A palaeoenvironmental reconstruction (based on palaeobotanical data and diatoms) of the Middle Pleistocene elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) butchery site at Marathousa, Megalopolis, Greece

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by M.H. Field, M. Ntinou, G. Tsartsidou, D. van Berge Henegouwen, J. Risberg, V. Tourloukis, N. Thompson, P. Karkanas, E. Panagopoulou, K. Harvati.

Abstract

Exposures of Middle Pleistocene lacustrine sediments at the margins of an open-cast lignite mine at Marathousanear Megalopolis, western Arcadia, Greece yielded the partial remains of a Palaeoloxodon antiquus skeleton which exhibited signs of being butchered. Sedimentation occurred between ca. 400 and 480 ka. Lithic artefactswere found in close spatial and stratigraphic association with the elephant remains. A palaeobotanical investigation (involving carpological, phytolith and wood remains) as well as diatom analysis led to a detailed reconstruction of the local environment at the time of sediment deposition. The results of this study enabled the environmental context of the butchering of the Palaeoloxodon antiquus carcass to be established. Palaeobotanical data show that sediment deposition at the Palaeoloxodon antiquus site occurred in shallow water in front of a reed swamp with trees in the immediate surroundings (particularly Alnus and Salix) on a flat plain where the watertable was at or just below the ground surface. Warm conditions prevailed at the time of sediment deposition allowing aquatic plants typically recorded in the climatic optima of European interglacial assemblages to occur (e.g.
Brasenia schreberi) and palms (Palmae) to live close-by. This suggests that the organic-rich sediments that contain the archaeological finds represent a transition between the underlying clastic sediments deposited during colder conditions and the overlying lignite that was deposited during warm climatic conditions as reported in previous studies.

(Source: http://www.academia.edu/37040747/Field_et_al_paleobotany_of_LPL_Marathousa)

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