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Constraining time and ecology on the Zinj paleolandscape: Microwear and mesowear analyses of the archaeofaunal remains of FLK Zinj and DS (Bed I), compared to FLK North (Bed I) and BK (Bed II) at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)
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Number of Authors: 82019 (English)In: Quaternary International, ISSN 1040-6182, E-ISSN 1873-4553, Vol. 526, p. 4-14Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Defining the time that any given archaeofaunal assemblage took to be accumulated is challenging. Understanding the time variable is crucial to interpret how early sites were formed and what these sites represent in terms of hominin behavior. Two complementary dental analysis techniques (microwear and mesowear) have been used to understand dietary niches of ungulates. Microwear has also specifically been used to detect the character of occupations at archaeological sites. Here, we apply these techniques to a selection of Olduvai sites. Microwear and mesowear analyses on bovid teeth from a set of anthropogenic sites (FLK Zinj, DS, BK) and a carnivore palimpsest (FLK North) yielded different results. Microwear data from the three anthropogenic sites are similar, reflecting short, seasonal occupations, in contrast with the carnivore assemblage, which suggests a more prolonged period of deposition. The similar microwear signal in the two pene-contemporaneous sites of FLK Zinj and DS is encouraging, but caution in its interpretation is applied because of limited tooth enamel preservation and the resulting small sample size. The results shown here must be considered as a baseline for future and more extensive studies. Both microwear and mesowear analyses show that the most common bovid taxa in the Bed I sites exhibit mixed feeding signals. This reinforces the caution about interpretations of dietary niches of extinct ungulates based on their modern counterparts and emphasizes that for some taxa, the adoption of a browsing or grazing diet is context (time and locus) specific.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 526, p. 4-14
Keywords [en]
Microwear, Mesowear, Ungulates, Taphonomy, Seasonality
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Biological Sciences Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176769DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2019.05.041ISI: 000495356600002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176769DiVA, id: diva2:1377176
Available from: 2019-12-11 Created: 2019-12-11 Last updated: 2019-12-11Bibliographically approved

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