Eemian paleoclimate zones and Neanderthal landscape-use: A GIS model of settlement patterning during the last interglacial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Obstacles to our understanding of Neanderthal land-use patterns during the Last Interglacial (130kya-116kya, Marine Isotope Stage 5e) include not only the scarcity of sites in Europe but also a lack of knowing what the landscape may have looked like during this time. This research explores the influence of climate on Neanderthal land-use. Recently developed global climate models are capable of simulating past climate variables (e.g., precipitation and temperature), and geographic information system (GIS) tools can then be used to interpolate these data to model the niches of past organisms into paleoclimate zones. This study uses Maximum Likelihood Classification analysis in GIS to create a mosaic landscape of 22 paleoclimate zones to reconstruct what Europe may have looked like during the Last Interglacial Eemian. When overlain with the location of Last Interglacial archaeological sites, it is possible to visualize Neanderthal landscape use with respect to these climate zones. The modeled paleoclimate zones show there was a preference for site locations in Warm Temperate and Mesic climates. It also shows that Neanderthals did not commonly live near climate zone margins, preferring to stay in their “home” climate zone. The Warm Temperate and Mesic climate regime may have been preferred as a more climatically stable region, resulting in less biological stress related to thermoregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-157
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary International
Volume438
DOIs
StatePublished - May 18 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate
  • Eemian
  • Europe
  • GIS
  • Last interglacial
  • Neanderthals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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