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 on: September 06, 2009, 11:34:55 PM 
Started by trehinp - Last post by aggsbach
A book focusing on womens labour in the paleolithic is Linda Owens (from the Tübingen group) publication:

Distorting the Past: Gender and the Division of Labor in the European Upper Paleolithic.ISBN: 978-3-935751-02-5

Hardcover. 240 pgs., 37 illus.

39.95 Euro
which can be ordered by amazon (Germany)

Best regards

 on: September 06, 2009, 03:39:53 PM 
Started by Jacques Cinq-Mars - Last post by E.P. Grondine
Thanks for passing this on. I only have one question about the "FACT" you mention. Yes, but so what?

A pleasure to pass it on, Jacques, and thank you for keeping the topic open for discussion even when the hypothesis was widely condemned and ridiculed. The FACT wording was Leroy Ellenbreger's comment; he's been at this longer than I have, so you can imagine his relief.

"Yes, but so what?"  At this point, I'm too tired to say. What do you think?

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas

 on: September 05, 2009, 11:22:14 PM 
Started by Jacques Cinq-Mars - Last post by Jacques Cinq-Mars
Via Leroy Ellenberger...

History Channel has premiered a subject program about impacts on Earth from meteors,
asteroids, comets and space debris:


The program will be re-broadcast Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.
EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. EDT and Wed. Sept. 16
at midnight EDT. Check your local schedule.

...A surprising subject was the work of Ohio archaeologist Ken Tankersley (Kent State Univ.)
at Sheriden Cave in Ohio where he and his team have been excavating remains of
Pleistocene mega-fauna and Clovis artifacts from the horizon at 12,900 B.P.

The FACT of the Younger-Dryas impact at this time was practically implicit in the program.

Thanks for passing this on. I only have one question about the "FACT" you mention. Yes, but so what?

 on: September 03, 2009, 02:46:27 PM 
Started by Jacques Cinq-Mars - Last post by E.P. Grondine
Via Leroy Ellenberger...

History Channel has premiered a subject program about impacts on Earth from meteors,
asteroids, comets and space debris:


The program will be re-broadcast Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.
EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. EDT and Wed. Sept. 16
at midnight EDT. Check your local schedule.

...A surprising subject was the work of Ohio archaeologist Ken Tankersley (Kent State Univ.)
at Sheriden Cave in Ohio where he and his team have been excavating remains of
Pleistocene mega-fauna and Clovis artifacts from the horizon at 12,900 B.P.

The FACT of the Younger-Dryas impact at this time was practically implicit in the program.

 on: September 03, 2009, 04:45:10 AM 
Started by aggsbach - Last post by aggsbach
The autors report dates for two western Mediterranean hand-axe sites that are nearly twice the age of the supposed earliest Acheulian in western Europe. Palaeomagnetic analysis of these two sites in southeastern Spain found reverse polarity magnetozones, showing that hand-axes were already in Europe as early as 0.9 Myr ago. This expanded antiquity for European hand-axe culture supports a wide geographic distribution of Palaeolithic bifacial technology outside of Africa during the Early Pleistocene.
The publication can be found here:
One of these handaxes is attached to this message

 on: August 25, 2009, 12:38:27 AM 
Started by Robert Henvell - Last post by Robert Henvell
Collation of the Island SE Asian archaeological and prehistory
data for ca 2500-1000BC has not yielded sufficient definitive
information to confidently reconstruct the chronology of human
migration patterns.Red-slipped pottery,Fengtian nephrite and
possibly an Austronesian language were introduced to NE
Cagayan coast of Luzon in the Philippines post ca 2000BC
[A Mijares,2005,2008] from eastern Taiwan.It is difficult to
trace the movement of red-slipped pottery along the maritime
west coast of the Philippines towards Borneo and the Moluccas
,because there is a paucity of reliable age determinations.Red-
slipped ceramics,which were excavated on NE  Borneo [eg:
Bukit Tengkorah rockshelters,P Bellwood,1989] and Molucca
[eg:Uttamdi rockshelter,Kayao Island east if Halmanera
Island,P Bellwood,1993] post date 1250BC.No red-slipped
pottery shards were retrieved from the Tanjung Pinang rock-
shelter on south Morotai,ENE of Halmanera,which is
occupied by Papuan speakers [G Irwin,1996].People,who
made red-slipped ceramics “might” have introduced an
Austronesian language to parts of the east coast Indonesian
Archipelago post 1250BC.Their ancestors may have made
similar type vessels in eastern Taiwan as early as 2250-2200
BC [speculation].No dentate decorations have been
identified on red-slipped shards from Taiwan to Uttamdi
via the Palawan Island maritime route.

P Bellwood [1976] obtained a date of ca 2563 BC +/- 80a
cal’07 from a charcoal sample near the base of the ceramic
level ,which contained some red-slipped potshards at the
Leang Tuwo Mane’e site on the Talaud Islands.This predates
the arrival of this ceramic type on NE Luzon [ca 2000BC]
and the evolution of  the Lapita dentate pottery style on Manus
Island post 1450BC.The Talaud Islands are much closer to
Manus than Taiwan is.Many elements of the Lapita cultural
Package were available in or near Island Melanesia pre-1450
BC [eg:shell adzes].

Some of the obsidian,which was retrieved from the upper
levels at Bukit Tengkorah was sourced in Talasea,New
Britain and obsidian in the lower layers came partly from
the Talaud Islands [S Chia.1997].J Chazine [2005]
reported  that obsidian,a Vanatua type inhumation, pot-
shards with dentate motifs and a funerary jar with
affinities to Lapita ceramics,were excavated at Gua Batu-
Aji in East Kalimantan.He has tentatively proposed a late
Lapita era for this cultural material [?],which indicates
interaction with Lapita communities to the east.Maritime
contacts within NE and eastern Indonesia were complex
after ca 1250BC.

There is a possibility that Austronesian speakers did not
reach the eastern extremities of Island SE Asia until ca
1250BC,which post dates the initial dispersal  of Lapita
pottery.This is compatible with the absence of the
Polynesian genetic motif among ancient Lapita remains
east of New Britain.There is no diagnostic evidence that
the dispersal of Lapita pottery is associated with the
spread of Austronesian languages.The latter could have
been introduced later as the ancestors of Polynesian
women voyaged eastward.

The above reconstruction is not based on sufficient
reliable information and is blatantly speculative.Its
main objective is to emphasis the wide range of
available options,that can be derived from the current
data base.

 on: August 12, 2009, 06:08:35 PM 
Started by Jacques Cinq-Mars - Last post by Don
Thanks Jacques, much appreciated.

The hobbits are assuming ever greater importance as the remains are better studied and the implications become apparent.

 on: August 12, 2009, 05:44:41 PM 
Started by Jacques Cinq-Mars - Last post by Jacques Cinq-Mars

I really think that my (or someone else's) comments on Argue's paper will have to wait a bit in order to make them in the full context of what has just popped up, i.e., a full scale Hobblitz that is to be published soon (?) by the the Journal of Human Evolution. Here is, below, the full set of abstracts of the promised papers. Note that I took the liberty to "borrow" them from a series of posts that Steve Wang just made on < >. Many thanks Steve!

Larson et al. JHE. In Press.
Descriptions of the upper limb skeleton of Homo floresiensis


Several bones of the upper extremity were recovered during excavations of Late Pleistocene deposits at Liang Bua, Flores, and these have been attributed to Homo floresiensis. At present, these upper limb remains have been assigned to six different individuals – LB1, LB2, LB3, LB4, LB5, and LB6. Several of these bones are complete or nearly so, but some are quite fragmentary. All skeletal remains recovered from Liang Bua were extremely fragile, but have now been stabilized and hardened in the laboratory in Jakarta. They are now curated in museum-quality containers at the National Research and Development Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta, Indonesia. These skeletal remains are described and illustrated photographically. The upper limb presents a unique mosaic of derived (human-like) and primitive morphologies, the combination of which is never found in either healthy or pathological modern humans.

Jungers et al. JHE. In Press.

Descriptions of the lower limb skeleton of Homo floresiensis.

Bones of the lower extremity have been recovered for up to nine different individuals of Homo floresiensis – LB1, LB4, LB6, LB8, LB9, LB10, LB11, LB13, and LB14. LB1 is represented by a bony pelvis (damaged but now repaired), femora, tibiae, fibulae, patellae, and numerous foot bones. LB4/2 is an immature right tibia lacking epiphyses. LB6 includes a fragmentary metatarsal and two pedal phalanges. LB8 is a nearly complete right tibia (shorter than that of LB1). LB9 is a fragment of a hominin femoral diaphysis. LB10 is a proximal hallucal phalanx. LB11 includes pelvic fragments and a fragmentary metatarsal. LB13 is a patellar fragment, and LB14 is a fragment of an acetabulum. All skeletal remains recovered from Liang Bua were extremely fragile, and some were badly damaged when they were removed temporarily from Jakarta. At present, virtually all fossil materials have been returned, stabilized, and hardened. These skeletal remains are described and illustrated photographically. The lower limb skeleton exhibits a uniquely mosaic pattern, with many primitive-like morphologies; we have been unable to find this combination of ancient and derived (more human-like) features in either healthy or pathological modern humans, regardless of body size. Bilateral asymmetries are slight in the postcranium, and muscle markings are clearly delineated on all bones. The long bones are robust, and the thickness of their cortices is well within the ranges seen in healthy modern humans. LB1 is most probably a female based on the shape of her greater sciatic notch, and the marked degree of lateral iliac flaring recalls that seen in australopithecines such as ``Lucy'' (AL 288-1). The metatarsus has a human-like robusticity formula, but the proximal pedal phalanges are relatively long and robust (and slightly curved). The hallux is fully adducted, but we suspect that a medial longitudinal arch was absent.

Falk et al. JHE. In Press.

LB1's virtual endocast, microcephaly, and hominin brain evolution.

Earlier observations of the virtual endocast of LB1, the type specimen for Homo floresiensis, are reviewed, extended, and interpreted. Seven derived features of LB1's cerebral cortex are detailed: a caudallypositioned occipital lobe, lack of a rostrally-located lunate sulcus, a caudally-expanded temporal lobe, advanced morphology of the lateral prefrontal cortex, shape of the rostral prefrontal cortex, enlarged gyri in the frontopolar region, and an expanded orbitofrontal cortex. These features indicate that LB1's brain was globally reorganized despite its ape-sized cranial capacity (417 cm3). Neurological reorganization may thus form the basis for the cognitive abilities attributed to H. floresiensis. Because of its tiny cranial capacity, some workers think that LB1 represents a Homo sapiens individual that was afflicted with microcephaly, or some other pathology, rather than a new species of hominin. We respond to concerns about our earlier study of microcephalics compared with normal individuals, and reaffirm that LB1 did not suffer from this pathology. The intense controversy about LB1 reflects an older continuing dispute about the relative evolutionary importance of brain size versus neurological reorganization. LB1 may help resolve this debate and illuminate constraints that governed hominin brain evolution.

Brown & Maeda JHE. In Press
Liang Bua Homo floresiensis mandibles and mandibular teeth: A contribution to the comparative morphology of a new hominin species.

In 2004, a new hominin species, Homo floresiensis, was described from Late Pleistocene cave deposits at Liang Bua, Flores. H. floresiensis was remarkable for its small body-size, endocranial volume in the chimpanzee range, limb proportions and skeletal robusticity similar to Pliocene Australopithecus, and a skeletal morphology with a distinctive combination of symplesiomorphic, derived, and unique traits. Critics of H. floresiensis as a novel species have argued that the Pleistocene skeletons from Liang Bua either fall within the range of living Australomelanesians, exhibit the attributes of growth disorders found in modern humans, or a combination of both. Here we describe the morphology of the LB1, LB2, and LB6 mandibles and mandibular teeth from Liang Bua. Morphological and metrical comparisons of the mandibles demonstrate that they share a distinctive suite of traits that place them outside both the H. sapiens and H. erectus ranges of variation. While having the derived molar size of later Homo, the symphyseal, corpus, ramus, and premolar morphologies share similarities with both Australopithecus and early Homo. When the mandibles are considered with the existing evidence for cranial and postcranial anatomy, limb proportions, and the functional anatomy of the wrist and shoulder, they are in many respects closer to African early Homo or Australopithecus than to later Homo. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the ancestors of H. floresiensis left Africa before the evolution of H. erectus, as defined by the Dmanisi and East African evidence.

Argue et al. JHE. In Press
Homo floresiensis: A cladistic analysis.

The announcement of a new species, Homo floresiensis, a primitive hominin that survived until relatively recent times is an enormous challenge to paradigms of human evolution. Until this announcement, the dominant paradigm stipulated that: 1) only more derived hominins had emerged from Africa, and 2) H. sapiens was the only hominin since the demise of Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis. Resistance to H. floresiensis has been intense, and debate centers on two sets of competing hypotheses: 1) that it is a primitive hominin, and 2) that it is a modern human, either a pygmoid form or a pathological individual. Despite a range of analytical techniques having been applied to the question, no resolution has been reached. Here, we use cladistic analysis, a tool that has not, until now, been applied to the problem, to establish the phylogenetic position of the species. Our results produce two equally parsimonious phylogenetic trees. The first suggests that H. floresiensis is an early hominin that emerged after Homo rudolfensis (1.86 Ma) but before H. habilis (1.66 Ma, or after 1.9 Ma if the earlier chronology for H. habilis is retained). The second tree indicates H. floresiensis branched after Homo habilis.

Holliday & Franciscus JHE In Press.

Body size and its consequences: Allometry and the lower limb length of Liang Bua 1 (Homo floresiensis).

Bivariate femoral length allometry in recent humans, Pan, and Gorilla is investigated with special reference to the diminutive Liang Bua (LB) 1 specimen (the holotype of Homo floresiensis) and six early Pleistocene femora referred to the genus Homo. Relative to predicted body mass, Pan and Gorilla femora show strong negative length allometry while recent human femora evince isometry to positive allometry, depending on sample composition and line-fitting technique employed. The allometric trajectories of Pan and Homo show convergence near the small body size range of LB 1, such that LB 1 manifests a low percentage deviation (dyx of Smith [1980]) from the Pan allometric trajectory and falls well within the 95% confidence limits around the Pan individuals (but also outside the 95% confidence limits for recent Homo). In contrast, the six early Pleistocene Homo femora, belonging to larger individuals, show much greater dyx values from both Pan and Gorilla and fall well above the 95% confidence limits for these taxa. All but one of these Pleistocene Homo specimens falls within the 95% confidence limits of the recent human sample. Similar results are obtained when femoral length is regressed on femoral head diameter in unlogged bivariate space. Regardless of the ultimate taxonomic status of LB 1, these findings are consistent with a prediction made by us (Franciscus and Holliday, 1992) that hominins in the small body size range of A.L. 288-1 ("Lucy''), including members of the genus Homo, will tend to possess short, apelike lower limbs as a function of body size scaling.

Baab & McNulty JHE In Press
Size, shape, and asymmetry in fossil hominins: The status of the LB1 cranium based on 3D morphometric analyses

The unique set of morphological characteristics of the Liang Bua hominins (Homo floresiensis) has been attributed to explanations as diverse as insular dwarfism and pathological microcephaly. This study examined the relationship between cranial size and shape across a range of hominin and African ape species to test whether or not cranial morphology of LB1 is consistent with the basic pattern of static allometry present in these various taxa. Correlations between size and 3D cranial shape were explored using principal components analysis in shape space and in Procrustes form space. Additionally, patterns of static allometry within both modern humans and Plio-Pleistocene hominins were used to simulate the expected cranial shapes of each group at the size of LB1. These hypothetical specimens were compared to LB1 both visually and statistically. Results of most analyses indicated that LB1 best fits predictions for a small specimen of fossil Homo but not for a small modern human. This was especially true for analyses of neurocranial landmarks. Results from the whole cranium were less clear about the specific affinities of LB1, but, importantly, demonstrated that aspects of facial morphology associated with smaller size converge on modern human morphology. This suggests that facial similarities between LB1 and anatomically modern humans may not be indicative of a close relationship. Landmark data collected from this study were also used to test the degree of cranial asymmetry in LB1. These comparisons indicated that the cranium is fairly asymmetrical, but within the range of asymmetry exhibited by modern humans and all extant African ape species. Compared to other fossil specimens, the degree of asymmetry in LB1 is moderate and readily explained by the taphonomic processes to which all fossils are subject. Taken together, these findings suggest that H. floresiensis was most likely the diminutive descendant of a species of archaic Homo, although the details of this evolutionary history remain obscure.

Moore et al. JHE. In Press
Continuities in stone flaking technology at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia


This study examines trends in stone tool reduction technology at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia, where excavations have revealed a stratified artifact sequence spanning 95 k.yr. The reduction sequence practiced throughout the Pleistocene was straightforward and unchanging. Large flakes were produced offsite and carried into the cave where they were reduced centripetally and bifacially by four techniques: freehand, burination, truncation, and bipolar. The locus of technological complexity at Liang Bua was not in knapping products, but in the way techniques were integrated. This reduction sequence persisted across the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary with a minor shift favoring unifacial flaking after 11 ka. Other stone-related changes occurred at the same time, including the first appearance of edge-glossed flakes, a change in raw material selection, and more frequent fire-induced damage to stone artifacts. Later in the Holocene, technological complexity was generated by ``adding-on'' rectangular-sectioned stone adzes to the reduction sequence. The Pleistocene pattern is directly associated with Homo floresiensis skeletal remains and the Holocene changes correlate with the appearance of Homo sapiens. The one reduction sequence continues across this hominin replacement.

Roberts et al. JHE. In Press.

Geochronology of cave deposits at Liang Bua and of adjacent river terraces in the Wae Racang valley, western Flores, Indonesia: a synthesis of age estimates for the type locality of Homo floresiensis


A robust timeframe for the extant cave deposits at Liang Bua, and for the river terraces in the adjoining Wae Racang valley, is essential to constrain the period of existence and time of extinction of Homo floresiensis and other biota that have been excavated at this hominin type locality. Reliable age control is also required for the variety of artifacts excavated from these deposits, and to assist in environmental reconstructions for this river valley and for the region more broadly. In this paper, we summarize the available geochronological information for Liang Bua and its immediate environs, obtained using seven numerical-age methods: radiocarbon, thermoluminescence, optically- and infrared-stimulated luminescence (collectively known as optical dating), uranium-series, electron spin resonance, and coupled electron spin resonance/uranium-series. We synthesize the large number of numerical age determinations reported previously and present additional age estimates germane to questions of hominin evolution and extinction.

van den Bergh et al. JHE. In Press
The Liang Bua faunal remains: a 95 k.yr. sequence from Flores, East Indonesia.

Excavations at Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the island of Flores, East Indonesia, have yielded a well-dated archaeological and faunal sequence spanning the last 95 k.yr., major climatic fluctuations, and two human species – H. floresiensis from 95 to 17 k.yr.1, and modern humans from 11 k.yr. to the present. The faunal assemblage comprises well-preserved mammal, bird, reptile and mollusc remains, including examples of island gigantism in small mammals and the dwarfing of large taxa. Together with evidence from Early-Middle Pleistocene sites in the Soa Basin, it confirms the long-term isolation, impoverishment, and phylogenetic continuity of the Flores faunal community. The accumulation of Stegodon and Komodo dragon remains at the site in the Pleistocene is attributed to Homo floresiensis, while predatory birds, including an extinct species of owl, were largely responsible for the accumulation of the small vertebrates. The disappearance from the sequence of the two large-bodied, endemic mammals, Stegodon florensis insularis and Homo floresiensis, was associated with a volcanic eruption at 17 ka and precedes the earliest evidence for modern humans, who initiated use of mollusc and shell working, and began to introduce a range of exotic animals to the island. Faunal introductions during the Holocene included the Sulawesi warty pig (Sus celebensis) at about 7 ka, followed by the Eurasian pig (Sus scrofa), Long-tailed macaque, Javanese porcupine, and Masked palm civet at about 4 ka, and cattle, deer, and horse - possibly by the Portuguese within historic times. The Holocene sequence at the site also documents local faunal extinctions - a result of accelerating human population growth, habitat loss, and over-exploitation.

Westaway et al. JHE. In Press
The evolving landscape and climate of western Flores: an environmental context for the archaeological site of Liang Bua


The rapidly changing landscape of the eastern Indonesian archipelago has evolved at a pace dictated by its tropical climate and its geological and tectonic history. This has produced accelerated karstification, flights of alluvial terraces, and complex, multi-level cave systems. These cave systems sometimes contain a wealth of archaeological evidence, such as the almost complete skeleton of Homo floresiensis found at the site of Liang Bua in western Flores, but this information can only be understood in the context of the geomorphic history of the cave, and the more general geological, tectonic, and environmental histories of the river valley and region. Thus, a reconstruction of the landscape history of the Wae Racang valley using speleothems, geological structure, tectonic uplift, karst, cave, and terrace development, provides the necessary evidence to determine the formation, age, evolution, and influences on the site. This evidence suggests that Liang Bua was formed as two subterranean chambers ~ 600 ka, but could not be occupied until w190 ka when the Wae Racang wandered to the southern side of the valley, exposing the chamber and depositing alluvial deposits containing artifacts. During the next ~190 k.yr., the chambers coalesced and evolved into a multi-level and interconnected cave that was subjected to channel erosion and pooling events by the development of sinkholes. The domed morphology of the front chamber accumulated deep sediments containing well stratified archaeological and faunal remains, but ponded water in the chamber further prevented hominin use of the cave until ~100 ka. These chambers were periodically influenced by river inundation and volcanic activity, whereas the area outside the cave was greatly influenced by glacial phases, which changed humid forest environments into grassland environments. This combined evidence has important implications for the archaeological interpretation of the site.

Westaway et al. JHE. In Press
Reconstructing the geomorphic history of Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia: a stratigraphic interpretation of the occupational environment.

Liang Bua, in Flores, Indonesia, was formed as a subterranean chamber over 600 ka. From this time to the present, a series of geomorphic events influenced the structure of the cave and cave deposits, creating a complex stratigraphy. Within these deposits, nine main sedimentary units have been identified. The stratigraphic relationships between these units provide the evidence needed to reconstruct the geomorphic history of the cave. This history was dominated by water action, including slope wash processes, channel formation, pooling of water, and flowstone precipitation, which created waterfalls, cut-and-fill stratigraphy, large pools of water, and extensive flowstone cappings. The reconstructed sequence of events over the last 190 k.yr. has been summarized by a series of time slices that demonstrate the nature of the occupational environment in Liang Bua. The earliest artifacts at the site, dated to w190 ka, testify to hominin presence in the area, but the reconstructions suggest that occupation of the cave itself may not have been possible until after ~100 ka. At w95 ka, channel erosion of a basal unit, which displays evidence of deposition in a pond environment, created a greater relief on the cave floor, and formed remanent areas of higher ground that later became a focus for hominin occupation from 74–61 ka by the west wall and in the center of the cave, and from w18–16 ka by the east wall. These zones have been identified according to the sloping nature of the stratigraphy and the distribution of artifacts, and their locations have implications for the archaeological interpretation of the site.



PS: We should really be looking forward to the discussions that will inevitably follow the actual publication.

 on: August 12, 2009, 05:15:22 PM 
Started by S. L. Wang - Last post by Jacques Cinq-Mars

Thanks for this SEA Archaeology link. I am sure that it will be worth monitoring.


 on: August 07, 2009, 10:16:05 AM 
Started by S. L. Wang - Last post by S. L. Wang
I found an informative site on Southeast Asian archaeology.


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