Sunday, 2 October 2011

Rapid onset of Aurignacian in Southwest France

Journal of Archaeological Science doi:10.1016/j.jas.2011.09.019

A Radiocarbon chronology for the complete Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transitional sequence of Les Cottés (France)

Sahra Talamo et al.

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition is the key period for our understanding of Neanderthal and modern human interactions in Europe. The site of Les Cottés in south-west France is one of the rare sites with a complete and well defined sequence covering this transition period. We undertook an extensive radiocarbon dating program on mammal bone which allows us to propose a chronological framework of five distinct phases dating from the Mousterian to the Early Aurignacian at this site. We found that the Mousterian and Châtelperronian industries are separated from the overlying Protoaurignacian by a gap of approximately 1000 calendar years. Based on a comparison with Upper Paleolithic sites in Europe we see an overlap in the ages of Châtelperronian industries and Aurignacian lithic assemblages, which are usually associated with Anatomical Modern Humans, which is consistent with an acculturation at distance model for these late Neanderthals. The Proto and Early Aurignacian appear contemporaneous indicating that this transition was rapid in this region. Anatomically Modern Humans are present at the site of Les Cottés at least at 39,500 cal BP roughly coincident with the onset of the cold phase Heinrich 4.


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