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Article Reference Bird bones from Trou de Chaleux and the human exploitation of birds during the late Magdalenian in Belgium
The Trou de Chaleux is a cave site located in Belgium. It delivered a rich late Magdalenian material culture constituted mainly of lithic artefacts but also including bone industries and figurative art. This paper presents the results of the analysis of the large collection of bird remains recovered by E. Dupont in 1865, which was yet unstudied from taphonomical and archaeozoological perspectives. In addition to the taxonomic identification, surface alterations were investigated based on a macro- and microscopic analysis, including an analysis of wear traces and elementary composition. Special attention is devoted to the presence of human modifications such as disarticulation or butchering marks, traces of heating, presence of colourants and traces of bone working. The taphonomic history of the bird assemblage is reconstructed and the use of birds by humans characterized, as well as their importance in past human activities. We also discuss evidence for seasonal exploitation and for reconstructing the local environment and integrate our results with evidence from other Magdalenian assemblages from north-western Europe. At Trou de Chaleux, birds were used for food, as raw material for bone working and for symbolic purposes. The exploitation of avian products was intense, and species have been used for several purposes such as the raven and snowy owl having been exploited both for food and for symbolic reasons. Large bird bones were used as raw material to produce artefacts, but the use-wear analysis did not evidence unambiguous traces related to the use of the objects produced. Despite several limiting factors, the bird material from Trou de Chaleux considerably increases the knowledge of past human exploitation of birds during the late Magdalenian in north-western Europe.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference Archaeological structures as factors affecting bird abundance and spectra in archaeological contexts from medieval and modern Belgium
The present study aims to evaluate the effect of archaeological structures in the preservation and recovery of bird remains, in particular by considering the overall shape, open or enclosed, of the structure. Indeed, hollow structures, sometimes of an enclosed shape that may be constructed in masonry, are supposed to have a protective effect on the fragile bones of birds. This is evaluated by considering different variables, such as the ratio of bird remains compared to those of the main domestic mammals used as meat suppliers, the number of bird taxa, or the identification rates for different types of archaeological structures. In a second step, once the impact of the type of structure is evaluated, the same variables are examined according to the social status, to verify their relevance to document this aspect. It transpires that the bird to mammal remains ratio is strongly influenced by the type of structure, as it is higher in enclosed structures. However, some open structures also deliver high bird ratios, in particular at high status sites. In contrast, the bird identification rate is lower in enclosed structures, but this is probably related to the recovery method. Finally, the number of taxa seems more affected by the social status of the consumers responsible for the accumulation of an archaeological assemblage than by the kind of archaeological structure the faunal assemblage was discarded into. This has implications for sampling strategies since open structures, when sieved, sometimes yield high bird to mammal ratios as well as a high number of bird taxa. Therefore, more systematic sieving of large samples of sediment should be applied not only to enclosed structures but also to open contexts such as refuse layers or floors, especially in sites of (potentially) high social status.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference Validating the probabilistic sex diagnosis (DSP) method with a special test case on Pre-Columbian mummies (including the famous Rascar Capac)
Many museums have either one or more mummies in their collections. The Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels is no exception and houses several Pre-Columbian mummies, including the one that inspired Hergé, author of the Tintin comics, to create the character of ‘Rascar Capac’. The accurate identification of the sex of a particular mummy is important for testing hypotheses about social structures in ancient societies. Sexing of mummies is mostly based on visual analysis from CT and MRI scans and macroscopic examination from the skeletal tissue such as genitalia and breasts, although skeletal tissue is not always well preserved. Probabilistic Sex Diagnosis (DSP: Diagnose Sexuelle Probabiliste) is a sex estimation method which has recently proved to be highly effective on different modern human and ancient European populations. The aim of this study was to see if it was possible to apply and validate virtual DSP on a study of four ancient Pre-Columbian mummies from South America (which are outside the reference population of DSP). Virtual DSP was performed in the software ‘lhpFusionBox’. All mummies were CT scanned, 3D models were created and virtual DSP was performed. Sex was determined with a probability of 99.9% or over in all cases (DSP determined one male and three females). Preserved skeletal tissue remains confirmed DSP results in half of the mummies. A Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was performed on the DSP results of the mummies and a modern human (MH) population. Half of the mummies were outside the 95% range of the DSP values of MH, largely due to their smaller size. When size was accounted for, they were within the MH range. The unknown sex mummies identified as females by DSP were found to be grouped with the known sex female mummy and the MH females. Similarly, the unknown sex mummy identified as male by DSP was also found to be grouped with MH males. The use of PCA analysis on DSP results is an effective tool to validate DSP results, even with individuals outside of the reference population. Despite differences in size from ancient to modern humans, DSP was found to be accurate and can be used with mummies and other ancient populations from different countries around the world.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference First record of the terrestrial nemertean Geonemertes pelaensis Semper, 1863 (Hoplonemertea: Prosorhochmidae) for Cuba
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference A checklist of Lecithoceridae (Lepidoptera: Gelechioidea) of the Afrotropical Region
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Article Reference Investigation of some Givetian rugose corals from the Mont d’Haurs Formation in southern Belgium
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference Late Pleistocene coprolites from Qurta (Egypt) and the potential of interdisciplinary research involving micromorphology, plant macrofossil and biomarker analyses
As part of a rock art dating project at Qurta (Upper Egypt), samples were collected from an organic deposit and from an accumulation of individual faecal pellets. Radiocarbon dating of these relatively well-preserved materials indicates an unexpectedly old age of ca. 45,000 BP or older. In order to identify the biogenic nature of these deposits and to reconstruct the palaeo-environment at the time of their formation, micromorphological, palaeobotanical, and biomarker analyses were carried out. All data indicate that the organic deposit and the pellets were produced by different species. The presence of a novel biomarker, which only occurs in animal urine (hippuric acid), contributed to the conclusion that the organic deposit most likely represents the remains of a rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) latrine, whereas the pellets stem from small bovids. Plant macroremains from the pellets indicate that the animals browsed in the more vegetated areas, presumably near the Nile, although the general environment was probably mainly arid and open. Combined with the dates, this suggests that the pellets date to MIS 3 or 4. Our results demonstrate the great potential of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Quaternary coprolite deposits, allowing for more adequate and more complete interpretation.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018
Article Reference Treeline and timberline dynamics on the northern and southern slopes of the Retezat Mountains (Romania) during the late glacial and the Holocene
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018
Article Reference Pollen-derived biomes in the Eastern Mediterranean-Black Sea-Caspian-Corridor
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018
Article Reference Octet Stream Neolithic woodland management and land-use in south-eastern Europe: The anthracological evidence from Northern Greece and Bulgaria
Wood charcoal (anthracological) remains accumulated in archaeological deposits provide a valuable tool for reconstruction of past local vegetation and its use. They can offer evidence complementary to pollen analysis or be the main source on past vegetation change in areas where no pollen preservation is available. The current study assembles the anthracological evidence from 18 Neolithic sites situated in the zone spanning between the Lower Danube plain and the Aegean coast. This evidence is presented within the broader archaeological and paleoecological context of the region and in cal. years BC and/or BP. The data is interpreted in terms of land-use related to woodland management and exploitation of woodland resources during three chronological phases which could be distinguished within the Neolithic of south-eastern Europe: a) 6500-5800 cal. BC, b) 5800-5500 cal. BC, and c) 5500-4900 cal BC). The main vegetation type targeted by the Neolithic population were the thermophilous, mixed deciduous oak communities, which contained a rich and diverse undergrowth of light-demanding and fruit/nut bearing trees, shrubs and herbs. Those plant communities were the major source of fuel wood, forest pasture, fodder, gathered fruits, etc. The analyses indicate stability and sustainability of the firewood procurement and woodland management practices for the whole considered period and further suggest that the Neolithic land-use strategies favoured the rich and often fruit-bearing undergrowth of the oak forests and woodland.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018