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The Middle Paleolithic


How did they get to where archaeologists find them? ... that influence bones after an organism dies to when the archaeologist finds them. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Middle Paleolithic

The Middle Paleolithic
  • 200,000 to 40,000 years ago.
  • The time of the Neanderthals.
  • Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
  • Mouterian Tool Industry
  • Based on Levallois flaking technique

Chronology Review
  • Basal Paleolithic
  • 2.5 to 1.8 mya
  • Time of Homo habilis
  • Olduwan tools
  • Lower Paleolithic
  • 1.8 m to 200 kya
  • Time of Homo erectus
  • Acheulean hand axes
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • 200 to 40 kya
  • Time of H. s. neanderthalensis
  • Mousterian tools

Chaîne Opératoire
  • With the Mousterian industry, we can see choices
    had to be made in steps to make tools.
  • There is a succession of mental operations and
    technical gestures in order to satisfy a need
    according to a pre-existing project.

Levallois Flaking
One of the prehistorians difficulties is that
the intention of the prehistoric knapper may not
always be apparent.
The position is much clearer when we have
industries like that first recognized at
Levallois, in which flaked tools are found in
association with the tortoise-shaped cores from
which they were struck. Here there can be no
doubt that the primary object of the knapper was
to produce flake tools, the form of which was
accurately determined by preparatory work on the
Grahame Clark 1971
Neanderthal Sites
  • La Ferrasie
  • 50 kya
  • Burial ground with a family burial.
  • Le Moustier
  • 50 kya
  • Young man laid to rest with is head on his arm.

The old man from La Chapelle
60 kya, France
The old man from La Chapelle
Resorption of bone after tooth loss
The old man from La Chapelle
  • Many of the teeth were missing, and the bone
    that had surrounded these teeth showed evidence
    of healing after tooth loss. This means that the
    individual lived for a considerable time after
    losing many of his teeth. In all, the teeth lost
    during life included all of the cheek teeth on
    the right side of the lower jaw, the molars on
    the left, and at least the molars of the upper
    jaw. While the remaining teeth were probably
    sufficient for chewing, it is likely that this
    individual was supported by others in his final
Shanidar Cave, Iraq.
Amputated humerus
Shanidar Continued
  • The man was covered with flower pollen.
  • His humerus, upper arm bone, was withered.
  • He was handicapped during his life by a withered
  • The Shanidar burial was a man whose arm was

The Shanidar fossils show a very high frequency
of injuries, healed injuries of all different
kinds. The most extreme example of this is this
arm bone from Shanidar I. It's an upper arm bone
that's withered, has a healed fracture here, a
healed over amputation just above the elbow.
This is the bone from an arm stump that this
individual lived with for 20 or 30 years. And
what that says is that these people were taking
care of their injured kin. They were taking care
of people who had serious injuries so they could
survive them and continue to be functional
members of the social group for many years. Ah,
it was a dangerous lifestyle, but they were
compassionate, they were caring, they were
Erik Trinkaus, NOVA interview
The big word is compassion. They were able to
show compassion on the part of Neanderthals.
You've got a flower burial. That's a, that's a
very compassionate act. And then you've got this
got this individual with a withered arm that
wasn't able to fend for himself, therefore the
clan is, is coming around him and supporting him
and so forth. I mean it just fit everything that,
that movement at the time, in the '60s and the
'70s was looking for.
Harold Dibble, NOVA interview
Teshik Tash
  • Nine year old child.
  • 70 kya.
  • Uzbekistan

Teshik Tash
The body was found along the western wall of the
cave with its feet pointed towards the entrance.
The most puzzling and provocative element of the
find are the six pairs of Siberian ibex horns
that had been placed face down in a circle around
the skull. Additionally, a small fire had been
briefly lit beside the body. Burial among
Neandertals is a widely and hotly debated topic.
Yet the Teshik-Tash skeleton would seem to
indicate that at least some of the Neandertals
ritually buried their dead.
Synthesis of Lower to Middle Paleolithic
  • H. erectus probably gone by 400 to 300 kya.
  • Premodern H. sapiens starts to appear between 300
    and 200 kya.
  • Many of their features are similar to H. erectus,
    but brains size continues to increase above 1200
  • One of those premodern groups was Neanderthal.
  • Definitely around by 150 kya, perhaps as far back
    as 300 kya.
  • Assigned to H. sapiens neanderthalensis.
  • For certain, by 100 kya, H. erectus is gone,
    Neanderthals are present, and modern H. sapiens

  • Taphonomy answers the question what are these
    bones doing here? (Now)
  • How did they get to where archaeologists find
  • the study of processes that influence bones
    after an organism dies to when the archaeologist
    finds them.
  • Taphonomy is a bad dog.

The Life Assemblage
The Death Assemblage
The Damaged Assemblage, part 1
The Damaged Assemblage, part 2
The Buried Assemblage
The Recovered Assemblage
The Sample Assemblage
Modern Homo sapiens sapiens
  • Two evolutionary models on how modern humans
    evolved where did our diversity come from?

The Replacement Model
  • Also called the Out of Africa model.
  • Modern humans replaced H. erectus and premoderns
    (like Neanderthals) from Africa.
  • Has modern H. sapiens evolving in Africa between
    200 and 100 kya.
  • Klasies River Mouth, Broken Hill, Qafzeh, Skuhl.

Movement of Modern Humans (Replacement model).
The Multiregional Model
  • Also called the regional continuity model.
  • Argues that H. sapiens evolved out of H. erectus
    several times in different areas.
  • Interbreeding and gene flow across long distances
    kept H. sapiens from different parts of the world
    the same species.

(No Transcript)
Homo ergaster, East Africa pre 250K
Saint Cesaire (France, Neanderthal). 36K
Shanidar Cave (Iraq, Neanderthal). 60 - 70K
Skuhl V Specimen (Israel modern H. sapiens?) 100
to 80K
Qafzeh IX specimen (Israel modern H. sapiens.) 90K
Tabun specimen (Israel premodern/ modern H.
sapiens.) approx. 35K
Homo sapiens sapiens France, Cro Magnon 30K
Homo sapiens sapiens Border Cave 48K
The Genetic Evidence
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Multiregional places Out of Africa at 1.8 mya
    w/ H. erectus.
  • Replacement places Out of Africa at 200 100
    kya w/ modern H. sapiens.
  • Which is correct based on genetic diversity?

Genetic Evidence, contd
  • Studies of mtDNA in bone indicate a mutation rate
    that suggests
  • Modern human diversity has been around no more
    than 290,000 years.
  • All modern humans shared a common modern ancestor
    some 290 kya.
  • Differences between modern populations is less
    than diversity within,
  • suggests rapid regional evolution.

Genetic Evidence, contd.
  • All modern groups share a subset of modern
    African DNA.
  • Neanderthals were genetically different than
    modern humans were similar to each other.
  • This all supports the Replacement Model.