Conferences given by HDRG members during march and april 2017

82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 29 - April 2, 2017


New on-site method to evaluate the quantity and quality of collagen in archaeological faunal assemblages using a portable FTIR and ZooMS

Pothier Bouchard, Genevieve (Université de Montréal), Michael Buckley (Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University), Jamie Hodgkins (Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado), Susan M. Mentzer (Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Eberhard-Ka) and Julien RielSalvatore (Département d’Anthropologie, Université de Montréa)

Abstract : Faunal remains play an important role in helping reconstruct Paleolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence and mobility strategies. However, differential bone preservation is an issue in southern European prehistoric sites, which often makes morphological identification impossible. Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) is a new, low-cost method that will improve NISP statistical significance in a replicable way by using diagnostic peptides of the dominant collagen protein as a fingerprint of animal (including hominin) species. It is also a powerful tool to assess collagen preservation for radiocarbon dating. We present a test of a method for evaluating collagen preservation in the field prior to ZooMS analysis. Using a portable Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) equipped with an attenuated total reflectance accessory, we evaluated the relative abundance of collagen and various components of the mineral fraction, in powdered bone fragments, as well as indicators of burning and fossilization. The bones were then analyzed by ZooMS and results compared to ascertain FTIR as a screening technique. This method was tested on assemblages from two Northwestern Italian sites: Riparo Bombrini and Arma Veirana. Both sites document the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition with overlapping dates from distinct environmental contexts (coastal and mountainous hinterland) differing greatly in collagen preservation.


The social consequences of climate-driven changes in the spatial distribution of human populations during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)

Burke, Ariane (Université de Montréal), Colin D. Wren (University of Colorado) and Julien Riel-Salvatore (Universite de Montreal)

Symposium : Upper Paleolithic transitional "moments" on the Iberian peninsula

Abstract : Risk-reducing strategies allow humans to manage ecological risk while minimizing disruptions. Unpredictable resource fluctuations, i.e., ecological risk, are driven by a combination of climate conditions and climate variability. Under extreme conditions reduction strategies may fail, however, forcing a reorganization of the social and economic structure of affected populations, as well as their technological systems. Risky conditions during the LGM, for example, affected the spatial distribution of populations in Western Europe as well as the ease and frequency of interregional mobility. This will have had an impact on human social networks and cultural exchange. Using predictive modeling, climate simulations and agent-based modeling, we explore how a risk-averse strategy created the spatial patterns observed in the archaeological record and consider their social consequences.


Characterizing Ephemeral Paleolithic Occupations at Arma Veirana (Liguria, Italy)

Riel-Salvatore, Julien (Université de Montréal), Fabio Negrino (Università di Genova), Marco Peresani (Università di Ferrara), Martina Parise (Università di Genova) and Jamie Hodgkins (University of Colorado Denver)

Abstract : This paper presents a description of recently studied assemblages from Middle and Upper Paleolithic levels at the site of Arma Veirana, a large cave located in the mountainous hinterland of Liguria. While one Mousterian level shows an intense occupation, all other levels indicate rather short-lived, low intensity occupations. Beyond technological and typological analyses of these assemblages undertaken to characterize them, we also report preliminary data on raw material procurement patterns from these levels. While the Mousterian suggests predominantly local acquisition, the Upper Paleolithic is comprised mainly of exotic lithotypes. Beyond these results that largely agree with received wisdom about the technology and mobility strategies of the two periods, we also discuss the presence of a distinctive reddish radiolarite in some of the assemblages from both periods. This material has historically been considered exotic, raising a number of questions about how local and exotic materials contributed to the tool kits of foragers during their comparatively ephemeral occupations of the site. Lastly, we tackle the question of what these results mean for our understanding of Ligurian prehistory more broadly, since it has almost exclusively focused on coastal as opposed to inland sites.


Annual Meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society (March 28-29, 2017), Vancouver, Canada


Archaeological support for the Beringian standstill hypothesis: human occupation of the Bluefish Caves site (Yukon Territory, Canada) during the Last Glacial Maximum.

Lauriane Bourgeon, Ariane Burke, Thomas Higham

Abstract : The Beringian standstill hypothesis suggests that human populations reached Beringia (eastern Siberia, Alaska and the Yukon Territory) during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and persisted there from about 15,000 to 23,000 BP. During this time they were genetically isolated and diverged from East Asian ancestors, before dispersing south of the ice-sheets into North America. This hypothesis is indirectly supported by evidence of a relatively mild climate in Central Beringia and the presence of pre-LGM populations in Western Beringia. Until now, however, the archaeological record has not yielded evidence of a human presence in Beringia during the LGM. Previous to this research, the oldest accepted dates for the human occupation of Alaska and the Yukon Territory do not exceed 14.000 BP. We conducted a rigorous taphonomic analysis of the Bluefish Caves site (northern Yukon Territory) and dated six bone specimens recovered from Caves I and II bearing clear evidence of butchering activity. The dates obtained from the cut-marked bone prove that small groups of people occupied the Bluefish Caves site for brief periods of time on several occasions during and after the LGM. The earliest AMS date obtained indicates a human presence in Eastern Beringia at 24,000 cal BP (19,650 ± 130 14C BP). These results, therefore, support the proposition that a human population existed in Beringia during the LGM. After ca. 16,000 BP, as climatic conditions improved, population size increased and people may have dispersed from Beringia into North and South America following a Pacific coastal route.


Exploring Technological Organization through Geometric Morphometrics: The Case of Aurignacian Projectile Points Made of Antler, Bone, and Ivory

Luc DOYON, Ariane BURKE, Francesco d’ERRICO, Heidi KATZ KNECHT

Abstract : Aurignacian projectile points hold a special place in the history of humankind as, for the first time, osseous materials such as antler, bone, and ivory were used to produce hunting armatures at a continental scale. The variability of these “index fossils” has long been studied from a typological and technological perspective. However, the volumetric templates of production that prehistoric artisans considered fit for hunting activities have rarely been studied (see however Albrecht et al., 1972 ; Clément, Leroy-Prost, 1977 ; Knecht, 1991). Our current research uses geometric morphometric analysis, a powerful tool for the quantitative analysis of form, to assess stylistic and functional variation in Aurignacian projectile points. A landmark-based approach was used to analyse 547 projectile points from 51 Aurignacian sites across Europe. Split-based and massive-based points were investigated to highlight their original volumetric template(s), the degree of standardization inherent in the manufacture of these armatures, and the effect of use and resharpening on morphometric variability. Results are used to identify regional trends. The variety of raw material used for the manufacture of massive-based points and their reduced morphological standardisation compared to split-based points suggest that these two types of armatures were produced in different social contexts. Split-based points reflect more broadly shared rules of production, as attested by the consistency in the volumetric templates recorded over and across large regions of Europe. On the contrary, the manufacture of massive-based points appears more expedient (sensu Nelson, 1991) and their volumetric templates more locally clustered.