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Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • John Lowe
  • Nick Barton
  • Simon P. E. Blockley
  • Christopher Bronk Ramsey
  • Victoria L. Cullen
  • William Davies
  • Clive Gamble
  • Katharine Grant
  • Rupert Housley
  • Christine S. Lane
  • Sharen Lee
  • Mark Lewis
  • Alison MacLeod
  • Martin A. Menzies
  • Wolfgang Mueller
  • Mark Pollard
  • Catherine Price
  • Andrew P. Roberts
  • Eelco J. Rohling
  • Chris Satow
  • Victoria C. Smith
  • Chris B. Stringer
  • Emma L. Tomlinson
  • Dustin White
  • Paul G. Albert
  • Ilenia Arienzo
  • Graeme Barker
  • Dusan Boric
  • Antonio Carandente
  • Lucia Civetta
  • Catherine Ferrier
  • Jean-Luc Guadelli
  • Panagiotis Karkanas
  • Margarita Koumouzelis
  • Ulrich C. Mueller
  • Giovanni Orsi
  • Joerg Pross
  • Mauro Rosi
  • Ljiljiana Shalamanov-Korobar
  • Nikolay Sirakov
  • Polychronis C. Tzedakis
Marked changes in human dispersal and development during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition have been attributed to massive volcanic eruption and/or severe climatic deterioration. We test this concept using records of volcanic ash layers of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption dated to ca. 40,000 y ago (40 ka B.P.). The distribution of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been enhanced by the discovery of cryptotephra deposits (volcanic ash layers that are not visible to the naked eye) in archaeological cave sequences. They enable us to synchronize archaeological and paleoclimatic records through the period of transition from Neanderthal to the earliest anatomically modern human populations in Europe. Our results confirm that the combined effects of a major volcanic eruption and severe climatic cooling failed to have lasting impacts on Neanderthals or early modern humans in Europe. We infer that modern humans proved a greater competitive threat to indigenous populations than natural disasters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13532-13537
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume109
Issue number34
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2012

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