Lea Rausch at the Caune de l’Arago (Tautavel, France) - getting hands-on insights on Middle Pleistocene human evolution in Europe for understanding the impact of climate and landscape dynamics as constraining factors of hominine occurrences in the Denizli Basin (SW Anatolia, Turkey).
PRIDE researcher Lea Rausch participated in the 2018 excavation campaign of the Caune de l’Arago (Tautavel, France). She joined a research group excavating the level Q, a layer providing abundant anthropic accumulations of large mammals (Horse, Reindeer, Bison, Mouflon etc.) accumulated by paleohunters. The oldest human remains from France come from this level, correlated to the beginning of MIS 14 (560.000 years).
The Caune de l’Arago is a 30 m long karst cavity located 20 km north of Perpignan. Annual excavation since 1964 have yielded human remains attributed to Homo erectus tautavelensis and about 120 faunal species (Moigne et al., 2006; Lumley, 2015). The 15 m thick stratified sequence can be subdivided into 4 stratigraphic complexes, of which the “Middle Stratigraphic Complex” represents one of the most important horizons. It can be divided into three Ensembles and contains the levels K-Q at the base of Ensemble I, dated by ESR and U-series.
Lea standing on her excavation platform inside the Arago cave
The faunal association prove to present typical assemblages of the Galerian (Moigne et al., 2006), reflecting climatic changes, with the presence of taxa more related to cold or temperate environmental conditions. By participating the excavation activities Lea was introduced to excavation techniques regarding a systematic recovery of faunal and lithic discoveries as well as extending her knowledge on hominine occurrences in Europe. Within the framework of the PRIDE project, she is working on hominine occurrences in the Denizli Basin (Turkey) in order to assess the impact of climate and landscape dynamics on the western Anatolia region that is considered a biogeographic corridor during the Quaternary. She is working with ostracods, using them as paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic proxies, rendering them a useful tool in the field of paleoanthropodology.