“Interpreting gaps: A geoarchaeological point of view on the Gravettian record of Ach and Lone valleys (Swabian Jura, SW Germany) “

New article published by Alvise Barbieri, Felix Bachofer, Elmar M. Schmaltz, Carsten Leven, Nicholas J.Conard , Christopher E.Miller.

Unlike other Upper Paleolithic industries, Gravettian assemblages from the Swabian Jura are documented solely in the Ach Valley (35-30 Kcal BP). On the other hand, traces of contemporaneous occupations in the nearby Lone Valley are sparse. It is debated whether this gap is due to a phase of human depopulation, or taphonomic issues related with landscape changes.

In this paper we present ERT, EC-logging and GPR data showing that in both Ach and Lone valleys sediments and archaeological materials eroded from caves and deposited above river incisions after 37-32 Kcal BP. We argued that the rate of cave erosion was higher after phases of downcutting, when hillside erosion was more intensive. To investigate on the causes responsible for the dearth of Gravettian materials in the Lone Valley we test two alternative hypotheses: i) Gravettian humans occupied less intensively this part of the Swabian Jura. ii) Erosion of cave deposits did not occur at the same time in the two valleys. We conclude that the second hypothesis is most likely. Ages from the Lone Valley show increasing multimillennial gaps between 36 and 18 Kcal BP, while a similar gap is present in the Ach Valley between 28 and 16 Kcal BP. Based on geoarchaeological data from previous studies and presented in this paper, we interpreted these gaps in radiocarbon data as indicating of cave erosion. Furthermore, we argued that the time difference across the two valleys show that the erosion of cave deposits began and terminated earlier in the Lone Valley, resulting in a more intensive removal of Gravettian-aged deposits. The hypothesis that cave erosion was triggered by regional landscape changes seems to be supported by geochronological data from the Danube Valley, which show that terrace formation at the end of the Pleistocene moved westwards throughout southern Germany with a time lag of few millennia.

Full article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440321000054?via%3Dihub

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