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A tool for determining duration of mortality events in archaeological assemblages using extant ungulate microwear.

Rivals F, Prignano L, Semprebon GM, Lozano S - Sci Rep (2015)

Bottom Line: The seasonality of human occupations in archaeological sites is highly significant for the study of hominin behavioural ecology, in particular the hunting strategies for their main prey-ungulates.We propose a new tool to quantify such seasonality from tooth microwear patterns in a dataset of ten large samples of extant ungulates resulting from well-known mass mortality events.The tool is tested on a selection of eleven fossil samples from five Palaeolithic localities in Western Europe which show a consistent classification in the three categories.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain.

ABSTRACT
The seasonality of human occupations in archaeological sites is highly significant for the study of hominin behavioural ecology, in particular the hunting strategies for their main prey-ungulates. We propose a new tool to quantify such seasonality from tooth microwear patterns in a dataset of ten large samples of extant ungulates resulting from well-known mass mortality events. The tool is based on the combination of two measures of variability of scratch density, namely standard deviation and coefficient of variation. The integration of these two measurements of variability permits the classification of each case into one of the following three categories: (1) short events, (2) long-continued event and (3) two separated short events. The tool is tested on a selection of eleven fossil samples from five Palaeolithic localities in Western Europe which show a consistent classification in the three categories. The tool proposed here opens new doors to investigate seasonal patterns of ungulate accumulations in archaeological sites using non-destructive sampling.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Density of scratches as a function of the date of death (month and day) from the datasets #1 (Panel A) and #4 (Panel B).Each data point stands for an individual. Vertically aligned points correspond to individual variability within the same mortality event. The variability range changes across seasons and colour coding highlights that the seasonal pattern is independent of the year.
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f2: Density of scratches as a function of the date of death (month and day) from the datasets #1 (Panel A) and #4 (Panel B).Each data point stands for an individual. Vertically aligned points correspond to individual variability within the same mortality event. The variability range changes across seasons and colour coding highlights that the seasonal pattern is independent of the year.

Mentions: At first sight, one can observe that the density of scratches varies from individual to individual (even if they correspond to the same mortality event). For example, in the case of the caribou from Canada [sample #1] there is variability among animals that died on the same day (Fig. 2A). In all the analysed cases, the raw data also show this variability (Datasets are available from the Dryad Digital Repository: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9fp8k). Such an individual heterogeneity, which is related to characteristics such as gender, age or healthiness, can be regarded as a first source of variability. Additionally, an exploratory analysis of the results from the cases which data are available for several seasons (i.e. Rangifer tarandus [sample #1] and Odocoileus hemionus [sample #4]) revealed that the average density of scratches depended on the season within the year when the deaths occurred (Fig. 2). Specifically, independently of the species or habitat considered, the average density reached the highest values in spring (e.g. for Rangifer tarandus) or summer (e.g. for Odocoileus hemionus) and the lowest ones in fall/winter, which corresponds to an increase of the consumption of abrasive vegetation (like grass) in spring or summer for the two populations considered. Consequently, we identified two main sources of variability in the density of scratches, namely differences among individuals and season-related changes in environmental conditions.


A tool for determining duration of mortality events in archaeological assemblages using extant ungulate microwear.

Rivals F, Prignano L, Semprebon GM, Lozano S - Sci Rep (2015)

Density of scratches as a function of the date of death (month and day) from the datasets #1 (Panel A) and #4 (Panel B).Each data point stands for an individual. Vertically aligned points correspond to individual variability within the same mortality event. The variability range changes across seasons and colour coding highlights that the seasonal pattern is independent of the year.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4663483&req=5

f2: Density of scratches as a function of the date of death (month and day) from the datasets #1 (Panel A) and #4 (Panel B).Each data point stands for an individual. Vertically aligned points correspond to individual variability within the same mortality event. The variability range changes across seasons and colour coding highlights that the seasonal pattern is independent of the year.
Mentions: At first sight, one can observe that the density of scratches varies from individual to individual (even if they correspond to the same mortality event). For example, in the case of the caribou from Canada [sample #1] there is variability among animals that died on the same day (Fig. 2A). In all the analysed cases, the raw data also show this variability (Datasets are available from the Dryad Digital Repository: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9fp8k). Such an individual heterogeneity, which is related to characteristics such as gender, age or healthiness, can be regarded as a first source of variability. Additionally, an exploratory analysis of the results from the cases which data are available for several seasons (i.e. Rangifer tarandus [sample #1] and Odocoileus hemionus [sample #4]) revealed that the average density of scratches depended on the season within the year when the deaths occurred (Fig. 2). Specifically, independently of the species or habitat considered, the average density reached the highest values in spring (e.g. for Rangifer tarandus) or summer (e.g. for Odocoileus hemionus) and the lowest ones in fall/winter, which corresponds to an increase of the consumption of abrasive vegetation (like grass) in spring or summer for the two populations considered. Consequently, we identified two main sources of variability in the density of scratches, namely differences among individuals and season-related changes in environmental conditions.

Bottom Line: The seasonality of human occupations in archaeological sites is highly significant for the study of hominin behavioural ecology, in particular the hunting strategies for their main prey-ungulates.We propose a new tool to quantify such seasonality from tooth microwear patterns in a dataset of ten large samples of extant ungulates resulting from well-known mass mortality events.The tool is tested on a selection of eleven fossil samples from five Palaeolithic localities in Western Europe which show a consistent classification in the three categories.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain.

ABSTRACT
The seasonality of human occupations in archaeological sites is highly significant for the study of hominin behavioural ecology, in particular the hunting strategies for their main prey-ungulates. We propose a new tool to quantify such seasonality from tooth microwear patterns in a dataset of ten large samples of extant ungulates resulting from well-known mass mortality events. The tool is based on the combination of two measures of variability of scratch density, namely standard deviation and coefficient of variation. The integration of these two measurements of variability permits the classification of each case into one of the following three categories: (1) short events, (2) long-continued event and (3) two separated short events. The tool is tested on a selection of eleven fossil samples from five Palaeolithic localities in Western Europe which show a consistent classification in the three categories. The tool proposed here opens new doors to investigate seasonal patterns of ungulate accumulations in archaeological sites using non-destructive sampling.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus