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Seasonal variations directly impacted the social and economic activities of past human populations. Cementochronology is one of the methods available to address seasonality questions. It relies on the cyclic deposition rate of dental cementum observed microscopically on petrographic thin‐sections of animal teeth from archaeological contexts. However, no protocol exists to select a Region of Interest (ROI) or to identify the last cementum increment. This chapter proposes consensual biological and optical criteria for the selection of optimal ROIs and their analysis. Interobserver tests were performed to assess the criteria, as well as age and season of death, on thirty thin‐sections of modern documented reindeer teeth. Results demonstrate the accuracy, and replicability of this protocol, and emphasize the influence of training and experience for the proper implementation of cementochronology.
For human dental cementum research, sample preparation protocol is now widely tested, validated, and standardized, thanks to the low variability in teeth morphology. For non-human mammals, posterior teeth are typically preferred. However, the taxa diversity implies a significant variation in morphology or specific characteristics for certain species (equids, suids), leading to multiple unstandardized protocols. This work aims to improve protocols for producing a thin section by optimizing the parameters, minimizing the risk of errors, and offering an easily reproducible quality of thin-sections. The result of 26 experiments and 124 analyses during stages of consolidation (embedding), cutting, gluing, and finishing (grinding) allowed the co-authors' combined experience from multiple laboratories to propose standardized humans and ungulates (large teeth) protocols for the systematic analysis of dental research collections.
The activities’ spatial organization of Neanderthal’s territory is often explored by studying stone tool production and use, and its economy, but not their hunting behavior. Consequently, the hypothesis that Neanderthals lacked planning potential or complex land-use strategies during the Mousterian, such as collaborative hunting and food storage, has been questioned. A cementochronology analysis of reindeer in Quina and Discoidal Denticulate in four neanderthal sites in southwestern France suggests a repeated use of specific sites at a precise time of the year for similar hunting purposes scheduled according to a year-round pattern. The development of landmark sites during the late Middle Paleolithic used every year, at the same moment, indicates that the predation system began to structure the activity’s organization within the territory in time and space and that the preys’ behavior directly impacted the social organization of the hunting groups.
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