Investigating links between ecology and bifacial tool types in Western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum

William E. Banks, Joao Zilhao, Francesco d'Errico, Masa Kageyama, Adriana Sima, Annamaria Ronchitelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


We apply Eco-Cultural Niche Modeling (ECNM), using the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Prediction, to reconstruct the ecological niches exploited by Middle Solutrean and Upper Solutrean populations during the latter stages of Heinrich Event 2 and the early part of the Last Glacial Maximum, respectively. We focus on the Upper Solutrean technocomplex and its regionally distinct styles of hunting weaponry to investigate whether regional cultural variability reflects a link between material culture and ecology. Our analytical approach uses archaeological and geographic data in conjunction with high-resolution paleoclimatic simulations and vegetation reconstructions for the two climatic phases in question. Our results indicate that cultural choices behind the production of specific projectile point types have at some level an ecological basis and are linked to particular environments. We also find that the identified pattern of Upper Solutrean territoriality has an ecological foundation, but that its stylistic expression in the variation of diagnostic armature types is likely a byproduct of cultural drift. We argue that ECNM is an effective means with which to evaluate the paleoecological pertinence of archaeologically defined artifact types and to identify the ecological and cultural mechanisms underlying material culture variability. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2853-2867
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


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