Neanderthal genome data and scenarios for the origins of modern humans

Two polarising models, Recent African Origin (RAO) and Multiregional Evolution (MRE), have dominated modern human origins debates since the 1980s. A recent paper by Holliday, Gautney and Friedl published in Current Anthropology explores how the successful sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, indicating gene flow between Neanderthals and Modern Humans, influences the feasibility of these two…

Did the CI volcanic eruption play a role in the transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic?

Horizons of volcanic tephra were repeatedly deposited across Mediterranean and Eastern Europe throughout the Pleistocene, providing a distinct chronological marker. One of these main tephra events, the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI), took place around the time of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. Its influence on Neanderthal and early modern human populations and cultural changes has…

Identifying the provenance of ‘ochre’ used by late Neanderthals at Les Bossats (Northern France)

The recently discovered open-air site of Les Bossates (Ormesson, northern France) has a rich archaeological sequence, including a late Mousterian assemblage which has been TL dated to around 47,000 years ago. As reported elsewhere, this assemblage is characterised by discoidal flaking and a large number (77) of red and yellow iron oxide-rich rocks. These fragments…

A (re)touchy subject: Using bone to shape stone during the Middle Palaeolithic

The use of organic materials, such as bone, wood and antler, has been identified throughout various Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic contexts. Through detailed archaeological investigations and experimental approaches it is has been demonstrated that these objects were frequently used to shape and retouch lithic artefacts. New research published in Quaternary International provides the first…

The role of fatty acids in Palaeolithic diet: New evidence from frozen Mammoth carcasses.

Many studies into Palaeolithic diet, both traditional zooarchaeological analysis and isotope studies, emphasise the importance of meat to past hominin diet. However, these frequently encounter the problem of explaining how these past communities overcame problems related to the consumption of large quantities of meat. Whilst it is one of the worst kept secrets in Palaeolithic archaeology…