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Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards

John Lowe 1, * Nick Barton 2 Simon Blockley 1 Christopher Bronk Ramsey 3 Victoria Cullen 3 William Davies 4 Clive Gamble 5 Katharine Grant 6 Mark Hardiman 1 Rupert Housley 1 Christine Lane 3 Sharen Lee 3 Mark Lewis 7 Alison Macleod 1 Martin Menzies 8 Wolfgang Müller 8 Mark Pollard 3 Catherine Price 9 Andrew Roberts 10 Eelco Rohling 6 Chris Satow 1 Victoria Smith 3 Chris Stringer 11 Emma Tomlinson 8 Dustin White 4, 9 Paul Albert 8 Ilenia Arienzo 12 Graeme Barker 13 Dušan Borić 14 Antonio Carandente 15 Lucia Civetta 16 Catherine Ferrier 17 Jean-Luc Guadelli 18 Panagiotis Karkanas 19 Margarita Koumouzelis 20 Ulrich Müller 21 Giovanni Orsi 12 Joerg Pross 21 Mauro Rosi 22 Ljiljiana Shalamanov-Korobar 23 Nikolay Sirakov 24 Polychronis Tzedakis 1
Abstract : Marked changes in human dispersal and development during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition have been attributed to massive volcanic eruption and/or severe climatic deterioration. We test this concept using records of volcanic ash layers of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption dated to ca. 40,000 y ago (40 ka B.P.). The distribution of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been enhanced by the discovery of cryptotephra deposits (volcanic ash layers that are not visible to the naked eye) in archaeological cave sequences. They enable us to synchronize archaeological and paleoclimatic records through the period of transition from Neanderthal to the earliest anatomically modern human populations in Europe. Our results confirm that the combined effects of a major volcanic eruption and severe climatic cooling failed to have lasting impacts on Neanderthals or early modern humans in Europe. We infer that modern humans proved a greater competitive threat to indigenous populations than natural disasters.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 1:44:45 AM
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John Lowe, Nick Barton, Simon Blockley, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Victoria Cullen, et al.. Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2012, 109 (34), pp.13532-13537. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1204579109⟩. ⟨halshs-00779286⟩



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