Human-alephant interactions during the Lower Palaeolithic: scrutinizing the role of environmental factors

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Dokumentart: Buch (einzelnes Kapitel)
Date: 2021-04-14
Language: English
Other Keywords: proboscideans
butchery sites
Lower Palaeolithic
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The human-elephant interactions during the Lower Palaeolithic are an intriguing issue that has been the subject of several studies, however, the multifaceted aspects of the interaction dynam- ics are still imperfectly known and divide most of the researchers dealing with this topic. Vari- ous sources of evidence point out the contem- poraneous presence of Palaeolithic humans and proboscideans during the Early and early Mid- dle Pleistocene of Africa and Eurasia in different ecosystems, environments and climatic contexts. This research aims to scrutinize the role (if any) that non-cultural related factors, such as environ- mental context, resource availability and fauna functional diversity, may have had in regulating the human-elephant interactions from ~1.5–1.4 Ma to 80 ka (approximately MIS 49 to MIS 5), focusing mainly on the Lower Palaeolithic. We analyze by means of some multivariate statisti- cal analyses (cluster analysis, neighbour joining clustering method, PCA) the environmental con- text and the human behavior at main sites from the Mediterranean area (North Africa, Arabian Peninsula and Southern Europe), as well as at a few selected Western and Eastern European sites, where butchering activities on elephant carcass- es have been firmly documented. The obtained results suggest that: i) the butchery behavior did not substantially change in the course of the late Early and Middle Pleistocene; ii) during the Lower Palaeolithic the human-elephant interac- tions were more affected by chance rather than by cultural/environmental factors; iii) during the Late Pleistocene, conversely, the exploitation of mammoth carcasses was more related to a hunt- ing activity, selectively targeted to young individ- uals, although other large games were preferred at least by Neanderthal hunters.

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