Urban, Brigitte; Bigga, Gerlinde
The Pleistocene sequence of Schöningen provides a key link between unglaciated and glaciated areas in western Central Europe and is an important point of reference for the subdivision of the glaciated late Middle Pleistocene. This locality yields paleoecological and geological evidence of at least four interglacial periods prior to the Holocene and younger than the Elsterian glaciation. The Pleistocene deposits at Schöningen are valuable archives of climate, landscape, and human evolution, containing outstanding information on past environmental changes and human adaptation. This paper presents paleoenvironmental and biostratigraphical results from the Middle Pleistocene archaeological lakeshore site of Schöningen, focusing on the so-called reference profile Schöningen 13 II of 2003. We discuss the lithological, palynological, and macrobotanical evidence and present a revised subdivision and reinterpretation of late phases of the Reinsdorf Interglacial.
Richter, Daniel; Krbetschek, Matthias
Thermoluminescence (TL) data are presented for eight samples of heated flint collected at the archaeological site of Schöningen 13/I-1 (Cycle I), for which a Holsteinian age is suggested by palynology of stratigraphically similar positions within a cyclic sedimentological model for the Quaternary sequence of Schöningen. Although the fire responsible for the zeroing of the TL-signal cannot be unequivocally attributed to human activities, any time difference between a natural fire and the human occupation is negligible for a site of this antiquity. The weighted mean age of 321 ± 16 ka places the last heating of the flints nominally in the age range of Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 10 to 8. By inference this data would suggest an attribution of the Holsteinian to MIS 9 and may also serve as a maximum age estimate for the spear site of Schöningen 13/II-4 (Cycle II). Considering the chronometric data available and following an alternative sedimentological model the age of these two sites at Schöningen can be considered as belonging to the same climatic cycle. This suggests an attribution to MIS 9, and by inference provides an age estimate of 337-300 ka for the oldest spears in human history.
Stahlschmidt, Mareike C; Miller, Christopher E; Ligouis, Bertrand; Hambach, Ulrich; Goldberg, Paul; Berna, Francesco; Richter, Daniel; Urban, Brigitte; Serangeli, Jordi; Conard, Nicholas J
When and how humans began to control fire has been a central debate in Paleolithic archaeology for decades. Fire plays an important role in technology, social organization, subsistence, and manipulation of the environment and is widely seen as a necessary adaptation for the colonization of northern latitudes. Many researchers view purported hearths, burnt wooden implements, and heated flints from Schöningen as providing the best evidence for the control of fire in the Lower Paleolithic of Northern Europe. Here we present results of a multianalytical study of the purported hearths along with a critical examination of other possible evidence of human use or control of fire at Schöningen. We conclude that the analyzed features and artifacts present no convincing evidence for human use or control of fire. Our study also shows that a multianalytical, micro-contextual approach is the best methodology for evaluating claims of early evidence of human-controlled fire. We advise caution with macroscopic, qualitative identification of combustion features, burnt flint, and burnt wood without the application of such techniques as micromorphology, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, organic petrology, luminescence, and analysis of mineral magnetic parameters. The lack of evidence for the human control of fire at Schöningen raises the possibility that fire control was not a necessary adaptation for the human settlement of northern latitudes in the Lower Paleolithic.
Rivals, Florent; Julien, Marie-Anne; Kuitems, Margot; Van Kolfschoten, Thijs; Serangeli, Jordi; Drucker, Dorothée G; Bocherens, Hervé; Conard, Nicholas J
The paleodietary traits of the equid population from Schöningen 13 II-4 were investigated through tooth mesowear and microwear analyses, as well as stable isotopic analyses. The mesowear pattern observed on the upper teeth indicates a low abrasion diet with a significant amount of browse in the diet of the horses. The tooth microwear analysis and the isotopic data confirm that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 were mixed feeders, like many populations from other Pleistocene localities in Northern and Eastern Europe. Microwear also provides information on seasonal changes in the diet of the horses and offers the possibility to test hypotheses about the presence of one or several horse populations. Our analysis determined that the assemblage of horse remains from Schöningen 13 II-4 resulted from multiple accumulation events, which took place at different periods of time.
Conard, Nicholas J; Serangeli, Jordi; Böhner, Utz; Starkovich, Britt M; Miller, Christopher E; Urban, Brigitte; Van Kolfschoten, Thijs
The exceptional preservation at Schöningen together with a mixture of perseverance, hard work, and sheer luck led to the recovery of unique finds in an exceptional context. The 1995 discovery of numerous wooden artifacts, most notably at least 10 carefully made spears together with the skeletons of at least 20 to 25 butchered horses, brought the debate about hunting versus scavenging among late archaic hominins and analogous arguments about the purportedly primitive behavior of Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals to an end. Work under H. Thieme's lead from 1992 to 2008 and results from the current team since 2008 demonstrate that late H. heidelbergensis or early Neanderthals used sophisticated artifacts made from floral and faunal materials, in addition to lithic artifacts more typically recovered at Lower Paleolithic sites. The finds from the famous Horse Butchery Site and two dozen other archaeological horizons from the edges of the open-cast mine at Schöningen provide many new insights into the technology and behavioral patterns of hominins about 300 ka BP during MIS 9 on the Northern European Plain. An analysis of the finds from Schöningen and their contexts shows that the inhabitants of the site were skilled hunters at the top of the food chain and exhibited a high level of planning depth. These hominins had command of effective means of communication about the here and now, and the past and the future, that allowed them to repeatedly execute well-coordinated and successful group activities that likely culminated in a division of labor and social and economic patterns radically different from those of all non-human primates. The unique preservation and high quality excavations have led to a major paradigm shift or "Schöningen Effect" that changed our views of human evolution during the late Lower Paleolithic. In this respect, we can view the behaviors documented at Schöningen as a plausible baseline for the behavioral sophistication of archaic hominins
Julien, Marie-Anne; Hardy, Bruce; Stahlschmidt, Mareike C; Urban, Brigitte; Serangeli, Jordi; Conard, Nicholas J
Although preservation of Paleolithic faunal assemblages from open-air settings is often poor, the Lower Paleolithic sites of Schöningen provide exceptionally well-preserved mammalian faunal material for investigating hominin/animal relationships. Pleistocene fossil assemblages, however, usually reflect a complex taphonomic history in which natural and anthropogenic processes are often superimposed. A number of examples of osseous finds that resemble tools were recently discovered in the MIS 9 deposits of Schöningen 12 II. Non-anthropogenic agents are known to produce surface modifications mimicking human artifacts and the identification of osseous remains used and/or deliberately modified by ancient hominins is often controversial in such old contexts. Multiple lines of evidence are thus useful for distinguishing between osseous artifacts and "eco-facts". In this paper, the recognition of the use of bone for different technological purposes by late Middle Pleistocene hominins is addressed through a multi-proxy study combining geoarcheology, bone taphonomy, zooarcheology, and use-wear analysis. This allowed the identification of the processes and agents responsible for the formation and modification of the different bone assemblages of Schöningen 12 II. Our analysis points to different types of bones having been likely used as tools. These results expand the diversity of the organic technological repertoire of the Middle Pleistocene hominins, making Schöningen 12 II a remarkable new source of information on osseous technology long before the Upper Paleolithic, the period traditionally viewed as the start of the systematic use of bone tools. Together with other observations of bone tools documented during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic, the results from Schöningen show that archeologists may have underestimated the diversity and importance of osseous technology among archaic hominins.
Stahlschmidt, Mareike C; Miller, Christopher E; Ligouis, Bertrand; Goldberg, Paul; Berna, Francesco; Urban, Brigitte; Conard, Nicholas J
Geoarchaeological research at the Middle Pleistocene site of Schöningen 13 II-4, often referred to as the Speerhorizont, has focused on describing and evaluating the depositional contexts of the well-known wooden spears, butchered horses, and stone tools. These finds were recovered from the transitional contact between a lacustrine marl and an overlying organic mud, originally thought to be a peat that accumulated in place under variable moisture conditions. The original excavators proposed that hominin activity, including hunting and butchery, occurred on a dry lake shore and was followed by a rapid sedimentation of organic deposits that embedded and preserved the artifacts. Our geoarchaeological analysis challenges this model. Here, we present evidence that the sediments of Schöningen 13 II-4 were deposited in a constantly submerged area of a paleolake. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that the artifacts were deposited during a short, extreme drying event, there are no sedimentary features indicative of surface exposure in the sediments. Accordingly, this paper explores three main alternative models of site formation: anthropogenic disposal of materials into the lake, a geological relocation of the artifacts, and hunting or caching on lake-ice. These models have different behavioral ramifications concerning hominin knowledge and exploitation of the landscape and their subsistence strategies.
Böhner, Utz; Serangeli, Jordi; Richter, Pascale
The Spear Horizon (Schöningen 13 II-4) from Schöningen, Lower Saxony, Germany, is one of the most important archeological sites dating to the Middle Pleistocene. Until today, the numerous finds have only been published individually, often outside of their context. Here we present for the first time the distribution map of the Spear Horizon together with a spatial analysis of the different categories of remains (flint, bones, and woods). The finds are situated in a 10 m wide belt, which runs parallel to a former lakeshore. The distribution of faunal remains correlates closely with the distribution of flint artifacts and wooden objects. We have been able to distinguish five different sectors that can be aligned with different events or activities. The greatest density of finds was evident within an area of 11 × 15 m, where most of the horse skulls were recovered. Some of the square meters contain more than 150 finds. During the excavation the profiles were continually documented and these data help us to reconstruct the shoreline of the paleo-lake with considerable accuracy. Over a distance of 60 m, the thickness and density of the organic mud and peat layers could be reconstructed in high resolution. The distribution of finds shows no preferred orientation or selection through size. The analyses only indicate small-scale dislocations and limited taphonomic alterations. The fraction of lithic artifacts with size ranges less than 2 cm are preserved, while some smaller bone fragments are missing. Most of the wooden artifacts are in-situ, but were deformed by the ice load during the Saalian ice age. While some small charcoal remains as well as a burnt artifact have been observed, there is no evidence of burnt bones. Our results allow a first insight into the formation history of the site.
Serangeli, Jordi; Conard, Nicholas J
Within the various archaeological horizons in Schöningen, the presence of hominins is repeatedly demonstrated by the recovery of stone artifacts, broken bones, and bones with cut marks. The Spear Horizon, 13 II-4, with its ca. 1500 stone artifacts and ca. 12,000 faunal remains, represents by far the richest archaeological layers in Schöningen. Systematic waterscreening over a period of 15 years has fostered the recovery of numerous small flakes that otherwise would have remained undetected. Based on the stone artifacts published by H. Thieme and the lithic artifacts recovered from the ongoing excavations of the University of Tübingen and the Archaeological Heritage Office of Lower Saxony since 2008, we present here the main aspects of these lithic assemblages. The main features of the lithic assemblages recovered from the different find horizons and concentrations provide a consistent signature, suggesting a robust and repetitive technological strategy. The assemblages, which are made of local, high quality flint, lack handaxes and are clearly not related to the Acheulean. Intensely retouched scrapers, as well as denticulates, notched pieces, and points on thick flakes, angular debris, and non-anthropogenic thermal spalls are the most numerous retouched forms. The assemblages also contain a smaller number of thinner forms. Reduction sequences are short and Levallois technology is absent. Although some of the retouched forms are reminiscent of the Middle Paleolithic, the relatively non-standardized short reduction sequences technically oriented toward the production of thick and broad flakes are consistent with a classification in the late Lower Paleolithic.
Schoch, Werner H; Bigga, Gerlinde; Böhner, Utz; Richter, Pascale; Terberger, Thomas
The Paleolithic site of Schöningen is famous for the earliest known, completely preserved wooden weapons. Here we present recent results of an ongoing analysis of the nine spears, one lance, a double pointed stick, and a burnt stick dating to the Holsteinian, c. 300 kyr. Macroscopic and microscopic analyses, as well as studies of thin sections, contribute to a better understanding of the manufacture of the wooden weapons. They were deposited in organic sediments at a former lakeshore among numerous bones of butchered horses. In general, the spears are extremely well-preserved and show no or little sign of taphonomic alteration, although some of the weapons are broken and parts were slightly moved, probably by water action. The excellent preservation conditions provide considerable information on the operational sequence of production. The hunters selected thin trunks of spruce or pine and initially stripped off the bark. Traces of cutting, scraping, and smoothing can be observed on the spear surfaces in detail. In the case of spear X, repeated use of the weapon is implied by re-sharpening of the tip. Analyses of wood anatomy provide information on climatic conditions and contribute to the better understanding of the development of the site.
Julien, Marie-Anne; Rivals, Florent; Serangeli, Jordi; Bocherens, Hervé; Conard, Nicholas J
It is often difficult to differentiate between archaeological bonebeds formed by one event such as a mass kill of a single herd, and those formed by multiple events that occurred over a longer period of time. The application of high temporal resolution studies such as intra-tooth isotopic profiles on archaeological mammal cohorts offers new possibilities for exploring this issue, allowing investigators to decipher between single and multiple accumulation events. We examined (18)O and (13)C isotopic variations from the enamel carbonate of 23 horse third molars from the Middle Pleistocene archaeological site of Schöningen. We employed a new approach to investigate processes of fossil accumulation that uses both bulk and intra-tooth isotopic variations and takes into account animal behavior, age at death and dental development to test the degree of isotopic affinity of animals from the same fossil assemblage. Oxygen and carbon isotope bulk values indicate that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 experienced relatively similar climatic and dietary regimes. Inter-individual differences of the bulk values of the horses sampled in the current study present nevertheless inter-individual variability similar to individuals from multi-layered localities. In addition, the intra-tooth isotopic variation of specimens of the same age at death seems to indicate that the studied cohort corresponds to a mix of individuals that recorded both similar and different isotopic histories. Finally, the conditions recorded in the isotopic signal shortly before death (i.e., for teeth not fully mineralized) varied between sampled individuals, suggesting possible differences in the seasonality of death. Considering those results, we discuss the possibility that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 correspond to an accumulation of different death events.
Takahashi, Eiko; Moriyama, Kengo; Yamakado, Minoru
We investigated the level of glycemic control in 7020 patients treated with diabetes medications. We found that the overall mean HbA1c was 7.3% (56 mmol/mol). Over half had HbA1c levels ≥7.0% (53 mmol/mol) and poorer glycemic control was associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Takahashi, Eiko; Moriyama, Kengo; Yamakado, Minoru
We investigated the effect of Hb on HbA1c levels in 265,427 Japanese individuals. The divergence between fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and HbA1c levels increased with lower Hb, resulting in HbA1c levels that were higher in relation to than the FPG levels. Similarly, the correlation between FPG and HbA1c levels, stratified by Hb, weakened as Hb decreased.
Zuber, Jan; Kroll, Marius M; Rathsack, Philipp; Otto, Matthias
Pyrolysis oil from the slow pyrolysis of German brown coal from Schöningen, obtained at a temperature of 500°C, was separated and analyzed using hyphenation of gas chromatography with an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization source operated in negative ion mode and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (GC-APCI-FT-ICR-MS). Development of this ultrahigh-resolving analysis method is described, that is, optimization of specific GC and APCI parameters and performed data processing. The advantages of GC-APCI-FT-ICR-MS hyphenation, for example, soft ionization, ultrahigh-resolving detection, and most important isomer separation, were demonstrated for the sample liquid. For instance, it was possible to separate and identify nine different propylphenol, ethylmethylphenol, and trimethylphenol isomers. Furthermore, homologous series of different acids, for example, alkyl and alkylene carboxylic acids, were verified, as well as homologous series of alkyl phenols, alkyl dihydroxy benzenes, and alkoxy alkyl phenols.
Zuber, Jan; Kroll, Marius M.; Rathsack, Philipp; Otto, Matthias
Pyrolysis oil from the slow pyrolysis of German brown coal from Schöningen, obtained at a temperature of 500°C, was separated and analyzed using hyphenation of gas chromatography with an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization source operated in negative ion mode and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (GC-APCI-FT-ICR-MS). Development of this ultrahigh-resolving analysis method is described, that is, optimization of specific GC and APCI parameters and performed data processing. The advantages of GC-APCI-FT-ICR-MS hyphenation, for example, soft ionization, ultrahigh-resolving detection, and most important isomer separation, were demonstrated for the sample liquid. For instance, it was possible to separate and identify nine different propylphenol, ethylmethylphenol, and trimethylphenol isomers. Furthermore, homologous series of different acids, for example, alkyl and alkylene carboxylic acids, were verified, as well as homologous series of alkyl phenols, alkyl dihydroxy benzenes, and alkoxy alkyl phenols. PMID:27066076
Inglis, Gordon N.; Collinson, Margaret E.; Riegel, Walter; Wilde, Volker; Farnsworth, Alexander; Lunt, Daniel J.; Valdes, Paul; Robson, Brittany E.; Scott, Andrew C.; Lenz, Olaf K.; Naafs, B. David A.; Pancost, Richard D.
Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs) are increasingly used to reconstruct mean annual air temperature (MAAT) during the early Paleogene. However, the application of this proxy in coal deposits is limited and brGDGTs have only been detected in immature coals (i.e. lignites). Using samples recovered from Schöningen, Germany (∼48°N palaeolatitude), we provide the first detailed study into the occurrence and distribution of brGDGTs through a sequence of early Eocene lignites and associated interbeds. BrGDGTs are abundant and present in every sample. In comparison to modern studies, changes in vegetation type do not appear to significantly impact brGDGT distributions; however, there are subtle differences between lignites - representing peat-forming environments - and siliciclastic nearshore marine interbed depositional environments. Using the most recent brGDGT temperature calibration (MATmr) developed for soils, we generate the first continental temperature record from central-western continental Europe through the early Eocene. Lignite-derived MAAT estimates range from 23 to 26 °C while those derived from the nearshore marine interbeds exceed 20 °C. These estimates are consistent with other mid-latitude environments and model simulations, indicating enhanced mid-latitude, early Eocene warmth. In the basal part of the section studied, warming is recorded in both the lignites (∼2 °C) and nearshore marine interbeds (∼2-3 °C). This culminates in a long-term temperature maximum, likely including the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO). Although this long-term warming trend is relatively well established in the marine realm, it has rarely been shown in terrestrial settings. Using a suite of model simulations we show that the magnitude of warming at Schöningen is broadly consistent with a doubling of CO2, in agreement with late Paleocene and early Eocene pCO2 estimates.