“Paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions based on the small vertebrates from the Middle Paleolithic of Hohle Fels Cave, SW Germany”

New article published by Luzi, E., Blanco-Lapaz, À., Rhodes, S.E., Conard, N.J., in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

In this paper, we analyse the fish and small mammal assemblages from the Middle Paleolithic horizons of Hohle Fels Cave to reconstruct the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental conditions faced by the Neanderthal groups who occupied the site. The fish assemblage indicates that the freshwater ecosystem around this site was characterized by a pre-mountain river system with the presence of permanent, oxygen-rich, and cold running waters. The results of the Habitat Weighting Method and the Bioclimatic Model applied to the small mammal assemblage, coupled with the new dates obtained for the Archaeological Horizon (AH) IX, allow us to identify two different climatic phases. One phase (AH X-XII) is more temperate possibly corresponding to the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5; the other (AH VI-IX) is colder and more arid corresponding to the end of MIS 4 through the beginning of MIS 3. Open environments with a relatively stable forest component dominated the landscape during this part of the Middle Paleolithic. These two climatic phases appear to correspond to different levels of occupational intensity by Neanderthals, with higher occupational intensity during mild climatic periods and lower intensity during cold, arid periods. Our climatic reconstruction and recent absolute dating, together with the recovery of a complete leaf point near the top of AH X, have important implications for the cultural stratigraphy and cultural chronology of the region. Archaeologist have traditionally viewed leaf points as key artefacts of the Blattspitzengruppe, a cultural complex attributed to the end of Middle Paleolithic; however, this stratigraphic, climatic, and chronological context indicates the need to revise this interpretation.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-022-01568-5


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