Short-Term Occupations in Paleolithic Archaeology

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Critical aspects on the understanding of prehistoric lifestyles are how hunter-gatherers moved on the landscape and how they organize their technological and subsistence strategies in relation with climatic fluctuations and environmental changes. Ethnographic studies documented that in homogeneous environments, where resources are particularly scattered on the region, foragers tend to move frequently their central base. Conversely, in areas where resources are patchy due to seasonal climates, logistical mobility is preferred. In the last decades, many studies applied these ethnographic concepts to understanding the mobility patterns in archaic humans but, in several regions, it is still unclear how the environment influences hominins displacement strategies and whether biological and technological differences are also reflected in the management of the territory. This symposium aims to explore the issue of hunter-gatherers mobility focusing on short-term anthropogenic occupations. This type of mobility strategy might generate a variety of archaeological contexts such as residential bases, locations, hunting stations or temporary camps. The comparison of these short-term occupations between different regions will contribute to a better understanding on how hunter-gatherers adapted and moved in different climatic and environmental areas. Speakers are very welcome to present new data, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches.

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  • Documents (11)

  • Characterizing Ephemeral Paleolithic Occupations at Arma Veirana (Liguria, Italy) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julien Riel-Salvatore. Fabio Negrino. Marco Peresani. Martina Parise. Jamie Hodgkins.

    This paper presents a description of recently studied assemblages from Middle and Upper Paleolithic levels at the site of Arma Veirana, a large cave located in the mountainous hinterland of Liguria. While one Mousterian level shows an intense occupation, all other levels indicate rather short-lived, low intensity occupations. Beyond technological and typological analyses of these assemblages undertaken to characterize them, we also report preliminary data on raw material procurement patterns...

  • A Critical Review of the Meaning of Short-term Occupation in Early Prehistory (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nuno Bicho. João Cascalheira.

    One of the main elements in prehistoric research is the study of settlement patterns. In the last five decades, stemming partially from Binford’s research on the topic, the idea of settlement is based on site typology, including the traditional residential and logistic concepts. The latter is certainly marked by the notion of short-term occupation. This concept, used freely by many archaeologists, tends to rely on two main ideas— that of an occupation lasting a short span of time, and...

  • Examining Sedimentation Rates, Find Densities, Raw Material Economies and Technological Solutions in Paleolithic Contexts (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicholas Conard.

    This paper examines low density Paleolithic sites from several geological contexts within a diachronic framework. The case studies consider what unifying elements and differences exist in Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic contexts and addresses their causes with regard to the nature of sedimentation, raw material availability and technological needs. Where preservation permits links will be made between assemblages of lithic, faunal and botanical artifacts at the contexts studied to help...

  • The Importance of Short Duration Archaeological Sites for Contextualizing Forager Organization: An Argument from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic of central Portugal (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Thacker.

    The majority of Late Pleistocene archaeological sites in central Portugal resulted from short-term forager activities on the scale of days or weeks. This paper explores the analytical and theoretical significance of these small, ephemeral sites for understanding Middle and Upper Paleolithic organization of technology and settlement strategies. The interpretive context provided by short term site assemblages is essential for developing robust regional hypotheses of Paleolithic behavior, including...

  • The Initial Upper Paleolithic of Northern Mongolia: Site Function, Mobility and Assemblage Plasticity (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicolas Zwyns. Damien Flas. Aurora Allshouse. Johua Noyer. Kevin Smith.

    In the broadest sense, the term Initial Upper Paleolithic refers to archaeological assemblages that, without being necessarily ‘transitional’, combine retained Middle Paleolithic and derived Upper Paleolithic features. Here, we present an assemblage that documents such a phenomenon at the site of Tolbor 16, northern Mongolia. Although we suggest that the layer 7b can be assigned to the northeast Asian variant of the IUP, a detailed analysis and the use of a narrow definition highlights some...

  • Neanderthal Short-Term Occupations in Open-Air Sites: An Overview from Eastern Germany (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrea Picin.

    Prehistoric hunter-gatherers frequently relocated in order to avoid foraging in previously depleted areas, and lakes and rivers played important roles in these movements as fix locations on the landscape where foragers could have access to water and ambush parched animals. The types of human occupations along lakes and rivers could have been various according to the aims of displacements (e.g., logistical, residential) and the activities carried out at the shore (e.g., bivouac, hunting station,...

  • Re-worked Artifacts and Models of Raw Material Exploitation as Indicators for Settlement Duration on Middle Palaeolithic Sites in the Highlands of Central Europe (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Magda Ciesla. Anna Kraszewska. Pawel Valde-Nowak.

    Short-term settlement of Middle Palaeolithic hunters leaves a specific tool kit on an archaeological site. In spite of this well known fact, in some cases, concerning the duration of stay of groups of Neanderthals, mere techno-typological analysis of inventories seems insufficient. Analysis of raw materials exploitation, combined with information about long use, or re-working of certain artifacts appears to be helpful. On most sites from the Middle Palaeolithic era, archaeological data,...

  • The Scatter between the Scatter between the Patches: A Tephrostratigraphic Approach to Low-density Archaeological Sites in the Eastern Lake Victoria Basin of Kenya (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christian Tryon. Nick Blegen. J. Tyler Faith.

    Among recent groups, foraging activities are unevenly distributed across the landscape. Archaeological traces of past foragers are also spatially variable as a result of multiple factors, including the redundancy of site use, a bias towards tasks that leave well-defined material traces likely to preserve into the present (e.g., stone tool manufacture), and local sedimentological factors that mediate site preservation through burial as well as subsequent recovery through erosion or excavation....

  • Short-term Neanderthal Occupations and Carnivores in the North-East of Iberian Peninsula (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jordi Rosell. Ruth Blasco. Florent Rivals. Maite Arilla.

    Short-term human occupations can be developed in very distinct places and be related to very diverse functions. The low number of items left by the human groups in these sites usually generates discrete assemblages, which often adds difficulties to the subsequent archaeological interpretations. In the European Middle Paleolithic, are common short-term human occupations in caves and rock-shelters frequented by carnivores as well (bears, hyenas, large felids, canids and other small carnivores) as...

  • Understanding the Short-term Occupations of the Lateglacial and Early Mesolithic Groups in Western Europe (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicolas Naudinot. Gregor Marchand.

    Prehistoric archaeology is now focusing on past hunter-gatherers societies behaviors and relationships with their environments. In Western France, the Late glacial and the Early Holocene were the stage of an important research dynamic. The chrono-cultural organization has been revised relying in particular on the excavation of new key sites. This research shed greater light on the human territories and paleo-economic behaviors. Understanding human mobility depends on our control of time linked...

  • A Week in the Life of the Mousterian Cows Hunter A Mousterian Hunting Location on the Banks of the Paleo-Hula Lake (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gonen Sharon. Maya Oron. Rebecca Biton. Rivka Rabinovich. Steffen Mischke.

    Eight excavation seasons (2007-2014) at the Mousterian site of Nahal ‎Mahanyeem Outlet (NMO) on the banks of the Upper Jordan River offer a ‎glimpse into the life ways of MP people during a hunting expedition in the ‎Upper Galilee. This open-air site, OSL dated to ca. 60ky BP, is interpreted as ‎recording a series of short-term hunting events. The NMO horizons, with ‎their small number of lithic artifacts, unique typological composition and ‎evidence for task specific hunting and butchering...