Τesting models for the beginnings of the Aurignacian and the advent of figurative art and music: The radiocarbon chronology of Geißenklösterle

Thomas Higham, Laura Basell, Roger Jacobi, Rachel Wood, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Nicholas J. Conard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    173 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The German site of Geißenklösterle is crucial to debates concerning the European Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition and the origins of the Aurignacian in Europe. Previous dates from the site are
    central to an important hypothesis, the Kulturpumpe model, which posits that the Swabian Jura was an area where crucial behavioural developments took place and then spread to other parts of Europe. The previous chronology (critical to the model), is based mainly on radiocarbon dating, but remains poorly constrained due to the dating resolution and the variability of dates. The cause of these problems is disputed, but two principal explanations have been proposed: a) larger than expected variations in the production of atmospheric radiocarbon, and b) taphonomic in?uences in the site mixing the bones that were dated into different parts of the site. We reinvestigate the chronology using a new series of radiocarbon determinations obtained from the Mousterian, Aurignacian and Gravettian levels. The results strongly imply that the previous dates were affected by insuf?cient decontamination of the bone collagen prior to dating. Using an ultra?ltration protocol the chronometric picture becomes much clearer. Comparison of the results against other recently dated sites in other parts of Europe suggests the Early Aurignacian levels are earlier than other sites in the south of France and Italy, but not as early as recently dated sites which suggest a pre-Aurignacian dispersal of modern humans to Italy byw45000 cal BP. They are consistent with the importance of the Danube Corridor as a key route for the movement of people and ideas. The new dates fail to refute the Kulturpumpe model and suggest that Swabian Jura is a region that contributed signi?cantly to the evolution of symbolic behaviour as indicated by early evidence for ?gurative art, music and mythical imagery. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)664-676
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Human Evolution
    Volume62
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

    Keywords

    • AMS radiocarbon dating
    • Middle and upper Palaeolithic
    • Pre-treatment chemistry
    • Ultrafiltration
    • Bone collagen
    • Swabian Jura

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    • Time for the Palaeolithic

      Tom Higham (Organiser), Laura Basell (Organiser), Rachel Woods (Organiser) & Katerina Douka (Organiser)

      14 Apr 201116 Apr 2011

      Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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