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Category Archives: Palaeolithic
The «6. Interregionales Silex Symposium» – an interregional/-national early summer’s evening in Basel
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of taking part in the highly informal „6. Interregionale Silex Symposium” in Basel. The fabulous weather allowed for an early May bbq and beer gathering, followed by a stimulating evening of flinty-talk.
D. Schuhmann (Germany) started us off with some musings on the Yabrudien in Hummal other sites in Syria. H. Flück (Fricktal), really a Romanist, took a brave step standing up in front of a room full of hard-core prehistorians and introduced us to the fabulously beautiful knapping work of the Mayas. M. Bolliger (Fricktal) subsequently read out a highly informative alphabetic list of 1000 interesting rawmaterial sites in Europe. We will never again be lost for ideas on what to do when on holidays!
The break was spent with more interregional international beer (Efes, Kronenbourg and Bittburger; thanks to the little Turkish shop next door’s tendency to promote cosmopolitism) outside again and used for much valueless networking, the most useful kind.
I (Limburg) had the honour to start the second block and gave the audience my take on Kohn & Mithens (Antiquity 1999) so called Sexy Handaxe Theory. D. Brönnimann (Baselländer) then proceeded to succinctly explain us the many things we can not learn from flint thin sections. Dr. R. Jagher (Basel) finished off the evening by giving us a slightly worrying insight into the biology and toxicology of the Tuber silexorum (Common Flint nodule) from a Baseller point of view. After which we just managed to get the last train home (although there are rumours that a few locked themselves in the building and stayed a bit longer.)
Thanks everyone for a good evening!
As usual, the 2010 Jahrbuch Archäologie Schweiz vol. 93 includes a list of newly discovered and excavated sites. It is no surprise that the number of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites discovered or investigated in 2009 is relatively low in comparison to the number of sites from most later prehistoric, roman and medieval periods. The figure below comes from Siegmund’s 2008 publication in the Jahrbuch der Archäologie Schweiz 2008, vol. 91.
It clearly shows the chronological distribution of the newly recorded or excavated sites in Switzerland during the period 1987 – 2006. It is also noted by Siegmund, that especially concerning the Mesolithic, Germany and France show even worse records (although for the alpine areas this might not been true; see below). Also, about a third of the Mesolithic sites mentioned in the above table are recorded in only one Canton: Fribourg.
Below the numbers of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites, and as a comparison the Bronze Age sites, recorded in 2008 & 2009. It shows ten sites mentioned in 2008 of which five were new discoveries and nine sites mentioned in 2009 of which four were new discoveries, against seventeen and forty-three sites dating to the Bronze Age.
I wonder if it is slowly time to change the name of this blog to Gene relations. The max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Svante Pääbo and Richard Green and colleagues did it. It’s only an initial version, but using material from four sites, they have decoded the Neanderthal genome, and surprise surprise, a little bit of Homo Neanderthalensis lives on in some of us, in Europeans, East Asians, and Melanesians. Having grown up not too far from the actual Neanderthal valley in Germany I like to think I have some in me too.
This is cool stuff! Continue reading
Below the abstract of the letter in Nature:
Nature advance online publication 24 March 2010 | doi:10.1038/nature08976; Received 21 January 2010; Accepted 3 March 2010; Published online 24 March 2010
The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia
With the exception of Neanderthals, from which DNA sequences of numerous individuals have now been determined, the number and genetic relationships of other hominin lineages are largely unknown. Here we report a complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequence retrieved from a bone excavated in 2008 in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. It represents a hitherto unknown type of hominin mtDNA that shares a common ancestor with anatomically modern human and Neanderthal mtDNAs about 1.0 million years ago. This indicates that it derives from a hominin migration out of Africa distinct from that of the ancestors of Neanderthals and of modern humans. The stratigraphy of the cave where the bone was found suggests that the Denisova hominin lived close in time and space with Neanderthals as well as with modern humans.
- 1. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
- 2. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA
- 3. Department of Anthropology, University of Vienna, Althanstr. 14, A-1090 Wien, Austria
- 4. Paleolithic Department, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, Lavrentieva Avenue, 17 Novosibirsk, RU-630090, Russia
Just a quick note today. In Nature an article was published, in which the news was revealed that the mtDNA extracted from a 48 – 30 kya old fingerbone, found at the Denisova Cave in Siberia, might represent an until now unkown human species. However, this is far from certain yet. But still, this is very exciting news, and it shows once more that we are far from knowing it all yet.
A BBC article with some comments from other scientists.
Link to the original article in Nature: here
So, before you believe the hype, have a good look at John Hawk’s commentary first, okay?
The Season starts again for the Berner Zirkel für Ur- und Frühgeschichte. And it starts well! Ebbe Nielsen (Cantonal Archaeological Unit Luzern, CH), who is undoubtedly one of the Doyen of the Swiss Palaeo-Meso-scene, will inform us on recent work in the Wauwiller Moos. This dried-up lake in central Switzerland is well known for its – partly waterlogged – Neolithic sites. The Egolzwil-sites will be the most famous.
However, also the Mesolithic (e.g. Schötz 7), the Late Upper Palaeolithic (or the ‘Spätpaläolithikum’, as it is also known in German; e.g. Wauwill Sandmat 16 & 25) and even the Magdalenian (e.g. near by at Kottwil) are represented. The region is one of the few Swiss regions of which the Mesolithic and Late Upper Palaeolithic archaeology is quite well studied and known. This is mainly due to many years of the work by Nielsen and a group of amateur archaeologists.
Interesting is also Nielsen’s corporation with archaeobotanists such as W. Tinner (University of Bern). One of the interesting aspects of this is that it ties in well with the current debate about the occurrence of archaeobotanical evidence for domesticated cereals in central Europe.
It promises to be an interesting evening, so pop-by if you’re around!
Thursday, 22-10-2009, 18:30, Hauptgebäude Universität Bern
Behre, K. E., 2007, Evidence for Mesolithic agriculture in and around central Europe?, in Vegetation History and Archaebotany 16, pp. 203-219
Erny-Rodman, C., Gross-Klee, E., Haas, J., Jacomet, S. & Zoller, H., 1997, Früher `human impact´ und Ackerbau im Übergansbereich Spätmesolithikum-Frühneolithikum im schweizerischen Mittelland, in JbSGUF 80, pp. 27-56
Nielsen, E., 1992, Paläolithische und mesolithische Fundstellen im zentralschweizerischen Wauwilermoos, in Archäologisches Korrespondenzblat 22, pp. 27-40
Nielsen, E., 2003, Das spätmesolithikum und die Neolithisierung in der Schweiz, in Archäologische Informationen 26 (2), pp.275-297
Nielsen, E. H., 2006, Central Switzerland in the central European Mesolithic, in Kind, C. J. (eds.), After the Ice Age, Stuttgart, Konrad Theiss, pp. 87-94
Nielsen, E., 2009, Paläolithikum und Mesolithikum in der Zentralschweiz. Mensch und Umwelt zwischen 17000 und 5500 v.Chr., Archäologische Schriften Luzern 13, Luzern
Tinner, W., Nielsen, E. & Lotter, A. F., 2007, Mesolithic agriculture in Switzerland? A critical review of the evidence, in Quaternary Science Review, Vol. 26; 9-10, pp. 1416-1431