To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Herbivore distribution throughout Africa is strongly linked to mean annual precipitation. We use that relationship to predict functional group composition of herbivore communities during the last glacial maximum (ca. 21 ka) on the now submerged Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP), South Africa. We used metabolic large herbivore biomass (MLHB) from 39 South African protected areas, in five functional groups (characterized by behavior and physiology). We examined how modern factors influenced MLHB and considered the effects of biome, annual rainfall, percentage winter rainfall, and protected area size. Overall, biome was the most important factor influencing the relationship between MLHB and rainfall. In general, MLHB increased with rainfall, but not for the grassland biome. Outside grasslands, most functional groups’ metabolic biomass increased with increasing rainfall, irrespective of biome, except for medium-sized social mixed feeder species in savanna and thicket. Protected area size was influential for medium-sized social mixed feeders and large browsers and rainfall influenced medium-sized social mixed feeders, offering some perspectives on spatial constraints on past large herbivore biomass densities. These results improve our understanding of the likely herbivore community composition and relative biomass structure on the PAP, an essential driver of how early humans utilized large mammals as a food resource.
Pinnacle Point (PP) near Mossel Bay in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, is known for a series of archaeological caves with important archaeological finds. Extensive excavations and studies in two of them (PP13B and PP5-6) have documented alternating periods of anthropogenic-dominated and geogenic-dominated sedimentation. A variety of caves do not bear evidence of anthropogenic remains. We have studied in detail the remnant deposits of three of them, Staircase Cave, Crevice Cave, and PP29, which have been formed under the same geologic and sedimentary conditions with those with anthropogenic contributions. Their remains are small and patchy but have extensive speleothem formations (as do most caves at PP) that were isotopically analyzed for paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. These caves also offer the opportunity to understand the purely geogenic signature of the PP locality and thus offer a geogenic baseline for the anthropogenic caves. Archaeologists normally focus only on sites with strong anthropogenic signals, but by building cave life histories we “raise the bar” (Goldberg 2008, p. 30) on our contextual knowledge.
Highly resolved, well-dated paleoclimate records from the southern South African coast are needed to contextualize the evolution of the highly diverse extratropical plant communities of the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) and to assess the environmental impacts on early human hunter-gatherers. We present new speleothem stable oxygen and carbon isotope ratios (δ18Oc and δ13C) from two caves at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, covering the time between 330 and 43 ka. Composite δ18Oc and δ13C records were constructed for Staircase Cave and PP29 by combining all stable isotope analyses into a single time series and smoothing by a 3-point running mean. δ18Oc and δ13C values record changes in rainfall seasonality and the proportions of C3 and C4 plants in the vegetation, respectively. We show that in general increased summer rainfall brought about a wider spread of C4 grasses and retreat of the C3 plant–dominated GCFR communities. The occurrence of summer rainfall on the southern coast of South Africa was linked to total rainfall amounts in the interior region through tropical temperate troughs. These rainfall systems shifted the southern coastal climate toward more summer (winter) rainfall when precession was high (low) and/or the westerlies were in a northern (southern) position.
An assemblage of micromammals, recovered from the Holocene levels of a rockshelter at 2400 m in the montane forest of the Mau Escarpment, were examined with the goal of testing and contributing to prior reconstructions of paleoenvironments in the Central Rift Valley of Kenya. Species representation in the assemblage is consistent with a drying of the Rift Valley lakes in the middle Holocene and suggests a decrease in forest accompanied by expanding grasslands near the site. Changes in the abundance of grassland species suggests an increase in the frequency of fires, probably the result of pastoral burning. The body size of the root rat (Tachyoryctes splendens) decreases from the early Holocene to the middle Holocene, and this may indicate increasing aridity or increasing temperature. We compare measures of species diversity (number of taxa, species richness, and the Shannon diversity index) for both micromammals and macromammals since species diversity may change with paleoenvironmental change. The macromammals show no changes in species diversity that are assignable to paleoenvironmental change, while the micromammals show a trend toward decreasing diversity from the early to middle Holocene, and then show an increase in diversity during the peak of the middle Holocene dry phase, though sample size effects may be confounding the patterning.
Late Quaternary paleoenvironmental data for East Africa are derived primarily from montane sources and thus we know little about the changing composition of East African savannas. Four archaeological sites at Lukenya Hill in the savanna of the Athi-Kapiti Plains of Kenya that date to the last 40,000 yr preserve a large mammalian fauna. The prehistoric hunters concentrated on migratory ungulates and virtually ignored the resident inselberg ungulates throughout the occupation. Faunas of the last glacial maximum are dominated by an extinct small alcelaphine antelope. Arid-adapted ungulates are present that are regionally absent historically, and Pelorovis is present as well. The small alcelaphine and arid-adapted ungulates are absent in the Holocene deposits. This suggests that there was an expansion of dry savannas during the last glacial maximum. The last glacial maximum aridity, combined with a lack of pastoral-set fires, would have resulted in a vegetative mosaic distinct from the present. Dry woody growth and dry and/or tall grass, all of which are poor forage for ungulates, would have been common where seasonally moist short grasslands are presently extant. These conditions favored the large-bodied, highly hypsodont species in Africa that became extinct with the onset of wet conditions during the early Holocene.
There now seems little doubt that Neanderthals were replaced by modern humans from Africa. The counterintuitive character of this stems from the fact that Neanderthals were a highly successful species specially adapted to these cold temperate and cold environments, but were replaced by a species evolved in the tropics. Explaining this evolutionary event mandates the integration of the ecological conditions for hominin evolution in western Eurasia and tropical Africa wedded to a bio-behavioural perspective that seamlessly joins the evidence for archaeology, physical anthropology, and human biology. Drawing on ecological theory and evidence for physiological and behavioural differences between modern humans and Neanderthals, I construct a model that argues that Neanderthals evolved a bio-behavioural faunal exploitation strategy that was high risk, high cost, high return and was focused on the pursuit of larger mammals than later appearing modern humans. Modern humans evolved in Africa a strategy that was more low risk, low cost, and focused on more consistent returns, overall more generalised, and based on technological flexibility coupled to knowledge transmission through language. Its routes lie in the development of a strategy to cope with the high diversity of plant foods in Africa, and their spatial and temporal variations. Neanderthals and modern humans evolved distinct adaptational paths characterised by distinct faunal exploitation strategies that, when juxtaposed together in initial sympatry after the migration of modern humans into Eurasia, resulted in modern humans usurping the niche space of Neanderthals and forcing them into extinction.
Il y a désormais peu de doute sur le fait que l'homme de Néandertal a été remplacé en Europe par des populations modernes provenant d'Afrique. Le caractère contre intuitif de ce constat vient du fait que les Néandertaliens étaient une espèce particulièrement adaptée aux milieux tempérés et froids, mais qu'elle a été remplacée par une espèce qui a évolué dans les tropiques. L'explication de cet événement demande que l'on conjugue les conditions écologiques de l’évolution des hominidés en Eurasie occidentale et en Afrique tropicale avec une perspective sur le comportement biologique qui permette de relier progressivement les données de l'archéologie, de l'anthropologie physique et de la biologie humaine.
Zooarchaeologists utilize a diverse set of approaches for quantifying cutmark frequencies. The least quantitative method for cutmark analysis relies on composite diagrams of cutmarks overlain on drawings of skeletal elements (diagramatic methods). To date, interpretations of these data have generally relied on qualitative and subjective assessments of cutmark frequency and placement. Many analysts count the number of fragments that have a cutmark, regardless of the number of cutmarks on the fragments (fragment-count data). Others count the number of cutmarks (cutmark-count data). Both can be expressed as simple counts (NISP data), or as a count of some more-derived measure of skeletal element abundance (MNE data). All of these approaches provide different types of data and are not intercomparable. Several researchers have shown that fragmentation of specimens impacts the frequency of cuts, and we show here that fragmentation impacts all these current approaches in ways that compromise comparative analysis when fragmentation differs between assemblages. We argue that cutmark frequencies from assemblages with differing levels of fragmentation are most effectively made comparable by correcting the frequency of cutmarks by the observed surface area. We present a new method that allows this surface area correction by using the image analysis abilities of GIS. This approach overcomes the fragmentation problem. We illustrate the power of this technique by comparing a highly fragmented archaeological assemblage to an unfragmented experimental collection.
Most zooarchaeologists employ some type of derived measure of skeletal element abundance in their analyses of faunal data. The minimum number of individuals (MNI) and the minimum number of animal units (MAU) are two of the most popular derived measurements, and each is based on a prior estimate of the minimum number of elements (MNE). Thus, the estimate of MNE from fragmented faunal fragments is the essential foundation for all inferences emanating from MNI and MAU estimates of skeletal element abundance. Estimating the MNE represented by a sample of faunal fragments is a complicated procedure that involves various assumptions, possible mathematical manipulations, and subjectivity. Unfortunately, the reasoning and methods underlying this procedure are unstandardized in zooarchaeology, and even worse, rarely made explicit. We review the scarce literature on this topic and identify two different approaches: the fraction summation approach and the overlap approach. We identify strengths and weaknesses in both approaches. We then present a new method that is based on using image-analysis GIS software to count overlapping fragments that have been converted to pixel images. This method maintains the strengths of the other methods while overcoming most of their weaknesses. It promises numerous powerful analytical capabilities that go far beyond the routines available in spreadsheets and databases. It also offers nearly boundless flexibility in database recoding and extremely complete information storage. Perhaps its greatest strength is that it is based on very intuitive reasoning.
Utility-based studies are attractive to zooarchaeologists because they afford the opportunity of investigating economic decisions relative to particular contexts. While a positive relationship between utility and skeletal element abundance is anticipated at residential sites, a reverse utility curve is most common. A popular mechanistic explanation argues that reverse utility curves result from density-mediated destruction of bone, suggesting that utility-based studies will rarely be successful as density-mediated destruction will overwhelm any skeletal element patterning created by differential transport. We show with archaeological and experimental/naturalistic taphonomic data that the mechanistic explanation is overstated. Fauna from Kobeh cave (a Mousterian site) and "Ain Dara (an Iron Age site) both show a reverse utility pattern when estimates of long bone abundance are based just on ends (the procedure followed at all sites that have shown a reverse utility pattern), and all bones are plotted together. When long bone abundance is estimated from the middle shaft portion, the reverse utility pattern collapses and a positive relationship arises. The ubiquity of the reverse utility curve derives in many cases from basing long bone abundance estimates on ends and scatter-plotting the abundance of long bones with non-long bones, thus restricting the analysis to the least dense most spongy bone portions. Long bone abundance estimates must include the middle shaft portion to attain accurate estimates of element abundance. Long bone abundance, when based on shaft portions, can be usefully compared to utility to investigate utility-based models of human behavior.
Animal bones discarded by people are commonly subject to disturbance by carnivores. These carnivores are present throughout the world and include wolves, coyotes, hyenas, and many others. This disturbance not only modifies and destroys bone, but also moves many of the bone fragments away from their original position of discard. Intrasite spatial analyses of bone that seek patterns meaningful to human behavior thus need to subtract the effect of carnivore disturbance. Experimental studies with spotted hyenas show that the position of a bone fragment on a limb bone, combined with bone surface modification, can be used to identify a class of bone fragments that are minimally affected by carnivores and are thus the best indicators of spatial patterning resulting from human behavior. Limb-bone ends are moved significant distances, as are shaft fragments as a general class. However, middle-shaft portions of limb bones that preserve percussion marks from hammerstone breakage retain nearly the precise spatial position as originally discarded by hominids. Thus, any spatial analysis of bone, when carnivores are implicated as contributors or consumers at an archaeological site, should focus on middle-shaft portions of limb bones with percussion marks.
Most zooarchaeologists estimate limb-bone abundance from limb ends. Researchers have provided detailed documentation of the preferential destruction by carnivores of limb ends (Binford 1981; Binford et al. 1988; Blumenschine 1988; Brain 1981; Marean et al. 1990; Orloff and Marean 1990; Sutcliffe 1970). Others have observed differences between limb abundances calculated on limb shafts vs. ends, suggesting shaft pieces may provide more accurate estimates of original element abundance in carnivore-ravaged assemblages (Bunn 1986; Bunn and Kroll 1986; Blumenschine 1988; Klein 1975; Marean et al. 1990; Orloff and Marean 1990). However, the exact quantitative effect of carnivore ravaging on measures of element abundance has never been investigated. We provide an experimental test of the accuracy of different bone portions for estimating the original element abundance after carnivore ravaging. Spotted hyenas were allowed to ravage 33 simulated archaeological sites of known element abundance. Estimates of abundance calculated on limb ends differ greatly from original bone abundance, and estimates based on proximal/distal-shaft pieces are also inaccurate. Estimates from middle-shaft fragments, however, are uniquely accurate. These experimental data mandate reanalysis of assemblages where limb frequencies were calculated from limb ends and carnivore ravaging is implicated, and experimentally vindicate observations originally provided by Klein (1975).
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.