Department of Geoscience

Institut für Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (INA) Kolloquium

The lecture is held every Friday beginning at 10 c.t. and lasting until 12:00 in the Kupferbau (Holderlinstr. 5). Room HS 24.

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Summer 2019

April 26

Speaker:  Susan Mentzer

Title: Analysis of enigmatic plaster samples from the Neolithic site of Dosariyah (Saudi Arabia)

Dosariyah is an Ubaid period Neolithic site located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The site was excavated from 2010 to 2014 by the German-Saudi Dosariyah Archaeological Project (DARP) under the direction of Dr. Philipp Drechsler (U. Tübingen). The excavations recovered a number of plaster fragments despite an overall lack of architectural features at the site. Many of the fragments have a characteristic morphology that includes impressions of plants, but the archaeological context revealed little information about the possible function of these materials. In this study – that included many researchers from the University of Tübingen – we employed a suite of analyses, including high-resolution 3D scanning, petrography, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, micro x-ray fluorescence, and x-ray diffraction in order to describe the composition, morphology, production history, function and taphonomy of the samples. We propose that the plaster may have been used in the construction of some type of semi-submerged vessel, such as a boat or raft.

May 3

Speaker : Florent Rivals

Title: Evolutionary history of ungulates diet: high resolution studies of changes in feeding traits over time

May 10

Speaker: Debra Colarossi

Title: Searching for Middle Stone Age sites in East Turkana, Kenya

A rich Plio-Pleistocene record of fossils and archaeological artifacts can be found in East Turkana, Kenya. To date, the Middle Stone Age (MSA) record of the sediments on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, located within an unconformity between the Chari tuff (~1.39 Ma) and the Galana Boi Formation (~10 ka), is poorly constrained chronologically. Recovery of MSA surface scatters at the archaeological site of GaJj17 prompted an investigation into the depositional, archaeological and chronological history of the site.
The sedimentary record at the GaJj17 site comprises ~4m of sandy layers underlain by a clay-rich horizon. The upper ~2m of the artifact-bearing sedimentary column was targeted for luminescence dating using the post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (post-IR IRSL) signal from single grains of K-rich feldspar. Based on the luminescence characteristics, there appears to be post-depositional movement of grains throughout the ~2m sedimentary column. Therefore, the resultant ages remain relatively constant.
Although an average age of ~40 ka can be calculated for these deposits, the potential time range during which they were emplaced lies between 33 - 60 ka. This study highlights the importance of locating and dating further MSA sites within the East Turkana region to improve the chronological record of Middle Pleistocene deposits in the area.

May 17

Speaker: Ellery Frahm

Title: What Can Microscopic Magnetic Minerals Reveal About Palaeolithic Lifeways?

Strategies used by Neandertals and other archaic humans to collect stone for tools have played key roles in assessing their movements across the landscape, relationships with neighboring groups, and even cognitive abilities. New methods permit such behaviors to be examined in greater detail, allowing us to investigate movements through the landscape surrounding the sites of Lusakert Cave 1 and Nor Geghi 1 in Armenia. Measuring obsidian artifacts with techniques borrowed from rock magnetic characterization in the geological sciences permits us to test a series of hypotheses regarding the locations where archaic humans locally procured stone on a routine basis. Did they acquire obsidian from a favored outcrop or quarry, or did they collect it opportunisticallyduring the course of foraging activities? Our findings indicate the efficient exploitation of a diverse biome during time intervals immediately preceding major changes in stone tool technology throughout the wider region.

May 24

Panel discussion: What happens after my degree?

Yvonne Tafelmaier - Working at a museum
Gregor Bader - Working as a contract archaeologist
Patrick Schmidt - Funding your own position with a DFG grant
Susan Mentzer - International post-docs and fellowships
Claudio Tennie - Working as a researcher at a Max Planck (or similar institution)
Yonatan Sahle - Working as a Junior Research/Working Group Leader
Christopher Miller - Juniorprofessorships
Britt Starkovich - The Habilitation process

June 7

Speaker: Elizabeth Nelson

Title: Drought, Disease, and the Decline of the Wari Empire

The Wari Empire thrived throughout the Middle Horizon period (AD 600 – 1000)  of the Andes and has been identified as the first expansive state of pre-Columbian Peru. However, during the Late Intermediate period (AD 1000 – 1400) the region experienced a severe drought, the empire declined, and osteological analysis reveals the first recorded signs of bacterial infection in the populations existing in the former administrative center (Huari) of this once powerful empire. This talk will discuss the osteological and molecular investigation of disease in the populations residing in Huari during the time of imperial decline and after. Through employing molecular methods, we were able to identify, recover, and reconstruct ancient Mycobacterial tuberculosis complex (MTBC) genomes and reveal information about the disease experience of these communities during and after the Wari decline. Our findings provide insight into the evolutionary history of MTBC in the Andes and permit further exploration of tuberculosis in pre-Columbian populations in the New World.

June 21

Speaker: Barbara Zach

Title: Whats for eats? Archaeobotanical investigations from  Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Bavaria

For thousands of years crops, more precisely domesticated plants, have been the basis of human nutrition. Food producing societies first emerged in the Levant region around 12.000 years ago.
Some of these first crops reached Europe in Neolithic times together with the knowledge of the associated techniques of cultivation and food processing.
The development of foraging and farming from the early Neolithic to the Bronze Age will be discussed through case studies of archaeobotanically investigated sites in Bavaria. Key points are that wheat species such as Emmer, Einkorn and naked wheat species dispersed in different ways while at Late Bronze Age sites a new crop, broomcorn millet, became important. Regional differences are of particular interest as they enable consideration of the possible interplay between environmental conditions and local human preferences.

June: 28

Speaker: Aurore Val

Title: Birds in subsistence strategies of late Pleistocene hunters-gatherers in southern Africa: a comparison between the avifauna from Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal) and Diepkloof Rock Shelter (Western Cape).

The capture of small, fast game such as flying birds requires innovative acquisition techniques (e.g. blunt-tipped projectile or bow and arrow technologies, use of bolas, nets and snares, or bird lime) and has, therefore, been traditionally associated with Homo sapiens and sophisticated hunting skills. In Europe and the Levant, regular bird exploitation for nutritional, utilitarian and symbolic purposes is well documented from the beginning of the Palaeolithic onwards. This contrasts with southern Africa where, although Homo sapiens, associated with Middle Stone Age technology, is present since at least 160 ka, the ability to capture airborne birds on a regular basis is generally regarded as a relatively recent development, associated with Later Stone Age hunters-gatherers. The taphonomic study of the bird assemblage from Sibudu Cave in KwaZulu-Natal demonstrated that some birds, and especially columbiformes (doves and pigeons), were exploited by the occupants of the rock shelter as far back as ~77 ka BP (Val, 2016; Val et al., 2016). To test the possible influence of ecological setting and environmental conditions, I have performed a similar analysis of the bird assemblage from Diepkloof Rock Shelter, another large rock shelter preserving a long Middle Stone Age sequence with some of the same techno-complexes (i.e. Still Bay and Howiesons Poort) observed at Sibudu Cave, but located in a different biome. The results offer a contrasting picture of the role occupied by birds in the human diet between both sites; they underline the possible influence of environmental and geographical factors on animal exploitation variability amongst late Pleistocene hunters-gatherers.

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July 7

no INA Kolloquium but possible substitution talks at the

EVEREST workshop "All about teeth"

Kupferbau HS 24

8:45-9:00 Introduction/welcoming
9:00-9:30 Ottmar Kullmer: Biocultural Perspective on Human Dental Function
9:30-10:00 Britt Starkovich: Identifying and Aging Animal Teeth
10:00-10:30 Cathi Bauer:Differences in dental shape and internal tissue proportions of large Canids in the Upper Palaeolithic -a reflection of a possible early domestication event?
10:30-11:00 Julia Beaumont: The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth
11:00-11:30 Sireen El-Zaatari: Dental microwear analyses: methods and applications
11:30-12:00 Discussion

INA Rümelinstr. 23, HS 404

14:00-14:30 Michael Francken: You are what you eat -dental pathologiesas a mirror of life
14:30-15:00 Hannes Rathmann: Reconstructing human population history from dental phenotypes
15:30-16:00 Cosimo Posth: DNA retrieval from ancient teeth
16:00-16:30 James Fellows: Palaeomicrobiology of Teeth
16:30-17:00 Marta Díaz-Zorita Bonilla & Dorothée Drucker: Using teeth to investigate diet and mobility through stable isotope analysis
17:00-17:30 Discussion + Concluding remarks

July 12

Speaker: Lukas Werther

Title: New Approaches in Wetland (Geo-)Archaeology

Wetlands offer unique possibilities, but also manifold challenges for (geo-)archaeological research. Based on different case studies new approaches to this specifc landscape at the intersection between water and land will be discussed. The pivotal point of the lecture will be archaeological excavations in wetlands, the application of specific geophysical, geoarchaeological and GIS methods as well as the analysis of organic remains such as wood. The chronological focus will be the medieval and early modern period.

July 19

Speaker: Jens Frick

Stone knapping is a craft that requires experience and practice, which had to be learned quickly and purposefully for successful survival in the Stone Age. Due to the nature of human hands and teeth, it is indispensable to be able to produce cutting edges on stone artifacts yourself.
This lecture highlights the connections between the experimental reproduction of stone artefacts and the lithic reduction sequences determined by technological analyses. These two analytical approaches are inextricably linked and interdependent. Depending on the task, the decisive impulses can come both from technological analysis or controlled experiments. Since the 1970s, the methodological apparatus of both approaches has been successively expanded. Reference is made here to the work of J. Texier, J. Pelegrin, L. Bourguignon or J. Baena Preysler and many more, which are excellent stone knappers who examined the most likely gestures and techniques used to produce stone artefacts. Both approaches have one question in common: How and in which way stone artefacts were produced?
The reduction sequences determined by lithic analyses are confirmed or rejected by practical comprehension. Likewise, it is possible to retrieve the results of practical experiments by means of technological analyses in the archaeological material. Ideally, these two analytical approaches would be supported by others that investigate further aspects, such as use wear and functional analysis, refittings or the determination of raw material properties.
Similar to the mutual control of these two analytical approaches, different tasks are processed by the interaction. Examples are the delimitation and classification of lithic reduction concepts, the evaluation of the stone knappers’s ability, sequences and rhythms in production, or gestures and techniques necessary for specific production steps. The visible features on the artefacts of certain gestures and techniques in stone knapping can only be determined by lithic experiments (and ethnological comparisons) and are only then available for technological analysis as a methodological apparatus. We will touch on different topics of these both approaches: e.g., Working Stage Analyses, diacritical reading of negative sequences, rotation processes in nuclei and bifacial pieces, dependence of exterior angle and knapping techniques, predetermined target products, etc.
The following questions arise: In which order can or must work be done? How can this order be reconstructed? Which gestures and technique can or must be used for what? How can this handling be recognized? Are there comprehensible rhythms in reduction sequences? Which analysis methods are available?
In a short excursion we focus on very peculiar lithic objects (Keilmesser with tranchet blow) and illustrate various aspects of their production.

July 26

no talk