Early Upper Palaeolithic personal ornaments and behavioural adaptations

Marjolein Bosch

Hi, my name is Marjolein Bosch, as a zooarchaeologist, the focus of my research lies in Palaeolithic faunal assemblages and what we can learn from them on hominin biological and cultural adaptations. I conduct research on the faunal (terrestrial and aquatic) assemblages of the Palaeoltihic site of Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon) for several purposes. In the framework of my current Marie-Sklodowska-Curie fellowship EU-BEADS, I study the (perforated) mollusc assemblages of Ksâr ‘Akil to investigate early Upper Palaeolithic personal ornaments and associated behavioural adaptations. Next to this research, for my PhD, I studied the mollusc and vertebrate remains again at Ksâr ‘Akil to assess hominin subsistence behaviours and potential changes in dietary adaptations through time. I did this to gain a better view on hunter gatherer foraging behaviour in the Levantine early Upper Palaeolithic and its implications for population dynamics and modern human dispersals into Europe at this time.

In addition to my PhD research at the department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (MPI-EVA) and Marie-Sklodowska-Curie research at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research University of Cambridge I am involved several projects as a zooarchaeologist:

Exploring Mid-Upper Palaeolithic human life ways: New fieldwork at Ollersdorf (Austria)

The site of Ollersdorf-Heidenberg (Austria), is known through two rescue excavations in 1998 and 2007 when pipeline trenches were destroying parts of the rich archaeological horizons. A two fieldwork campaigns in August 2017 and August 2018 were funded by the DM McDonald Grants and Awards Fund and the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology (Natural History Museum Vienna) The goal was to test the extension of the archaeological horizons in the eastern part of the site through a combination of drilling and test-excavation in preparation for a larger project focusing on Mid-Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer lifeways. A set of drillings with an Edelman auger revealed a small area where the deposits containing the archaeological horizons are preserved. In this area, we excavated a 3 x 3 m test trench, up to a max. depth of 2.2 m. The two horizons observed during the previous rescue excavations were identified. In addition, in 2018 a second 2 x 2 m trench was excavated roughly 10 meters upslope from Trench one, where an additional Archaeological Horizon was discovered. We collected a series of geoarchaeological and palaeoenvironmental samples throughout the exposed sequence. Currently we are processing samples and dating the archaeological remains

In Africa research project

I am a member of the ERC-funded In Africa project conducting research on Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) sites in the Turkana Basis (Kenya) which is led by Marta Mirazon Lahr. The project investigates the origins of our species – Homo sapiens – and its diversity in Africa, and aims at making new discoveries of early human fossils, archaeological sites and their environmental context in East Africa. Many new sites and exiting fossils, covering the last 500.000 years, have been discovered during the project’s fieldwork. My role in the project is to help identify the zooarchaeological and palaeontological fossils found during surveys and excavations. I am especially interested in the proboscidean remains mainly from two types of elephants – Loxodonta and Elephas – that used to inhabit the Turkana basin. I am studying the variability within the species and whether it is possible to discern chronological trends.


Grub-Kranawetberg research project

For my master’s degree I have studied the remains of another proboscidean – the woolly mammoth – of several Gravettian sites in the Middle Danube region (Central Europe). Since that time I have been part of the research-team working at one of these sites: Grub-Kranawetberg (Austria), which is led by Walpurga Antl-Weiser from the Natural History Museum (NHM) in Vienna. Grub-Kranawetberg is a very rich, multi-layered, open air site with an Upper Palaeolithic camp-site and mammoth bone accumulation area. Our investigations at Grub-Kranawetberg, have resulted in various publications focussing, amongst others, on man-mammoth interactions, landscape use and waste removal strategies, as well as ivory bead manufacture.

Mitoc-Malu Galben research project

Further, I participate in the Mitoc-Malu Galben research project, a multi-layered Upper Palaeolithic sequence on the Prut River in Romania on the border with Moldova. This project is a collaboration of the Romanian Academy of Sciences (Vasile Chirica, George Bodi, and Mariuca Vornicu) and the Universities of Liege (Pierre Noiret) and Cambridge (Philip Nigst). The loess-sequence covers the time-span between 34.000 – 20.000 BP and comprises several Aurignacian and Gravettian layers. Generally, bone preservation is poor, but the remains we recovered (mainly wild horse) attest of a dry steppe environment. Results of our fieldwork have been published in Romanian, and most recently in French.

                                                                                            © Mitoc-Malu Galben project


All photographs ©EU-BEADS Project unless otherwise stated.