jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016

Our ancestors chose reeds over grain when quitting nomadic life


Fig 1. Location map of Kharaneh IV and the other sites mentioned.

When ancient hunter-gatherers first began to give up their nomadic life, they weren’t just chasing the grain. Rather than looking for big payoffs from harvesting cereal grains, it seems at least some groups may have been playing it safe.

If so, the transition to sedentary life — the first big step toward agriculture — may have been more complex, and more varied, than archaeologists thought.

The standard view has been that around 20,000 years ago, our ancestors began to stay in one place for long periods so that they could exploit the wild grains growing there, which provided a dense source of energy. After many generations of selection, these grains became the modern domesticated cereals on which most of our civilisations depend.

Archaeologists have had few opportunities to test this view because plant remains from the early stages of this transition are scarce. Recently, however, researchers have begun to use phytoliths — microscopic silica crystals that form in plant tissues and persist for millennia — to investigate which plants would have been around at early archaeological sites.

Cereal monogamy 

Monica Ramsey, an environmental archaeologist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and her colleagues studied phytoliths at the 22,000-year-old Kharaneh IV site in Jordan  [...] New Scientist / Link 2 

6,000-Year-Old Cranial Amulet Discovered in Kozareva Mogila Prehistoric Settlement near Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast


1/9. The newly discovered, sixth cranial skull amulet from the Kozareva Mogila settlement near Bulgaria’s Pomorie. Photo: TV grab from BNT

A round amulet made out of a human skull has been discovered during the 2016 archaeological excavations of the Kozareva Mogila (“Goat Mound") prehistoric settlement near Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Pomorie.

The prehistoric cranial amulet from the 5th millennium BC is the sixth of its kind to have been found by archaeologists so far since the Kozareva Mogila settlement was first excavated in 1991.

The archaeological settlement near the town of Kableshkovo, Pomorie Municipality, in Southeast Bulgaria, has been researched by the team of Assoc. Prof. Petya Georgieva from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski", reports the 24 Chasa daily.

It is said to be especially interesting because its preserved Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) structures and necropolis keep shedding new light on life in Southeast Europe in the 5th millennium BC.

Not unlike the five similar finds, the newly discovered cranial amulet from Kozareva Mogila was made from the top of a human skull, i.e. the frontal bone and the parietal bones, has a round shape, and a hole in the middle.

Georgieva is quoted as saying that the human skull “rondellas" (meaning “washers", as they are referred to in Bulgarian, because of their resemblance to the respective machine hardware) have not been rare finds in European archaeology. [...] Archaeology in Bulgaria

Los africanos usaban técnicas térmicas para tallar piedra hace 70.000 años


Delagnes et al (2016)

EFE. Los seres humanos que habitaban el sur de África hace 70.000 años empleaban tratamientos térmicos avanzados para moldear piedras y fabricar puntas de lanza, entre otras herramientas, lo que supone la primera evidencia del uso de una tecnología innovadora y transformadora en la Edad de Piedra.

El estudio, publicado hoy en PLoS One, fue realizado por un equipo internacional de científicos dirigido por la investigadora del CNRS (PACEA-Universidad de Burdeos, Francia) Anne Delagnes.

Según la investigación, los seres humanos que vivieron en el sur de África durante el Paleolítico medio, hace unos 70.000 años, desarrollaron una técnica para aplicar calor a las piezas de silcrete y cambiar las propiedades de las piedras para facilitar su talla o descamación.

Delagnes y sus colegas analizaron el uso de esa técnica estudiando las piezas de silcrete halladas en el Refugio Kilpdrift -un yacimiento situado en el extremo sur de África y recientemente descubierto-, y comparándolas con las herramientas encontradas en otras 31 localizaciones de la zona.

Los autores constataron un "tratamiento térmico intencional y generalizado" en más del 90% de las piezas de silcrete analizadas, sobre todo para la producción de lanzas.

El calentamiento de la piedra tenía lugar en la primera fase del proceso de producción de las armas, para facilitar la descamación o fragmentación de la roca en lascas y dar forma al núcleo del silcrete.

Los autores sugieren que el tratamiento térmico del silcrete en el Refugio Klipdrift puede ser la primera evidencia directa del uso intencional y generalizado del fuego aplicado a una cadena de producción lítica.

Concluyen además que, junto con otras actividades basadas en el fuego, "el tratamiento térmico intencional era un activo importante para el ser humano de la Edad de Piedra en el sur de África que, además, no ha conocido equivalentes contemporáneos en otros lugares". noticias.terra.com.co / Link 2


Extensive heat treatment in Middle Stone Age silcrete tool production in South Africa
(PLOS) Humans living in South Africa in the Middle Stone Age may have used advanced heating techniques to produce silcrete blades, according to a study published Oct. 19, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Anne Delagnes from the CNRS (PACEA - University of Bordeaux, France) and colleagues... 

Monos capuchinos crean herramientas de piedra como nuestros primeros antepasados


  
La producción de piedras con bordes afilados ya no puede ser considerada única de los homínidos. Eso sí, la intención es otra

Un equipo de investigadores ha observado cómo unos monos capuchinos de Brasil rompen piedras deliberadamente, creando lascas que comparten muchas de las características de las que producían los homínidos de la Edad de Piedra, como los bordes afilados. La diferencia es que las de los capuchinos no son herramientas hechas con intención para el corte y raspado, sino que parecen ser el subproducto del martilleo o «comportamiento de percusión» que los monos emplean, supuestamente, para extraer minerales o liquen de las piedras.

Los investigadores de la Universidad de Oxford, el College de Londres y la de São Paulo en Brasil dicen que este hallazgo es significativo porque los arqueólogos siempre han entendido que la producción de múltiples lascas de piedra era un comportamiento único de los homínidos. Nunca se había visto algo semejante en monos modernos.

El estudio, dado a conocer en la revista «Nature», sugiere que la ciencia tendría que redefinir sus criterios para identificar y diferenciar las escamas de piedra producidas por nuestros primeros antepasados de las hechas por los capuchinos. [...] abc.es / Link 2 


Monkey 'tools' raise questions over human archaeological record : Nature News / Link 2
Capuchin monkeys in Brazil unintentionally produce rock fragments that resemble ancient stone tools.

In January, archaeologist Tomos Proffitt was examining a set of stone artefacts brought to him by his colleague Michael Haslam. Some of the quartz pieces looked like sharpened stone tools made by human relatives in eastern Africa, some 2–3 million years ago.

But Haslam told Proffitt that the artefacts had been made in the previous two years by capuchin monkeys in Brazil. “I was pretty gobsmacked,” Proffitt says. “I did my PhD looking at hominin stone tools. I’ve learnt how to make these things. I was looking at this material, and it looked like it had been made by humans.”
A team led by Proffitt and Haslam, both at the University of Oxford, UK, now describes the artefacts in a paper published in Nature on 19 October... (Video)


Vídeos (2): 1/ Monkeys can make stone tools too - nature video 2/ Monos brasileños afilan las piedras a golpes como los humanos
Ver en PaleoVídeos > L.R.2.11 nº 26 y 27.

Spectacular archaeological find in Denmark


More and more Stone Age maps are turning up on Bornholm (photo: National Museum)

5,000-year-old map unearthed on Bornholm

Ray W. A mysterious stone found in a ditch on Bornholm by archaeology students during the summer has proven to be a 5,000 years old map.

According to the magazine Skalk, the stone was discovered during  archaeological excavation work at the Neolithic shrine Vasagård.

The stone has been studied by researchers at the National Museum of Denmark. Unlike previous and similar findings, archaeologist and senior researcher at the National Museum, Flemming Kaul, is reasonably certain that the stone does not show the sun and the sun’s rays, but displays the topographic details of a piece of nature on the island as it appeared between the years 2700 and 2900 BC.

Ritual stones

Kaul called the stone “without parallel”. In recent years, excavations at Vasagård have turned up several stones inscribed with rectangular patterns filled with different rows of lines and shading.

“Some of the lines may be reproductions of ears of corn or plants with leaves,” said Kaul.

“These are not accidental scratches,” said Kaul. “We see the stones as types of maps showing different kinds of fields.”

The recent find was not complete. It is made up of two pieces and one piece is still missing. Archaeologists believe the stones were used in Stone Age rituals. The Post


Actualización: Un mapa de piedra en el templo neolítico de Vasagård (Dinamarca)
Una roca con grabados de hace casi 5.000 años parece representar el paisaje de la isla en la que ha aparecido
La campaña de excavaciones del pasado verano en el templo neolítico de Vasagård proporcionó el hallazgo de una piedra con grabados algo diferente a las que ya habían aparecido en el yacimiento. Mientras que las anteriores representaban al sol y a los rayos solares, en esta ocasión, los investigadores del Museo Nacional de Dinamarca han llegado a la conclusión de que podría tratarse de un mapa, una representación de los distintos tipos de campos que había en el entorno del santuario, entre los años 2900 y 2700 a.C. Por ahora se trata de un mapa incompleto, ya que originalmente constaba de dos piezas de la que sólo se ha localizado una, por ahora...


Actualización: Ancient Scratched Stones: World's Earliest Maps or Magic Artifacts?
A set of broken stones covered with etchings of lines and squares, discovered at a 5,000-year-old sacred site in Denmark, may be some of humankind’s earliest maps, according to archaeologists.

The researchers think the inscribed stones are symbolic maps of local landscapes, and were perhaps used in rituals by Stone Age farmers who hoped to magically influence the sun and the fertility of their farmlands.
Fragments of 10 of the "map stones" or "landscape stones" were found in June,...