Upper Paleolithic

The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic, Late Stone Age) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. Very broadly, it dates to between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Holocene), according to some theories coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity in early modern humans, until the advent of the Neolithic Revolution and agriculture.

Anatomically modern humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) are believed to have emerged out of Africa around 200,000 years ago, although these lifestyles changed very little from that of archaic humans of the Middle Paleolithic,[1] until about 50,000 years ago, when there was a marked increase in the diversity of artefacts. This period coincides with the expansion of modern humans from Africa throughout Asia and Eurasia, which contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The Upper Paleolithic has the earliest known evidence of organized settlements, in the form of campsites, some with storage pits. Artistic work blossomed, with cave painting, petroglyphs, carvings and engravings on bone or ivory. The first evidence of human fishing is also found, from artefacts in places such as Blombos cave in South Africa. More complex social groupings emerged, supported by more varied and reliable food sources and specialized tool types. This probably contributed to increasing group identification or ethnicity.[2]

The peopling of Australia most likely took place before c. 60 ka. Europe was peopled after c. 45 ka. Anatomically modern humans are known to have expanded northward into Siberia as far as the 58th parallel by about 45 ka (Ust'-Ishim man). The Upper Paleolithic is divided by the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), during about 25 to 15 ka. The peopling of the Americas occurred during this time, with East and Central Asia populations reaching the Bering land bridge after about 35 ka, and expanding into the Americas by about 15 ka. In Western Eurasia, the Paleolithic eases into the so-called Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic from the end of the LGM, beginning 15 ka. The Holocene glacial retreat begins 11.7 ka (10th millennium BC), falling well into the Old World Epipaleolithic, and marking the beginning of the earliest forms of farming in the Fertile Crescent.

Upper Paleolithic
Rhinos Chauvet Cave
Rhino drawings from the Chauvet Cave, 37,000 to 33,500 years old
PeriodStone Age
Dates50,000 to 10,000 BP
Preceded byMiddle Paleolithic
Followed byMesolithic
Expansion of early modern humans from Africa
Expansion of early modern humans from Africa.

Lifestyle and technology

European early modern human (version 2)
European early modern human, or Cro-Magnon. Musée de Préhistoire des gorges du Verdon

Both Homo erectus and Neanderthals used the same crude stone tools. Archaeologist Richard G. Klein, who has worked extensively on ancient stone tools, describes the stone tool kit of archaic hominids as impossible to categorize. It was as if the Neanderthals made stone tools, and were not much concerned about their final forms. He argues that almost everywhere, whether Asia, Africa or Europe, before 50,000 years ago all the stone tools are much alike and unsophisticated.

Flint Knives, Ahmarian Culture, Nahal Boqer, 47000-40000 BP (detail)
Flint Knives, Ahmarian Culture, Nahal Boqer, Israel, 47,000-40,000 BP. Israel Museum.

Firstly among the artefacts of Africa, archeologists found they could differentiate and classify those of less than 50,000 years into many different categories, such as projectile points, engraving tools, knife blades, and drilling and piercing tools. These new stone-tool types have been described as being distinctly differentiated from each other; each tool had a specific purpose. The invaders, commonly referred to as the Cro-Magnons, left many sophisticated stone tools, carved and engraved pieces on bone, ivory and antler, cave paintings and Venus figurines.[3][4][5]

The Neanderthals continued to use Mousterian stone tool technology and possibly Chatelperronian technology. These tools disappeared from the archeological record at around the same time the Neanderthals themselves disappeared from the fossil record, about 40,000 cal BP.[6]

Stone Core for Making Blades - Boqer Tachtit, Negev, circa 40000 BP (detail)
Stone core for making fine blades, Boqer Tachtit, Negev, Israel, circa 40,000 BP.

Settlements were often located in narrow valley bottoms, possibly associated with hunting of passing herds of animals. Some of them may have been occupied year round, though more commonly they appear to have been used seasonally; people moved between the sites to exploit different food sources at different times of the year. Hunting was important, and caribou/wild reindeer "may well be the species of single greatest importance in the entire anthropological literature on hunting."[7]

Technological advances included significant developments in flint tool manufacturing, with industries based on fine blades rather than simpler and shorter flakes. Burins and racloirs were used to work bone, antler and hides. Advanced darts and harpoons also appear in this period, along with the fish hook, the oil lamp, rope, and the eyed needle.

The changes in human behavior have been attributed to changes in climate, encompassing a number of global temperature drops. These led to a worsening of the already bitter cold of the last glacial period (popularly but incorrectly called the last ice age). Such changes may have reduced the supply of usable timber and forced people to look at other materials. In addition, flint becomes brittle at low temperatures and may not have functioned as a tool.

Some scholars argue that the appearance of complex or abstract language made these behavior changes possible. The complexity of the new human capabilities hints that humans were less capable of planning or foresight before 40,000 years, while the emergence of cooperative and coherent communication marked a new era of cultural development.[8]

Changes in climate and geography

Ice-core-isotope
The Upper Paleolithic covered the second half of the Last glacial period from 50,000 to 10,000 before present, until the warming of the Holocene. Ice core data from Antarctica and Greenland.

The climate of the period in Europe saw dramatic changes, and included the Last Glacial Maximum, the coldest phase of the last glacial period, which lasted from about 26.5 to 19 kya, being coldest at the end, before a relatively rapid warming (all dates vary somewhat for different areas, and in different studies). During the Maximum, most of Northern Europe was covered by an ice-sheet, forcing human populations into the areas known as Last Glacial Maximum refugia, including modern Italy and the Balkans, parts of the Iberian Peninsula and areas around the Black Sea.

This period saw cultures such as the Solutrean in France and Spain. Human life may have continued on top of the ice sheet, but we know next to nothing about it, and very little about the human life that preceded the European glaciers. In the early part of the period, up to about 30 kya, the Mousterian Pluvial made northern Africa, including the Sahara, well-watered and with lower temperatures than today; after the end of the Pluvial the Sahara became arid.

Europe20000ya
European Last Glacial Maximum refuges, 20,000 BP.
  Solutrean and Proto Solutrean Cultures
  Epigravettian Culture

The Last Glacial Maximum was followed by the Allerød oscillation, a warm and moist global interstadial that occurred around 13.5 to 13.8 kya. Then there was a very rapid onset, perhaps within as little as a decade, of the cold and dry Younger Dryas climate period, giving sub-arctic conditions to much of northern Europe. The Preboreal rise in temperatures also began sharply around 10.3 kya, and by its end around 9.0 kya had brought temperatures nearly to present day levels, although the climate was wetter. This period saw the Upper Paleolithic give way to the start of the following Mesolithic cultural period.

As the glaciers receded sea levels rose; the English Channel, Irish Sea and North Sea were land at this time, and the Black Sea a fresh-water lake. In particular the Atlantic coastline was initially far out to sea in modern terms in most areas, though the Mediterranean coastline has retreated far less, except in the north of the Adriatic and the Aegean. The rise in sea levels continued until at least 7.5 kya (5500 BC), so evidence of human activity along Europe's coasts in the Upper Paleolithic is mostly lost, though some traces have been recovered by fishing boats and marine archaeology, especially from Doggerland, the lost area beneath the North Sea.

Timeline

50,000–40,000 BP

Anatomically Modern Humans archaeological remains, Europe and Africa, directly dated, calibrated carbon dates as of 2013
Anatomically Modern Humans known archaeological remains in Europe and Africa, directly dated, calibrated carbon dates as of 2013.[9]
Ksar Akil Fossils
Layer sequence at Ksar Akil in the Levantine corridor, and discovery of two fossils of Homo Sapiens, dated to 40,800 to 39,200 years BP for "Egbert",[10]and 42,400–41,700 BP for "Ethelruda".[10].

50,000 BP

  • Numerous Aboriginal stone tools were found in gravel sediments in Castlereagh, Sydney, Australia. At first when these results were new they were controversial; more recently dating of the same strata has revised and corroborated these dates.[11][12]
  • Start of the Mousterian Pluvial in North Africa.

45,000–43,000 BP

  • Earliest evidence of modern humans found in Europe, in Southern Italy.[13] These are indirectly dated.[14]

43,000–41,000 BP

40,000–30,000 BP

40,000–35,000 BP

Venus-de-Laussel-vue-generale-noir
Venus of Laussel, an Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian) carving.

35,000 BP

30,000 BP

30,000–20,000 BP

29,000–25,000 BP

24,000 BP

23,000 BP

22,000 BP

21,000 BP

  • Artifacts suggests early human activity occurred at some point in Canberra, Australia.[26] Archaeological evidence of settlement in the region includes inhabited rock shelters, rock art, burial places, camps and quarry sites, and stone tools and arrangements.[27]
  • End of the second Mousterian Pluvial in North Africa.

20,000–10,000 BP

  • Last Glacial Maximum. Mean sea levels are believed to be 110 to 120 metres (360 to 390 ft) lower than present,[28] with the direct implication that many coastal and lower riverine valley archaeological sites of interest are today under water.

18,000 BP

17,000 BP

  • Spotted human hands are painted at Pech Merle cave, Dordogne, France. Discovered in December 1994.
  • Oldest Dryas stadial.
  • Hall of Bulls at Lascaux in France is painted. Discovered in 1940. Closed to the public in 1963.
  • Bird-Headed man with bison and Rhinoceros, Lascaux, is painted.
  • Lamp with ibex design, from La Mouthe cave, Dordogne, France, is made. It is now at Musée des Antiquités Nationales, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
  • Paintings in Cosquer Cave are made, where the cave mouth is now under water at Cap Margiou, France.

15,000 BP

  • Bølling interstadial.
  • Bison, Le Tuc d'Audoubert, Ariège, France.
  • Paleo-Indians move across North America, then southward through Central America.
  • Pregnant woman and deer (?), from Laugerie-Basse, France was made. It is now at Musée des Antiquités Nationales, St.-Germain-en-Laye.

14,000 BP

Sleeping Reindeer 3 2918856445 7d66cc4796 o
The Swimming Reindeer, created 13,000 years ago.

13,000 BP

12,000 BP

11,000 BP

10,000 BP

Cultures

Wells Reindeer Age articles
Reindeer Age articles

The Upper Paleolithic in the Franco-Cantabrian region:

  • The Châtelperronian culture was located around central and south western France, and northern Spain. It appears to be derived from the Mousterian culture, and represents the period of overlap between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. This culture lasted from approximately 45,000 BP to 40,000 BP.[6]
  • The Aurignacian culture was located in Europe and south west Asia, and flourished between 43,000 and 36,000 BP. It may have been contemporary with the Périgordian (a contested grouping of the earlier Châtelperronian and later Gravettian cultures).
  • The Gravettian culture was located across Europe. Gravettian sites generally date between 33,000 and 20,000 BP.
  • The Solutrean culture was located in eastern France, Spain, and England. Solutrean artifacts have been dated c. 22,000 to 17,000 BP.
  • The Magdalenian culture left evidence from Portugal to Poland during the period from 17,000 to 12,000 BP.

See also

References

  • Gilman, Antonio (1996). "Explaining the Upper Palaeolithic Revolution". Pp. 220–239 (Chap. 8) in Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
  1. ^ Rightmire, GP (2009). "Out of Africa: modern human origins special feature: middle and later Pleistocene hominids in Africa and Southwest Asia". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 106 (38): 16046–50. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10616046R. doi:10.1073/pnas.0903930106. PMC 2752549. PMID 19581595.
  2. ^ Gilman, Antonio. 1996. Explaining the Upper Palaeolithic Revolution. pp. 220–39 (Chap. 8) in Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell
  3. ^ "Klein: Behavioral and Biological Origins of Modern Humans 3 of 3". www.accessexcellence.org.
  4. ^ "Klein: Behavioral and Biological Origins of Modern Humans 1 of 3". www.accessexcellence.org.
  5. ^ "'Modern' Behavior Began 40,000 Years Ago In Africa", Science Daily, July 1998
  6. ^ a b Higham, Tom; Douka, Katerina; Wood, Rachel; Ramsey, Christopher Bronk; Brock, Fiona; Basell, Laura; Camps, Marta; Arrizabalaga, Alvaro; Baena, Javier; Barroso-Ruíz, Cecillio; Bergman, Christopher; Boitard, Coralie; Boscato, Paolo; Caparrós, Miguel; Conard, Nicholas J.; Draily, Christelle; Froment, Alain; Galván, Bertila; Gambassini, Paolo; Garcia-Moreno, Alejandro; Grimaldi, Stefano; Haesaerts, Paul; Holt, Brigitte; Iriarte-Chiapusso, Maria-Jose; Jelinek, Arthur; Jordá Pardo, Jesús F.; Maíllo-Fernández, José-Manuel; Marom, Anat; Maroto, Julià; Menéndez, Mario; Metz, Laure; Morin, Eugène; Moroni, Adriana; Negrino, Fabio; Panagopoulou, Eleni; Peresani, Marco; Pirson, Stéphane; de la Rasilla, Marco; Riel-Salvatore, Julien; Ronchitelli, Annamaria; Santamaria, David; Semal, Patrick; Slimak, Ludovic; Soler, Joaquim; Soler, Narcís; Villaluenga, Aritza; Pinhasi, Ron; Jacobi, Roger (21 August 2014). "The timing and spatiotemporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance". Nature. 512 (7514): 306–309. Bibcode:2014Natur.512..306H. doi:10.1038/nature13621. PMID 25143113.
  7. ^ "In North America and Eurasia the species has long been an important resource—in many areas the most important resource—for peoples' inhabiting the northern boreal forest and tundra regions. Known human dependence on caribou/wild reindeer has a long history, beginning in the Middle Pleistocene (Banfield 1961:170; Kurtén 1968:170) and continuing to the present....The caribou/wild reindeer is thus an animal that has been a major resource for humans throughout a tremendous geographic area and across a time span of tens of thousands of years." Ernest S. Burch, Jr. "The Caribou/Wild Reindeer as a Human Resource", American Antiquity, Vol. 37, No. 3 (July 1972), pp. 339–368.
  8. ^ "No Last Word on Language Origins" Archived April 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, Bellarmine University
  9. ^ Higham, Thomas F. G.; Wesselingh, Frank P.; Hedges, Robert E. M.; Bergman, Christopher A.; Douka, Katerina (2013-09-11). "Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and Implications for the Colonization of Europe by Anatomically Modern Humans". PLOS ONE. 8 (9): e72931. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...872931D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072931. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3770606. PMID 24039825.
  10. ^ a b Higham, Thomas F. G.; Wesselingh, Frank P.; Hedges, Robert E. M.; Bergman, Christopher A.; Douka, Katerina (2013-09-11). "Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and Implications for the Colonization of Europe by Anatomically Modern Humans". PLOS ONE. 8 (9): e72931. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...872931D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072931. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3770606. PMID 24039825.
  11. ^ Attenbrow, Val (2010). Sydney's Aboriginal Past: Investigating the Archaeological and Historical Records. Sydney: UNSW Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-1-74223-116-7. Retrieved 11 Nov 2013.
  12. ^ Stockton, Eugene D.; Nanson, Gerald C. (April 2004). "Cranebrook Terrace Revisited". Archaeology in Oceania. 39 (1): 59–60. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4453.2004.tb00560.x. JSTOR 40387277.
  13. ^ Wilford, John Noble (2 November 2011). "Fossil Teeth Put Humans in Europe Earlier Than Thought". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b Higham, Thomas F. G.; Wesselingh, Frank P.; Hedges, Robert E. M.; Bergman, Christopher A.; Douka, Katerina (2013-09-11). "Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and Implications for the Colonization of Europe by Anatomically Modern Humans". PLOS ONE. 8 (9): 6. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...872931D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072931. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3770606. PMID 24039825.
  15. ^ Sandra Bowdler. "The Pleistocene Pacific". Published in 'Human settlement', in D. Denoon (ed) The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders. pp. 41–50. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. University of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  16. ^ Isabel Ellender and Peter Christiansen, People of the Merri Merri. The Wurundjeri in Colonial Days, Merri Creek Management Committee, 2001 ISBN 0-9577728-0-7
  17. ^ Gary Presland, The First Residents of Melbourne's Western Region, (revised edition), Harriland Press, 1997. ISBN 0-646-33150-7. Presland says on page 1: "There is some evidence to show that people were living in the Maribyrnong River valley, near present day Keilor, about 40,000 years ago."
  18. ^ "Humans killed off Australia's giant beasts". BBC News. 24 March 2012.
  19. ^ "The Trial Excavation at the Archaeological Site of Wong Tei Tung, Sham Chung, Hong Kong SAR". Hong Kong Archaeological Society. January 2006. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  20. ^ Prehistoric Archaeological Periods in Japan, Charles T. Keally
  21. ^ "Prehistoric Japan, New perspectives on insular East Asia", Keiji Imamura, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1853-9
  22. ^ Macey, Richard (2007). "Settlers' history rewritten: go back 30,000 years". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 July 2014.. Geoffrey Blainey; A Very Short History of the World; Penguin Books; 2004; ISBN 978-0-14-300559-9
  23. ^ Blainey, Geoffrey (2004). A Very Short History of the World. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-300559-9.
  24. ^ Aboriginal Australia Art & Culture Centre. "Arrernte Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre Alice Springs". Aboriginalart.com.au. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  25. ^ "The Peking Man World Heritage Site at Zhoukoudian". 2014-11-14.
  26. ^ Flood, J. M.; David, B.; Magee, J.; English, B. (1987), "Birrigai: a Pleistocene site in the south eastern highlands", Archaeology in Oceania, 22: 9–22, doi:10.1002/j.1834-4453.1987.tb00159.x
  27. ^ Gillespie, Lyall (1984). Aborigines of the Canberra Region. Canberra: Wizard (Lyall Gillespie). pp. 1–25. ISBN 978-0-9590255-0-7.
  28. ^ Sea level data from main article: Cosquer cave
  29. ^ Lloyd, J. & Mitchinson, J.: The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber, 2006.
  30. ^ "Divers find traces of ancient Americans". 9 September 2004.
  31. ^ M. Mirazón Lahr et al., "Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya", Nature 529, 394–398 (21 January 2016), doi:10.1038/nature16477. "Here we report on a case of inter-group violence towards a group of hunter-gatherers from Nataruk, west of Lake Turkana [...] Ten of the twelve articulated skeletons found at Nataruk show evidence of having died violently at the edge of a lagoon, into which some of the bodies fell. The remains [...] offer a rare glimpse into the life and death of past foraging people, and evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers." "Evidence of a prehistoric massacre extends the history of warfare". University of Cambridge. 20 Jan 2016. Retrieved 20 Mar 2017.. For early depiction of interpersonal violence in rock art see: Taçon, Paul; Chippindale, Christopher (October 1994). "Australia's Ancient Warriors: Changing Depictions of Fighting in the Rock Art of Arnhem Land, N.T.". Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 4 (2): 211–48. doi:10.1017/S0959774300001086..
  32. ^ Carpenter, Jennifer (20 June 2011). "Early human fossils unearthed in Ukraine". BBC. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  33. ^ Mulvaney, D J and White, Peter, 1987, Australians to 1788, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon, Sydney
  34. ^ Gary Presland, Aboriginal Melbourne: The Lost Land of the Kulin People, Harriland Press (1985), Second edition 1994, ISBN 0-9577004-2-3. This book describes in some detail the archaeological evidence regarding aboriginal life, culture, food gathering and land management, particularly the period from the flooding of Bass Strait and Port Phillip from about 7–10,000 years ago, up to the European colonisation in the nineteenth century.
  35. ^ Dousset, Laurent (2005). "Daruk". AusAnthrop Australian Aboriginal tribal database. Archived from the original on April 9, 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  36. ^ "Aboriginal people and place". Sydney Barani. 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  37. ^ Thorley, Peter (2004). "Rock-art and the archaeological record of Indigenous settlement in Central Australia". Australian Aboriginal Studies (1). Retrieved 18 June 2011.

External links

Art of the Upper Paleolithic

The art of the Upper Paleolithic represents the oldest form of prehistoric art. Figurative art is present in Europe as well as in Sulawesi, Indonesia, beginning at least 35,000 years ago.

Non-figurative cave paintings, consisting of hand stencils and simple geometric shapes, is at least 40,000 years old.

According to a 2018 study based on uranium-thorium dating, the oldest examples of Iberian cave art were made as early as 64,000 years ago, implying Neanderthal authorship, which would qualify as art of the Middle Paleolithic.The emergence of figurative art has been interpreted as reflecting the emergence of full behavioral modernity, and is part of the defining characteristics separating the Upper Paleolithic from the Middle Paleolithic.

The discovery of cave art of comparable age to the oldest European samples in Indonesia has established that similar artistic traditions existed both in eastern and in western Eurasia at 40,000 years ago. This has been taken to suggest that such an artistic tradition must in fact date to more than 50,000 years ago, and would have been spread along the southern coast of Eurasia in the original coastal migration movement. It is important to note that most of the art of this period is expected to have been lost, as it was submerged in the early Holocene sea level rise.

Cave art in Europe continued to the Mesolithic (at the beginnings of the Holocene) about 12,000 years ago.

European Upper Paleolithic art is also known informally as "Ice Age art", in reference to the last glacial period.In November 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the oldest known figurative art painting, over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old, of an unknown animal, in a cave on the Indonesian island of Borneo.

Aurignacian

The Aurignacian () is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic

associated with European early modern humans (EEMH). The Upper Paleolithic developed in Europe some time after the Levant, where the Emiran period and the Ahmarian period form the very first periods of the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to the first stages of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa. From this stage, the first modern humans probably migrated to Europe to form the beginning of the European Upper Paleolithic, including the Aurignacian culture.An Early Aurignacian or Proto-Aurignacian stage is dated between about 43,000 and 37,000 years ago. The Aurignacian proper lasts from about 37,000 to 33,000 years ago. A Late Aurignacian phase transitional with the Gravettian dates to about 33,000 to 26,000 years ago.

The type site is the Cave of Aurignac, Haute-Garonne, south-west France. The main preceding period is the Mousterian of the Neanderthals.

One of the oldest examples of figurative art, the Venus of Hohle Fels, comes from the Aurignacian and is dated to between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago (though now earlier figurative art may be known, see Lubang Jeriji Saléh). It was discovered in September 2008 in a cave at Schelklingen in Baden-Württemberg in western Germany. The German Lion-man figure is given a similar date range. The Bacho Kiro site in Bulgaria is one of the earliest known Aurignacian burials.A "Levantine Aurignacian" culture is known from the Levant, with a type of blade technology very similar to the European Aurignacian, following chronologically the Emiran and Early Ahmarian in the same area of the Near East, and also closely related to them. The Levantine Aurignacian may have preceded European Aurignacian, but there is a possibility that the Levantine Aurignacian was rather the result of reverse influence from the European Aurignacian: this remains unsettled.

Behavioral modernity

Behavioral modernity is a suite of behavioral and cognitive traits that distinguishes current Homo sapiens from other anatomically modern humans, hominins, and primates. Although often debated, most scholars agree that modern human behavior can be characterized by abstract thinking, planning depth, symbolic behavior (e.g., art, ornamentation), music and dance, exploitation of large game, and blade technology, among others. Underlying these behaviors and technological innovations are cognitive and cultural foundations that have been documented experimentally and ethnographically. Some of these human universal patterns are cumulative cultural adaptation, social norms, language, and extensive help and cooperation beyond close kin. It has been argued that the development of these modern behavioral traits, in combination with the climatic conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum causing genetic bottlenecks, was largely responsible for the human replacement of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and the other species of humans of the rest of the world.Arising from differences in the archaeological record, a debate continues as to whether anatomically modern humans were behaviorally modern as well. There are many theories on the evolution of behavioral modernity. These generally fall into two camps: gradualist and cognitive approaches. The Later Upper Paleolithic Model refers to the theory that modern human behavior arose through cognitive, genetic changes abruptly around 40,000–50,000 years ago. Other models focus on how modern human behavior may have arisen through gradual steps; the archaeological signatures of such behavior only appearing through demographic or subsistence-based changes.

Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain

Under the name Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain (Cueva de Altamira y arte rupestre paleolítico del Norte de España) are grouped 18 caves of northern Spain, which together represent the apogee of Upper Paleolithic cave art in Europe between 35,000 and 11,000 years ago (Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, Magdalenian, Azilian).

They have been collectively designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2008.

Chief among these caves is Altamira, located within the town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria. It remains one of the most important painting cycles of prehistory, originating in the Magdalenian and Solutrean periods of the Upper Paleolithic. This cave's artistic style represents the Franco-cantabrian school, characterized by the realism of its figural representation. Altamira Cave was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985.

In 2008 the World Heritage Site was expanded to include 17 additional caves located in three autonomous regions of northern Spain: Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country.

El Mirón Cave

The El Mirón Cave is a large cave in the upper Asón River valley towards the eastern end of Cantabria in northern Spain, near the border of the Basque Country. It is an archeological site in Ramales de la Victoria. It is known for a skeleton belonging to a woman nicknamed The Red Lady of El Mirón. She is estimated to have died around 18,700 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic (Magdalenian). The skeleton is examined to that of someone between 35 and 40 years. Her bones were coated with ochre, a red iron-based pigment, hence, her name.

The cave was discovered in 1903 by amateur archaeologists Hermilio Alcalde del Río and Lorenzo Sierra. It contains a rich collection of Upper Paleolithic art. Among the prominent arts are those of an engraving of a horse and possibly one of a bison. The first systematic excavation started only in 1996. The team of archaeologists, led by Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico and Manuel González Morales of the University of Cantabria, made a discovery of a number of prehistoric remains. The Red Lady was discovered in 2010. The cave contains a large limestone block towards the rear. A narrow space running through the block was the location of the skeleton..

Epipalaeolithic

In archaeology, the Epipalaeolithic or Epipaleolithic (sometimes Epi-paleolithic etc.) is a term for a period intervening between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic in the Stone Age. This position is also occupied by the Mesolithic and the two are sometimes confused, or used as synonyms. More often they are used for different areas: Epipaleolithic for the Levant (Middle East near the Mediterranean coast), and the Near East in general, as well as sometimes parts of Europe other than North and Western Europe, where Mesolithic is much more often used. A Mesolithic period is not usually recognized for the Levant or Near East; in Europe a period categorized as Epipalaeolithic is followed by a Mesolithic one in the same area, and will itself be described as Mesolithic by many archaeologists.

The Epipalaeolithic has been defined as the "final Upper Palaeolithic industries occurring at the end of the final glaciation which appear to merge technologically into the Mesolithic". The period is generally dated from c. 20,000 BP to 10,000 BP in the Levant, but later in Europe. If used as a synonym or equivalent for Mesolithic in Europe, it might end at about c. 5,000 BP or even later.

In the Levant the period may be subdivided into Early, Middle and Late Epipaleolithic, the last also being the Natufian. The preceding final Upper Paleolithic period is the Kebaran or "Upper Paleolithic Stage VI".Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, generally nomadic, made relatively advanced tools from small flint or obsidian blades, known as microliths, that were hafted in wooden implements. There are settlements with "flimsy structures", probably not permanently occupied except at some rich sites, but used and returned to seasonally.

Gravettian

The Gravettian was an archaeological industry of the European Upper Paleolithic that succeeded the Aurignacian circa 33,000 years BP. It is archaeologically the last European culture many consider unified, and had mostly disappeared by c. 22,000 BP, close to the Last Glacial Maximum, although some elements lasted until c. 17,000 BP. At this point, it was replaced abruptly by the Solutrean in France and Spain, and developed into or continued as the Epigravettian in Italy, the Balkans, Ukraine and Russia.They are known for their Venus figurines, which were typically made as either ivory or limestone carvings. The Gravettian culture was first identified at the site of La Gravette in Southwestern France.

Ksar Akil

Ksar Akil (also Ksar 'Akil or Ksar Aqil) is an archeological site 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Beirut in Lebanon. It is located about 800 m (2,600 ft) west of Antelias spring on the north bank of the northern tributary of the Wadi Antelias. It is a large rock shelter below a steep limestone cliff.It was first noticed by Godefroy Zumoffen in 1900 and first studied by A. E. Day in 1926 then first systematically excavated by J.G. Doherty, S.J., and J.F. Ewing, S.J., in 1937-1938 and again in 1947-1948, then later by Jacques Tixier in 1969-1975 before research was interrupted by the Lebanese Civil War.

Excavations showed occupational deposits reaching down to a depth of 23.6 m (77 ft) with one of the longest sequences of Paleolithic flint industries ever found in the Middle East. The first level of 8 m (26 ft) contained Upper Levallois-Mousterian remains with long and triangular Lithic flakes. The level above this showed industries accounting for all six stages of the Upper Paleolithic. An Emireh point was found at the first stage of this level (XXIV), at around 15.2 m (50 ft) below datum, in association with the hominin mandible Ksar Akil 2. Studies by Hooijer showed Capra and Dama were dominant in the fauna along with Stephanorhinus in later Levalloiso-Mousterian levels.It is assumed to be one of the earliest known sites containing Upper Paleolithic technologies including Ahmarian cultural objects. Artifacts recovered from the site include Ksar Akil flakes, the main type of tool found at the site, along with pierced shells and chipped edge modifications that suggest these have been used as pendants or beads. This indicates that the inhabitants were among the first in Western Eurasia to use personal ornaments. Results from radiocarbon dating indicate that the early humans may have lived at the site approximately 45,000 years ago or earlier. The presence of personal ornaments at Ksar Akil is suggestive of modern human behavior. The findings of ornaments at the site are contemporaneous with ornaments found at Late Stone Age sites such as Enkapune Ya Muto.The site was rescued from burial under the sludge of gravel-making machines in 1964 by the Department of Antiquities, although is mostly unrecognizable due to quarrying operations with its talus buried under tons of soil.Aside from 10 teeth from Üçağızlı Cave in southern Turkey, Ksar Akil is the only site with hominin remains from the Early Upper Paleolithic and Initial Upper Paleolithic in the Levant discovered so far.

Magdalenian

The Magdalenian (also Madelenian; French: Magdalénien) cultures are later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, dating from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in the Dordogne department of France.

Originally termed L'âge du renne (the Age of the Reindeer) by Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, the first systematic excavators of the type site, in their publication of 1875, the Magdalenian is synonymous in many people's minds with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites also contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horses, and other large mammals present in Europe toward the end of the last ice age. The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites have been found from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east. It is the third epoch of Gabriel de Mortillet's cave chronology system, corresponding roughly to the Late Pleistocene.

Minatogawa Man

The Minatogawa people are a prehistoric people of Okinawa, Japan, represented by four skeletons, two male and two female, and some isolated bones dated between 20,000 and 22,000 years BCE. They are among the oldest skeletons of hominids yet discovered in Japan.

Paleolithic

The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers c. 99% of human technological prehistory. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominins c. 3.3 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene c. 11,650 cal BP.The Paleolithic Age is followed in Europe by the Mesolithic Age, although the date of the transition varies geographically by several thousand years.

During the Paleolithic Age, hominins grouped together in small societies such as bands, and subsisted by gathering plants and fishing, hunting or scavenging wild animals. The Paleolithic Age is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools, although at the time humans also used wood and bone tools. Other organic commodities were adapted for use as tools, including leather and vegetable fibers; however, due to their rapid decomposing nature, these have not been preserved to any great degree.

About 50,000 years ago, there was a marked increase in the diversity of artifacts. In Africa, bone artifacts and the first art appear in the archaeological record. The first evidence of human fishing is also noted, from artifacts in places such as Blombos cave in South Africa. Archaeologists classify artifacts of the last 50,000 years into many different categories, such as projectile points, engraving tools, knife blades, and drilling and piercing tools.

Humankind gradually evolved from early members of the genus Homo—such as Homo habilis, who used simple stone tools—into anatomically modern humans as well as behaviorally modern humans by the Upper Paleolithic. During the end of the Paleolithic Age, specifically the Middle or Upper Paleolithic Age, humans began to produce the earliest works of art and began to engage in religious and spiritual behavior such as burial and ritual. The climate during the Paleolithic Age consisted of a set of glacial and interglacial periods in which the climate periodically fluctuated between warm and cool temperatures. Archaeological and genetic data suggest that the source populations of Paleolithic humans survived in sparsely wooded areas and dispersed through areas of high primary productivity while avoiding dense forest cover.By c. 50,000 – c. 40,000 BP, the first humans set foot in Australia. By c. 45,000 BP, humans lived at 61°N latitude in Europe. By c. 30,000 BP, Japan was reached, and by c. 27,000 BP humans were present in Siberia, above the Arctic Circle. At the end of the Upper Paleolithic Age, a group of humans crossed Beringia and quickly expanded throughout the Americas.

Paleolithic Europe

Paleolithic Europe, the Lower or Old Stone Age in Europe, encompasses the era from the arrival of the first archaic humans, about 1.4 million years ago until the beginning of the Mesolithic (also Epipaleolithic) around 10,000 years ago. This period thus covers over 99% of the total human presence on the European continent. The early arrival and disappearance of Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis, the appearance, complete evolution and eventual demise of Homo neanderthalensis and the immigration and successful settlement of Homo sapiens all have taken place during the European Paleolithic.

Paleolithic flutes

During regular archaeological excavations several flutes, that date to the European Upper Paleolithic have been discovered in caves in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. Dated and tested independently by two laboratories, in England and Germany, the artifacts are authentic products of the Homo sapiens Aurignacian archaeological culture, made in between 43,000 and 35,000 years ago. The flutes, made of bone and ivory represent the earliest known musical instruments and provide unmistakable evidence of prehistoric music. The flutes were found in the Caves with the oldest Ice Age art, where also the oldest known examples of figurative art were discovered. Music and sculpture as artistic expression have developed simutaneously among the first humans in Europe as the region is considered a key area in which various cultural innovations have developed. Experts say, besides recreation and religious ritual music might have helped to maintain larger social networks, a competitive advantage over the Neanderthals.

Paleolithic religion

Paleolithic religions are a set of spiritual beliefs thought to have appeared during the Paleolithic time period. Paleoanthropologists Andre Leroi-Gourhan and Annette Michelson believe Religious behaviour emerged by the Upper Paleolithic, before 30,000 years ago at the latest, but behavioral patterns such as burial rites that one might characterize as religious — or as ancestral to religious behaviour — reach back into the Middle Paleolithic, as early as 300,000 years ago, coinciding with the first appearance of Homo neanderthalensis and possibly Homo naledi.

There are suggested cases for the first appearance of religious or spiritual experience in the Lower Paleolithic (significantly earlier than 300,000 years ago, pre-Homo sapiens), but these remain controversial and have limited support.

Pinza-Abu Cave Man

The Pinza-Abu Cave Man (ピンザアブ洞人, Pinza-Abu Dōjin) is a prehistoric people known from bones found in the Pinza-Abu Cave, near Ueno in Miyako Island, southern Japan. The remains appear to have the modern man anatomical type and have been dated to about 30,000 years ago, i.e. 25,800 ± 900 and 26,800 ± 1,300 before present. The name "Pinza-Abu" literally means "goat cave" in the local Miyako language.

Prehistory of Southeastern Europe

The prehistory of Southeastern Europe, defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkan peninsula (including the territories of the modern countries of Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Bulgaria, and European Turkey) covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the appearance of the first written records in Classical Antiquity, in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.

Human prehistory in Southeastern Europe is conventionally divided into smaller periods, such as Upper Paleolithic, Holocene Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic, Neolithic Revolution, expansion of Proto-Indo-Europeans, and Protohistory. The changes between these are gradual. For example, depending on interpretation, protohistory might or might not include Bronze Age Greece (2800–1200 BC), Minoan, Mycenaean, Thracian and Venetic cultures. By one interpretation of the historiography criterion, Southeastern Europe enters protohistory only with Homer (See also Historicity of the Iliad, and Geography of the Odyssey). At any rate, the period ends before Herodotus in the 5th century BC.

Red Lady of Paviland

The Red Lady of Paviland is an Upper Paleolithic partial skeleton of a male dyed in red ochre and buried in Britain 33,000 BP. The bones were discovered in 1823 by William Buckland in an archaeological dig at Goat's Hole Cave (Paviland cave) — one of the limestone caves between Port Eynon and Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula, south Wales.The remains were at first thought to be a Roman Britain era female, however more recent analysis indicates the bones of a young male.

Goat's Hole was occupied throughout prehistory. Artefacts are predominantly Aurignacian, but also include examples from the earlier Mousterian, and later Gravettian and Creswellian periods. The site is the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe.

Yamashita Cave Man

The Yamashita Cave People (山下洞人, Yamashita Dōjin) are the prehistoric humans known from many bones found in the Yamashita limestone cave near Naha, in Okinawa, Japan. The remains have been dated at 32,000±1000 years ago. The most important bones found in the cave in Yamashita are those of an approximately 6 to 8-year-old girl.

Zar Cave

Zar cave (Azerbaijani: Zar mağarası) is an archaeological site of prehistoric human habitation during the Upper Paleolithic. It is located in the southern part of Zar village, in Kalbajar Rayon, Azerbaijan.During an archaeological campaign in the Kalbajar Rayon during 1981 to 1987, cave paintings of prehistoric humans were discovered. Flint knives, arrowheads and bone combs were also found during the excavations. Traces of dents on discovered boards indicate that they were used for milling wheat. These boards resemble ones found in the Tağlar Cave. It is assumed that occupants of both caves belong to the same group or are related and have interacted. Numerous of the artifacts and items produced in the Tağlar Cave were used at the Zar site.

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