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PLoS One. 2015 Jul 8;10(7):e0131181. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131181. eCollection 2015.

Analysis of Site Formation and Assemblage Integrity Does Not Support Attribution of the Uluzzian to Modern Humans at Grotta del Cavallo.

Author information

1
Universitat de Barcelona, Seminari d'Estudis i Recerques Prehistòriques (SGR2014-00108), Departament de Prehistòria, Història Antiga i Arqueologia, Facultat de Geografia i Història, C/ Montalegre 6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Passeig Lluís Companys 23, 08010 Barcelona, Spain.
2
Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199, de la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (UMR 5199 - PACEA), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Bordeaux, Bâtiment B18, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, CS 50023 33615 Pessac Cedex, France; Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd., Dyche Hall, Lawrence, KS, 66045-7562, United States of America.
3
Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199, de la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie (UMR 5199 - PACEA), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Bordeaux, Bâtiment B18, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, CS 50023 33615 Pessac Cedex, France; Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen, Øysteinsgate 3, 5007 Bergen, Norway.
4
Sapienza-Università di Roma, Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Antichità, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.

Abstract

Based on the morphology of two deciduous molars and radiocarbon ages from layers D and E of the Grotta del Cavallo (Lecce, Italy), assigned to the Uluzzian, it has been proposed that modern humans were the makers of this Early Upper Paleolithic culture and that this finding considerably weakens the case for an independent emergence of symbolism among western European Neandertals. Reappraisal of the new dating evidence, of the finds curated in the Taranto Antiquities depot, and of coeval publications detailing the site's 1963-66 excavations shows that (a) Protoaurignacian, Aurignacian and Early Epigravettian lithics exist in the assemblages from layers D and E, (b) even though it contains both inherited and intrusive items, the formation of layer D began during Protoaurignacian times, and (c) the composition of the extant Cavallo assemblages is influenced in a non-negligible manner by the post-hoc assignment of items to stratigraphic units distinct from that of original discovery. In addition, a major disturbance feature affected the 1960s excavation trench down to Mousterian layer F, this feature went unrecognized until 1964, the human remains assigned to the Uluzzian were discovered that year and/or the previous year, and there are contradictions between field reports and the primary anthropological description of the remains as to their morphology and level of provenience. Given these major contextual uncertainties, the Cavallo teeth cannot be used to establish the authorship of the Uluzzian. Since this technocomplex's start date is ca. 45,000 calendar years ago, a number of Neandertal fossils are dated to this period, and the oldest diagnostic European modern human fossil is the <41,400 year-old Oase 1 mandible, Neandertal authorship of the Uluzzian remains the parsimonious reading of the evidence.

PMID:
26154139
PMCID:
PMC4495988
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0131181
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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