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Quaternary, Volume 3, Issue 3 (September 2020) – 10 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Agropastoral systems, although declining, are still a component of subsistence economies in rural regions of the Mediterranean. Studying the paleoenvironmental and archeological archives of the Nao Cap region (Spain) produced insights into long-term socio-ecological trajectories in the context of climate changes. We found a contingency of human and environmental agencies 5900, 4200, and 2800 years ago, coinciding with abrupt aridity events, manifested by water scarcity, arable and rangeland abandonment, and a decline in settlement densities. This study covering five millennia highlights how climate changes have affected prehistoric societies, but also that the littoral remained attractive despite the costs of living in an area exposed to climatic hazards. View this paper.
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Article
Alternative Adaptation Strategy during the Paleolithic–Neolithic Transition: Potential Use of Aquatic Resources in the Western Middle Yangtze Valley, China
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030028 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1473
Abstract
The middle Yangtze Valley is an important region for studying the origin of rice agriculture. Archaeological remains of rice have been found in sites such as Pengtoushan and Bashidang as early as 8000 years ago. However, we know little about the adaptive diversity [...] Read more.
The middle Yangtze Valley is an important region for studying the origin of rice agriculture. Archaeological remains of rice have been found in sites such as Pengtoushan and Bashidang as early as 8000 years ago. However, we know little about the adaptive diversity in this region as research has mostly focused on rice cultivation. With the help of new discoveries, this paper explores another adaptation behavior pattern that emphasizes the utilization of aquatic resources in the western part of the Jianghan Plain during the Paleolithic–Neolithic transition. Although the sea level was continuously rising with the warming process of early Holocene, the lakes that later became widely distributed were still in formation, thus not available for human utilization in the middle Yangtze Valley. However, most notably, the amelioration of the environment was producing a sort of new niche: utilizing aquatic resources became possible at least in parts of this region. A case study from the Guanzhou Site, based on lithics, suggests there were increasing demands for the utilization of aquatic resources. The study proposes that at least two different adaptation strategy changes occurred in the western Jianghan Plain during the Paleolithic–Neolithic transition, i.e., rice agriculture or complex hunting–gathering. These strategies represent adaptations to the different ecological conditions at the crossroads of habitat types. Full article
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Technical Note
The LAST Coring Platform You Will Ever Need: Light, Affordable, Stable, and Transportable
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030027 - 09 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1165
Abstract
Coring lakes and water bodies for paleoecological studies often involves using a coring platform to properly operate a sediment sampling device. In the past, coring platforms have been developed by specific paleoecology laboratories or by private companies. Those coring platforms are generally composed [...] Read more.
Coring lakes and water bodies for paleoecological studies often involves using a coring platform to properly operate a sediment sampling device. In the past, coring platforms have been developed by specific paleoecology laboratories or by private companies. Those coring platforms are generally composed of two boats (inflatable boats, kayaks, etc.) connected together by a metallic and wood structure. While these coring platforms have proven their efficacy, they are not ideal in several coring settings requiring remote transportation, and their cost may be prohibitive for less funded paleoecological laboratories. On this technical note, we describe the Light, Affordable, Stable, and Transportable (LAST) coring platform. Coring platforms based on these principles and on the design presented herein have been extensively tested in various conditions and countries by our research group and collaborators. In the first part of this manuscript, we present the principles and the design of the LAST coring platform; then, we discuss the coring setting for which the LAST coring platform is suitable, and its possible limitations. Associated with this manuscript, we provide a construction and assemblage manual developed without words and with simple illustrations in order to make it easily accessible to speakers of any language. Full article
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Article
Modeling Incipient Use of Neolithic Cultigens by Taiwanese Foragers: Perspectives from Niche Variation Theory, the Prey Choice Model, and the Ideal Free Distribution
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030026 - 07 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1570
Abstract
The earliest evidence for agriculture in Taiwan dates to about 6000 years BP and indicates that farmer-gardeners from Southeast China migrated across the Taiwan Strait. However, little is known about the adaptive interactions between Taiwanese foragers and Neolithic Chinese farmers during the transition. [...] Read more.
The earliest evidence for agriculture in Taiwan dates to about 6000 years BP and indicates that farmer-gardeners from Southeast China migrated across the Taiwan Strait. However, little is known about the adaptive interactions between Taiwanese foragers and Neolithic Chinese farmers during the transition. This paper considers theoretical expectations from human behavioral ecology based models and macroecological patterning from Binford’s hunter-gatherer database to scope the range of responses of native populations to invasive dispersal. Niche variation theory and invasion theory predict that the foraging niche breadths will narrow for native populations and morphologically similar dispersing populations. The encounter contingent prey choice model indicates that groups under resource depression from depleted high-ranked resources will increasingly take low-ranked resources upon encounter. The ideal free distribution with Allee effects categorizes settlement into highly ranked habitats selected on the basis of encounter rates with preferred prey, with niche construction potentially contributing to an upswing in some highly ranked prey species. In coastal plain habitats preferred by farming immigrants, interactions and competition either reduced encounter rates with high ranked prey or were offset by benefits to habitat from the creation of a mosaic of succession ecozones by cultivation. Aquatic-focused foragers were eventually constrained to broaden subsistence by increasing the harvest of low ranked resources, then mobility-compatible Neolithic cultigens were added as a niche-broadening tactic. In locations less suitable for farming, fishing and hunting continued as primary foraging tactics for centuries after Neolithic arrivals. The paper concludes with a set of evidence-based archaeological expectations derived from these models. Full article
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Article
When the River Began—The Formation of River Motala Ström and Human Presence in the Early Holocene, Sweden
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030025 - 29 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1459
Abstract
In conjunction with the extensive archaeological projects conducted at the current outlet of Sweden’s second largest lake, Lake Vättern, macrofossil, pollen and diatom records have been studied from 14C-dated lake and river sediments from River Motala Ström in Motala and Lake Boren. [...] Read more.
In conjunction with the extensive archaeological projects conducted at the current outlet of Sweden’s second largest lake, Lake Vättern, macrofossil, pollen and diatom records have been studied from 14C-dated lake and river sediments from River Motala Ström in Motala and Lake Boren. These investigations have revealed sedimentary evidence of the Yoldia Sea regression, the Ancient Lake Vättern transgression, and the following stepwise river formation process. Around 9000 cal BC, two small kettlehole basins at Strandvägen and Kanaljorden became isolated from the Baltic basin. As the ice sheet retreated further north, the isostatic uplift isolated the Vättern basin from the Baltic basin. Due to the uneven isostatic uplift, the basin tilted toward the south, and the Ancient Lake Vättern transgression started in Motala. The threshold in Motala at 92.5 m a.s.l. was reached around 7200 cal BC, and River Motala Ström was formed. 14C-dated diatom records from Lake Boren, and shoreline deposits in Motala, confirm this event. The water level in Lake Vättern initially fell around 1.5 m, and around 5800 cal BC, a second erosional event cut down the threshold to modern day level. At this time, the Late Mesolithic settlements in Motala were established and expanded. Full article
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Article
Late Quaternary Climate Variability and Change from Aotearoa New Zealand Speleothems: Progress in Age Modelling, Oxygen Isotope Master Record Construction and Proxy-Model Comparisons
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030024 - 16 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2211
Abstract
We re-evaluated speleothem isotope series from Aotearoa New Zealand that were recently contributed to the Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and AnaLysis (SISAL) database. COnstructing Proxy Records from Age Models (COPRA) software was used to produce Bayesian age models for those speleothems. The new age [...] Read more.
We re-evaluated speleothem isotope series from Aotearoa New Zealand that were recently contributed to the Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and AnaLysis (SISAL) database. COnstructing Proxy Records from Age Models (COPRA) software was used to produce Bayesian age models for those speleothems. The new age modelling helped us examine Late Quaternary temporal coverage for the national speleothem network, and also supported our exploration of three different isotope master record generation techniques using Holocene δ18O data from Waitomo. We then applied the output from one of the isotope master record techniques to test an application case of how climate transfer functions can be developed using climate model simulated temperatures. Our results suggest Holocene δ18O trends at Waitomo capture air temperature variations weighted toward the primary season of soil moisture (and epikarst) recharge during winter. This interpretation is consistent with the latest monitoring data from the Waitomo region. Holocene δ18O millennial-scale trends and centennial-scale variability at Waitomo likely reflect atmospheric circulation patterns that concomitantly vary with surface water temperature and the isotopic composition of the Tasman Sea. A climate model simulation context for the Holocene millennial-scale trends in the Waitomo δ18O isotope master record suggest that site is sensitive to changes in the subtropical front (STF) and the Tasman Front. Our comparison of isotope master record techniques using Waitomo δ18O data indicate that caution is needed prior to merging δ18O data series from different caves in order to avoid time series artefacts. Future work should incorporate more high-resolution cave monitoring and climate calibration studies, and develop new speleothem data from northern and eastern regions of the country. Full article
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Article
The Climate Fluctuation of the 8.2 ka BP Cooling Event and the Transition into Neolithic Lifeways in North China
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030023 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1943
Abstract
Early Neolithic lifeways in North China, which are marked by a low-level food production economy, population aggregation, and sedentism, thrived just after the period of a climatic cooling event at 8.2 ka. Instead of simply regarding this climate fluctuation as a cause for [...] Read more.
Early Neolithic lifeways in North China, which are marked by a low-level food production economy, population aggregation, and sedentism, thrived just after the period of a climatic cooling event at 8.2 ka. Instead of simply regarding this climate fluctuation as a cause for the significant socio-economic transition, this paper attempts to explore the interplay between people’s choices of coping strategies with climate change as a perspective to learn how people respond to this climate fluctuation and how such responses generated the interlocked socio-economic transitions. This analysis indicates that pre-existing changes in human adaptive behaviors prior to the cooling events were sufficient to enable people in certain areas to apply the intensification of food procurement in circumscribed territories as a strategy to cope with the climate fluctuations of the 8.2 ka BP cooling event. The application of such a coping strategy facilitated the economic and sociopolitical transition into Neolithic lifeways and led to the flourishing development of Neolithic cultures after 8 ka BP in North China. Full article
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Article
Magnetostratigraphy and Chronology of the Lower Pleistocene Primate Bearing Dafnero Fossil Site, N. Greece
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030022 - 26 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1664
Abstract
This paper aims to contribute to the stratigraphic and geochronological evaluation of the primate bearing Dafnero fossil site of Northern Greece by means of lithostratigraphic, paleomagnetic and paleontological analyses. The 60 m thick fossiliferous deposits of fluviatile origin are recognized as representing a [...] Read more.
This paper aims to contribute to the stratigraphic and geochronological evaluation of the primate bearing Dafnero fossil site of Northern Greece by means of lithostratigraphic, paleomagnetic and paleontological analyses. The 60 m thick fossiliferous deposits of fluviatile origin are recognized as representing a typical braided-river sequence unconformably overlying molassic sediments. Rock magnetic investigations indicate the presence of both medium and low coercivity minerals. Paleomagnetic sampling of the Dafnero sediments yielded a stable magnetic remanence, and the characteristic remanent magnetization directions pass reversal test with dual polarity. Based on calibration from mammal fossils, the normal polarity magnetozone N1 located in the upper third of the studied section could correlate with chron C2n (the Olduvai subchron), suggesting that the fossil horizon is within C2r with an extrapolated age of 2.4–2.3 Ma and rather closer to the upper age limit. The results allow the re-calibration of several middle Villafranchian assemblages of S. Balkans and the correlation of the corresponding mammal fauna with the environmental shifts of Praetiglian, as it is recorded in climatostratigraphic data from the Black Sea. Full article
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Article
Rethinking the Disappearance of Microblade Technology in the Terminal Pleistocene of Hokkaido, Northern Japan: Looking at Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Evidence
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030021 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1997
Abstract
Archaeological research, for several decades, has shown that various microblade technologies using obsidian and hard shale appeared and developed from the Last Glacial Maximum to the terminal Pleistocene (Bølling–Allerød–Younger Dryas) in Hokkaido, Northern Japan. It is well accepted that microblade technology was closely [...] Read more.
Archaeological research, for several decades, has shown that various microblade technologies using obsidian and hard shale appeared and developed from the Last Glacial Maximum to the terminal Pleistocene (Bølling–Allerød–Younger Dryas) in Hokkaido, Northern Japan. It is well accepted that microblade technology was closely related to the high mobility of foragers to adapt to harsh environments. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence from Hokkaido demonstrates that the disappearance of microblade technology occurred during the terminal Pleistocene, influenced by a wide range of factors, including changes in landscape, climate, subsistence and human populations. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the current state of research on the process and background of the disappearance of microblade technology and to discuss prospects for future research. This paper will (1) review palaeoenvironmental research in Hokkaido on changes in climate and biological composition from the terminal Pleistocene to the initial Holocene; (2) survey changes in the technological adaptations and resource use of humans based on the archaeological evidence; and (3) discuss how the abrupt fluctuations of climate that occurred in the terminal Pleistocene affected human behaviour and demographics in Hokkaido. Full article
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Article
Microblade–Based Societies in North China at the End of the Ice Age
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030020 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1422
Abstract
One of the most prominent cultural changes during the end of Ice Age in northeastern Asia was the adoption of microblade technology by prehistoric hunter–gatherers to deal with the challenge brought by the climate deterioration and oscillation during and post the Last Glacial [...] Read more.
One of the most prominent cultural changes during the end of Ice Age in northeastern Asia was the adoption of microblade technology by prehistoric hunter–gatherers to deal with the challenge brought by the climate deterioration and oscillation during and post the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The Pleistocene to Holocene transition in North China witnessed the rise of broader spectrum subsistence alongside a series of cultural changes, including adoption of food production, highly mobile lifeways being replaced by sedentism, and the formation of new social organization based on their agricultural land–use patterns. From the perspective of technological change, this project aims to build a socio–ecological framework to examine the cultural change of prehistoric microblade–based societies. In contrast to previous studies, the present research employs a macroecological approach based on Binford’s Constructing Frames of Reference (2001) to reconstruct the behaviors and demography of prehistoric foraging groups, under both modern and LGM climate conditions. Three case studies are conducted to show cultural and technological changes among microblade–based societies in North China during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition. Full article
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Article
Socio-Ecological Contingencies with Climate Changes over the Prehistory in the Mediterranean Iberia
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3030019 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2056
Abstract
We conducted palynological, sedimentological, and chronological analyses of a coastal sediment sequence to investigate landscape evolution and agropastoral practices in the Nao Cap region (Spain, Western Mediterranean) since the Holocene. The results allowed for a reconstruction of vegetation, fire, and erosion dynamics in [...] Read more.
We conducted palynological, sedimentological, and chronological analyses of a coastal sediment sequence to investigate landscape evolution and agropastoral practices in the Nao Cap region (Spain, Western Mediterranean) since the Holocene. The results allowed for a reconstruction of vegetation, fire, and erosion dynamics in the area, implicating the role of fire in vegetation turnover at 5300 (mesophilous forests replaced by sclerophyllous scrubs) and at 3200 calibrated before present (cal. BP) (more xerophytics). Cereal cultivation was apparent from the beginning of the record, during the Mid-Neolithic period. From 5300 to 3800 cal. BP, long-lasting soil erosion was associated with the presence of cereals, indicating intense land-use during the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods. The decline of the agriculture signal and vegetal recolonization is likely explained by land abandonment during the Final Bronze Age. Anthropogenic markers reappeared during the Iberian period when more settlements were present. A contingency of human and environmental agencies was found at 5900, 4200, and 2800 cal. BP, coinciding with abrupt climate events, that have manifested locally in reduced spring discharge, an absence of agropastoral evidence, and a marked decline in settlement densities. This case study, covering five millennia and three climate events, highlights how past climate changes have affected human activities, and also shows that people repeatedly reoccupied the coast once the perturbation was gone. The littoral zone remained attractive for prehistoric communities despite the costs of living in an area exposed to climatic hazards, such as droughts. Full article
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