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Radiocarbon and stable isotope investigations at the Central Rhineland sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg, Germany.

Stevens, RE; O'Connell, TC; Hedges, REM; Street, M; (2009) Radiocarbon and stable isotope investigations at the Central Rhineland sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg, Germany. J Hum Evol , 57 (2) pp. 131-148. 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.01.011.

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Abstract

The late glacial open-air sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg in the German Central Rhineland are well known for their Magdalenian occupation and activities. The latter site also produced evidence for a younger, Final Palaeolithic occupation of the locality by people of the Federmessergruppen. Both sites are particularly well preserved, largely due to their burial beneath volcanic deposits of the late glacial Laacher See eruption. We conducted a program of AMS radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analyses with the aim of improving understanding of the chronological history and ecological setting of the two sites. Previously published radiocarbon dates appeared to indicate that the earliest Magdalenian occupation at Gönnersdorf fell around 12,900 uncalibrated (14)C yr BP, while the earliest occupation at Andernach may have been more than 500 radiocarbon years earlier. The AMS determinations presented here revise this impression and suggest that the onset of occupation at the two sites was in fact simultaneous and prior to the warming of Greenland Interstadial GI 1e. At Gönnersdorf, a chronological hiatus exists between the main Magdalenian faunal assemblage and mega-faunal remains interpreted as collected sub-fossil material. At Andernach-Martinsberg, there is a clear chronological hiatus between the Magdalenian occupation and subsequent Federmessergruppen activities at the site. However, an intermediate radiocarbon date on an atypically preserved horse bone is suggestive of ephemeral human visits to the site between these well demonstrated phases. A date of similar age on an elk bone from Gönnersdorf may indicate broadly contemporaneous human presence at Gönnersdorf too. Stable isotope analysis of faunal remains from Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg was conducted with the aim of both reconstructing and comparing local environmental conditions at the two sites, and also potentially identifying subtle variations in the chronological development of the two sites not detectable at the level of precision of current radiocarbon dating techniques. No spatial trends in the faunal isotope signatures were observed within each site. In the case of samples with both radiocarbon and isotope data, no chronological pattern was observed for the isotope results. The Magdalenian faunal isotope signatures at the two sites resembled each other, suggesting comparable climatic and environmental conditions. The faunal delta(13)C signatures at Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg were similar to those at contemporary European sites. While the faunal delta(15)N values were similar to those at contemporary sites in Germany, the UK, and Belgium, they were lower than those from the South of France. This difference in delta(15)N values is thought to relate to regional differences in the timing of changes in soil and plant nitrogen cycling in response to ameliorating climatic conditions.

Type: Article
Title: Radiocarbon and stable isotope investigations at the Central Rhineland sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg, Germany.
Location: England
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.01.011
Keywords: Animals, Anthropology, Cultural, Bone and Bones, Carbon Radioisotopes, Collagen, Germany, Humans, Nitrogen Isotopes, Radiometric Dating
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology
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URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463252
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