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Initial micromorphological results from Liang Bua, Flores (Indonesia): Site formation processes and hominin activities at the type locality of Homo floresiensis

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: Available online 29 June 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science Author(s): Mike W. Morley, Paul Goldberg, Thomas Sutikna, Matthew W. Tocheri, Linda C. Prinsloo, Jatmiko, E. Wahyu Saptomo, Sri Wasisto, Richard G. RobertsLiang Bua, a karstic cave located on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia, is best known for yielding the holotype of the diminutive hominin Homo floresiensis from Late Pleistocene sediments. Modern human remains have also been recovered from the Holocene deposits, and abundant archaeological and faunal remains occur throughout the sequence. The cave, the catchment in which it is located and the gross aggradational phases of the sediment sequence have all been subject to a great deal of scientific scrutiny since the discovery of the holotype of H. floresiensis in 2003. A recent program of geoarchaeological research has extended analyses of the site’s deposits to the microstratigraphic (micromorphological) level. The stratigraphic sequence in the cave is well defined but complex, comprising interstratified sediments of diverse lithologies and polygenetic origins, including volcanic tephras, fine-grained colluvium, coarse autogenic limestone gravels, speleothems and anthropogenic sediments, such as combustion features. The sedimentological and chemical heterogeneity suggest that processes of site formation and diagenesis varied markedly through time, both laterally and vertically. We present initial results from samples collected in 2014 from an excavation area near the rear of the cave, which yielded radiocarbon ages from charcoal that fill an important temporal gap in the chrono-stratigraphic sequence of previously excavated areas of the site. The results indicate marked changes in site environment and hominin activity during the Late Pleistocene, relating primarily to the degree to which the cave was connected to the hydrogeological system and to the varying intensities of use of the cave by hominins. Importantly, we identify anthropogenic signs of fire-use at the site between 41 and 24 thousand years ago, most likely related to the presence of modern humans.

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Middle Pleistocene subsistence in the Azraq Oasis, Jordan: Protein residue and other proxies

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: September 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 73 Author(s): A. Nowell, C. Walker, C.E. Cordova, C.J.H. Ames, J.T. Pokines, D. Stueber, R. DeWitt, A.S.A. al-SoulimanExcavations at Shishan Marsh, a former desert oasis in Azraq, northeast Jordan, reveal a unique ecosystem and provide direct family-specific protein residue evidence of hominin adaptations in an increasingly arid environment approximately 250,000 years ago. Based on lithic, faunal, paleoenvironmental and protein residue data, we conclude that Late Pleistocene hominins were able to subsist in extreme arid environments through a reliance on surprisingly human-like adaptations including a broadened subsistence base, modified tool kit and strategies for predator avoidance and carcass protection.

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Editorial Board

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: July 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 71

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Immunological detection of denatured proteins as a method for rapid identification of food residues on archaeological pottery

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: September 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 73 Author(s): Jaroslav Pavelka, Ladislav Smejda, Radovan Hynek, Stepanka Hrdlickova KuckovaOur understanding of human diet in different periods of history can be enhanced by investigating direct evidence represented by accidentally preserved food remains found on pottery. So far, this task has been accomplished by the application of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, often in combination with stable isotope analysis. These methods require specialised laboratories and their cost prevents wider penetration into the daily practice of archaeology and related disciplines. We have tested commercially available immunochromatographic kits for this task, which are designed to detect contaminants and allergens in the modern food industry. Unlike the previously published studies on archaeological material, we focus specifically on the identification of damaged and denatured proteins, which correspond better to the state of preservation of proteins in desiccated and carbonised organic residues that have survived from antiquity. We report the first successful qualitative detection of bird eggs, animal meat, milk (and species of origin), and to some extent also the presence of plant food, especially cereals and hazelnuts. The immunoassay is a methodology that is well suited for use in the field and resource-poor environments, so it is ideal for most archaeological excavations and museums. With necessary caution, the results can be used as a proxy for human diet in the past and reconstructions of anthropogenically modified environments.

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Evidence of Eurasian metal alloys on the Alaskan coast in prehistory

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: Available online 8 June 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science Author(s): H. Kory Cooper, Owen K. Mason, Victor Mair, John F. Hoffecker, Robert J. SpeakmanSix metal and composite metal artifacts were excavated from a late prehistoric archaeological context at Cape Espenberg on the northern coast of the Seward Peninsula in Alaska. X-ray fluorescence identified two of these artifacts as smelted industrial alloys with large proportions of tin and lead. The presence of smelted alloys in a prehistoric Inuit context in northwest Alaska is demonstrated here for the first time and indicates the movement of Eurasian metal across the Bering Strait into North America before sustained contact with Europeans.

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Of lakes and fields: A framework for reconciling palaeoclimatic drought inferences with archaeological impacts

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: September 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 73 Author(s): Eelco J. RohlingQuantitative estimates of climate variability are increasingly important in interpretations of archaeological turnovers in arid regions. Variations in lake levels or lake-water oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) are often used to infer droughts or humid periods, along with speleothem δ18O, pollen, and windblown dust records. Key examples are the centennial-scale Holocene events associated with the end of the Bronze Age (∼1200 BCE), the end of the Copper Age (∼4000 BCE), and the onset of Neolithic expansion (∼6200 BCE). Whether explicitly stated or only implied, causality between archaeological turnovers and inferred droughts is often ascribed to a disturbance to food resources, which means a disturbance to the agricultural potential of the study region. In the present study, a simple framework of equations is presented for evaluation of this causality. It quantitatively reveals significant complications. In one example, substantially improved crop-growing potential is found to coincide with dropping lake levels, which reflect significant net drought. The complications mainly arise from: (1) control of annually averaged climate conditions on lake changes versus control of seasonal conditions on the yield potential of fields; and (2) changes in the ratios between the overall catchment area of a lake or field, and the surface area of the lake or field itself. The results demonstrate that lake records per se do not satisfactorily reflect agricultural potential, but also that this gap may be bridged with targeted information collection about the regional setting. In particular, improved results may be obtained from detailed assessments of change in the catchment ratios of the lake(s) and field(s) that are being studied (e.g., using digital elevation models), along with expert opinions on field irrigation potential. The scenarios presented here then allow initial field-based assessments and hypothesis formulation to prompt more sophisticated modelling.

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Isotopic study of geographic origins and diet of enslaved Africans buried in two Brazilian cemeteries

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: June 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 70 Author(s): Murilo Q.R. Bastos, Ricardo V. Santos, Sheila M.F. M. de Souza, Claudia Rodrigues-Carvalho, Robert H. Tykot, Della C. Cook, Roberto V. SantosBrazil was the main destination of enslaved Africans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the New World. We have analyzed isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and strontium in the enamel and dentin of teeth derived from remains of 41 enslaved Africans excavated in Pretos Novos cemetery (Rio de Janeiro) and Sé de Salvador cathedral (Salvador) in order to investigate aspects related to the geographical origins and dietary habits in Africa in these two groups with differing histories.Strontium isotope results indicate a wide range of geographical origin for the analyzed individuals of both cemeteries, being significantly wider in Pretos Novos. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes results suggest that the diet of most individuals was based on plants. Only 26% probably had access to a significant amount of animal protein. The results also show that while some individuals were consuming C3 plants such as yams and manioc, others had a diet based more on C4 plants such as sorghum, millet and maize.Interpreted in conjunction with archaeological and historical evidence, the findings of this study, including the high variability of 87Sr/86Sr, δ13C and δ15N values, contribute to the process of reconstructing the dramatic history of slavery in Brazil and in the Americas.

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Ferrous metallurgy from the Bir Massouda metallurgical precinct at Phoenician and Punic Carthage and the beginning of the North African Iron Age

Posted on August 11, 2016 by ARCAS

Publication date: July 2016Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 71 Author(s): Brett Kaufman, Roald Docter, Christian Fischer, Fethi Chelbi, Boutheina Maraoui TelminiExcavations of the Phoenician and Punic layers at the site of Bir Massouda in Carthage have provided evidence for ferrous metallurgical activity spanning several centuries. Archaeometallurgical analyses of slagged tuyères, slag, and alloys using optical microscopy, portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (pXRF), and variable pressure scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (VPSEM-EDS) show that Carthaginian smiths were conducting primary smithing and forging of wrought iron and steel. Although the majority of slag specimens are remnant from ferrous production, a few select finds are from bronze recycling. The corpus represents the earliest known ferrous metallurgy in North Africa. As a Phoenician colony then later as an independent imperial metropolis, Carthage specialized in centrally organized ferrous technology at the fringes of the settlement in areas such as Bir Massouda and the Byrsa Hill from before 700 to 146 BC.

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Hello world!

Posted on March 1, 2016 by Ed

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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