M.A. Theses: Lia Tarle, 2012


Clothing and the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans

Between 40,000 and 25,000 years ago, during the cold, dry period known as Oxygen Isotope Stage 3 (OIS 3), modern humans migrated into Europe and replaced Neanderthals. In this study, I investigated whether clothing could have played a role in this event. To begin with, I carried out a cross-cultural analysis to identify mammalian taxa whose presence in archaeological deposits may indicate the use of clothing. Subsequently, I tested for differences in the frequencies of such taxa in Neanderthal versus modern human occupations in OIS 3 Europe. The analyses suggest that both modern humans and Neanderthals may have made clothing. However, they also suggest that modern humans made clothing out of a wider range of taxa than Neanderthals, and that clothing made by modern humans was more thermally effective than that made by Neanderthals. These findings are consistent with the idea that clothing played a role in the Neanderthal replacement.