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TWO TRANSITIONS IN PLEISTOCENE HUMAN DIETS: A ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

TWO TRANSITIONS IN PLEISTOCENE HUMAN DIETS: A ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Mary C. Stiner
School of Anthropology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Insite Project

April 02, 2013
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  1. TWO TRANSITIONS IN PLEISTOCENE HUMAN DIETS: A ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE Mary

    C. Stiner School of Anthropology University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona, USA
  2. Meat is but one “window” on ancient diets, but important

    in a surprising number of ways Meat and other tissues from large mammals generally are rare, high quality (complete protein), aseasonal, large units
  3. Origins of Mediterranean Paleolithic faunal series

  4. Diet can be viewed as having core (staple) and peripheral

    components, as shifts in food web tend to begin on the fringes of the diet (J. Dunne). In this case, the core by the Middle Pleistocene was large game animals, which provide high returns for time invested (even though unpredictable), supplemented by easily collected small things. The most peripheral animal resources in this mode were small types that were expensive to capture or process (low returns).
  5. Two remarkable transitions in human diets: 1. Expanding diet breadth

    (50-45 ka) “Broad Spectrum Revolution” 2. Domestication of hoofed animals (11-10 ka) Forager-producer shift (Neolithic) before T1 T2
  6. Higher nutritional return for effort Lower nutritional return for effort

  7. Proportion of prey biomass from ungulates 400-9 KY in 3

    Mediterranean regions (remainder from small animals). LP = Lower Paleolithic MP = Middle Paleolithic UP = Upper & Epi-Paleolithic
  8. LP = Lower Paleolithic >250 kya MP = Middle Paleolithic

    250-35 kya UP = Upper & Epi-Paleolithic 40/35-10 kya 1 2 1. Broad spectrum revolution (50-45 ky) 2. Forager-producer transition (11-10 ky)
  9. Cheap, Highly ranked More expensive, Lower ranked What was happening

    at the fringe of the meat diet?
  10. NARROW BROAD (uneven) (even) OPPOSING CONDITIONS OF DIETARY BREADTH:

  11. Sources: Italy, Israel, Turkey - Stiner 1994, 2001, 2005, n.d.;

    Greece - Starkovich & Stiner 2011; Munro & Stiner 2011 Narrow Broad
  12. Overcoming speed of quick small is expensive technologically. Numerous innovations

    evolve on the heels of new patterns of small game hunting.
  13. Differential resilience or “recovery potential” of prey populations as determined

    by responses to hunting pressure. Hares, rabbits and quails support up to 7X the amount of off-take (pressure) than tortoises can tolerate!
  14. LP = Lower Paleolithic >250 kya MP = Middle Paleolithic

    250-35 kya UP = Upper & Epi-Paleolithic 40/35-10 kya 1 2 1. Broad spectrum revolution (50-45 ky) 2. Forager-producer transition (11-10 ky)
  15. Archaeological evidence of domestication (reproductive isolation) of hoofed animals: Changes

    in species importance (resurgence of large prey) Skewed herd structure (age and sex distributions) Domestic space shared with animals (dung deposits) Morphological and developmental changes (occur later)
  16. Change in the relative importance of key animal types in

    Levantine sites from the Natufian to mid-Neolithic periods (from Munro 2004) TIME Gazelles vs. goats Small game vs. goats
  17. Taxon lower Layer 3 % upper Layer 4 % lower

    Layer 4 % Small game (hares, fish. turtles, etc) 4 12 28 Carnivores < 2 4 Horse and onager 3 5 4 Red deer < 3 2 Wild cattle 13 9 6 Wild pig 2 4 3 Sheep 76 65 53 TIME (within two centuries at most) And at Aşıklı Höyük in central Turkey …
  18. Developmental state N pelves Females Males Unfused 11 10% 60%

    Fused 24 90% 40% Age-sex distributions for sheep/goat based on pelves, which fuse at 6 mo (clear evidence of human management)
  19. Earliest Neolithic levels at Aşıklı Höyük, central Turkey (10.5-11 ky)

  20. In situ dung accumulation

  21. Some ramifications of the two dietary transitions: 1. EXPANDING THE

    DIET – Eating more of the things that people used to ignore. More work, need wider range of skill sets, but more food can be harvested per unit land area, risk spread over wider range of food possibilities, if people cooperate and specialize. 2. ANIMAL DOMESTICATION – Management of meat sources is hard work, but narrows losses to competitors of all sorts and meat can be “stored”. Can support higher population densities if accompanied by agriculture. Solution to tragedy of commons if wild game becoming less abundant. Meat security improved but no longer coming from a common pool. Burgeoning ownership and autonomy at level of corporate (small family) units.
  22. None
  23.  

  24. IN FACT RESOURCE INTENSIFICATION CAN TAKE AT LEAST TWO FORMS:

    Expand range of species eaten to include less preferable types. Squeeze more nutrients out of traditional foods
  25. 20,000 kcal/hr 5000 kcal/hr 500 kcal/hr 5 kilos/acre 40 kilos/acre

    100 kilos/acre TWO WAYS TO MAXIMIZE RETURNS: per hour per unit space NARROW DIET DIVERSIFIED DIET
  26. BSR onset Grease storage BSR intensifies, sg and plants BSR

    management trade-off BSR intensifies Neolithic package complete
  27. Lock-ins? Quick small game - More expensive but more productive

    (mobile lifestyle) Seed cultivation & processing - Even more expensive, but even more productive and storable (sedentary lifestyle) Animal management – High expense deflected by reduced competition and storage. Solves ToC problem but alters corporate unit (sedentary lifestyle)
  28. Lock-in effect arises from interaction of population density (reduced mobility),

    currency shifts, technological investments, and energy capture.
  29. Demographic increase clearly plays a part in the unfolding processes

    but is not in itself sufficient to explain what was going on, since die-back or moving to new areas are far more typical in nature. Humans from time to time in their evolutionary history inadvertently raise the ceiling of environmental carrying capacity.
  30. Thank you for your attention! Funded by the National Science

    Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, INSTAP, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, Lewis Carroll special grant.