January 11, 2013

Neandertal origin of Châtelperronian; likely modern human origin of Châtelperronian body ornamentation


PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1212924109

Radiocarbon dates from the Grotte du Renne and Saint-Césaire support a Neandertal origin for the Châtelperronian

Jean-Jacques Hublin et al.

The transition from the Middle Paleolithic (MP) to Upper Paleolithic (UP) is marked by the replacement of late Neandertals by modern humans in Europe between 50,000 and 40,000 y ago. Châtelperronian (CP) artifact assemblages found in central France and northern Spain date to this time period. So far, it is the only such assemblage type that has yielded Neandertal remains directly associated with UP style artifacts. CP assemblages also include body ornaments, otherwise virtually unknown in the Neandertal world. However, it has been argued that instead of the CP being manufactured by Neandertals, site formation processes and layer admixture resulted in the chance association of Neanderthal remains, CP assemblages, and body ornaments. Here, we report a series of accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates on ultrafiltered bone collagen extracted from 40 well-preserved bone fragments from the late Mousterian, CP, and Protoaurignacian layers at the Grotte du Renne site (at Arcy-sur-Cure, France). Our radiocarbon results are inconsistent with the admixture hypothesis. Further, we report a direct date on the Neandertal CP skeleton from Saint-Césaire (France). This date corroborates the assignment of CP assemblages to the latest Neandertals of western Europe. Importantly, our results establish that the production of body ornaments in the CP postdates the arrival of modern humans in neighboring regions of Europe. This new behavior could therefore have been the result of cultural diffusion from modern to Neandertal groups.



Nick Patterson (Broad) said...

I'm a geneticist not an archaeologist
but I already believed that
Chatelperronian (CP) was associated with Neandertals.

But if CP technology looks like UP
isn't it possible that these were
trade goods, produced by modern humans and sold to Neandertals?

German Dziebel said...

Or better modern humans who entered Europe learned mode IV from Neanderthals.

terryt said...

"isn't it possible that these were
trade goods, produced by modern humans and sold to Neandertals?"

Possible, I suppose, but still implying intimate contact, not isolation as proposed by many. As demonstrated by this comment anyway:

"This new behavior could therefore have been the result of cultural diffusion from modern to Neandertal groups".

eurologist said...

Clearly, given the very well established time scale of AMH cultural evolution, there is absolutely no way Neanderthal people could have done the same in a very few 1,000 years when they showed no significant progress in 300,000 - 150,000 years, or even ~600,000 years, including heidelbergensis, before then.

Uluzzian has been shown quite demonstratively to be AMHs. CP is unclear and has been argued either way. But even if we accept it to be Neanderthal - it is nothing like the several 100 times as long time scale before then would predict.

As such, it is very clearly outside influence (if it is Neanderthal) - in all aspects, including UP stone tools - not just art and decoration.

Also, Uluzzian shows indications that the AMHs were mostly male, quick and dirty pioneers far away from home bases, while Neanderthals at the same time were scattering about rather aimlessly under duress. I would like CP to be interpreted under that light, and why CP Neanderthals would have been flourishing for a wile, under some of their most extreme climatic conditions ever encountered, while these more flexible AMHs moved in.

I see some severe contradictions, here.

terryt said...

"Uluzzian has been shown quite demonstratively to be AMHs".

I was not aware of that. Any link?