Risky Business: The Impact of Climate Variability on Human Populations in Western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum
Burke, Ariane (Université de Montréal), Masa Kageyama (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environ), Guillaume Latombe (Monash University), Mathieu Vrac (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environ) and Patrick James (Université de Montréal)
The extent to which climate change has affected the course of human evolution is an enduring question. The ability to maintain spatially extensive social networks and fluid social structure allow human foragers to “map onto” the landscape, mitigating the impact of resource fluctuation. Together, these adaptations confer resilience in the face of climate change—but what are the limits of this resilience and what is the role played by climate variability? We address this question by testing how climate conditions and climate variability, which we consider a proxy for environmental risk, affected the distribution of human populations living in western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum. The mechanisms used by foragers to counter resource failure come at a cost and the ability to make accurate predictions about the availability of resources helps foragers avoid costly mistakes. Climate variability, therefore, is a potentially significant risk factor since it affects the distribution of plant and animal resources unpredictably. Here, we quantify the sensitivity of human systems to this potential risk factor at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
Reading the Landscape: A Model of Environmental Legibility for Assessing Hominid Dispersals during the Late Pleistocene
Guiducci, Dario (Université de Montréal)
The ability of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) to successfully navigate complex topographies and variable environments is hypothesized to have been a key adaptation for the long term success of our species, in comparison to other hominid groups. Additionally, the structure of the environment through which human dispersals occurred is arguably important to our understanding of the speed and scale at which population movements occurred. This paper demonstrates a new methodology for quantifying and modeling landscape legibility, an untested aspect of environmental structure adapted from landscape studies. With the aid of case studies from north-eastern Spain, this paper illustrates the logic of a legibility metric based on two dimensions; 1) landscape coherence, which affects the ability to single out significant landmarks useful for guiding navigation; and 2) ease of dispersability, measured by means of a circuitscape model. The paper concludes with a discussion of what the patterns and differences between the study areas mean for Late Pleistocene dispersals in the Western Mediterranean, and how an assessment of legibility fits in with other lines of evidence regarding hominid dispersals more generally.
Morphometric Analysis of Aurignacian Bone, Antler and Ivory Projectile Points
Doyon, Luc (Université de Montréal & Université de Bordeaux)
This study examines the morphometric variation of Aurignacian bone, antler, and ivory projectile points, the first continental-wide occurrence of hunting armatures made from animal material during the Early Upper Paleolithic. Morphometric analysis is a powerful instrument that separates and quantifies variation of both shape and size, thereby allowing exploration of both functional and stylistic variation of an object. Applied to armatures from the Western Mediterranean region (Grotte de l’Observatoire, Reclau Viver, L’Arbreda Cave) and the northern slopes of the Pyrenees (Aurignac, Tarté, Saint-Jean-de-Verges), morphometric analysis suggests the presence of three main volumetric templates replicated by the prehistoric artisans. Each template is associated with specific proximal and/or distal damage types. This suggests that morphometrically similar implements were hafted and used in similar ways. As would be expected, sites where the manufacture of projectile points is attested yield a greater number of complete points as well as specimens showing little sign of use. On the other hand, the specimens from assemblages from sites without evidence of primary manufacture and that are located at the extremities of the region are smaller and more fragmented, suggesting a higher intensity of use and resharpening prior to deposition.
Volcanic Winter and Population Replacements? Forager Adaptations in Liguria during OIS 3 across the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition
Riel-Salvatore, Julien (Université de Montréal) and Fabio Negrino (Università di Genova)
There has been a lot of focus on the disruptive effects of dramatic climatic shifts on Paloelithic population dynamics, but the topic of cultural continuity across such events has been less intensely investigated. This paper presents data from some of our recent research projects in Liguria, especially from the site of Riparo Bombrini, to investigate the nature of the apparent resilience of the proto-Aurignacian in the face of events like the Phlegrean Fields eruption and the reasons why the Mousterian disappeared at the site in spite of this phenomenon not being strictly associated with a pronounced climatic shift.