A submerged 7000-year-old village and seawall demonstrate earliest known coastal defence against sea-level rise.
ABSTRACT: We report the results of underwater archaeological investigations at the submerged Neolithic settlement of Tel Hreiz (7500 - 7000 BP), off the Carmel coast of Israel. The underwater archaeological site has yielded well-preserved architectural, artefactual, faunal and human remains. We examine and discuss the notable recent discovery of a linear, boulder-built feature >100m long, located seaward of the settlement. Based on archaeological context, mode of construction and radiometric dating, we demonstrate the feature was contemporary with the inundated Neolithic settlement and conclude that it served as a seawall, built to protect the village against Mediterranean Sea-level rise. The seawall is unique for the period and is the oldest known coastal defence worldwide. Its length, use of large non-local boulders and specific arrangement in the landscape reflect the extensive effort invested by the Neolithic villagers in its conception, organisation and construction. However, this distinct social action and display of resilience proved a temporary solution and ultimately the village was inundated and abandoned.
Project description:In 2016, an extraordinary burial of a young adult individual was discovered at the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (LPPNB, 7,500-6,900 BCE) settlement of Ba'ja in southern Jordan. This burial has exceptional grave goods and an elaborate grave construction. It suggests discussing anew reconstructions of early Neolithic social structures. In this article, we will summarize former theories on the emergence of leadership and hierarchies and present a multivariate model according to which anthropological and archaeological data of the burial will be analyzed. In conclusion, we surmise that early Neolithic hierarchization in southern Jordan was based on corporate pathways to power rather than self-interested aggrandizers. However, some aspects of the burial point to regional exchange networks of prestige goods, a trait considered characteristic of network based leadership. In line with anthropological and sociological research, we argue that pathways to power should be considered as relational processes that can be understood only when comparing traits of the outstanding person to her/his social environment.
Project description:Studying the dynamic of Neolithic settlement on a local scale and its connection to climate variability is often difficult due to missing on-site climate reconstructions from natural archives. Here we bring together archaeological settlement data and a regional climate reconstruction from precipitation-sensitive trees. Both archives hold information about regional settlement dynamics and hydroclimate variability spanning the time of the first farming communities, the so called Linearbandkeramik (LBK) in Bavaria, Germany. Precipitation-sensitive tree-ring series from subfossil oak are used to develop a spring-summer precipitation reconstruction (5700-4800 B.C.E.) representative for southern Germany. Early Neolithic settlement data from Bavaria, mainly for the duration of the LBK settlement activities, are critically evaluated and compared to this unique regional hydroclimate reconstruction as well as to reconstructions of Greenland temperature, summer sea surface temperature, delta 18O and global solar irradiance to investigate the potential impact of climate on Neolithic settlers and their settlement dynamic during the LBK. Our hydroclimate reconstruction demonstrates an extraordinarily high frequency of severe dry and wet spring-summer seasons during the entire LBK, with particularly high year-to-year variability from 5400 to 5101 B.C.E. and with lower fluctuations until 4801 B.C.E. A significant influence of regional climate on the dynamic of the LBK is possible (e.g. around 4960 B.C.E.), but should be interpreted very carefully due to asynchronous trends in settlement dynamics. Thus, we conclude that even when a climate proxy such as tree rings that has excellent spatio-temporal resolution is available, it remains difficult to establish potential connections between the settlement dynamic of the LBK and climate variability.
Project description:Due to its numerous environmental extremes, the Tibetan Plateau--the world's highest plateau--is one of the most challenging areas of modern human settlement. Archaeological evidence dates the earliest settlement on the plateau to the Late Paleolithic, while previous genetic studies have traced the colonization event(s) to no earlier than the Neolithic. To explore whether the genetic continuity on the plateau has an exclusively Neolithic time depth, we studied mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome variation within 6 regional Tibetan populations sampled from Tibet and neighboring areas. Our results confirm that the vast majority of Tibetan matrilineal components can trace their ancestry to Epipaleolithic and Neolithic immigrants from northern China during the mid-Holocene. Significantly, we also identified an infrequent novel haplogroup, M16, that branched off directly from the Eurasian M founder type. Its nearly exclusive distribution in Tibetan populations and ancient age (>21 kya) suggest that M16 may represent the genetic relics of the Late Paleolithic inhabitants on the plateau. This partial genetic continuity between the Paleolithic inhabitants and the contemporary Tibetan populations bridges the results and inferences from archaeology, history, and genetics.
Project description:This paper shows that local differences in house orientation in settlements from the Early Neolithic in Central Europe reflect a regular chronological trajectory based on Bayesian calibration of 14C-series. This can be used to extrapolate the dating of large-scale settlement plans derived from, among other methods, geophysical surveys. In the southwest Slovakian settlement of Vráble, we observed a progressive counter-clockwise rotation in house orientation from roughly 32° to 4° over a 300 year period. A survey of published and dated village plans from other LBK regions confirms that this counter-clockwise rotation per settlement is a wider Central European trend. We explain this observation as an unintentional, unconscious but systematic leftward deviation in the house builders' cardinal orientation, which has been termed "pseudoneglect" in studies of human perception. This means that whenever houses were intended to be oriented towards a specific direction and be parallel to each other, there was an error in perception causing slight counter-clockwise rotation. This observation is used as a basis to reconstruct dynamics of Early Neolithic settlement in the Slovakian Žitava valley, showing a rapid colonization, followed by increased agglomeration into large villages consisting of strongly autonomous farmsteads.
Project description:The construction of artificial structures in the marine environment is increasing globally. Eco-engineering aims to mitigate the negative ecological impacts of built infrastructure through designing structures to be multifunctional, benefiting both humans and nature. To date, the focus of eco-engineering has largely been on benefits for benthic invertebrates and algae. Here, the potential effect of eco-engineered habitats designed for benthic species on fish was investigated. Eco-engineered habitats ("flowerpots") were added to an intertidal seawall in Sydney Harbour, Australia. Responses of fish assemblages to the added habitats were quantified at two spatial scales; large (among seawalls) and small (within a seawall). Data were collected during high tide using cameras attached to the seawall to observe pelagic and benthic fish. At the larger spatial scale, herbivores, planktivores, and invertebrate predators were generally more abundant at the seawall with the added flowerpots, although results were temporally variable. At the smaller spatial scale, certain benthic species were more abundant around flowerpots than at the adjacent control areas of seawall, although there was no general pattern of differences in species density and trophic group abundance of pelagic fish between areas of the seawall with or without added habitats. Although we did not find consistent, statistically significant findings throughout our study, the field of research to improve fish habitat within human-use constraints is promising and important, although it is in its early stages (it is experimental and requires a lot of trial and error). To advance this field, it is important to document when effects were detected, and when they were not, so that others can refine the designs or scale of habitat enhancements or their study approaches (e.g., sampling protocols).
Project description:The 8.2-thousand years B.P. event is evident in multiple proxy records across the globe, showing generally dry and cold conditions for ca. 160 years. Environmental changes around the event are mainly detected using geochemical or palynological analyses of ice cores, lacustrine, marine, and other sediments often distant from human settlements. The Late Neolithic excavated area of the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük East [Team Pozna? (TP) area] was occupied for four centuries in the ninth and eighth millennia B.P., thus encompassing the 8.2-thousand years B.P. climatic event. A Bayesian analysis of 56 radiocarbon dates yielded a high-resolution chronological model comprising six building phases, with dates ranging from before 8325-8205 to 7925-7815 calibrated years (cal) B.P. Here, we correlate an onsite paleoclimate record constructed from ?2H values of lipid biomarkers preserved in pottery vessels recovered from these buildings with changes in architectural, archaeozoological, and consumption records from well-documented archaeological contexts. The overall sequence shows major changes in husbandry and consumption practices at ca. 8.2 thousand years B.P., synchronous with variations in the ?2H values of the animal fat residues. Changes in paleoclimate and archaeological records seem connected with the patterns of atmospheric precipitation during the occupation of the TP area predicted by climate modeling. Our multiproxy approach uses records derived directly from documented archaeological contexts. Through this, we provide compelling evidence for the specific impacts of the 8.2-thousand years B.P. climatic event on the economic and domestic activities of pioneer Neolithic farmers, influencing decisions relating to settlement planning and food procurement strategies.
Project description:The Neolithic is a key period in the history of the European settlement. Although archaeological and present-day genetic data suggest several hypotheses regarding the human migration patterns at this period, validation of these hypotheses with the use of ancient genetic data has been limited. In this context, we studied DNA extracted from 53 individuals buried in a necropolis used by a French local community 5,000 y ago. The relatively good DNA preservation of the samples allowed us to obtain autosomal, Y-chromosomal, and/or mtDNA data for 29 of the 53 samples studied. From these datasets, we established close parental relationships within the necropolis and determined maternal and paternal lineages as well as the absence of an allele associated with lactase persistence, probably carried by Neolithic cultures of central Europe. Our study provides an integrative view of the genetic past in southern France at the end of the Neolithic period. Furthermore, the Y-haplotype lineages characterized and the study of their current repartition in European populations confirm a greater influence of the Mediterranean than the Central European route in the peopling of southern Europe during the Neolithic transition.
Project description:The Prospecting Boundaries project explores the Mazaro river corridor from a landscape archaeological perspective, using integrated prospection techniques to recover traces of past human activity and environmental contexts. One key research area is Guletta, a zone of dense multiperiod activity situated on the rocky plain above the river. In this paper, we detail results from recent work at Guletta, which has revealed numerous previously undocumented archaeological settlement features that appear to have been built in successive phases. Artifact analysis from corresponding surface survey indicates a mixture of locally produced and imported materials dating from the Middle Bronze to Archaic periods. Using these new results together with existing archaeological and environmental information, we present an initial interpretation of the occupation sequence of the settlement and explore the concept of Guletta as a connecting point between emerging indigenous, colonial, coastal, and interior interdependencies and interests in later pre- and protohistory.
Project description:Rodents have important effects on contemporary human societies, sometimes providing a source of food but more often as agricultural pests, or as vectors and reservoirs of disease. Skeletal remains of rodents are commonly found in archaeological assemblages from around the world, highlighting their potential importance to ancient human populations. However, there are few studies of the interactions between people and rodents at such sites and most of these are confined to locations where rodents have formed a part of the recent diet. Here we compare the accumulation pattern of rodent remains from four locations within and adjacent to the renowned Neolithic site of Skara Brae, Orkney, showing that those within the settlement itself were the result of deliberate human activity. The accumulation and nature of burnt bones, incorporated over an extended period within deposits of household waste, indicate that rodents were used as a nutritional resource and may have been the subject of early pest control. We, therefore, provide the first evidence for the exploitation or control of rodents by the Neolithic inhabitants of Europe.
Project description:Archaeological investigations of settlement patterns in dynamic landscapes can be strongly biased by the evolution of the Earth's surface. The Kuril Island volcanic arc exemplifies such a dynamic landscape, where landscape-modifying geological forces were active during settlement, including sea-level changes, tectonic emergence, volcanic eruptive processes, coastal aggradation, and dune formation. With all these ongoing processes, in this paper we seek to understand how new landscape formation in the Holocene might bias archaeological interpretations of human settlement in the Kurils. Resolving this issue is fundamental to any interpretation of human settlement history derived from the distribution and age of archaeological sites from the region. On the basis of a comparison of landform ages and earliest archaeological occupation ages on those landforms, we conclude that landform creation did not significantly bias our aggregate archaeological evidence for earliest settlement. Some sections of the archipelago have larger proportions of landform creation dates closer to archaeological evidence of settlement and undoubtedly some archaeological sites have been lost to geomorphic processes. However, comparisons between regions reveal comparable archaeological establishment patterns irrespective of geomorphic antiquity.