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  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Traceological analyses applied to textile implements: an assessment of the method through the case study of the 1st millennium BC ceramic tools in central Italy
    (Gangemi Editore, 2018-03-16) Forte, V; Lemorini, Cristina; Frangipane, Marcella; Glega, Margarita; Laurito, Romina; Forte, Vanessa [0000-0002-7499-367X]
    This contribution focuses on the application of traceological analysis on ceramic textile tools. Traceological analysis has been rarely applied to the study of these specific kinds of artefacts. For this reason a dedicated reference collection needs to be built for a proper understanding of the development of both technological and use traces, on apparently simple artefacts that, nevertheless, are related to very specific gestures highly constrained by cultural background. Our experimental framework is based on the textile tools made of ceramic coming from the cemeteries of Cerveteri, Vulci, Narce and Falerii (Central Italy). The traces analysis of archaeological and experimental ceramic textile tools allowed to define various steps of tools production including modelling and surface treatment techniques. Moreover, this investigation allowed to define the technological-related wear and distinguish them from use traces and post-depositional alterations.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Diet, sex, and social status in the Late Avar period: stable isotope investigations at Nuštar cemetery, Croatia
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019) Vidal-Ronchas, R; Rajić Šikanjić, P; Premužić, Z; Rapan Papeša, A; Lightfoot, E; Lightfoot, E [0000-0002-0823-4720]
    Diet often plays a vital role in defining social divisions within and between social groups and thus can be used to understand the social paradigms of archaeological cultures. During the Early Avar period (568 – 630 A.D.), burial evidence indicates that there were strong demarcations of social stratification, and divisions between sexes and age groups; however, the symbols of intra-population heterogeneity become increasingly rare during the Late Avar period (680 – 822 A.D.). In this study, we investigate social differences expressed through diet in the cemetery population from Nuštar, eastern Croatia (8th to early 9th century), to determine whether dietary social disparities existed during the Late Avar period in this region. Stable isotope analysis of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) from bone and dentine collagen show no dietary differences, neither between high, middle and low status individuals, nor between males, females and juveniles. These results likely reflect the outcome of the social homogenization process that began after the failed Avar attack on Constantinople in 626 A.D. Geographical patterning is visible when the data from Nuštar is compared to data from other Middle and Late Avar sites. While Avar sites in the southern and south-eastern frontiers of the Avar qaganate do not display dietary differences between sexes, previous isotopic work on populations in Lower Austria show that males consumed a higher proportion of animal protein than females. This is likely the result of Frankish influence and reflects diversity in social practices within the Avar qaganate itself during the Middle and Late Avar periods.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Multi-scale relief model (MSRM): a new algorithm for the visualization of subtle topographic change of variable size in digital elevation models.
    (Wiley, 2018-05) Orengo, Hector A; Petrie, Cameron A; Orengo, Hector A [0000-0002-9385-2370]; Petrie, Cameron A [0000-0002-2926-7230]
    Morphological analysis of landforms has traditionally relied on the interpretation of imagery. Although imagery provides a natural view of an area of interest (AOI) images are largely hindered by the environmental conditions at the time of image acquisition, the quality of the image and, mainly, the lack of topographical information, which is an essential factor for a correct understanding of the AOI's geomorphology. More recently digital surface models (DSMs) have been incorporated into the analytical toolbox of geomorphologists. These are usually high-resolution models derived from digital photogrammetric processes or LiDAR data. However, these are restricted to relatively small areas and are expensive or complex to acquire, which limits widespread implementation. In this paper, we present the multi-scale relief model (MSRM), which is a new algorithm for the visual interpretation of landforms using DSMs. The significance of this new method lies in its capacity to extract landform morphology from both high- and low-resolution DSMs independently of the shape or scale of the landform under study. This method thus provides important advantages compared to previous approaches as it: (1) allows the use of worldwide medium resolution models, such as SRTM, ASTER GDEM, ALOS, and TanDEM-X; (2) offers an alternative to traditional photograph interpretation that does not rely on the quality of the imagery employed nor on the environmental conditions and time of its acquisition; and (3) can be easily implemented for large areas using traditional GIS/RS software. The algorithm is tested in the Sutlej-Yamuna interfluve, which is a very large low-relief alluvial plain in northwest India where 10 000 km of palaeoriver channels have been mapped using MSRM. The code, written in Google Earth Engine's implementation of JavaScript, is provided as Supporting Information for its use in any other AOI without particular technical knowledge or access to topographical data. © 2017 The Authors. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Experimental design of the Cu-As-Sn ternary colour diagram
    (Elsevier BV, 2018) Radivojević, M; Pendić, J; Srejić, A; Korać, M; Davey, C; Benzonelli, A; Martinón-Torres, M; Jovanović, N; Kamberović; Martinon-Torres, Marcos [0000-0003-2124-2837]
    The aesthetic appearance of metals has long been recognised in archaeometric studies as an important factor driving inventions and innovations in the evolution of metal production. Nevertheless, while the studies of ancient gold metallurgy are well supported by the modern research in colour characteristics of gold alloys, the colour properties of major prehistoric copper alloys, like arsenical copper and tin bronzes, remain either largely understudied or not easily accessible to the western scholarship. A few published studies have already indicated that alloying and heat treatment change the colours of copper alloys, although they are mainly based on the examples of prehistoric tin bronze objects and experimental casts. Here we present the procedure for building the Cu-As-Sn ternary colour diagram, starting with experimental casting of 64 binary and ternary alloys in this system. We used two types of information to produce two different ternary colour diagrams: one, based on photographs of the samples, and the other, established on the colorimetric measurements. Furthermore, we developed the procedure for creating a graphic representation of colours in the Cu-As-Sn ternary diagram using QGIS. As an initial case study, we plotted the composition of the world’s earliest tin bronze artefacts; the graphic representation further supports claims about the importance of golden hue for their invention and demand, c. 6,500 years ago. We argue that the presented colour diagrams will find wide use in future investigations of aesthetics of prehistoric copper alloys.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    The chronology of reindeer hunting on Norway's highest ice patches.
    (The Royal Society, 2018-01) Pilø, Lars; Finstad, Espen; Ramsey, Christopher Bronk; Martinsen, Julian Robert Post; Nesje, Atle; Solli, Brit; Wangen, Vivian; Callanan, Martin; Barrett, James H; Barrett, James H [0000-0002-6683-9891]
    The melting of perennial ice patches globally is uncovering a fragile record of alpine activity, especially hunting and the use of mountain passes. When rescued by systematic fieldwork (glacial archaeology), this evidence opens an unprecedented window on the chronology of high-elevation activity. Recent research in Jotunheimen and surrounding mountain areas of Norway has recovered over 2000 finds-many associated with reindeer hunting (e.g. arrows). We report the radiocarbon dates of 153 objects and use a kernel density estimation (KDE) method to determine the distribution of dated events from ca 4000 BCE to the present. Interpreted in light of shifting environmental, preservation and socio-economic factors, these new data show counterintuitive trends in the intensity of reindeer hunting and other high-elevation activity. Cold temperatures may sometimes have kept humans from Norway's highest elevations, as expected based on accessibility, exposure and reindeer distributions. In times of increasing demand for mountain resources, however, activity probably continued in the face of adverse or variable climatic conditions. The use of KDE modelling makes it possible to observe this patterning without the spurious effects of noise introduced by the discrete nature of the finds and the radiocarbon calibration process.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    A Pioneering Experiment: Dialoghi di Archeologia between Marxism and Political Activism
    (Ubiquity Press, Ltd., 2014-02-05) Iacono, Francesco; Iacono, Francesco [0000-0002-4262-9769]
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Year-round shellfish exploitation in the Levant and implications for Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence
    (Elsevier BV, 2018) Bosch, MD; Mannino, MA; Prendergast, AL; Wesselingh, FP; O'Connell, TC; Hublin, JJ; Bosch, Dorothea [0000-0002-2829-3832]; O'Connell, Tamsin [0000-0002-4744-0332]
    Recent studies have shown that the use of aquatic resources has greater antiquity in hominin diets than pre- viously thought. At present, it is unclear when hominins started to habitually consume marine resources. This study examines shellfish exploitation from a behavioural ecology perspective, addressing how and when past hunter-gatherers from the Levant used coastal resources for subsistence purposes. We investigate the seasonality of shellfish exploitation in the Levantine Upper Palaeolithic through oxygen isotope analysis on shells of the intertidal rocky shore mollusc Phorcus (Osilinus) turbinatus from the key site Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon). At this rockshelter, multi-layered archaeological deposits contained remains of both marine and terrestrial molluscs in relatively large quantities, which were consumed and used as tools and ornaments by the occupants of the site. Our results indicate that at the start of the Initial Upper Palaeolithic (IUP), there is no evidence for shellfish consumption. Humans started to take fresh shellfish to the rockshelter from the second half of the IUP onward, albeit in low quantities. During the Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) shellfish exploitation became increasingly frequent. Oxygen isotope data show that shellfish exploitation was practised in every season throughout most of the Upper Palaeolithic (UP), with an emphasis on the colder months. This suggests that coastal resources had a central role in early UP foraging strategies, rather than a seasonally restricted supplementary one. Year-round shellfish gathering, in turn, suggests that humans occupied the rockshelter at different times of the year, al- though not necessarily continuously. Our oxygen isotope data is complemented with broader-scale exploitation patterns of faunal resources, both vertebrate and invertebrate, at the site. The inclusion of coastal marine re- sources signifies a diversification of the human diet from the EUP onward, which is also observed in foraging practices linked to the exploitation of terrestrial fauna.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Don’t all mothers love their children? Deposited infants as animate objects in the Scandinavian Iron Age
    (Informa UK Limited, 2017-05-27) Eriksen, MH; Eriksen, MH [0000-0001-5894-7713]
    Understanding ‘counter archaeologies’ as taking a counterpoint and challenging normative perspectives, this paper considers infancy in Iron-Age Scandinavia through an examination of children deposited in settlements and wetlands. The paper reports on a data set of child deposition from Scandinavia in the first millennium CE, and compares the practices with cases from other Germanic areas. While a complex phenomenon where cause of death is mostly unknown, textual sources indicate that neither limited emotional responses to child loss nor infanticide was uncommon in the first millennium CE. Infanticide is widespread cross-culturally, yet is foreign to many researchers because it counters deep-held contemporary, Western perceptions of universal maternal instinct. The paper questions whether infant loss within Scandinavian and Germanic societies prompted emotional responses akin to Western, contemporary reactions. Were infants more closely related to animate objects than human beings? And did this ontological logic provoke the use of infant remains in ritual deposition?
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Leprosy in pre-Norman Suffolk, UK: biomolecular and geochemical analysis of the woman from Hoxne
    (Society for General Microbiology, 2017-11-01) Inskip, SA; Taylor, GM; Anderson, S; Stewart, G; Inskip, Sarah Alice [0000-0001-7424-2094]
    PURPOSE: A woman’s skull, exhibiting features of lepromatous leprosy (LL), was recovered from a garden in Hoxne, Suffolk. The absence of post crania and lack of formal excavation meant that diagnosis and dating was uncertain. The aim of this research was to confirm the diagnosis using biomolecular means and second, to place it in context with other British leprosy cases using SNP genotyping and radiocarbon dating. METHODOLOGY: Bone from the skull was analysed by ancient DNA (aDNA) methods and subjected to radiocarbon dating. As a result, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values were produced, both useful for assessing aspects of the woman’s diet. RESULTS/KEY FINDINGS: aDNA confirmed the presence of mycobacterium leprae and genotyping demonstrated an ancestral variant of subtype 3I, the same lineage recently identified in living squirrels in the south of England. Radiocarbon dating revealed the woman lived approximately between 885–1015 AD, providing evidence for endurance of this subtype in East Anglia, having been previously identified as early as the fifth–sixth century (Great Chesterford) and as late as the thirteenth century (Ipswich). CONCLUSIONS: The confirmation of a new pre-Norman leprosy case in East Anglia is of interest as this is where a high proportion of cases are located. Possible factors for this may include preservation and excavation biases, population density, but also connection and trade, possibly of fur, with the continent. Future research on other British LL cases should focus on exploring these aspects to advance understanding of the disease’s history, here and on the continent.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Community structure of copper supply networks in the prehistoric Balkans: An independent evaluation of the archaeological record from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC
    (Oxford University Press, 2017-07-24) Radivojevic, M; Grujic, J; Radivojevic, Miljana [0000-0001-7329-305X]
    Complex network analyses of many physical, biological and social phenomena show remarkable structural regularities, yet, their application in studying human past interaction remains underdeveloped. Here, we present an innovative method for identifying community structures in the archaeological record that allows for independent evaluation of the copper using societies in the Balkans, from c. 6200 to c. 3200 BC. We achieve this by exploring modularity of networked systems of these societies across an estimated 3000 years. We employ chemical data of copper-based objects from 79 archaeological sites as the independent variable for detecting most densely interconnected sets of nodes with a modularity maximization method. Our results reveal three dominant modular structures across the entire period, which exhibit strong spatial and temporal significance. We interpret patterns of copper supply among prehistoric societies as reflective of social relations, which emerge as equally important as physical proximity. Although designed on a variable isolated from any archaeological and spatiotemporal information, our method provides archaeologically and spatiotemporally meaningful results. It produces models of human interaction and cooperation that can be evaluated independently of established archaeological systematics, and can find wide application on any quantitative data from archaeological and historical record.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Cloth and currency: on the ritual-economics of Eurasian textile circulation and the ‘origins’ of trade, fifth to second millennia BC
    (Cambridge University Press, 2018) Wilkinson, TC; Wilkinson, Toby [0000-0002-4905-0522]
    The meaning of ‘trade’ and the understanding of its role in human societies lies at the root of —at least to the modern observer— one of the most confusing paradoxes in the relationship between objects and people. The recognition of this puzzle was first formulated by Marx and his comments on the ‘commodity fetish’ (Marx 1906). Under capitalism, objects (or rather commodities) are collected, made or worked upon by human labor in certain social spheres (of ‘production’) and then wrenched and transported into totally different spheres (of ‘consumption’). The ‘value’ of these objects is realized primarily in the consumption sphere: authenticity and social credit accruing to the judicial buyer, whilst the skills and aura of the laborer are effaced through the transition between spheres. To use Weber’s borrowing from Schiller, most acts of production in capitalism are ‘disenchanted’ (Greisman 1976) and rational, except perhaps for certain ring-fenced and strictly regulated fields of labor -- bounded under the label of ‘art’ and created by specialist ‘artists’ who are often required to live slightly outside the conventions of ‘normal’ society in order to draw on the sublime or divine.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    The Politics and Economics of Ancient Forests: timber and fuel as levers of Greco-Roman control
    (Hardt Foundation, 2017-08-29) Veal, RJ; Derron, P
    Forest resources constituted a key ancient economic good. Access to forest resources was therefore of importance to various agents: regionally, at a polity level, and to individuals, rich and poor. A range of environmental, economic, and social factors influenced forest access. Ancient forests were important for the provision of wood products (timber and fuel), and nonwood products (including foodstuffs, leisure, water supply). Of these, timber and fuel were the most important economic goods. Wood could be sourced privately, but substantial forests and woodlands were state controlled. Raw wood or charcoal fuel were required domestically in every home, rich or poor, for cooking and heating, and especially in industries such as metal smelting and smithing; ceramics, lime and glass production; and fuelling the baths. Wood was the most important fuel in the Greco-Roman world, although non-wood fuels also played a part.1 Together with stone and cement, wood was an essential construction material. Its abundance, or lack, could materially affect a state’s ability to wage war and carry out trade. R. Meiggs’ important contribution collated the ancient historical sources relating to wood, especially its use as timber, and he incorporated archaeological evidence where it was available.2 This discussion seeks now to highlight new archaeological and scientific data, and nuance our understanding of inequalities of demand and supply of this important ancient commodity.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    The formation of fire residues associated with hunter-gatherers in humid tropical environments: A geo-ethnoarchaeological perspective
    (Elsevier, 2017-09-01) Friesem, DE; Lavi, N; Madella, M; Boaretto, E; Ajithparsad, P; French, C; Friesem, David [0000-0002-5541-6156]; French, Charles [0000-0001-7967-3248]
    Tropical forests have been an important human habitat and played a significant role in early human dispersal and evolution. Likewise, the use of fire, besides being one of the exceptional characteristics of humans, serves as a marker for human evolution. While the use of fire by prehistoric hunter-gatherers is relatively well documented in arid and temperate environments, the archaeological evidence in humid tropical environment is to date very limited. We first review the archaeological evidence for hunter-gatherer use of fire in humid tropical environments and suggest that better understanding of formation processes is required. We present a geo-ethnoarchaeological study from South India, involving ethnography, excavations and laboratory-based analyses in order to build a new framework to study fire residues in humid tropical forests associated with hunter-gatherer's use of fire. Ethnographic observations point to a dynamic and ephemeral use of hearths. Hearths location were dictated by the social and ever-changing social dynamics of the site. The hearths deposited small amount of residues which were later swept on a daily basis, re-depositing ash and charcoal in waste areas and leaving only a microscopic signal in the original location. Particular acidic conditions and intensive biological activity within tropical sediments result in the complete dissolution of ash and bones while favouring the preservation of charcoal and phytoliths. Consequently, the identification of fire residues in humid tropical forests and the reconstruction of the human use of fire must involve multi-proxy microscopic analysis to detect its micro-signatures.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    The virtues of small grain size: Potential pathways to a distinguishing feature of Asian wheats
    (Elsevier, 2016-12-28) Liu, X; Lister, DL; Zhao, Z; Staff, RA; Jones, PJ; Zhou, L; Pokharia, AK; Petrie, CA; Pathak, A; Lu, H; Matuzeviciute, GM; Bates, J; Pilgram, TK; Jones, MK; Lister, Diane [0000-0002-1227-707X]; Petrie, Cameron [0000-0002-2926-7230]; Jones, Martin [0000-0003-0930-8012]
    Increase in grain/seed size recurrently features as a key element in the ‘domestication syndrome’ of plants (cf. Zohary and Hopf 2000; Fuller et al. 2014). In the context of its spread across Eurasia, however, the grain size of one of the world's major crop species underwent a substantial reduction. Between the fifth and second millennia BC, the grain length in a number of species of Triticum, collectively known as free-threshing wheat, decreased by around 30%. In order to understand and help account for this trend, we have obtained direct radiocarbon measurements from 51 charred wheat grains and measured the dimensions of several hundred grains from Asia to establish when and where that size diminution occurred. Our results indicate that the pace of a eastward/southward spread was interrupted around 1800 BC on the borders of the distinct culinary zone recognized by Fuller and Rowlands (2011), but regained pace around 200–300 years later in central-east China with a diminished grain size. We interpret this as evidence of a period of active crop selection to suit culinary needs, and consider whether it constitutes a distinct episode in the general character of genetic intervention in domesticated species.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    'Pandora’s box': A textile tool set from a Scythian burial in Ukraine
    (Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2016-11-29) Daragan, M; Gleba, M; Buravchuk, O; Ortiz, J; Alfaro, C; Turell, L; Martinez, MJ; Gleba, Margarita [0000-0001-7729-7795]
    Textile tools made of perishable materials such as wood are extremely rare in the archaeological contexts of ancient Mediterranean, but numerous complete and fragmentary boxes containing textile tools and other materials have been found in Scythian burials of the 5th-4th centuries BC in southern Ukraine. The boxes are found exclusively in female burials and are clearly of Hellenic craftsmanship. The paper presents preliminary observations about a 4th century BC female burial 2 from Kurgan 5 at Bulgakovo, which was accompanied by a wooden box containing three wooden distaffs, a spindle whorl made of an amphora fragment, a wooden comb and two smaller wooden boxes, one of which stored a set of at least 19 wooden weaving tablets with four holes each, an iron needle and some yarn.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Classical textile remains in the British Museum Collection
    (Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2016-11-29) Cutler, J; Gleba, M; Ortiz, J; Alfaro, C; Turell, L; Martinez, J; Gleba, Margarita [0000-0001-7729-7795]
    Cloth remains from 1st millennium BC Greece are relatively rare. The majority of the surviving fragments have been preserved in a mineralised state on metal objects. Re-examination of metal and other artefacts in museum collections is increasingly adding to the existing textile corpus. Recently, the remains of two new textile fragments were identified on finds presented to the British Museum by the British Salonica Force in 1919. The poster presents the textiles and discusses their significance within the larger corpus of extant classical Greek textiles.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    The trans-Eurasian crop exchange in prehistory: Discerning pathways from barley phylogeography
    (Elsevier, 2016-12-28) Jones, H; Lister, DL; Cai, D; Kneale, CJ; Cockram, J; Peña-Chocarro, L; Jones, MK; Lister, Diane [0000-0002-1227-707X]; Jones, Martin [0000-0003-0930-8012]
    A number of crops that are of global importance today, including wheat (Triticum spp) and barley (Hordeum vulgare), were domesticated in Southwest Asia between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago and subsequently spread through the Old World, into Europe, North Africa and eastwards across Eurasia. Their routes of expansion have been a focus of debate and are increasingly being revealed by widespread dating of archaeobotanical remains from across Eurasia. Of particular interest is work by Zhao (2009) who proposed three routes for the spread of wheat into China: firstly, across the Eurasian Steppe, second by sea from India to the east coast of Eurasia and third, along the Hexi Corridor, which forms part of the Silk Road in western China. Molecular genetic analysis of cereal landraces have also elucidated routes of expansion of cereal cultivation and, in addition, have revealed how crops adapted to changing environments as they moved away from their centres of domestication. Genes involved in flowering time genes have been a particular focus of these studies, including the photoperiod response gene Ppd-H1 in barley, which controls flowering in response to increasing day-lengths in the spring. In this paper we present a phylogeographic analysis of Old World landrace and wild barley, through the analysis of a portion of the Ppd-H1 DNA sequence. We discuss the geographic distribution of different haplotypes of this gene across Eurasia in the light of Zhao (2009)'s three routes and what it potentially reveals about trans-Eurasian pathways of contact between early farming communities.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    The study of dental occlusion in ancient skeletal remains from Mallorca (Spain): A new approach based on dental clinical practice
    (Elsevier, 2017-05-10) Fiorin, E; Ibáñez-Gimeno, P; Cadafalch, J; Malgosa, A
    Occlusal characteristics, fundamental to assess the presence of malocclusion, have been often unexplored in bioarchaeological analyses. This is largely due to the fragmented condition of the skeletal remains. By applying a method that considers dental and maxillary features useful to evaluate occlusion in ancient fragmentary material, the purpose of this work is to define the occlusal features and explore the causes of malocclusion in a mediaeval population from Mallorca. The findings of this study suggest that normocclusion was present in ca. 60% of the individuals ($N$=31), and that some characteristics, such as molar relationship, were slightly different from those of modern populations. The analysis of the occlusal features revealed for example that open-bite was absent in 85% of the sample, posterior open-bite was completely absent and overbite and overjet were normal in around 90% of the individuals. Statistically significant correlations between canine and molar relationships and between molar relationship and dental wear of the superior and inferior canines and incisors were observed. In addition, wear could affect the curve of Spee. All these findings strengthen the hypothesis that in ancient times malocclusion was not as generalized as in modern times. Although the factors that lead to malocclusion throughout centuries could have several causes, we suggest that in this population dental wear, which is strongly associated with the diet, was the fundamental causing factor.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Patterning and Its Causation in the Pre-Neolithic Colonization of the Mediterranean Islands (Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene)
    (Taylor & Francis, 2017-01-20) Cherry, JF; Leppard, TP; Leppard, Thomas [0000-0002-4803-4061]
    In 1981 one of us (Cherry) first attempted to identify spatial and temporal patterning in the human colonization of the Mediterranean islands. Since the 1980s, slowly accumulating evidence has suggested that the Mediterranean islands were sporadically inhabited by hunter-gatherers during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Here we seek to establish whether or not these data exhibit regularity. We suggest that evidence for Upper Palaeolithic to Mesolithic activity, tending to cluster on larger or less remote islands, indicates that while humans were clearly capable of reaching the Mediterranean islands prior to the Neolithic, their general reluctance to do so can be explained in terms of the variable environmental attractiveness of the insular Mediterranean. Tending to be relatively small, dry, and biologically depauperate, the Mediterranean islands were largely inhospitable to mobile groups preferring extensive territories with diverse and robust biotas. Sedentism only became a widely viable strategy in the insular Mediterranean with the development in the Neolithic of what we might regard as “terraforming”—that is, the introduction of cereals, pulses, and ovicaprids, all tolerant of xeric environments.
  • ItemOpen AccessAccepted version Peer-reviewed
    Maritime hominin dispersals in the Pleistocene: advancing the debate
    (Cambridge University Press, 2017-04-01) Leppard, TP; Runnels, C; Leppard, Thomas [0000-0002-4803-4061]
    To what extent is there spatial and temporal patterning in the spread of our genus around the planet, and what environmental and behavioural factors specify this patterning? The prevailing model of Pleistocene dispersals of Homo holds that this process was essentially terrestrial, with oceans and seas inhibiting and directing the movement of hominins out of Africa (e.g. Mellars 2006; Dennell & Petraglia 2012; Gamble 2013), although some scholars propose short-range maritime hops at both the Strait of Gibraltar and Bab-el-Mandeb (Lambeck et al. 2011; Rolland 2013). The relatively recent discovery of stone tools with apparently Lower and Middle Palaeolithic characteristics on islands in the eastern Mediterranean and in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) has, however, been used by some scholars to challenge this terrestrial model.