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For information about Paleolithic excavations in the Swabian Jura between May 4 and August 7, 2020 click here
Please notice: Teams are completed for this year's excavation season
For further information about excavations taking place in 2020 please contact:
Lonetal / Langmahdhalde: Alexander Janas
Achtal / Hohle Fels: Maria Malina
Hohle Fels Cave
Hohle Fels is situated in the Ach river valley at the base of a Jurassic limestone outcrop, just northeast of the town of Schelklingen. With a volume of about 6,000 cubic meters, the cave is one of the largest of the Swabian Jura. Hohle Fels Cave provides an important record of the cultural stratigraphy of the Middle Paleolithic, Aurignacian, Gravettian and Magdalenian periods, but is particularly well-known for its Aurignacian and Gravettian finds. Hohle Fels Cave provides one of the rare opportunities to investigate the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition from Neanderthals to Anatomically Modern Humans using modern excavation methods. Noteworthy finds include a female figurine and flutes from the Early Aurignacian layers representing the oldest evidence of figurative art and musical instruments worldwide.
The Paleolithic site of Vogelherd is located in the Lone river valley northwest of the town of Niederstotzingen. The site was excavated in 1931 in just 12 weeks and provided examples of mammoth ivory figurines from the Aurignacian as well as important lithic and faunal assemblages from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. Excavation of the back dirt from 2005 to 2012 yielded many important Paleolithic finds, mainly from the Aurignacian deposits, including numerous examples of figurative art and personal ornaments. Vogelherd is a key site for investigating the transition from Neandertals to Anatomically Modern Humans.
The site of Schöningen is situated at the edge of a large brown coal mine in Lower Saxony. In the 1990s the site yielded eight wooden lances and several horse skeletons from ca. 300,000 year old deposits. These finds document that the cultural performances and social interactions of archaic Homo were more sophisticated than previously known.
Hominin Ecospace and Dispersal
Gathering as subsistence strategy of hominins
Date: May 4–22, 2020
Supervisors: Angela Bruch, Christine Hertler, Yul Altolaguirre, Ericson Hölzchen, Susanne Krüger, Jan-Olaf Reschke
Besides hunting, gathering of food resources represents a major strategy to accommodate hominin subsistence since the Early Pleistocene. Gathering primarily targets the acquisition of stationary resources, like fruits, nuts, roots, and tubers, but also mollusks, social insects, and, to some extent, fishes and birds. Gathering schemes differ by the specific type of resource on the one hand, but also available technologies on the other. The availability of specific resources changes along with the seasons. Therefore, hominins need to monitor the appearance and/or presence of specific resources in order to predict when and where a particular resource may be acquired. In the next step, some group members collect or harvest the resource, transport it to the base camp in order to be further processed, shared, and/or stored. The efficiency with which a particular type of resource is exploited mainly depends on the level of available technology and the gathering schemes applied, i.e. on hominin behavioral strategies.
We will approach the subject using three different strategies:
- Modeling and simulation (Ericson Hölzchen & Jan-Olaf Reschke): In this part, we examine hominin spatial behavior based on resource dynamics and availability as well as resource types and gathering schemes. In order to examine hominin spatial behavior further, we designed an agent-based model. The MoReDoH agent-based model examines how a group of hominins covers its nutritional needs in a particular environment.
- Gathering schemes and gathering behavior (Susanne Krüger & Christine Hertler): Resource acquisition requires a certain effort in time and energy on the one hand, providing energy and/or other essential nutrients on the other. Optimal Foraging Theory provides the means to model such tradeoffs quantitatively. We apply Optimal Foraging Theory to model the relative value of a variety of resources gathered in a particular type of habitat.
- Resource dynamics and availability of plants (Angela Bruch & Yul Altolaguirre): The goal of this part is to assess quantitatively which of the Indonesian hominin habitats provided valuable plant food resources and was most attractive to early humans. We will analyze the availability and nutritional quality of plant food throughout the year.
During the last week, the groups reunite, exchange the results of their respective studies, and discuss the impact on our gathering model.
The practical class with a duration of 3 weeks will be held at the Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt. We teach this class in English. We welcome external master’s and doctoral students. If you are interested in participating, please contact Christine Hertler or Angela Bruch before January 31, 2020. External students should send a letter of motivation and a short CV. Please note that the total number of participants is strictly limited. We expect to make decisions on external applications by February 15, 2020.
This class is part of a master’s module within the framework of the “Master’s in Ecology and Evolution” at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. The class is preceded by a three-week introductory program on “Paleobiology and Environment”. In case your studies are part of an ERASMUS program, you may be interested in attending the entire module (6 weeks total). If you wish to do so, please also contact Birgit Denkel-Oswalt, who will connect you with the ERASMUS office at the Department of Biosciences at Goethe University in Frankfurt. For students outside ERASMUS programs, we require advance confirmation of existing accident, legal liability, and health insurance. Participation in the course is at your own risk under exclusion of any liability on the part of the University.
From students outside ERASMUS programs we require an advance confirmation about an existing accident, legal liability and health insurance. The participation in the course is on your own risk under exclusion of any liability on the part of the university.