August 26, 2009

Lower Paleolithic hunters from Qesem Cave

From ScienceDaily:
"The Lower Paleolithic (earlier) hunters were skilled hunters of large game animals, as were Upper Paleolithic (later) humans at this site," UA anthropology professor Mary C. Stiner said.

"This might not seem like a big deal to the uninitiated, but there's a lot of speculation as to whether people of the late Lower Paleolithic were able to hunt at all, or whether they were reduced to just scavenging," Stiner said. "Evidence from Qesem Cave says that just like later Paleolithic humans, the earlier Paleolithic humans focused on harvesting large game. They were really at the top of the food chain."
PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0900564106

Cooperative hunting and meat sharing 400–200 kya at Qesem Cave, Israel

Mary C. Stiner et al.

Abstract

Zooarchaeological research at Qesem Cave, Israel demonstrates that large-game hunting was a regular practice by the late Lower Paleolithic period. The 400- to 200,000-year-old fallow deer assemblages from this cave provide early examples of prime-age-focused ungulate hunting, a human predator–prey relationship that has persisted into recent times. The meat diet at Qesem centered on large game and was supplemented with tortoises. These hominins hunted cooperatively, and consumption of the highest quality parts of large prey was delayed until the food could be moved to the cave and processed with the aid of blade cutting tools and fire. Delayed consumption of high-quality body parts implies that the meat was shared with other members of the group. The types of cut marks on upper limb bones indicate simple flesh removal activities only. The Qesem cut marks are both more abundant and more randomly oriented than those observed in Middle and Upper Paleolithic cases in the Levant, suggesting that more (skilled and unskilled) individuals were directly involved in cutting meat from the bones at Qesem Cave. Among recent humans, butchering of large animals normally involves a chain of focused tasks performed by one or just a few persons, and butchering guides many of the formalities of meat distribution and sharing that follow. The results from Qesem Cave raise new hypotheses about possible differences in the mechanics of meat sharing between the late Lower Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic.

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1 comment:

Ponto said...

Interesting. It really has little to do with us, modern humans. We may or may not be descended from those Hominins that lived in the Qesem cave 400 to 200 kya. Modern humans lived in the Middle East 100 to 70 kya only to be replaced by Neanderthal type Hominins after 70 kya. So the cultural achievements and lifestyles of Hominins in the Middle East prior to the reoccupation of the Middle East by AMH is rather obtuse and irrelevant.