CRC Lecture Series 19th November by Daniela Holst: Subsistence & resource management in the early Holocene

The profound environmental changes at the beginning of the early Holocene worldwide are accompanied by innovations in human land-use, leading to a sedentary lifestyle and domestication in some parts of the world. The talk focuses on subsistence and land-use strategies in the contemporaneous European Mesolithic. Well-preserved archives allow for high-resolution reconstructions and quantitative assessments of the processing and stockpiling of high return harvests of energy rich foods. The hazelnut-roasting camps of Duvensee in Northern Germany form a prime example of Mesolithic subsistence strategies. Their potential implications on land-use and mobility are discussed in context with new evidences. A future research project on ground stone tools will contribute to the complement of our patchy image of the Mesolithic.

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Event Information:

Date, Time:19/11/2018, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: HS XVIIb Main Building UoC, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, Cologne

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CRC Lecture Series 5th November by Martin Theuerkauf: From guesswork to maps – recent progress in quantitative vegetation reconstruction

The talk will give an overview of the main current approaches and illustrate their strength and weaknesses in a number of examples. It will then introduce the new ROPES approach. This method does not require pollen productivity as a parameter, and so may overcome major limitations of the present methods. It is suited to extend quantitative vegetation reconstruction into new regions and pre-Holocene periods, and allows analysis of long pollen records that cover several glacial/interglacial cycles. 

By Dr. Martin Theuerkauf from the

Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald

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Vegetation reconstruction from pollen data, although dealing with counts and percentage values, has long been a mere semi-quantitative field. Pollen percentages do not directly represent past vegetation composition, because plants species produce pollen in very different amounts and with different dispersal patterns. This bias in pollen data is well known since the inception of the field 100 years ago, but correction for a long time relied on ad-hoc informed guesswork.

Today, a suite of methods is available that enable true quantitative interpretation of pollen data. The methods cover different spatial scales: REVEALS for example aims to translate pollen deposition from large lakes into regional vegetation composition. LOVE and Marco Polo reconstruct stand-scale vegetation composition using pollen data from very small sites. The extended downscaling approach and the multiple scenario approach explore vegetation patterns in landscapes using multiple pollen records.

So far these methods are still rarely applied, however, for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the underlying parameters pollen productivity and pollen dispersal require elaborate calibration and are hence so far available for some regions only.

Event Information:

Date, Time:05/11/2018, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: HS XVIIb Main Building UoC, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, Cologne

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Paleolithic research in Armenia – eclectic point of view and future directions

Paleolithic research in Armenia by Dr. Ariel Malinsky-Buller, Senior Researcher at the Monrepos Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution.

Armenia is situated in the Southern Caucasus at the geographical intersection of Africa and Eurasia. The geography of the Armenia posed major challenges and opportunities for Palaeolithic hunter gatherer populations, with its mosaic of distinct ecological niches, large temperature gradients, and strong seasonal fluctuations across elevation gradients. This, in turn, make Armenia an ideal natural laboratory for testing models of climatic impact on hominin settlement patterns and population dynamics. The lecture will present two on-going projects in two eco-geographic regions within Armenia. The first is Kalavan 2, a Middle Palaeolithic open-air site located at 1630 masl on the northern slopes of the Areguni Mountains north of Lake Sevan. The second area is close to Ararat village at around 700 masl. Preliminary results and future directions of research will be presented in the lecture. 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:02/07/2018, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Kleiner Hörsaal der Geologie (310a), Zülpicher Straße 49, Cologne

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Heinrich Events: An Unintentional Discovery And Its Possible Consequences for the future

In the mid 80ties an environmental impact assessment in relation to deep-sea dumping of medium-to-high level radioactive waste was carried out in the eastern margins of the Mid Atlantic Ridge next to the Bay of Biscaye. In one of the box corers recovered for radionuclide analysis a volcanic rock was found that triggered interest because of an unexpected geochemical feature on its surface. Subsequent investigations on the bordering sediment layer revealed hints on a massive ice rafting event possibly released from rapidly collapsing circum-Atlantic ice shields. The search for more of these events in numerous sediment cores exhibited a total of 11 layers since the end of the Saalian/Illinoian glaciation (OIS 6/5 to 2/1). The six events identified in the period OIS 4 to 2 indicated oceanographic conditions in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean that were different to those that prevailed during most time of this glacial period. Later, several authors proposed mechanisms that could have triggered the collapses, e.g. the Binge-Purge model (MacAyeal, 1993) or, access of relatively warm water to the grounding lines in conjunction with isostatic movements (Bassis, 2017).

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One of the consequences of rapid ice shield collapses is sea level rise. Paleo data report rates of up to several meters per century over a period of several centuries. The process described by Bassis et al. resembles to what nowadays can be observed along the ice margins of Greenland and the Antarctic where (man-made) warmed ocean water attacks the grounding lines. If this initiates something like a Heinrich event this is of widespread consequence for coasts, from displacement of populations to marine pollution.

Research on past Heinrich events is important for understanding the future developments of the existing ice shields and climate change.

Event Information:

Date, Time:18/06/2018, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Kleiner Hörsaal der Geologie (310a), Zülpicher Straße 49, Cologne

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Interglacial Diversity in the Mediterranean Basin, Insights from Central Italy Continental Carbonates

The Apuan Alps (central Italy).

Past interglacial periods can be seen as a series of natural experiments characterized by different boundary conditions (e.g. seasonal and latitudinal distribution of insolation, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, extent of continental ice sheets), with different consequent effects on the character of climate change. Past interglacial are keys to understand past but also future-climate, because they represent potential analogues of the present warm period (Holocene) and offer the unique possibility to investigate the background of climate variability in which human-induced modifications operate, and to clarify their role in the natural sequence of events.

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Continental carbonates (speleothem and lacustrine sediment) from the Mediterranean basin represent invaluable archives of past climate. Particularly, oxygen stable isotope composition of these deposits responds sensitively to variations in regional hydrology. This information can be complemented by the study of others properties (e.g. elemental and mineralogical composition), to obtain more detailed information on local environmental changes. In this talk, several case studies from central Italy lakes and caves are presented.  They cover the Last Interglacial (ca. 130-90 ka), and the interglacial corresponding to the marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 19 (ca. 790-760 ka), considered the best orbital analog of the Holocene over the last million of years. All the presented records have independent, radiometric chronologies thanks to uranium-thorium dating of speleothem and to Argon/argon dating of volcanic ash layers interbedded to the lacustrine sediment. Climate evolution, hydrological response and millennial-scale variability are evaluated, and the potential link with the extra-regional and global climate is discussed.

Event Information:

Date, Time:07/05/2018, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Kleiner Hörsaal der Geologie (310a), Zülpicher Straße 49, Cologne

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Comparing the expansions of Middle Stone Age and Middle Palaeolithic populations in East Africa and South Asia

Tea break during my excavations at Katoati in Rajasthan.

Fossil and genetic studies on the origins and expansions of modern humans reveal an increasingly complex mosaic, including regionally structured populations within Africa, and numerous expansions into Eurasia resulting in multiple episodes of interbreeding with other hominins.

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Until recently, East Africa preserved the oldest fossil evidence for Homo sapiens, but it remains a key region to explore the emergence of modern
humans as a crossroads for interactions of structured populations within Africa and providing access to routes beyond. In contrast, South Asia is the last major region of Eurasia to present fossil evidence for the arrival of Homo sapiens, despite a similarly pivotal role in putative routes of expansion across Asia. These two regions share a broadly similar size, a coastline on the Indian ocean and a comparable range of habitats, but distinct differences in the evolution of behaviour evident in the archaeological record. In the first part of my talk, I will examine behavioural diversity within the Middle Stone Age of East Africa, based upon a comprehensive synthesis of the archaeological literature and the application of a quantitative approach. This identifies aspects of continuity throughout the MSA, as well as pulses of behavioural diversification, both regarding packages of lithic technology and landscape colonisation. In the second part of my talk, I will focus more broadly on the culture history of South Asia to examine modern human dispersal. With respect to the most current evidence, it appears modern humans used Middle Palaeolithic toolkits to colonise South Asia during MIS 5. In conclusion, I will argue that examinations of human expansion and behavioural variability need to be rooted within a biogeographic framework.

Event Information:

Date, Time:23/04/2018, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Kleiner Hörsaal der Geologie (310a), Zülpicher Straße 49, Cologne

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Authigenic silicates and Quaternary paleolimnology: Examples from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, and the Kenya Rift

The Third Fault, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, showing the stratigraphy of the Olduvai Basin.

 

The paleoclimatic framework of human evolution is central to the study of human origins. Several East African basins offer excellent examples of how authigenic silicates may be used in paleoenvironmental reconstructions, particularly when biotic indicators are absent or diagenetically modified.

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In a Pleistocene section at Olduvai Gorge, Mg depletion in authigenic clays indicate freshening events occurring over a generally saline and alkaline environmental background. Five of the six events observed occurred at peak climatic precession, correlating with December insolation at 20°S. Peak amplitude of geochemical variation preceded the ca. 1.84 Ma eccentricity maximum by ~20 k.y., suggesting that eccentricity modulation was unexpectedly weak in this interval, or that other factors affected the water balance or geochemical record. 

Dan Deocampo, Georgia State University

Preliminary work has been carried out on deposits of the Lake Magadi, Koora Graben, and Baringo Basin cores obtained by the international Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project. In these cores, authigenic clay minerals do not show much variation in chemistry, as these basins did not persist in the window of conditions of salinity and silica availability to promote authigenic clay precipitation. Instead, zeolites produced by alteration of volcaniclastic materials give insight into relative salinity conditions. In particular, different zeolites host different cations (i.e. Na, K, Ca) that provide clues as to cation ratios in the paleolake water. Major transitions of zeolite assemblages are observed in each basin, indicating salinity fluctuations. 

Authigenic silicates provide datasets that can add an important component to multi-proxy paleoenvironmental records from lake basins.

Dr. Deocampo is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State University, in Atlanta.  He conducts geological research around the world, including in Europe, East Africa, and North America. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has attracted funding support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Petroleum Research Fund, and the Departments of Transportation in both California and Georgia. He collaborates with environmental and public health scientists, anthropologists, biologists, chemists, geographers, and others to conduct research on both basic and applied research topics. Dr. Deocampo is an expert in the mineralogy and geochemistry of near surface environments, including soils, sediments, and aquatic systems, and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. 

Date: 30/06/2017, 10:00 h – 11:00 h

Location: Room 0.024, Biozentrum (Building 304), Zülpicher Str. 47b, Cologne


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40Ar/39Ar dating of Plio-Pleistocene Drill Cores from East Africa

East Africa provides the opportunity to acquire unique evidence toward understanding the influence of climate and environmental change on the evolution of the human lineage and technology during the Plio-Pleistocene. The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) has extracted a total of 2 km of sediment drill core from the Rift Valley of East Africa, in paleolake basins adjacent to fossil hominin and archaeological sites of major significance. 40Ar/39Ar dating and chronology modeling of four of these sites will be discussed. Sites in the southern Kenya Rift will be compared to outcrop geology of the Olorgesailie area, which exhibits some of the earliest Middle Stone Age archaeology.

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Alan Deino, Berkeley Geochronology Center, California.

Alan Deino is a geochronologist at the Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, California. His career has been devoted to the application of the 40Ar/39Ar dating method to problems of volcanology, tectonics, climate change, faunal evolution, and hominin origins on several continents, but with recurring emphasis on East Africa.

 

 

 

Date: 14/06/2017, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Room 0.40, Biozentrum (Building 301), Zülpicher Str. 47a, Cologne
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Upper Quaternary soil development and paleo-environments on the Swiss Plateau: A progress report

heinz-veit-vortragThe existence of periglacial cover beds as forming an important part of soil parent material in Europe is widely accepted. The youngest of these cover beds, the “Upper Layer” (Hauptlage) is assumed to have developed during the Lateglacial. The formation of Luvisols (Parabraunerden) is assumed to have occurred afterwards, during the Holocene, under forest vegetation and stable surface conditions. Some authors describe initial soil formation during the lateglacial reforestation period (Bölling/Alleröd), but still interpreting the main part of Luvisol formation under forest during the Holocene. One consequence of this interpretation is the use of Bt-horizons as paleo-ecological and stratigraphic indicators of interglacials in Europe.

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On the Swiss Plateau, soils have mainly developed on glacial and glaciofluvial deposits of different ages, covered by periglacial cover beds. The known glacial chronology is an ideal prerequisite to study soil chronosequences on these Upper Quaternary deposits. We applied extensive OSL datings on the cover beds and the parent material of the soils. This allows a more detailed understanding of the timing of processes like decalcification and clay dislocation. The results question some of our basic understandings concerning the timing of soil formation and related paleo-geoecological conditions. These findings and preliminary conclusions from our ongoing research will be discussed in the talk. 

Prof. Dr. Heinz Veit, University of Berne

Prof. Dr. Heinz Veit, University of Berne

Heinz Veit holds the chair of Paleo-Geoecology at the Institute of Geography, University of Berne, since 1996. He did his studies, PhD and postdoc in geomorphology, soil science and geoecology at the universities of Frankfurt, Bayreuth and La Serena (Chile). His scientific interests are I) glacial history and chronology in high mountains (Andes, Bale Mountains, Alps), II) past and present periglacial dynamics and cover beds (Alps, Andes, Bale Mountains, Europe), III) tropical hillwash (Brazil, Kamerun, Nigeria), IV) geoarcheology (Bolivian Amazon, Bale Mountains) and V) soil genesis and paleosols (Europe, Kamerun, Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil).

Event Information:

Date, Time: 23/01/2017, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Room 0.024, Biozentrum (Building 304), Zülpicher Str. 47b, Cologne

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Socio-economic changes in flint production and consumption in the PPNB period of the Greater Petra Region, Southern Levant

purschwitz_blogThis presentation is the outcome of a Ph.D, which recently was completed at Freie Universität Berlin (Purschwitz 2016). This paper presents the results of the chipped lithic analysis from five Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB, ca. 8600-6900 BCE) sites (Ail 4, Ba’ja, Basta, Beidha and Shkârat Msaied) which all are situated at the Greater Petra Region. Major changes in the organization of flint production and blank consumption are in evidence with the emergence of the large mega-sites during the late PPNB (7500-6900 BCE). An increasing number of bidirectional blade consuming households are opposed to few producing workshops, which operate beyond their own demand and produce on a regional supply level. Households which have restricted access to the late PPNB bidirectional bade network respond with self-supply strategies by using alternative blade technologies. This phenomenon or “technological dualism” between inter-site production and household consumption rises with increasing specialization in crafts and comprises all levels of production from raw material procurement to exchange.

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Christoph Purschwitz, FU Berlin

Christoph Purschwitz, FU Berlin.

I argue that the emergence of the dualistic lithic economy (in the Greater Petra Region) is the result of changes in the network structure of the households. While MPPNB sites of the Greater Petra Region are small and only seasonal used, LPPNB mega-sites can be huge and permanently occupied by several hundreds to thousand inhabitants. According to general network theory the personal network (family, relatives, friends) of a MPPNB household is likely to be distributed over several more or less distant sites, while the personal network of a LPPNB household appears to be restricted to the mega-site itself. Additionally, it is likely that at mega-sites such as Basta or ‘Ain Ghazal an increasing number of inhabitant did not share the households personal networks and did not had social relations to each other. I expect that the lack of social control within the late PPNB mega-sites promoted profit-oriented thinking (negative reciprocity, surplus production) and constituted in increasing social inequality.

Literature:

Purschwitz, C. 2016. The Lithic Economy of Flint during the Early Neolithic of the Greater Petra Region. Geological Availability, Procurement, Production, and Modes of Distribution of Flint from the Early to Late PPNB-Period. Ph.D.-Thesis, Freie Universität Berlin (in German).

Event Information:

Date, Time: 12/12/2016, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Room 0.024, Biozentrum (Building 304), Zülpicher Str. 47b, Cologne

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