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Cost Thresholds and Differential Resource Exploitation Behavior during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in Southwest France

Author(s): Anna Goldfield ; Ross Booton ; Teresa Steele

Year: 2016

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Summary

"Specialization" and "generalization" are used as descriptors for Paleolithic subsistence behavior, particularly when differentiating the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. These terms, however, dichotomize and obscure the complexity of subsistence decision-making. Instead, it is more productive to investigate whether Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (AMH) differed in their perception of thresholds of cost versus gain in processing food. These thresholds are points beyond which the investment of further time or energy is wasted. I highlight two subsistence thresholds relevant to both AMH and Neanderthals: bone fat extraction and the use of fire. Exploiting a carcass for marrow and grease yields rapidly diminishing returns. Fire is a costly resource to acquire and maintain. Higher cost thresholds for AMH may have been an adaptive advantage in glacial periods of the Paleolithic. I present methodology for exploring differences in bone fat exploitation by Neanderthals and AMH, using a case study that applies this methodology to faunal assemblages from the Quina Mousterian (Chez Pinaud Jonzac) and the Aurignacian (La Ferrassie) from southwest France. I then present a modeling approach to fire use in the Paleolithic that predicts implications of different intensities of fire use for cooking on the competitiveness of Neanderthal and AMH populations.


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Cost Thresholds and Differential Resource Exploitation Behavior during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in Southwest France. Anna Goldfield, Ross Booton, Teresa Steele. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405313)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Europe


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America