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    Default Excavations at Schoningen and paradigm shifts in human evolution

    *Journal of Human Evolution*, 2015

    * Excavations at Schoningen and paradigm shifts in human evolution *

    € Nicholas J. Conard a, b, * , Jordi Serangeli a , Utz Bohner € c , Britt
    M. Starkovich d, e, f , Christopher E. Miller d, e , Brigitte Urban g ,
    Thijs Van Kolfschoten h a

    Available online 2 December 2015

    Keywords: Lower Paleolithic Settlements dynamics Butchery Hunters and
    gatherers Organic technology Symbolic communication abstract

    *ABSTRACT:* The exceptional preservation at Schoningen together with a
    mixture of perseverance, hard work, and € sheer luck led to the recovery of
    unique finds in an exceptional context. The 1995 discovery of numerous
    wooden artifacts, most notably at least 10 carefully made spears together
    with the skeletons of at least 20 to 25 butchered horses, brought the
    debate about hunting versus scavenging among late archaic hominins and
    analogous arguments about the purportedly primitive behavior of Homo
    heidelbergensis and Neanderthals to an end. Work under H. Thieme's lead
    from 1992 to 2008 and results from the current team since 2008 demonstrate
    that late H. heidelbergensis or early Neanderthals used sophisticated
    artifacts made from floral and faunal materials, in addition to lithic
    artifacts more typically recovered at Lower Paleolithic sites. The finds
    from the famous Horse Butchery Site and two dozen other archaeological
    horizons from the edges of the open-cast mine at Schoningen provide many
    new insights into the € technology and behavioral patterns of hominins
    about 300 ka BP during MIS 9 on the Northern European Plain. An analysis of
    the finds from Schoningen and their contexts shows that the inhabitants of
    the site € were skilled hunters at the top of the food chain and exhibited
    a high level of planning depth. These hominins had command of effective
    means of communication about the here and now, and the past and the future,
    that allowed them to repeatedly execute well-coordinated and successful
    group activities that likely culminated in a division of labor and social
    and economic patterns radically different from those of all non-human
    primates. The unique preservation and high quality excavations have led to
    a major paradigm shift or “Schoningen Effect € ” that changed our views of
    human evolution during the late Lower Paleolithic. In this respect, we can
    view the behaviors documented at Schoningen as a plausible baseline € for
    the behavioral sophistication of archaic hominins of the late Middle
    Pleistocene and subsequent periods.

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