Isotope analysis documents transition to agriculture in the Balkans

Mesolithic foragers were gradually assimilated into farming communities.

The Iron Gates are a series of gorges situated on the Danube between the Carpathian Mountains and the Dinaric Alps. In the early millennia after the last Ice Age, the region supported a number of sedentary or near-sedentary Mesolithic communities. At the sites of Lepenski Vir, Padina and Vlasac, fishers exploited migratory sturgeon, catfish, carp and other species (Borić, 2002).
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Did Neanderthals die out before modern humans reached southern Europe?

Study casts doubt on late Neanderthal survival in Iberian Peninsula.

Until fairly recently, it was believed that Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted in Europe for up to 10,000 years, but recent improved radiocarbon dates suggest that this period was far shorter – possibly no more than 1,000 or 2,000 years (Mellars, 2006). Many supposedly-late Neanderthals have now been shown to be much older than first believed. Continue reading

BH-1 hominin mandible from Serbia suggests Neanderthals evolved in isolation in Western Europe

BH-1 is a left fragment of a human mandible (lower jawbone), complete with all three molar teeth. It was recovered in 2005 at Mala Balanica cave, Serbia, along with a number of quartz artefacts. Originally estimated to be around 115,000 years old (Roksandic, et al., 2011), it is now believed to be at least 400,000 years old. Newly obtained ages, based on electron spin resonance combined with uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared/post-infrared luminescence dating, yielded a minimum age of between 397,000 to 525,000 years old. This date makes BH-1 one of the oldest hominins in Europe, and the most easterly European hominin of the Middle Pleistocene (Rink, Mercier, Mihailovic, Morley, Thompson, & Roksandic, 2013).
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Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind


Astonishingly lifelike, the 21,000 year old mammoth-ivory bison sculpture (right) is unquestionably the work of a talented artist. Excavated at Zaraysk in Russia in 2002, it is one of 130 portable art objects from the European Upper Palaeolithic featured in Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind, which opens at the British Museum on 7 February. These have been set alongside a small selection of works by Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and other 20th Century artists. Exhibition curator Dr Jill Cook was unfortunately unable to include Genesis by Sir Jacob Epstein and works from the currently-closed Musée Picasso in Paris.
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