October 16, 2012

Compasses would have pointed south for 440 years ~41 thousand years ago.

Recent research indicates that when the Campanian Ignimbrite event occurred, the Neandertals were already on the way out. I'd say that the circa 40ka period would make the ideal setting for some good palaeo-fiction. You have volcanic explosions, modern humans replacing Neandertals, magnetic field reversals, and a new set of characters in the mysterious Denisovans. This stuff practically writes itself. On that topic, does anyone have any good prehistoric fiction recommendations?

Earth and Planetary Science Letters Volumes 351–352, 15 October 2012, Pages 54–69

Dynamics of the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion from Black Sea sediments

N.R. Nowaczyk et al.

Investigated sediment cores from the southeastern Black Sea provide a high-resolution record from mid latitudes of the Laschamp geomagnetic polarity excursion. Age constraints are provided by 16 AMS 14C ages, identification of the Campanian Ignimbrite tephra (39.28±0.11 ka), and by detailed tuning of sedimentologic parameters of the Black Sea sediments to the oxygen isotope record from the Greenland NGRIP ice core. According to the derived age model, virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) positions during the Laschamp excursion persisted in Antarctica for an estimated 440 yr, making the Laschamp excursion a short-lived event with fully reversed polarity directions. The reversed phase, centred at 41.0 ka, is associated with a significant field intensity recovery to 20% of the preceding strong field maximum at ∼50 ka. Recorded field reversals of the Laschamp excursion, lasting only an estimated ∼250 yr, are characterized by low relative paleointensities (5% relative to 50 ka). The central, fully reversed phase of the Laschamp excursion is bracketed by VGP excursions to the Sargasso Sea (∼41.9 ka) and to the Labrador Sea (∼39.6 ka). Paleomagnetic results from the Black Sea are in excellent agreement with VGP data from the French type locality which facilitates the chronological ordering of the non-superposed lavas that crop out at Laschamp–Olby. In addition, VGPs between 34 and 35 ka reach low northerly to equatorial latitudes during a clockwise loop, inferred to be the Mono lake excursion.



shenandoah said...

"This stuff practically writes itself."

Truth is much stranger than fiction, and a lot more interesting in my opinion, lol.

Unknown said...

I suppose everyone knows "Clan of the Cave Bear".

I remember reading "Warrior Scarlet", by Rosemary Sutcliff, in school - a children's book but a very good one set in Bronze Age Britain.

Another favourite is "Ishi: The Last of His Tribe" by Theodora Kroeber. Not strictly prehistoric, I suppose, but the eponymous hero was the last known stone tool using hunter gatherer in the USA (at least in the 48 contiguous states).

Mark D said...

The last one I read was in Proto-Indo-European.

tew said...

More importantly, for about 8~10 generations in ~41kya earth's protection against solar radiation was only 5% of what it is today, i.e., almost nonexistent. I wonder what effect this would have had on humans at the time?
So we have modern humans coming out of an explosion in stone tool technologies facing extreme solar radiation followed by a supervolcano eruption followed by extreme ice age climate change for many millenia. A huge culling indeed, starting at 41kya.
No wonder why so many Y-DNA haplogroups seem to coalesce just after this ~40/30kya timeframe.

eurologist said...

Hmm, Upper Paleolithic art, music, and religion inspired by preponderance of aurorae?

eurologist said...

As to fiction, something close is perhaps the 6-volume series Die Söhne der Großen Bärin (The Sons of Great Mother Bear) by Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich - who, interestingly, among other things was a Hellenistic historian.

I don't think the books or the DEFA movie are available in anything but German, though (perhaps in Russian).

More truly Paleolithic, besides Clan of the Cave Bear, is Quest for Fire.

Unknown said...

Mammoth Hunters by Sergey Pokrovskiy Sergey (1874-1945)


Greengerg said...

Jim Crace's excellent 1988 novel "The Gift of Stones" takes place in the transition from Mesolithic to Bronze Age. I highly recommend it.