This video is called Introduction to Archaeology – Lecture 2a. ‘Palaeolithic Europe‘.
New chronology for Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon) supports Levantine route of modern human dispersal into Europe
June 1, 2015
Bayesian modeling of AMS radiocarbon dates on the marine mollusk Phorcus turbinatus from Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon) indicates that the earliest presence of Upper Paleolithic (UP) modern humans in the Levant predates 45,900 cal B.P.
Similarities in early UP lithic technology and material culture suggest population dispersals between the Levant and Europe around 50,000–40,000 cal B.P. Our data confirm the presence of modern humans carrying a UP toolkit in the Levant prior to any known European modern human fossils and allow rejection of recent claims that European UP modern humans predate those in the Levant. This result, in turn, suggests the Levant served as a corridor for the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and into Eurasia.
Modern human dispersal into Europe is thought to have occurred with the start of the Upper Paleolithic around 50,000–40,000 y ago. The Levantine corridor hypothesis suggests that modern humans from Africa spread into Europe via the Levant. Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon), with its deeply stratified Initial (IUP) and Early (EUP) Upper Paleolithic sequence containing modern human remains, has played an important part in the debate.
The latest chronology for the site, based on AMS radiocarbon dates of shell ornaments, suggests that the appearance of the Levantine IUP is later than the start of the first Upper Paleolithic in Europe, thus questioning the Levantine corridor hypothesis. Here we report a series of AMS radiocarbon dates on the marine gastropod Phorcus turbinatus associated with modern human remains and IUP and EUP stone tools from Ksâr ‘Akil. Our results, supported by an evaluation of individual sample integrity, place the EUP layer containing the skeleton known as “Egbert” between 43,200 and 42,900 cal B.P. and the IUP-associated modern human maxilla known as “Ethelruda” before ∼45,900 cal B.P.
This chronology is in line with those of other Levantine IUP and EUP sites and demonstrates that the presence of modern humans associated with Upper Paleolithic toolkits in the Levant predates all modern human fossils from Europe. The age of the IUP-associated Ethelruda fossil is significant for the spread of modern humans carrying the IUP into Europe and suggests a rapid initial colonization of Europe by our species.