Homo sapiens and Neanderthal Use of Space at Riparo Bombrini (Liguria, Italy)

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Vallerand, Amélie; Negrino, Fabio; Riel-Salvatore, Julien
Year of Publication: 2024
Journal: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Date Published: 2024/01/31
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 1573-7764

Because it is often assumed that fundamental behavioral differences distinguish Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the ability to structure space within the sites they occupied into distinct activity areas is often invoked as a key distinctive trait of our species. However, this behavior has never been assessed for both groups at a single site, hindering direct comparisons to date. To help resolve this question, this study uses a single methodology to evaluate the spatial organization in the Protoaurignacian levels (A1-A2, associated with Homo sapiens) and the latest Mousterian levels (MS1-MS2, associated with Neanderthals) at Riparo Bombrini (Liguria, Italy) to assess the changes over these three stratigraphic units vis a vis other information about site use. Combining GIS and quantitative methods allows the study of the spatial distribution of plotted finds and features in these levels, showing that Neandertals and Homo sapiens organized their living spaces in accordance with the duration of occupation, the occupation intensity, the tool assemblage and the faunal exploitation. Our results indicate that there is a logic behind the distribution of plotted finds and the use of the space, suggesting comparable cognitive capacities for both anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals. This contributes further data that undermines the notion of ‘behavioral modernity’ as a useful heuristic in human origins research.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-024-09640-1
Short Title: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory