider pitched (more resonant) than pressure drums.  Two or more drums are used to convey pitch, as the fundametal pitch of these drums is fixed. These drums are usually long bodied and therefore loud, since their design is optimized for long distance communication.  They are variously struck with a hammer or with the hand.

Carrington noted that fixed tension drums in the Congo could communicate to a distance greater than thirty kilometers (twenty miles) on open terrain and about eleven kilometers (seven miles) in dense forest. (1)  West African peoples would communicate important messages to great distances using drum relays.  There are many documented cases of drummed messages being communicated to hundreds of miles in a matter of hours.

As a child, living up on a hill in Sekondi, Ghana, overlooking a number of villages, I can remember hearing the drums at night "talking" from varying distances.  You could hear one drum talk, then a space, then a response or a relay coming from a different direction.  Sometimes you could hear the relay of the message repeated at longer and fainter distances away.  There must have been an agreed protocol between the drummers as they knew to wait between drummed statements.  This is not surprising, as  it would take thirty seconds for a message to travel ten kilometers (fifty seconds to travel ten miles).  Sometimes there were long waits between messages, as the sender waited for a distant response.  


Drum Physics

In order to more completely understand the various drumming methods employed to convey surrogate drum languages, it is helpful to examine the underlying physics of drums.  Ethnically speaking, West African drums are differentiated on how they are optimized for fundamental tone pitch, loudness, and resonant bandwidth.  Additionally, striking and playing methods are used to control pitch modulation and mode modulation.  These concepts are discussed at length in the excellent online reference The Well-Tempered Timpani (4).

Most West African drums are manufactured with a single drumhead constructed of an animal hide.  Thin animals hides are preferred, because they allow a more resonant undamped sound.  Resonance is also controlled by the manner in which the drumhead is secured or tamped onto the shell.  Light tamping allows a less damped more resonant sound.  As to the body of the drum, virtually all West African drum bodies or shells are produced of wood.  Various shapes and heights of the shell core are employed, which contribute to both the loudness, resonance and overall tonal warmth of the drum.  West African drums are generally medium sized in diameter and often three or more feet in height.  The medium diameter drumhead usually produces a fundamental tone in the 200Hz to 1000Hz range.   Drum height is used to build loudness through the waveguiding properties of the wooden cavity.  The shape of the cavity is also important, especially with respect to the resonant quality of the drum. (3, 4)

One reason that West African drums are rarely tuned below approximately 200Hz is that humans do not hear well below 200Hz.  In terms of human perception of sound, it is more efficient to produce sounds above 200Hz.  There is also an optimum limit on high frequency sound, as high frequencies transmitted in the atmosphere experience greater fading than low frequencies.  Therefore, there is an optimal frequency window to achieve maximum distance sound communication which is somewhere between 200Hz and 2000Hz. Most West African drums used for long distance communication produce sound in this range.

In addition to loudness, highly resonant drums such as the Djembe and Kponlogo drums further aid the  distant listener because of their redundant tones.  Intermediate resonances can be attenuated or faded in a communication and the human ear will still be able to reconstruct the fundamental pitch and timing of drum sound.  In this sense, drum resonance increases the robustness of the long distance drum communication signal.


Modulation Techniques

Multidrum modulation is a achieved by having two or more drums tuned to specific pitches.  It is the simplest method of modulation.

Pitch modulation on a single drum is achieved by controlling the tension on the drum head.  This is only possible in the case of a drum which is designed for variable pitch modulation such as a Doundun drum.

Mode modulation is usually achieved by varying the manner in which the drum is struck with the hand.  This technique is used primarily with highly resonant Djembe drums.  With a highly resonant drum, different drum modes can be excited according to the manner and placement of the drum strike.  Depending on where the drum is struck, different modes in the drumhead are excited.  Striking a drum at the side produces resonant modes (1,1), (2,1), (3,1) and (4,1).  Striking the drum at the center processes "thump" modes (0,1), (0,2) and (0,3).  An excellent illustrated depiction of drum modes is described in the section Vibration of an Ideal Circular Membrane in reference (4).  The excitation of resonant and "thump" modes are easy to observe in this Djembe drum film clip.  At 58 seconds into the clip, you can see the drummer excite a damped thump sound from the drum by striking it in the middle.  Other modes are possible.  The tonal quality can thus be modulated by the way in which the drum is struck by the hand.  It is important to remember that mode modulation is best accomplished with a highly resonant drum such as a Djembe or Kponlogo drum.


Drums by Region and People

Doundun
   The Doundun drum is played in Nigeria by the Yoruba.  It is a pressure drum and is usually played with a hammer.  Here's Ayan Bisi Adeleke playing it.

Ewe Drums
   Ewe drums, played by the Ewe people, are fixed tension, long bodied and therefore loud.  The drums are somewhat resonant.  Two or more drums are used to convey multiple pitches and the drums are usually beaten with a hammer. This short film describes talking drums as used in the Ewe village of Hohoe in Eastern Ghana. 

Atumpan and Fontomfrom Drums
   These drums are played by the Asante of Ghana.  Two or four drums are often played in tandem, for spectral breadth and optimal range.  The Fontomfrom drum is the largest of the two drums and is one of the tallest and therefore loudest drums in West Africa.  These drums are played with a hammer and sometimes with the hand.  Here's Kwame Ansah-Brew playing the Fontomfrom and Atumpan drums.
   Here are Atumpan and Fontomfrom drums played ceremonially at the funeral of Otumfuo Opuku Ware II, the fifteenth Asantehene (Asante King), in 1999. (link)
   An Akan drum can only produce approximately 500 words, excluding proper names and titles (Nketia, references 5 and 6).  For this reason, these loud drums are best for expressing stock phrases for warning and ceremonial purposes.

Kponlogo
   The Kponlogo drum is the drum of the Ga people.  It is a superb, loud and resonant drum.  Two or more drums are used to convey pitch.  It is usually played with a hammer or with the hands.  Here's  Nii Okai Aryeetey playing a Kponlogo drum set.  Here are more Kponlogo drums (plus other instruments) played by the MABO ensemble.

Djembe
   The Djembe originated with the Mandinka people although today, due to its warm resonant tone and clear fundamental pitch, Djembes have become popular across West Africa.   It is the most resonant of West African drums and is also quite loud.  It is usually played alone and is modulated through the hand striking technique.  Here's Nii Okai Aryeetey playing the Djembe. 
   For anyone interested in the details of Djembe manufacture, Ilya Magnes of Copenhagen has filmed a beautiful movie of the making of a Djembe in Gambia, from cutting down the tree to playing it.  It does show the slaughter of a goat (the hide is used for the drumhead), so the squeamish should skip that section.  Here it is: Making the Djembe (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).


Conclusion

West African drum communication is highly refined and has employed a variety of technologies to allow the surrogate communication of language over long distance.  It has evolved over thousands of years and has been essential to the survival of West African people.


References:

1.  John F. Carrington, The Talking Drums of Africa, 1949

2.  James Gleik, The Information, A History, A Theory, A Flood, Chapter 1, Pantheon, 2011

3.  Wiki page: Drum, See "Sound of a drum".

4.  Richard K. Jones, The Well-Tempered Timpani

5.  J. H. K. Nketia, 1971.  "Surrogate languages of Africa", Current Trends in Linguistics vol. 7. pp. 699-732.
 
6.  J. H. K. Nketia, 1976.  "Drumming in Akan Communities" in T. Sebeok & D. Umiker-Sebeok (eds.), Speech surrogates pp. 772-806.

7.   http://www.motherlandmusic.com/

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A note to readers

I'm currently working on an article on drum communication in West Africa.  It's proving to be a research topic in and of its own right.  I hope to publish the article next week.  In the meantime, the wiki page on drum communication is a good introduction to the topic.

Until then, here's Master Drummer Nii Okai Aryeetey from Accra playing Kpanlogo drums:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Akan Language: Vowel Harmony, Tone and Downdrift

Fun Twi (Akan) language introduction

At first glace, the Akan languages, and other African languages, might seem a bridge too far.  We might ask ourselves if Akan is simply too different and difficult to understand.  We might even imagine that Akan is not sufficiently interesting to us.  Thus we might miss taking a glimpse at this deeply philosophical language and fail to have the chance to see our own language in perspective.

For the curious among us, we are fortunate that Johann Gottlieb Christaller, a missionary to the Gold Coast in the 19th century, with his finely tuned ear, grasped the depth of the Akan languages, both in their grammatical complexity and their potential for philosophical expression.  His work served as a basis for a systematic approach for the study of Akan languages, which continues to this day.  This historical academic study of Akan languages has served native and non-native speakers, and linguists alike.  Linguistic aspects of Akan, such as vowell harmony, tone and downdrift, serve to inform us of where non-African languages, which generally use subsets of these methods of expression, might fit in the evolution of language.
 
There is a superb online teaching course for Akan languages.  I refer generously to this online course, Akan Teleteaching Course, to illustrate Akan grammar and methods of expression.


Vowel Harmony

In general, there are a total of ten vowels in the Akan language, which are grouped into two groups of five vowels.  Words are usually pronounced with vowels in one of the two vowel sets, but not both.  The vowel sets are differentiated by the position of the tongue.  The Akan Teleteaching Course, with its vowel harmony audio player examples, is an easy way to grasp the concept of vowel harmony.  Viewed another way, vowel harmony allows the speaker to use the expressive capability of ten vowels, but to efficiently alter the position of the tongue only between words.  The altering of the position of the tongue to pronounce vowels is known as palatalization.

The technical terms for Akan palatalization of the two vowel sets are retracted tongue root (RTR) and advanced tongue root (ATR). (link)


Tone

Like other Niger-Congo languages, Akan languanges are expressed with two tones.  The tones are not absolute, but are voiced relative to the tones of the preceeding syllables.  This method of tonalization is known as a register tone system.  I'll let the Akan Teleteaching Course introduction to tones do the talking for me here.  Possessive person body parts are generally low toned, as are references to younger persons.  Older persons are referred to with high tones.  Other rules for tone must be learned, just as noun gender must be learned for many Indo-European languages.


Downdrift

As in English and other Indo-European languages, the last syllable is inflected downward at the end of a statement.  This serves to tonally complete the idea.

Unlike English, downward inflection in an Akan statement trends downward over the entire statement, not just at the end.  The effect of this is a surprisingly easy ability to understand the phasing of an Akan speaker, even if one cannot understand the specific words spoken.  Statements start high and are downdrifted.

The rules for downdrifting are easy to understand, but I'll leave it to the Akan Teleteaching course to illustrate the process. (link)  They even have a spectrogram illustration of someone's speech which illustrates the intonation of tone and downdrift. (link)


Musical Example of Downdrifting

The effect of downdrifting is a series of phrases that are expressed in waves, with each new phrase upswept and then downdrifted so that the end of the phrase is punctuated by the lowest tone.  Within this overall downward trend, relative up and down tones are expressed to intonate within the downward trend.


Above is Kwaa Mensah, singing "Odo me me sum do no" [to purchase see: Otrabanda or Amazon] in Fante:  "She loved me and I loved her.  But now she is doing something I don't like, so we're finished."  You can hear Kwaa Mensah sweeping upward at the beginning of a phrase, then drifting down at the end of each phrase.  Final sentence ideas are punctuated by the lowest tones.  Again, the method of intonation is somewhat familiar to Indo-European speakers.

The clip is from the vintage recording of Palmwine music Vintage Palmwine recorded over many years at Bokoor Studios.


Word Order

As in English, sentences are generally expressed in subject-verb-object sequences(link).  English speakers can breathe a sigh of relief here.


Comparison with other languages

Vowel Harmony has been retained in many non-African languages, but strict vowel harmony has been lost in most Indo-European languages.  Many languages retain tone, but again, it has been lost in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and many other languages.  Some Indo-European languages such as Greek have lost their tonal aspects only in the last several thousand years.  Tonal systems are broadly classified into register tone and contour tone systems.  Akan languages fall into the register tone classification.  Most languages retains aspects of downdrifting, especially on the final syllable.  However, the structure of downdrifting is often less specific than in the Akan language.


Further Reading

Bruce Connell, Downdrift, Downstep and Declination (link)

http://www.akan.org/


Akan Music

John Collins, Music Makers of West Africa (link)

Vintage Palmwine Recording (link)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Boating and Fishing in West Africa

Pirogue Fishing Boats, Cape Coast, Ghana

The earliest written records of lake and river fishing in West Africa are about 500 years old.  However, we know that pirogue canoes have been manufactured there for at least 8,000 years and in all likelihood, for thousands of years before that.  In 1987, a 7,700 year old canoe was discovered in northeast Nigeria, on the Yobe River.  Carved from a single mahony tree, a wood that is highly durable, the bow and stern of the boat are finely worked points.  It is 8.4 meters long and 0.5 meters wide. In other words, a perfect river and lake pirogue for two or three people.  The proximity of the find to Lake Chad, a lake with abundant fish, suggests that similar canoes were used in the area to fish 8000 years ago, and likely well before that.  It is notable that at that time, Lake Chad was much larger than today.  The workmanship indicates that its maker was a craftsman in wood, much as West Africans are known today.  In fact, the canoe closely resembles lake and river fishing canoes used in the area today. The canoe also indicates that the people of West Africa of the time were not stationary dwellers, but had developed a means to navigate their waterways.

The principal freshwater fishing rivers in West Africa are the Senegal and the Bani, in the west; the great Niger, connecting Senegal and Mali with Nigeria in the west, north and east; and the Volta in the center, which flows southward through modern Ghana.  There is remarkable continuity of West African languages according to groupings centered on these rivers, as shown in the following Niger-Congo language classification map:



The greatest diversity of Niger-Congo languages exists on these rivers, which is suggestive that they originated in West Africa.  In Ghana alone, there are approximately 35 Niger-Congo languages spoken.  These languages also tend to group according to river watersheds, indicating that Niger-Congo life has been historically centered about rivers. Pirogue boats have historically been the only means of long distance communication on these rivers.  Fishing, by way of pirogues, has provided a key source of protein in West Africa for millenia.  (Niger history:  link ; Volta Estuary showing pirogue manufacture:  link; Pirogue racing on the Niger: link)

The ubiquity of these boats stems from the abundant rivers and fish, as well as the rain forest, with its huge mahogany trees.  Even in northern areas of the Niger where the Sahara dominates, pirogue boats floated from upstream are easily obtained.

Approximately three hundred years ago, the Fante of Ghana began to adapt their river fishing boats to ocean going fishing.  They also began to increase the size and length of their nets to permit ocean and beach seining techniques.  Other tribes along the coast of Ghana, including the Ga and the Anlo-Ewe, adopted fishing techiques from the Fante. (1, 2, 3)

It is notable that both beach and ocean seining techniques of the Ghanaian coast require highly coordinated teams with specialized tasks including tree falling, boat building, paddling, swimming, drumming, steering, net pulling, net mending, fish sorting, cleaning and preserving, and accounting, in order to be successful. (2)

This short video of Fante fisherman shows beach seining and paddling prior to the age of outboard motors (4).  As shown in the video, singing and percussion music are central to the role of net pulling and coordinated paddling required to overcome the heavy surf of Ghana's ocean beaches.  Beach seining is still very common, but wealthier fishing companies have fitted their boats with outboard motors and increasingly use ocean seining to secure their catches. (5)  This is driven by declining fish stocks due partly to European fishing vessels fishing off the coast of West Africa.

Fishing and boating in West Africa have a long history.  The methods of boat manufacture, boating and seining are locally developed and have made use of local innovations.  Techniques often employ highly coordinated teams in a way that is unique to the region.

Further Reading:

Akyeampong, E.,  Indigenous Knowledge and Maratime Fishing in West Africa:  The case of Ghana (link)

Atta-Mills et al, The decline of a regional fishing nation:  The case of Ghana and West Africa (link)

Kraan, M., 'One Man, No Chop':  Beach Seine Fishing in Ghana (West Africa) (link)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Modernity and Cultural Complexity in West Africa


Fante fishermen at Cape Coast in Ghana, hauling in their nets (link)

I'll put it simply.  I adhere to the view that modern humans and modern human thinking evolved in Africa.  Humans were fully modern in their reasoning, artistic and adaptive capacities tens of thousands of years ago, well before they ever walked or paddled out of Africa.

Sure, Europeans have been working hard to select for pale skin;  Equatorial Africans have been seeking a perfect blackness.  Apart from the practicalities of sun adaptation, we can only guess at why there is such strong selection for these characteristics.  I'd even go so far as to say that there are genetic differences that lead to different health outcomes for Africans and non-Africans.  Africans rarely get melanoma.  Non-Africans rarely get sickle cell anemia and other malaria adaptation induced illnesses.  However, we've both been under extreme selection for intelligence, sociability and resourcefulness.

As I look out there in the blogosphere, it's rather stunning to more often than not run across people who struggle with the Out-of-Africa model for human evolution.  Perhaps we partly struggle because we just don't know much about Africa.  There are few positive media stories and, with the exception of the history of slavery, almost nothing about African history or culture in the popular media.

My impression of Africa is quite different from most non-Africans. Through a quirk of British Commonwealth generosity in the 1960's, I spent some of my girlhood years in Secondi-Takoradi, on the coast of Ghana, in West Africa.  My dad accepted a position to teach science at a college there.  My memories are vividly sensual:  Fante fishermen rhythmically singing and hauling in their fishing nets, the intense but not unpleasant smell of the fish market on the beach, the long spacing of huge but steady waves crashing on the beach, rainy season thunderstorms, the thrill of drums "talking" between villages at night, the warm generosity of my nanny Agnes, and lanky and beautiful African children.  Not in skin color, but in lankiness, I recognized them as quite like me.

At the time, I had a childhood intuition that the experience had been something very special, but it was only years later that could truly put it in context.  I had been given an early opportunity to experience one of the great cosmopolitan cultures of the world.

One could say that I am merely romantizing a childhood experience, but much anthropological research would say otherwise.  The Akan People, Fante and the Asante, seem by every measure, to have unique cultural adaptations to their equatorial coast and inland world.  As I was listening to Robin I. M. Dunbar's discussion on the challenges that social network size poses to the human brain, the ritualistic social behavior of the Akan immediately came to mind.  They are a highly social culture and their social rituals act as a kind of glue that helps them overcome many of the impositions of living in a densely populated and tropical region.  I'll be publishing a bibliography in the next few days to flesh out some of my childhood memories. 

In addition, for the month of June, I'll be blogging on various aspects of the creativity, resourcefulness, sociability and innovation among the Akan people of West Africa.

Akwaaba!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gustavus Adolphus College 2008 lecture series on human origins

I stumbled recently on this terrific lecture series, which was given in 2008 at Gustavus Adolphus College. The lectures are available online and are a great review of genetics and archaeology related to human origins. (link)

Archaeologist Curtis Marean discusses his Pinnacle Point research which explores a possible South African refuge for humans 200 thousand years ago. He also discusses other possible locations in Africa where humans may have originated. (link)

Geneticist Svante Paabo presents his work on neadertal-human genetics as of 2008. (link)

Geneticist Marcus W. Feldman, who's research team developed the program STRUCTURE, describes his team's autosomal test results.  Beginning at 32 minutes into the discussion, he shows how human migration under the serial founder effect yields an approximately linear genetic variation. (link)

Archeaologist Dennis Stanford gives an exciting comparative lecture on Solutrean, Clovis and pre-Clovis lithics. (link)

Evolutionary Anthropologist Robin I. M. Dunbar describes social network size and its evolutionary relationship to brain size. (link)

Professor of Theology J. Wentzel van Huyssteen discusses the challenges and possibilities presented by theological, symbolic and scientific interpretations of human origins. (link)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Out of Africa Tactical Hunter Migrations Driven by Glacial Cycles

Rock painting at Tassili n'Ajjer, Algeria

The sea level climate record tells us that there were glacial maximums 150 ky ago and 20 ky ago.  Glacial maximums are associated with dryer and colder climates in most areas of the world, including Africa.  There's evidence that during these colder and drier glacial periods, hunting strategies in Africa are shifted from a Generalized Grassland Model to a Seasonal Grassland Model that includes seasonal use of tactical hunting methods (link).  Additionally, the sea level is at its lowest during glacial maximums and was approximately 120 meters lower than today both 150 ky ago and 20 ky ago.

We also know from the geological record that there were periods when it was much wetter in the Sahara and the Arabian peninsula than today.  During the Abbassia Pluvial, North Africa experienced a wet and rainy period lasting from 120 ky ago to 90 ky ago.  During the Mousterian Pluvial, which lasted from 50 to 30 ky ago, the Sahara was again a greener place than it is today.  The Neolithic Subpluvial was the most recent period in which the Sahara and Arabian Peninsula were wetter.

Blue Marble 3000 World has a good simulation of the glacial-pluvial process at work since the Last Glacial Maximum.  The effect of the Neolithic Subpluvial as it contributes toward a greener Sahara and Arabian Peninsula is beautifully rendered.


Lake Victoria disappears in about 15,000BC and reappears at about 12,000BC.  Note the sudden greening of the Sudan and Arabian Peninsula at about 9000 BC, then another green sweep northward into the Maghreb in 7000BC.  Between 9000BC and 8500BC, Lake Chad grows into a lake that is almost the size of the Caspian Sea.  At about 4500BC, the pluvial system in the Sahara begins to collapse.   Patches of grassland persist in the Southern Arabian peninsula, Niger, Southern Algeria including Tassili N'Ajjer and de l'Ahaggar National Parks, and the Sudan until 2000BC.  Lake Chad drys up. 

From the archaeological record, we know that each of these pluvial expansions into the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula brought people northward.  From the genetic record, it appears that the Neolithic Subpluvial also brought people southward (link). 

For humans, who didn't have a macro view of the climate they were experiencing, glacial maximums would have necessitated a switch to tactical hunting methods.  They would have become more dependant on migratory animals for their food(150 kya and 20kya). As the pluvial patterns swept northward, migratory animals and their hunters would have moved northward into the expanding grassland of the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula (120-90 kya) and (50-30 kya).  The collapse of these systems would strand some of the migratory hunters on the north side of the Sahara and Arabian peninsula.

More recently, the collapse of the Neolithic Subpluvial has "stranded" wayfarers on either side of the Arabian peninsula(link) and on both sides of the Sahara.

There's a cyclic process at work, pushing hunters toward a tactical migratory hunting pattern during dry glacial periods, followed by a transformation of the desert into an inviting grassland for migratory game and hunters, followed by a pluvial collapse, stranding and pushing some hunters northward, well beyond their African origin. 

It's also interesting to point out that a few of these migratory hunters would have been able to take advantage of the lower Mediterranean sea level. 

The cycle is aptly demonstrated by the distribution and phylogeny of Haplogroup E.

Figure 1 (Semino et al)
Phylogeny and frequency distributions of Hg E and its main subclades (panels A-G.)  The numbering of mutations is according to the Y Chromosome Consortium (YCC) (YCC 2002, Jobling and Tyler-Smith 2003). To the left of the phylogeny, the ages (in 1,000 years) of the boxed mutations are reported with their SEs (Zhivotovsky et al. 2004).  [See the paper for the author's further comments on this figure.] 

Consider:  E-M35 crosses a wet Sahara into the Mahgreb and into the Arabian peninsula at the end of the Mousterian Pluvial.  Some descendants of E-M78 take advantage of a lower Mediterranean and cross from Tunisia into Sicily.  Subsequently,  E-M78 again cross the Adriatic into the Balkans during the Upper Paleolithic.  Their E-V13 descendants establish themselves on the Balkan peninsula during the Mesolithic (link).

The climate driven cyclic Out of Africa process is most aptly demonstrated by Haplogroup E because it is more recent (Mousterian Pluvial) than other earlier Out of Africa migrations.  However, the cyclic climate process likely applies to earlier Out of Africa migrations, including those of Haplogroups D and F.


Further Reading:

North African Archaeological Sites:

Was North Africa the Launch Pad for Modern Human Migrations?

Late quarternary climatic reconstruction for the mahgreb (North Africa)

82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior


African Archaeological Sites:

Hunter Gatherer Foraging Strategies in Tropical Grasslands:  Model Building and Testing in the East African Middle and Late Stone Age


Related Posts from this site:

The Mediterranean Coastline During the LGM

Refining the eustatic sea-level curve since the Last Glacial Maximum using far and intermediate field sites

Evidence for African seasonal grassland tactical hunting during the Last Glacial Maximum

Eaten out of house and home:  Homo Sapiens outruns and out hunts their Neandertal cousins

Gazelle Hunters

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blue Marble 3000 Europe

The Mediterranean Coastline During the LGM

Last Glacial Maximum Coastline and Vegetation
map courtesy of the National Geophysical Data Center (Link here for legend)

The impact of glacial maximums are many and include dry and cold conditions.  However, their most obvious impact is that of sea level.  At the height of the LGM approximately 22kya, the worlds oceans were approximately 110 meters lower than they are today.  Even 10kya, the oceans were 40 meters lower than today.

It is interesting to consider the Mediterranean with a lower sea level.

As shown in the above map, Tunisia is connected or almost connected to the toe of Sicily.  Certainly, even 10kya, the crossing would be less than 40km and the opposing shoreline would be within view. 

The Aegean Sea would be smaller. 

Anatolia would be contiguous with Europe.

Cyprus would be less than 40km from the mainland of Anatolia.

The boot of Italy would be very closely connected to Othonoi.  This would connect Italy to Greece.

The Adriatic would be much smaller.  Northern Italy would be more directly connected to the Balkans.

Corsica and Sardinia would be connected and also closer to mainland Italy than today.

Ireland, England and France would be contiguous.

A glacier would separate Northern Italy from France.

I'm not sure about the Straight of Gibraltar. 
(Update (May 28th):  During the glacial maximums 20 kya and 150 kya, the Straight of Gibraltar was narrower, especially at the Camarinal Sill, (Link)

It would be great to see an underwater topological map of the Mediterranean, but so far, I haven't managed to locate one.  In any case, this does help to explain how, for instance, North Africans might have crossed into Italy or even Greece.  They didn't have to be ocean going seafarers to do so.  It also helps to explain the degree of genetic continuity between Greeks and Italians.

I thought I'd mention it, even though so far, I haven't managed to get that underwater topological map.

The Fleming et al paper which I reference in the previous post also shows that the sea level was at least 60 meters lower than today even 50kya, meaning that the Mediterranean coastline of today is an aberration.  With the exception of the last 10 thousand years, it has been relatively easy to cross from Tunisia to Sicily, from the heel of Italy to Greece, from Northern Italy to Corsica and Sardinia, from Anatolia to the Balkans and from Anatolia to Cyprus. 

Moreover, there was a period 150kya when these crossings would also have been more accessible than they are today.

Refining the eustatic sea-level curve since the Last Glacial Maximum using far and intermediate field sites

(a) The eustatic curve of the nominal ice model. 
(b) The eustatic contributions since the Last Glacial Maximum for the three principle ice sheets
(Figure 3 from the paper)

Fleming et al
(Link)

Abstract:

The eustatic component of relative sea-level change provides a measure of the amount of ice transferred between the continents and oceans during glacial cycles. This has been quantified for the period since the Last Glacial Maximum by correcting observed sea-level change for the glacio-hydro-isostatic contributions using realistic ice distribution and earth models. During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) the eustatic sea level was 125 plus or minus 5 m lower than the present day, equivalent to a land-based ice volume of .4:6–4:9/ 107 km3. Evidence for a non-uniform rise in eustatic sea level from the LGM to the end of the deglaciation is examined. The initial rate of rise from ca. 21 to 17 ka was relatively slow with an average rate of ca. 6 m/ka, followed by an average rate of ca. 10 m/ka for the next 10 ka. Significant departures from these average rates may have occurred at the time of the Younger Dryas and possibly also around 14 ka. Most of the decay of the large ice sheets was completed by 7 ka, but 3–5 m of water has been added to the oceans since that time.

Evidence for African seasonal grassland tactical hunting during the Last Glacial Maximum


Lukenya Hill Archeological Site, Athi-Kapiti Plain, Kenya


Hunter-Gatherer Foraging Strategies in Tropical Grasslands: 
Model Building and Testing in the East African Middle and Late Stone Age

Curtis W. Marean
(Link)

Abstract:

Hunter–gatherer adaptations to moist tropical grasslands are not well known from either the ethnographic or the archaeological record. This is unfortunate as grassland adaptations are clearly significant to human biological and behavioral evolution. The most effective strategy for remedying this problem is to develop models for grassland exploitation based on strong understandings of the ecological similarities and differences between cold, temperate, and tropical grasslands. Cold, temperate, and tropical grasslands are similar in that water and raw materials are often scarce and the most abundant large mammals are gregarious and mobile. Tropical grasslands differ from cold and temperate grasslands by having a greater diversity and biomass of edible above-ground plants and plants with underground storage organs, making carbohydrate availability greater and less seasonal. Large mobile mammals and resident large mammals are more diverse and have greater biomass in tropical grasslands. Overall, tropical grasslands are a richer and less seasonally punctuated environment than either cold or temperate grasslands. A comparison of ethnographic data regarding variation in foraging strategies in different cold, temperate, and tropical settings lead to the construction of three models for hunter–gatherer exploitation of tropical grasslands: a Generalized Grassland Model (no specialized tactical hunting—considered the favored model given modern African grassland conditions), a Seasonal Grassland Model (only seasonal use of specialized tactical hunting techniques—considered unlikely for Africa), and a Specialized Grassland Model (regular use of specialized tactical hunting strategies—considered highly unlikely for Africa). A preliminary test of these models shows the Athi-Kapiti Plains Holocene archaeological evidence is most consistent with the Generalized Grassland Model. The Last Glacial Maximum is most consistent with the Seasonal Grassland Model. A single MSA occupation also suggests that specialized tactical hunting strategies were used. These differences in hunting strategies were probably due to the differences in ecological conditions between the Holocene and the Last Glacial Maximum.

From page 217 of the paper:

Several lines of evidence converge to suggest that GvJm46 [Lukenya Hill, Athi-Kapiti Plain, Kenya] was a mass-kill site where the small extinct alcelaphine antelope was repeatedly killed in Late Pleistocene LSA and MSA times: (1) the open location in a natural topographic trap situated in a bottleneck along a well documented migration route, (2) the concentration of one species of grassland antelope compared to high diversities of large ungulates at contemporary nearby residential sites, (3) the catastrophic/life-structure mortality profile, and (4) the likelihood that GvJm46 represents many different kill events.

Helpful Maps:

Map of Kenya, with Athi River and Plain at Center Bottom


World Vegetation Map During the Last Glacial Maximum with African grassland, including Southern Kenya, shown in dark green.


Related Posts:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food: The Hidden Driver of Global Politics

Heatwave and drought in Russia, 2010 (Link)

"The rule of thumb among crop ecologists is that for each one degree celsius rise in temperature, we can expect a ten percent decline in grain yields, so that's the sort of simplest link between rising temperatures and grain yields.  More fundamentally, agriculture as it exists today has evolved during an 11,000 year period in which there has been rather remarkable climate stability, so agriculture is designed to maximize production with that climate system, but that climate system is now changing, so that now, with each passing year, the agricultural system and the climate system are more and more out of sync with each other.  It used to be that when there was a weather event like a monsoon failure in India or a drought in the former Soviet Union, within a year or so, things would go back to normal.  Now, there is no norm to go back to.  Things are in a constant state of flux."

NPR Fresh Air interview with Lester Brown (Link)

Further Reading:

World on the Edge:  How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, Lester Brown

Earth Policy Institute

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eaten out of house and home: Homo Sapiens outruns and out hunts their Neandertal cousins


San Bushmen African Rock Art Depicting an Eland (Link)

Extinction hypotheses for the Neandertal abound.  As we now know, the Neandertal and their Denisovan cousins did not really go "extinct" but do form a small part of the total genetic contribution to Eurasians.

The idea that Neandertals were good hunters has been suggested for several years and was reported in 2006.  Neandertals likely also had the capacity for language as they possessed the Homo Sapiens FOXP2 variants for language. Additionally, the Gaudzinski-Windheuser and Niven paper suggests that Middle Paleolithic Neandertals were top predators who unselectively hunted large ungulates such as reindeer.  They seem to have specialized in eating the bone marrow from these animals.

By the Upper Paleolithic 30,000 years ago, when it is anticipated that Homo Sapiens began to dominate the Eurasian picture, the evidence suggests that Eurasians were eating both meat and bone marrow from bovids, cervids, and caprines.  Birds and other small game animals increasingly formed part of the Upper Paleolithic diet.  The large numbers of single species remains in archaeological kill sites suggests that both Upper Paleolithic Homo Sapiens and Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals seem to have sometimes used mass kill communal hunting strategies.

Which brings us to the modern remnants of mass kill communal hunting strategies, which have persisted where there are bovids or cervids that are not amenable to domestication.  In particular, deer, reindeer, buffalo and gazelles are not amenable to domestication.  It is for these animals that driveline and trap hunting strategies have, until recently, persisted across the globe.  As demonstrated by these examples, there are remarkably detailed similarities in the methods used to hunt remnant populations of bovids and cervids:

Sami Reindeer Funnel Trapping System
Dating the end of Mass Gazelle Hunting on the Khabur River
Nomads of South Siberia:  the pastoral economies of Tuva:  HUNTING TECHNIQUES
Hunting Caribou with Inukshuiit
Communal Buffalo Hunting:  Driveline, Jumps and Pounds

In areas of the globe with climates that were more hospitable to domesticated bovids, cervids and caprines, driveline and trap systems have entirely disappeared.  However, driveline and trap methods don't leave much to the imagination as to how sheep, cattle and goats were domesticated.  Hunters who used the driveline and trap system clearly understood the migration patterns and habits of the animals they hunted.  Their survival depended on this intimate knowledge.  Communal hunters must have eventually realized that certain species of bovids and caprines were more docile and did not necessary have to be killed on the spot after being trapped.  Domestication would have provided them a more steady supply of meat before the next hunt.  Over time, they saved and bred the most docile animals.  Only on the climate margins, where it was either too hot or too cold for domesticated cattle, goats and sheep did communal driveline and trap hunting persist.

The recent discover of a driveline and trap communal hunting system for gazelles in Syria is significant.  It extends the possibility that driveline and trap systems were used across the gazelle kingdom, which would include Africa.  I have voiced my observation that there is a concordance between the distribution of haplogroup E and the historical distribution of gazelles. (See Gazelle Hunters.) 

In the y-dna phylogeny of Homo Sapiens,


it is y-dna haplogroups E and FGHIJKLMNOPQR that dominate the genetic picture of the Middle East, interior Eurasia and the Americas.  African y-dna haplogroups are dominated by A, B and E.  Haplogroups C and D follow a coastal route from Africa all the way to the Pacific Rim.



The geographic distribution of y-dna haplogroups E and FGHIJKLMNOPQR are concordant with the Upper Paleolithic geographic distribution of gazelles, bovids, caprines, and cervids.  The modern societies that are dominant with men with these haplogroups traditionally have diets and cultural rituals that are centered on the eating of  bovids, caprines and cervids.  Whether it is the traditional Boeuf En Daube of Southern France, Kokoretsi of Greece, Haggis of Scotland, Arab Shawarma, Goat-Meat-on-a-Stick in West Africa, Jordanian Mansaf, Berber Mechoui, Mongolian Barbeque, Khlav Kalash or American Burgers, it is evident that the descendants of E and FGHIJKLMNOPQR haplogroup(y-dna) dominant cultures have a penchant for the meat and/or milk of large undulates.  They also possess a history of either domesticating these animals and/or utilizing communal hunting strategies to corral and kill seasonally large quantities of meat.

By comparison, y-dna haplogroups B, C and D dominant cultures have diets that are more diversified, with fish, reptiles, fish eggs, bird eggs and small mammals constituting a larger portion of their protein diet.

Haplogroup A(y-dna) is present in Africa.  It is strongly associated with the Khoisan, San or Bushmen people of South Africa and Namibia and with the Dinka, Shillik, Nuba and other pastoral people of the Sudan.   A deeper understanding of the autosomal genetic history of the Khoisan, against a Bantu (E haplogroup dominant) background, was explored in last year's open source paper Complete Khoisan and Bantu genomes from Southern Africa.  The Khoisan are the most genetically diverse of the living descendants of Homo Sapiens and they also likely preserve some cultural remnants of our distant Homo Sapiens past.  Given their position in Africa, the Khoisan (or Bushmen) also would be the least likely to have any traces of either Neandertal or Denisovan genetics. 

Can we learn anything from Khoisan hunting strategies and culture that would give us a clue as to what Homo Sapiens had as an advantage over Neanderthals and Denisovans?

The San employ an extraordinary hunting strategy called persistance hunting which requires the capacity for endurance running.  Here's the youtube video:

Recent research by David Raichlen and his team at the University of Arizona, Tucson, corroborates that Neandertals did not have the endurance running capabilities of the San.

Somewhere on their journey between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Homo Sapiens refined their persistence hunting technique.  The desert kite find in Syria is significant because it locates the refinement of San persistence hunting into Eurasian driveline and trap persistance hunting between Africa and the Arabian peninsula.  As Homo Sapiens came into contact with the Neandertal, they may even have borrowed some hunting tricks such as exploiting migratory paths and pitfalls.  Once driveline and trap hunting persistance techniques for large ungulates were perfected, the ability to endurance run allowed long range multiday round ups of bovids, caprines and cervids.

The demise of the Neandertal is therefore likely due to nothing more than Homo Sapiens outrunning and out hunting their Neandertal cousins.  "Eaten out of house and home" comes to mind.

Nomads of South Siberia: the pastoral economies of Tuva: HUNTING TECHNIQUES


By S. I. Vainshtein

Chapter 5: 

HUNTING TECHNIQUES

page 172:
   "Marals were hunted with the aid of pipes (murgu in eastern Tuva, amyrga in the west), which imitated the call of the male.  They were between 60 and 70 cm long and were made in the following way:  a piece of cedar wood was carved into a conical shape;  it was then cut in half, and the two halves were hewn out, fastened together, and wrapped up in birch bark;  the pointed end was inserted into a horn mouthpiece with a hole in it."
   "When hunting roe-deer or musk-deer, the Tuvinians used a special sqeaker called ediski, a piece of birch bark about 4.5 by 5 cm, which was folded double.  It was used also by the Shors, who called it by the same name; by the Khakass, who called it symyskha or symysky; and by the Kirghiz and the Mongols."
  
page 173:
   "Hunting in Tuva was done not only on an individual basis, but also by the artel, a type of collective (worker's guild) with ancient traditions.  The composition of artels in the nineteenth an early twentieth centuries was not fixed, since they came together usually towards the beginning of the hunting season and dissolved when it ended, re-forming into different groups for the subsequent year's hunting.  Membership had nothing to do with kinship ties, rather it was based on roughly equal hunting ability, and this often brought representatives of different aals together.  It was usual, of course, for a father and his son or the brothers of one aal to belong to the same artel, but this was not always so.  The artel was headed by the most experienced and most senior hunter.  All the members of the artel would, as far as possible, take with them equal amounts of food and ammunition, which were pooled and used collectively.  The bag was shared out strictly equally, regardless of each man's contribution to the pool; equal shares were given to the young man who had joined his father in the hunt for the first time and to the old, experienced hunter.  If anything was left over, it was given to the most successful hunter, which did not necessarily mean the leader."
  
page 179:
   "In Todja, according to the old men's tales, abattis in the mid-nineteenth century were built by the men of an entire clan.  The right to use an abattis usually belonged only to those who had built them."
   "The Todjins practised one other form of collective hunting for ungulates, called kedeer.  In autumn and early winter the hunters noted from the animals' tracks which path the herd had followed when leaving the mountain taiga for the valley;  in spring, with the advent of warmer weather, the animals returned to the mountains by the same route and the hunters ambushed them."
   "In spring, usually at the end of March, many of the men formed into groups to go hunting across the frozen snow on skis (ydalaar).  In eastern Tuva such groups, including beaters and gunmen, were known as tuspaar.  Early in the morning, when the snow-crust was still hard, the gunmen would hide in the valley, while the beaters accompanied by two or three of their best dogs, which were trained to pursue an animal across the hard snow, went up into the mountains on their skis.  The animal would head for the valley in the attempt to escape form its pursuers, and there it would run into the ambush.  The ydalaar hunting method was used also to catch fur-bearing animals, including the sable."
   "The commonest form of hunting in Tuva, especially in Todja, was the chase/hunt (turalaar, or in central Tuva, duralap angnaar, and in western Tuva, segirtip angnaar), in which between four and ten hunters took part, or sometimes as many as twenty.  A group of seven, for example, would consist of two beaters, agjylar, and five gunmen, turajylar.  The gunmen would climb up to the pass and, speading out in a broken line, they would lie in wait.  Meanwhile, the beaters hit the tree-trunks with sticks and filled the forest with loud shouting while moving towards the ambush, either on foot or on horseback.  The frightened prey would run through the undergrowth towards the pass, where the gunmen were waiting."
   "When elks, roe-deer, saiga antelopes, and other ungulates were caught and killed, their meat was divided equally among all the beaters while the skins and horns went to the gunman who had made the kill."

(Link)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Middle Paleolithic seasonally restricted unselective reindeer killing in Northern Germany

"The reindeer assemblage from Salzgitter Lebenstedt indicates a procurement tactic different from the evidence provided by the bovid assemblages. Hunting at Salzgitter Lebenstedt can be characterized as seasonally restricted unselective killing with subsequent exploitation of only high nutritional resources. The topographic setting of Salzgitter Lebenstedt, in a small, steep valley which joins a major wide river valley is extremely well suited for hunting reindeer (Spiess, 1979) and is comparable to the German Late Glacial camps Meiendorf and Stellmoor in the Ahrensburger Tunnel valley(Rust, 1943; Tode, 1953; Gronnow, 1987; Bratlund, 1996). For the Ahrensburgian level(Dryas 3, ca. 12000 CAL. BP) at the latter site, patterns of reindeer exploitation were interpreted along the same lines as for Salzgitter Lebenstedt (Gronnow, 1987). The Ahrensburger Tunneltal and Salzgitter data indicate a remarkable degree of similarity in the physical treatment of reindeer prey by late Glacial hunters (Gaudzinski & Roebroeks, 2000)."
(Link)