Arago: How Long Was The Cave Occupied?

PhysOrg.Com mentions new research on the question of long term occupation vs many seasonal occupations. The study uses dental microwear analysis of ungulates to address the question.

Thanks to the “last supper phenomenon”, the scientists have been able to analyze the last food consumed by animals such as the Eurasian wild horse (Equus ferus), the mouflon (Ovis ammon antiqua) and the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). “This method allows us to confirm the seasonal nature of the occupation”, Rivals added. According to the team, the microwear of the teeth is sensitive to seasonal changes in the diet.

The application has allowed the researchers to estimate the length of the occupation of the site from the Lower Paleolithic Age in the cave of Arago (France) by the number of marks on the fossils and, therefore, the variation in the diet of several species of herbivores, as “each season presented food resources which were limited and different in the environment”, the paleontologist clarified.

The researchers looked at the variability in microwear in animals of none age and date of death to examine the hypothesis. Then the technique was applied to the remains at Arago. The analysis indicated occupation by several groups with differing mobility patterns and differing types of occupations. The research is being published in the Journal of Human Evolution (doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.11.005 requires a subscription).

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