Active percussion tools from the Oldowan site of Barranco León (Orce, Andalusia, Spain): The fundamental role of pounding activities in hominin lifeways

Posted on July 3, 2018 by ARCAS

Publication date: August 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 96 Author(s): Stefania Titton, Deborah Barsky, Amèlia Bargallo, Josep Maria Vergès, Miquel Guardiola, José García Solano, Juan Manuel Jimenez Arenas, Isidro Toro-Moyano, Robert Sala-RamosDated to 1.4 Mya, the Barranco León site (Orce, Andalusia, Spain) is currently the oldest and richest late Lower Pleistocene stone tool assemblage discovered so far in Europe. Archeological and paleontological remains are found clearly associated in lacustrine deposits traversed by a small channel. This paper provides new data about the lithic assemblage from level D, focusing on the abundant active percussion implements that form a part of the highly divers set of limestone macro-tools unique to this assemblage. Morpho-technological and experimental analysis of these tools allows us to hypothesize about the kinds of activities that might have been carried out by hominins at this site. Experimental work allows us to define percussive trace morphologies and to identify new types of percussion tools in the collection, beyond those of classical, ellipsoidal morphology. Analysis of the stone surfaces used for active percussion demonstrates that, while some of the tools could have been used for stone knapping, other hammer morphologies are not well adapted for this kind of activity. The morphology of the tools and the type of percussion damage displayed on their active surfaces provide criteria with which to widen the activity range of the hominins that used them. This study of the percussion instruments from Barranco León contributes essential data with which to buttress the growing interest in the macro component of Oldowan stone toolkits African and Eurasian sites and their possible uses.

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Direct evidence from lipid residue analysis for the routine consumption of millet in Early Medieval Italy

Posted on July 1, 2018 by ARCAS

Publication date: August 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 96 Author(s): Giovanna Ganzarolli, Michelle Alexander, Alexandra Chavarria Arnau, Oliver E. CraigMillets have been cultivated in Europe since the Late Neolithic but, beyond recording their presence, little is known about their use and context of consumption. As a C4 plant, the contribution of millet on diet can be readily identified through stable isotope analysis of human bones. Using this approach, however, previous studies have been unable to distinguish direct consumption of the cereal from the consumption of millet fed animals. Historical evidence suggests that the latter was common practice. To address this issue, we present the first direct evidence for millet consumption in Medieval period using organic residue analysis. Lipid were extracted from 45 pottery vessels from the Episcopal centre in Padua, Northern Italy dating from the 6th to 10th centuries AD. Miliacin, a biomarker for broomcorn millet, was present in many of the cooking vessels tested. Based on the co-occurrence of miliacin with other food derived lipids and the vessel typologies, we suggest that millet was a common culinary ingredient during the Early Medieval period in this region. The earliest evidence dates to the 6th c. AD and notably derives from deposits associated with high status occupation of the site, a surprising result given the common association of these crops as low-status or starvation foods in the historic periods. It is likely that millet was a common cereal staple in human diet during this period in North-eastern Italy and that its use was far less restricted than previously thought. More broadly, our study highlights the efficacy of combining organic residue analysis and stable isotope analysis of bone to relate culinary and dietary information of ancient populations.

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