Scholarly article on topic 'Leave at the height of the party: A critical review of the Middle Paleolithic in Western Central Europe from its beginnings to its rapid decline'

Leave at the height of the party: A critical review of the Middle Paleolithic in Western Central Europe from its beginnings to its rapid decline Academic research paper on "History and archaeology"

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Abstract of research paper on History and archaeology, author of scientific article — Jürgen Richter

Abstract The German Middle Paleolithic is marked by two stages with abundant archaeological sites: The Eemian Interglacial (MIS 5e) and the Weichselian Interpleniglacial (MIS 3). On the other hand, several stages were seemingly void of any human population (the second half of MIS 6 and MIS 4) and two long periods (MIS 8-6 and MIS 5d-5a) delivered very few archaeological sites, so far. The majority of all assemblages seem to belong to the latest part of the Middle Paleolithic, during the first half of MIS 3. Concerning this period, the layer G stratigraphic complex (“G-Komplex”) of Sesselfelsgrotte yielded the longest cultural sequence of late Middle Paleolithic unifacial-plus-bifacial industries (Keilmessergruppen, Micoquian in the sense of a “Mousterian with a Micoquian option”, MMO) in Central Europe. Information from this sequence permitted a reconsideration of the internal structure and the dating of the MMO. Evidence is presented for an earlier MMO stage with almost no Levallois technology (MMO-A) and a later stage (MMO-B) with Levallois technology, both occurring at the very end of the European Middle Paleolithic, between 60,000 and 43,000 (cal.) B.P. The vast majority of all Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany belong to the MMO-B which was, in Southern Germany, rapidly followed by the Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian from 42 ka (cal.) B.P. onwards without any Proto-Aurignacian interlude.

Academic research paper on topic "Leave at the height of the party: A critical review of the Middle Paleolithic in Western Central Europe from its beginnings to its rapid decline"

Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1—22

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Quaternary International

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Leave at the height of the party: A critical review of the Middle Paleolithic in Western Central Europe from its beginnings to its rapid decline

Jürgen Richter

Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne, Weyertal 125, 50923 Köln, Germany

ARTICLE INFO

ABSTRACT

Article history: Available online xxx

Keywords:

Middle Paleolithic Archeology Paleolithic typology and technology Holsteinian Interglacial Saalian Glacial Eemian Interglacial

The German Middle Paleolithic is marked by two stages with abundant archaeological sites: The Eemian Interglacial (MIS 5e) and the Weichselian Interpleniglacial (MIS 3). On the other hand, several stages were seemingly void of any human population (the second half of MIS 6 and MIS 4) and two long periods (MIS 8-6 and MIS 5d-5a) delivered very few archaeological sites, so far. The majority of all assemblages seem to belong to the latest part of the Middle Paleolithic, during the first half of MIS 3. Concerning this period, the layer G stratigraphic complex ("G-Komplex") of Sesselfelsgrotte yielded the longest cultural sequence of late Middle Paleolithic unifacial-plus-bifacial industries (Keilmessergruppen, Micoquian in the sense of a "Mousterian with a Micoquian option", MMO) in Central Europe. Information from this sequence permitted a reconsideration of the internal structure and the dating of the MMO. Evidence is presented for an earlier MMO stage with almost no Levallois technology (MMO-A) and a later stage (MMO-B) with Levallois technology, both occurring at the very end of the European Middle Paleolithic, between 60,000 and 43,000 (cal.) B.P. The vast majority of all Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany belong to the MMO-B which was, in Southern Germany, rapidly followed by the Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian from 42 ka (cal.) B.P. onwards without any Proto-Aurignacian interlude.

© 2016 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. This is an open access article under the CC BY-

NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction

For a long time, the Central European Middle Paleolithic appeared as a confused period in the history of mankind which was difficult to split up into temporal and regional cultural units. In the middle of the 20th century, three different cultural units had been identified, the Mousterian, the Levalloisian and the Micoquian, but chronological separation of these units remained impossible (Zotz, 1951, 277).

In his attempt to separate chronological units during the 1950s, Müller-Beck underlined the effects of dramatic environmental changes (Müller-Beck, 1956) which, according to him, must have caused gaps in human occupation and resulted in discontinuity of the cultural record. In his analysis of the southern German Middle Paleolithic assemblages, he applied a standardized typological system (including tools and blanks) resulting into a descriptive overview and a chronological scheme with five distinct "occupations". These were to be understood as separate time windows

E-mail address: j.richter@uni-koeln.de.

allowing for human occupation with long gaps in between (Table 1).

The next decade saw an extension of the typological approach including all Middle Paleolithic assemblages of Germany (Bosinski, 1967). In his dissertation, Bosinski compiled a type list which he subsequently applied to each assemblage resulting into four Formengruppen (morphological groupings): Jungacheuleen, Micoquien, Altmühlgruppe, "Mousterien" (in quotation marks because the term was used in the sense of a more strictly defined variant of the Middle Paleolithic as set up by Bosinski, 1967, 64). The extensive catalogue section with ample illustrations made this work the broadest overview whenever information about the Middle Paleolithic typological variability is needed. On the other hand, the notion turned out as too optimistic that the Formengruppen would be units in time and space defined by non-functional differences (Bosinski, 1967, 84) — of the same "cultural" nature as the Leitformen (indicative types) used by Oscar Montelius to set up his Bronze Age periods.

Consequently, much of the technical and typological characteristics of the assemblages available have since been confirmed, but their attribution to spatial-temporal units had

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.01.018

1040-6182/© 2016 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

2 J. Richter / Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1—22

Table 1

Chronological overview of the German Middle Paleolithic. Stratified assemblages and important fossil-bearing sites (in capitals).

Time Scale

Glacial/Interglacial

Interstadial

Archaeological Sites & Natural Hazards

Archaeological Periods

10.000 18.000

25.000

28.000

50.000

60.000 70.000

100.000

115.000

Holocene

Late Glacial

2nd Glacial Maximum MIS 2

Denekamp Hengelo

Interpleniglacial MIS3

Moershoofd Glinde Oerel

1 st Glacial Maximum MIS 4

Odderrade Early MIS 5a

Weichselian

Glacial Amersfoort Brarup MIS Sc

Eem Interglacial MIS 5e

38.000 Companion Ignimbrite eruption

NEANDERTHAL, LEBENSTEDT Lichtenberg, Buhlen, Bockstein

71.000 Toba volcanic eruption

Warthe

150.000 Drenthe

Saale Glacial

192.000 MIS6

200.000 Schöningen-

Wacken-

Dömnitz-

Interglacial

240.000

250.000

Fuhne Glacial

300.000

Holstein Interglacial

SesselfelsGrotte, lower layers

Tönchesberg 2B, Wallertheim Lehringen, Gröbern

Neumark-Nord, Taubach, Weimar, HUNAS

Maximum extension of Scandinavian Ice Sheet

Ariendorf 2 Schweinskopf

Tönchesberg 2A WANNEN Markkleeberg?

190.000 Jamaica Event Rheindahlen B1 Rheindahlen B3

220.000 Wehr volcanic eruption

Ariendorf 1

Schöningen 12, BILZINGSLEBEN, Kartstein, Cannstatt, STEINHEIM

Upper Paleolithic

void of humans

Early to Middle Upper Paleolithic

SESSELFELSGROTTE, MMO-B G-layers MMO-A

Middle Paleolithic

void of humans

Early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic

Eemian

Middle Paleolithic

void of humans

Middle Paleolithic

void of humans?

Lower Paleolithic

seemingly been premature in many cases. The German Junga-cheuleen has since turned out as containing both MIS 6 or MIS 8 (Markkleeberg: Schafer et al., 2003) along with MIS 3 assemblages (Lebenstedt: Pastoors, 2001), the German "Mousterien" occurs in both MIS 8/7 (Ariendorf: Turner, 1997; Rheindahlen: Schirmer, 2002) and MIS 3 (Kartstein: Bosinski and Richter, 1997; Balve IV: Jöris, 1992), and at Kartstein III and Balve IV the "Mousterien" occurrences combined with Micoquian/Keil-messergruppen and Altmuehlian attributes (see Richter, 1997). New excavations and especially radiometric dating of ice advances, volcanic events, soil formation and loess accumulation phases, along with the improvement of the radiocarbon record led to independent geo-scientific dating of many archeological assemblages. These dates have since contradicted many temporal attributions based alone on the hypothetic rule of "similarity equaling contemporaneity".

Moreover, typological and technological analysis have since been refined by the introduction of statistically supported multiattribute surveys of the central European Middle Paleolithic

(Schafer, 1993) and by the chaine operatoire approach (Bourgignon, 1992; Richter, 1997; Jöris, 2001; Pastoors, 2001). All these approaches led to better understanding the importance of functional variability and of production and reduction sequences, all influencing the present occurrence of a given assemblage. At the present moment of research, formal metamorphosis of artifacts (Fig. 5) virtually appears as the principal idea of the Neanderthal's technological paradigms compared to more stable tool concepts among Upper Paleolithic humans.

Recent excavations have underlined such intra-site variation thus provoking the general impression that previous research has dramatically underestimated small-scale complexity (annual cycles, mobility cycles, functional cycles, intra-group, intra-site, and even intra-tool-class variation) and over-interpreted large-scale variation: the notion turned out to be wrong that all of the observed variations would be due to distinctiveness in time and space (Richter, 2014).

The vast majority of Middle Paleolithic finds from Germany come from surface collections, and stratigraphical contexts are

J. Richter / Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1—22

exceptional. Consequently, from the geochronological point of view, only four main stages of the Middle Paleolithic occur in Germany (Figs. 1—4):

* Early Middle Paleolithic (EMPal; MIS 8-6)

• Eemian Interglacial Middle Paleolithic (EemMPal; MIS 5e)

* Weichselian Early Glacial Middle Paleolithic (WegMPal; MIS 5d-a)

• Late Middle Paleolithic (LMPal; MIS 3)

2. The early Middle Paleolithic (EMPal; MIS 8-6)

2.1. Chronological and paleoclimatic overview

The following overview is based on the notion that the Middle Paleolithic in Germany begun after the end of the Holstein Interglacial, now dated to around 300,000 B.P. (for archeological consequences see: Richter, 2011). This implies a MIS 9 age of the Holstein Interglacial according to the corrected dates of the Holsteinian paleobotanical reference site at Bossel, near Hamburg in Northern Germany, proving the particular "Holstein" vegetational sequence to be around 330—310 ka old, thus coinciding with MIS 9 (Geyh and Müller, 2005) and not with MIS 11 as previously thought. The new chronological evidence is currently mostly accepted in Central Europe but widely unknown or neglected in Western Europe (Gibbard and Cohen, 2011). In their comprehensive review Litt et al. have put the correction of the age of the Holsteinian Interglacial into a larger context (Litt et al., 2007) along with corrections of the age of the Saalian Glacial now appearing to have reached its major extensions around 150 ka (Drenthe ice advance) and 140 ka (Warthe ice advance), i.e. both major Saalian ice advances occurred during MIS 6 based on radiometric dates from glacial sediments (Litt et al., 2007). The lowermost glacial series following the Hol-steinian Interglacial has been identified as the Fuhne glaciation in central Germany, tentatively attributed to MIS 8 by its strati-graphic position between the Elsterian and Saalian (sensu stricto) glacial deposits. The Fuhne and Saale glaciations are since referred to as the "Saale-Complex" or "Saalian sensu lato" (Litt et al., 2007).

In the Middle Rhine area, Loess accumulation is attested for MIS 8 preceding the stratigraphic marker horizon of the Wehr Tephra (dated to 220,000 B.P.; cf. Richter, 2011). Soil formation in the Lower Rhine Loess record document the following Interglacial period which would be contemporaneous with MIS 7. It is currently best attested in the triple soil complex (Schirmer, 2002) from the Lower Rhine Loess sequences comprising the Wickrath soil (MIS 7e or 7.5), the Rheindahlen soil (MIS 7c or 7.3) and the Erkelenz soil (MIS 7a or 7.1; Uthmeier et al., 2011; Schirmer, 2002). The correlation of the Lower Rhine Loess sections is supported by micropedological evidence (Ikinger, 2002) whereas the TL-dates (between 77 and 163 ka) must be regarded as minimum estimations. Moreover, as a terminus ante quem, the Jamaica paleomagnetic event (c. 190,000 B.P.) has been located on top of the triple soil sequence (Cofflet, 2005).

In southern Germany, the Meikirch peat record, with its three vegetation peaks, also mirrors the threefold structure of MIS 7 (Preusser et al., 2005). In Central Germany, the Schöningen Interglacial, the Wacken Interglacial and the Dömnitz Interglacial peat deposits all belong probably to MIS 7, the Schöningen paleobotanical Interglacial not to be confused with the much older archaeological sites of Schöningen 12B ("Klemmschafte") and Schöningen 13-II-4 (spears) dated to MIS 9 (Thieme, 1999; Serangeli and Böhner, 2012; Serangeli and Conard, 2015).

56° I

0 V 100 km

• Early Middle Paleolithic it Early Middle Paleolithic sites, pre MIS 5 sites, Interglacial MIS 7

Fig. 1. Early Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (290,000—121,000 B.P.). The blue lines indicate the maximum extension of the Saalian ice sheets around 150,000 B.P. when Central Europe was probably void of human occupation (MIS 8-6; for site references see Appendix 1). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

2.2. Archeological dataset

The Holsteinian type sequence displays the most favorable interglacial environmental context during the Middle Pleistocene.

Bilzingsleben (Central Germany), with its late Homo hei-delbergensis fossils, and the archaeological assemblages from the lower horizons of Schoningen (Litt et al., 2007; Thieme, 2007; Voormolen, 2008; Serangeli and Bohner, 2012) date to the Hol-steinian period. All over Europe, Holsteinian and/or MIS 9 assemblages seem to belong to the Lower Paleolithic, characterized by Acheulean handaxes or/and simple flake technologies ("Clacto-nian") in Western Europe and by simple flake technologies ("Clactonian") in Central Europe. On the other hand, single Middle

Fig. 2. Eemian Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (121,00—110,00 B.P.). The map shows the present land surface (MIS 5e; for site references see Appendix 2).

Paleolithic attributes such as Mousterian tool forms have sometimes been observed in these assemblages (Serangeli and Bohner, 2012) which needs future consideration.

In Europe, the earliest truly Middle Paleolithic assemblages, dominated by the Levallois concept, seem to occur during MIS 8, the cold phase after the MIS 9 interglacial. The climatic deterioration of MIS 8 has been identified with the Fuhne glaciation, newly defined by Eissmann (1994) as the major glaciation preceding the Saale sensu stricto (Drenthe and Warthe) glaciation which is now argued to be of MIS 6 age (see above; Litt et al., 2007).

Only very few stratified sites are available for the Early Middle Paleolithic before the maximum extension of the continental ice sheet at 150,000 B.P. Two different kinds of archives play an important role in preserving EMPal assemblages: Moraine contexts and Loess contexts. The occurrence of travertine assemblages is seemingly restricted to the MIS 9 and MIS 5e interglacials, and claims for MIS 7 interglacial travertine occurrences remain ambiguous (f.e. Ehringsdorf with MIS 7 radiometric data: Mallick

Fig. 3. Early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (110,000—70,000 B.P.) The map shows the minimal number of reliably dated sites (MIS 5d-MIS 5a; for site references see Appendix 3).

and Frank, 2002, but see critique by Schaofer, 2007 arguing for a MIS 5 attribution).

In the Middle Rhine area, the most important Early Middle Paleolithic stratigraphy comes from the Ariendorf gravel pit (Bosinski et al., 1983; Turner, 1997) — most important because of its relation with Tephra chronology. Here, 150 m2 of the Ariendorf 1 site were excavated in 1982/1983 from the lowest level of Loess LD I. Ariendorf 1 has been dated to MIS 8, because the site must be older than the overlying soil horizon, followed by another Loess layer (LD II) and by the "Wehrer Kessel" tephra layer (ARI-BT1) dated to around 220 ka. Around 250 ka (MIS 8; Bosinski and Richter, 1997: 10), humans were present at the site situated close to a small brook. One hundred and twenty-six stone artifacts have been found, made of quartz, quartzite and lydite coming from river gravels. Refitted artifacts not only demonstrate core reduction at the site, but at the same time point to an in situ preservation of the assemblage that includes prepared cores of Levallois character.

61 8° I 10°l 121

Fig. 4. Late Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (70,000—43,000 cal. B.P.) The blue lines indicate the maximum extension of the Weichselian ice sheets around 20,000 B.P. (MIS 2) to illustrate possible ice extension as expected during MIS 4 (70,000—60,000 B.P.) when Central Europe was mostly void of human occupation. The site distribution displays all sites tentatively attributed to the MMO on stratigraphical, typological and/or technological grounds (MIS 3; for site references see Appendix 4). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

Scrapers and denticulated pieces were found among the retouched tools, and horse, mammoth, woolly rhino, red deer, bovid and wolf were among the faunal remains. The 1982 excavations uncovered a second, younger archeological site (above the "Wehrer Kessel" tephra) within the MIS 6 Loess of the Ariendorf sequence. Only one retouched tool was found among 37 stone artifacts, comprising some cores, but mostly flakes made of lydite, quartz and quartzite along with bones of mammoth, woolly rhino, horse, red deer, bovid and wolf. The find scatter has formerly been interpreted as a dwelling structure, but has since been demonstrated to be a natural pit which may have attracted human activities (Turner, 1997).

The largest group of the EMPal comprises of all sites which are stratigraphically underlying the Saalian glaciation covering the North-German Lowlands and the northern fringes of the central mountains (Fig. 1; Drenthe and Warthe ice advances, both between 150 and 140,000 years ago: Litt et al., 2007). These are mostly single finds and small assemblages, except Markkleeberg (Leipzig) with its thousands of artifacts found so far (see Schaofer et al., 2003). Here, the Middle Paleolithic archeological horizon is securely stratified, underlying the Drenthe gravels, which previously gave reason to date the archeological find horizon to early MIS 8, but might now be either MIS 8 or as young as MIS 6 (after reconsideration of the age of the Drenthe main ice advance of the Saalian, 150,000 B.P.). The Markkleeberg assemblage combines bifacial tools (handaxes and bifacial scrapers) with highly developed Levallois products of various kinds (Mania, 1997). Moreover, the site monograph (Baumann and Mania, 1983) displayed laminar production with volumetric blade cores as one major component of the Markkleeberg assemblage thus clearly complementing the Levallois component. Surprisingly, the Markkleeberg laminar industry has widely been neglected by subsequent research.

A couple of assemblages add to this record which come from Loess sequences (MIS 8-6) in the Middle and Lower Rhine area, such as Rheindahlen and Toonchesberg, Schweinskopf and Wannen (Fig. 1). The traditional way of counting back the interglacial soils represented in one Loess sequence came to an end when double and triple interglacial soil formations were recognized which belong to one and the same interglacial (MIS 7).

This was observed in the Rheindahlen Loess sequence which is also mirrored in the neighbouring (non-archaeological) Frimmersdorf-West and Erkelenz sequences (Schirmer, 2002, 31—47). It turns out that three subsequent Loess and soil formations do not represent one separate full glacial/interglacial cycle each (as proposed by Bosinski et al., 1966 and repeated by Klostermann and Thissen, 1995). By contrast, they belong to (triple) interglacial MIS 7: the Wickrath soil (MIS 7.5; underlying find horizon C1including some non-diagnostic artifacts, formerly classified as Lower Paleolithic), followed by the Rheindahlen soil (MIS 7.3; underlying find horizon B4/5, some kind of Middle Paleolithic, and B3, the so-called Ferrassie type Middle Paleolithic), followed by the Erkelenz soil (MIS 7.1; including find complex B2 and find horizon B1, the so-called laminar Middle Paleolithic). The Loess layer following upwards is now attributed to MIS 6 and the uppermost soil (the so-called 1st Bt) might possibly represent a mixture of Eemian and Holocene components (overview: Ikinger, 2002, 82 and 90). The revised Lower Rhine chronology is also supported by micro-pedological and paleomagnetic evidence (see 2.2 above). To summarize: Whereas the soil sequence had previously been dated by counting back the soil formations (last soil — MIS 5e, second-last soil — MIS 7, third-last soil — MIS 9), it now appears to represent a much shorter period from MIS 8 to MIS 5e, the Rheindahlen B3 assemblage of Mousterian-Ferrassie type dating to the middle MIS 7 interglacial and the Rheindahlen B1 Middle Paleolithic blade assemblage to the last warm phase of MIS 7 (Ikinger, 2002). Former

claims for a Weichselian age of the upper part of the sequence have clearly been disapproved.

According to radiometric ages from Loess sequences, the mentioned Tönchesberg 1A, Ariendorf 2, Schweinskopf and Wannen belong to the subsequent MIS 6, all assemblages displaying nothing else than conventional Mousterian assemblages, sometimes along with a mammoth steppe fauna. Most interestingly, some tools were made of Maas flint, thus indicating mobility ranges of more than 100 km (Bosinski and Richter, 1997, 14).

2.3. Anthropological remains

A skull fragment of a Neanderthal found in 1997 in Ochtendung and dating to MIS 6 occurs currently as the only Pre-Eemian Middle Paleolithic human remnant (Van Berg et al., 2000). Other anthropological remains were previously or occasionally correlated with this MIS 8-6 time period but their age has been revised, such as Steinheim (now generally attributed to MIS 9, see Ziegler, 2012, in accordance with the original attribution given by Adam, 1954) and Hunas (now again attributed to MIS 5e; Reisch, 2014) or they remain debatable (Ehringsdorf: MIS 7 or MIS 5e; Schöafer, 2007).

2.4. Synthesis

Correlations between the principal archives (Moraine and Loess) are hypothetical and rely mostly on radiometric dating and on a network of environmental indicators connected with the artifacts. Consequently, all essays remain premature guesswork and speculation to subdivide the MIS 8-6 time range into different cultural units or phases (Fig. 1). The Jungacheuleen of Markkleeberg, usually seen as the dawn of EMPal, may well be younger than the Mous-terian of Ariendorf and the Rheindahlen sequence with all its techno-typological variability is probably representing a time span (MIS 7) much shorter and earlier than previously thought. At the end of the early Middle Paleolithic, from the time of the Saalian (sensu stricto) ice advance to the onset of the Eemian Interglacial (150,000 to 121,000 B.P.) most of what is now Germany was probably void of any human occupation.

3. Eemian Middle Paleolithic (MIS 5e)

3.1. Chronological and paleoclimatic overview

The last interglacial or Eemian Interglacial, from 121,000 to 110,000 B.P. (Brewer et al., 2008; Sier et al., 2015), saw warm and humid climatic conditions in Europe similar to those of the present time, or even a little more favourable (overview: Van Kolfschoten and Gibbard, 2000). Thus, archaeological sites from the last interglacial (Fig. 2) offer the opportunity to observe the behaviour of Middle Paleolithic humans under similar climatic conditions and in, potentially, comparable environments as they prevail today.

Eemian archaeological sites are not very numerous in Europe except its central part including Germany, southern Poland, Czechia and Slovakia which together display more sites than the whole rest of Europe. A comprehensive study lists 30 sites for all of Central Europe (Wenzel, 1998, 3; see also; Richter, 2005). Belgium, France and Spain display a comparably small number of sites (cf. Monnier et al., 2002; Locht et al., 2014), and human traces dated to the last interglacial from the British Isles are completely lacking (Lewis et al., 2011). Very few sites in Eastern Europe are tentatively attributed to the Eemian, most of the claimed Eemian ages still being highly questionable (Chabai et al., 2004, 425). On the other hand, Eemian human occupation might have stretched as far east as Siberia, as finds from the Yenisei area indicate (Chlachula et al., 2003).

Given the short duration of the Eemian, of only 11,000 years or 0.5% of the Quaternary (see Sier et al., 2015) there are still more sites than one might expect, especially in Central Germany and in Slovakia, where many travertine sites with excellent preservation of organic matter concentrate. Eemian archaeological sites are mostly preserved in travertines, and more rarely in lake basins, fluvial and beach deposits, volcanic deposits and, very rarely, in caves (Wenzel, 1998, 3).

121,000 years ago, climatic amelioration came very rapidly. Whereas the Greenland GRIP ice core would appear to indicate short, cold interruptions in the interglacial climate, the terrestrial pollen record from more than 100 localities in northern Central Europe argues for relatively stable climatic conditions during the last interglacial (Kühl and Litt, 2003).

A simultaneous drop in steppe landscapes and a rise in forested landscapes characterized the vegetation of Central Europe at the beginning of the Eemian Interglacial. When the Eemian period began at about 121,000 B.P., the polar ice caps had already reached their minimum extension, as such contrasting the situation in the early Holocene. Birches dominated (pollen stage E1), followed by pine-birch (pollen stage E2), pine-oak-mixed forest (pollen stage E3), oak-mixed forest-hazel (pollen stage E4a) and hazel-yew-linden tree (pollen stage E4b), stage E4 representing the climatic optimum in Central Europe, when the Helicigona banatica mollusc fauna appeared north of the Alps. The intermediate part of the interglacial displays a dominance of hornbeam (pollen stage E5), followed, during the second half of the interglacial, by hornbeam-spruce (pollen stage E6a), pine-fir-spruce (pollen stage 6b) and finally pine forest (pollen stage E7; Zagwijn, 1961; Zagwijn and Pape, 1968; Kühl and Litt, 2003).

Correlations between the deep sea chronology and terrestric records have shown that the Eemian vegetational stage appeared with an offset of some 10 ka compared with the base of MIS 5e (Shackleton et al., 2003, 155) and survived into marine isotope stage 5d (MIS 5d; Sier et al., 2015) at the same time as substantial continental ice was accumulating in North America. Therefore, the following overview includes all archaeological assemblages from the middle of MIS 5e to the onset of MIS 5d.

3.2. Archeological dataset: human adaption during the interglacial

Because dense forests tend to offer less vegetation accessible for ungulates operating from the ground, the carrying capacity for ungulate biomass might have been much lower in densely forested landscapes than in open landscapes. As a result, the large herds of steppe animals like mammoth, wholly rhino, reindeer and horse disappear where interglacial forests prevail. If ungulate hunting prey decreased during the Eemian, a parallel decrease of human population might be inferred. Population density of paleolithic humans, however, might have been so low, in relation to ungulate biomass, that a possible decrease in available prey might not have had any effect on human nutrition. Aurochs and red deer were well adapted to woodlands and required hunting strategies focused on multi-species exploitation of single animals of relatively moderate mobility. Moreover, forest elephant and forest rhino kept large areas free of dense forests and facilitated grazing by other species such as horse and giant deer.

Most surprisingly, humans often exploited elephant and rhino, as many archaeological sites show (Richter, 2005). It is not clear weather elephants were hunted or trapped or just scavenged. At the famous site of Lehringen in Germany, an elephant skeleton was buried at a lake-side together with a 2.4 m long wooden lance and 27 stone artifacts of Levallois character (Wenzel, 1998, 194; Uthmeier, 2006). Whether humans really hunted elephant, or just happened to kill this particular animal which had become trapped

in the swamp, remains open to discussion. It was certainly butchered, as is equally attested for an elephant skeleton found at Gröbern, again at a lake-side, and again along with 27 artifacts of Levallois production (Wenzel, 1998, 202; Mania et al., 1990; Mania, 2000). The nearby Neumark-Nord sites NN1 and NN2, formerly dated to MIS 7 and now dated to the Corylus phase (Eemian 4a) of the first half of the Eemian Interglacial (Böttger et al., 2004; Gaudzinski-Windheuser et al., 2013; Gaudzinski and Roebroeks, 2014), yielded several in-situ butchery zones. Elephant (Palae-oloxodon antiquus), forest rhino (Dicerorhinus kirchbergensis) and aurochs (Bos primigenius) were exploited by humans, and abundant stone artifacts from discoid and Levallois concepts were found along with their bones (Mania, 2000, 27). Lehringen, Groöbern and Neumark-Nord all have a similar ecological setting in common, with butchery of megafauna in the vicinity of small lakes (f.e. Gaudzinski-Windheuser and Roebroeks, 2011).

Another important group of interglacial sites occurs near springs, and travertine deposits have usually led to a good conservation of the embedded archeological remnants. Several sites in northern Germany (Veltheim-Steinmühle), central Germany (Taubach, Burgtonna), southwest Germany (Stuttgart), and Slovakia (Ganovce, Horka-Ondrej etc.) belong to this group. All these belong — together with the lake-side group — to the first half of the Eemian (Fig. 2). At Taubach, the age profile of forest rhino and bear connected with abundant cut-marks attest the hunting or trapping of these dangerous animals. The minimum count of individuals at Taubach was 76 rhinos and 52 bears (Wenzel, 1998, 231).

Less spectacular, but perhaps more important as a daily source of meat, were cervidae, such as red deer and bovids such as aurochs. Red deer served as primary hunting prey in Eemian southern France (Boyle, 1998) and were possibly exploited at Rabutz (along with rhino and aurochs), and certainly at StuttgartUntertürkheim. Red deer hunting continued into the earliest Weichselian (MIS 5d) at Tönchesberg 2B (Conard, 1992; Wenzel, 1998, 232; see below).

Possibly indicative of plant diets (Wenzel, 1998, 230) are burnt nuts (Corylus avellana) from Rabutz, and the burnt fruits of the linden tree (Tilia) and burnt fruits from Kornel cherry (Cornus mas) from Ehringsdorf. Some of the travertine (f.e. Taubach) lake-side places (f.e. Lehringen; Uthmeier, 2006) delivered fish remnants, but human exploitation is not proved.

Only few assemblages come from caves in southern and central Germany: The collapsed limestone cave of Hunas in Bavaria yielded a long sequence of almost 7 m with small stone artefact assemblages of Mousterian or Charentian character. Faunal remains from more than 130 species including abundant Rhino and bear remains. The site is famous for its Neanderthal tooth and a Macaca tooth, both unique for Bavaria. Erroneous U/Th dates from the base of the sequence provoked a misleading age model (Rosendahl et al., 2011) which has recently been revised, now again arguing for an MIS 5e (Eemian) age for most of the sequence (Reisch, 2014). At Vogelherd cave, the small "Höhlensohle" assemblage is equally attributed to the Eemian.

3.3. Archeological dataset: stone artifacts

As for a large part of all Middle Paleolithic archaeology, stone artifacts are not specific, and it is impossible to attribute any assemblage to the Eemian period only by typological argument. The recurrent centripetal Levallois method is often applied (Untertürkheim, Lehringen, Rabutz, Taubach), sometimes perhaps the discoid concept (Veltheim-Steinmühle; Wallertheim A: Adler et al., 2003; Adler and Conard 1997), but never the Quina concept of flake production.

In most sites, humans produced all tools on simple blanks, bifacial technology (surface shaping of tools) is rare. Bifacial tools

J. Richter / Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1 —22

occur only in small numbers. Scrapers are common, points are sometimes present, and notched/denticulated pieces are sometimes abundant. Generally, denticulate artifact assemblages tend to occur under mild and temperate climatic conditions (in France during MIS 5 and 3; see Rolland, 2001, 558) and are connected with the processing of wood and plants, and possibly bone. Rolland also suggests profligate raw material exploitation with opportunistic, less selective procurement, mostly from local sources.

Presumably, all mentioned factors, and particularly function and opportunistic procurement, evoked a general perception of Eemian assemblages as small-scale scraper and denticulate industries, derived from "microlithic" flake production, which were then labelled "Taubachian" and consequently misunderstood as remnants of a common cultural entity (cf. Schaöfer, 1993, 83 and; Moncel, 2001). The "Taubachian" was since controversially debated, and it turned out that Taubach itself did not display all of the required attributes. K. Valoch applied the term to the Kulna, layer 11 assemblage (Valoch, 1988) that is very close to Sesselfelsgrotte U-A08 and U-A09 (Weißmüller, 1995, 225). Kulna, layer 11 dates to the very end of the Eemian or to the earliest Weichselian, and the lower layers of Sesselfelsgrotte date to the beginning of the Weichselian (cf. Richter, 2006a, 129).

As a characteristic feature, dimensions of "Taubachian" cores are sometimes very small and the length of flakes averages at only 2—3 cm (Weißmüller, 1995, 225). This applies not for Taubach and Weimar-Belvederer Allee, which had originally given reason to coin the term. It is now clear that the latter retained small sizes of artifacts only by secondary modification or reduction, not by production of "microlithic" blanks. Consequently, Weißmüller has classified Kulna 11 and Sesselfelsgrotte U-A08/U-A07 as "primary microlithic" and Taubach and Weimar-Belvederer Allee as "secondary microlithic", and therefore as a result of reduction of usual Levallois assemblages. As Taubach and Weimar-Belvederer Allee are earlier within the Eemian, we may propose that "usual Leval-lois" assemblages prevailed in the first half of MIS 5e, whereas "Taubachian" attributes tend to occur somewhat later. As a caveat, one should not take mentioned vague technological tendencies as properties of cultural entities. "Taubachian" attributes can occur everywhere in the Middle Paleolithic, with a tendency to concentrate in the late Eemian and early Weichselian (see below).

Bifacial production was generally existent, but uncommon during the Eemian. Only some small bifacial tools come from Stuttgart-Untertürkheim (Wenzel, 1998, Fig. 20.1), Wallertheim B1 (Gaudzinski, 1992, 288) and from a later stage, from Kulna, layer 11. A large bifacial scraper from Burgtonna (Wenzel, 1998, Fig. 78) is exceptional. Another possible example, Inden-Altdorf (Pawlik and Thissen, 2011) must await further stratigraphic evaluation.

3.4. Human remains

Neanderthal remains have been uncovered from Taubach (12—14 years old child) and a single tooth from Hunas. If Ehringsdorf belongs to the Eemian period this would add another prominent Neanderthal fossil (Schaöfer, 2007).

3.5. Synthesis

According to abundant plant and faunal remains preserved in many Eemian sites, the Eemian Middle Paleolithic subdivides into two phases. These phases are derived from the comparison of the botanical contents of important archaeological sites with the standard paleobotanical sequence of the Eemian. Within the two phases, tendencies are clearly visible in artifact morphology, settlement patterns and faunal remains. By contrast, none of the typological or technological attributes are exclusive to the Eemian,

and there is no way to classify any assemblage to the Eemian period only by significant attributes. In this sense, the use of cultural terms as the "Taubachian" is misleading and should be denied. The following terms are designed to express the priority of the environmental record in classifying Eemian Middle Paleolithic sites:

- The Early to mid-Eemian Archeological Stage (E1 to E5) has

been found at lakeside localities and in travertine contexts. During this stage, exploitation (mostly scavenging) of Megafauna played an important role, with a special focus on rhino and elephant, and possibly bear. Single carcass sites were common (Gaudzinski-Windheuser and Roebroeks, 2014). Artifact assemblages mirror the fond commun of the Mousterian with scrapers and denticulated tools, rare bifacial tools, the toolkit mostly realized on blanks from Levallois concepts of production. Sometimes, the tool edges are intensively used and reduced. At the end of this phase, during the Carpinus stage (E5) the megafauna species of rhino and elephant were probably extinct in the central European region.

- The late Eemian Archeological Stage (E6 to E7; stretching into from late MIS 5e into stage MIS 5d) saw rhino and elephant having disappeared from the landscape, and woodland ungulates such as red deer and aurochs now dominating among the hunting prey. The toolkit resembles again the Mousterian fond commun and, again, tools are mostly realized on Levallois blanks. By contrast to the previous stage, blank and core sizes are generally smaller. Stone artefact production was carried out on small raw pieces giving the assemblages a "microlithic character".

4. The early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic

4.1. Chronological and paleoclimatic overview

The time span (110,000 to 70,000) between the MIS 5e Interglacial and the MIS 4 first glacial maximum of the Weichselian Glacial comprises of two cold phases (MIS 5d and MIS 5b) and two warm phases (MIS 5c and MIS 5a) according to the marine isotope chronology. The warm phases have been conventionally correlated with the Brörup and Odderade vegetational units (Behre and Van der Plicht, 1992), both interpreted as interstadial occurrences and both characterized by pine forests extending from the Alps in the south to the atlantic coast in the North. According to their strati-graphic position and their estimated duration (well-documented at several geological sites; Behre and Van der Plicht, 1992), the Brörup vegetational unit would best correlate with GI 23/22 (103—88 ka B.P.; Rasmussen et al., 2014) and the Odderade with GI 21 (85—78 ka B.P.; Rasmussen et al., 2014). Within Loess sequences of Western Central Europe, the Mosbach humic zones would represent the same interstadials (Kühl and Litt, 2003). The Greenland Ice cores display two more Interstadial phases (GI 20 and GI 19) predating the temperature minimum of the first glacial maximum (GS 18—19, c. 70—60 ka B.P., during MIS 4). At the present moment, in Central Europe there is no continental analogue available for GI 20 and GI 19 which might have been short term events of only regional importance (for a contrasting opinion see Jöris, 2003).

4.2. Archeological data

Early Weichselian archeological assemblages come from the Middle Rhine area, from Bavaria and from Central Germany.

4.2.1. Western and central Germany

The Toonchesberg 2B site was found in a humus layer within a Loess sequence on top of a middle Rhine volcano, the Loess accumulation phase radiometrically dated to around 110,000 B.P. and thus, with all three local humus zones included, belonging to the onset of the Weichselian Glacial (MIS 5d; Schmidt et al., 2011) corresponding to GI 25 or/and GI 24 (Rasmussen et al., 2014). The faunal remains, with exploitation of two horses along with three red deer, attest for a steppe and forest environment (see Conard, 1992 with previous chronological estimates).

At Toonchesberg 2B, excavation yielded some small blades along with backed points, which seemed to be unique for the time and provoked, during the 1990ies, a vivid debate about the technological capacities of Neanderthals (Jones and Mangartz, 1991). Other technical realizations of blade production tend to occur also somewhat later during the MIS 5c interstadial in Northwest-Europe (f.e. Seclin D7-D2, Rocourt, Riencourt-les-Bapaume).

Previously, the series of humus zones found in crater fillings of the Eifels volcanoes (Tonchesberg, Hummerich) were tentatively synchronized with the Early Weichselian Interstades 5c and 5a, but the revision of the Toonchesberg stratigraphy implies now the placement of all humus zones into a short period within MIS 5d (Schmidt et al., 2011, Fig. 12). Since the chronology of the nearby Hummerich crater filling had been based on correlation with Toonchesberg, the age of the Hummerich Middle Paleolithic assemblages has become now an open question once more. Attribution into any phase of MIS 5d-a seems as possible as into early MIS 3. The lithic assemblage displays general Mousterian attributes along with some bifacial tools, but it is too small and uncharacteristic to classify it as a Mousterian or Micoquian/Keilmesser-gruppen respectively (Street, 2002,136 and 144—147).

Roughly contemporaneously or later, a minimum number of 59 Bison priscus were hunted at Wallertheim (Rheinhessen; Gaudzinski, 1992), thus attesting specialized, mono-specific hunting which is absent from the preceding Interglacial (MIS 5e) sites, and which obviously occurred only from MIS 5d onwards, when the climate changed to more cold and more arid conditions. Wallertheim had been excavated in 1927 (Schmidtgen and Wagner, 1929). It has become a prominent example of mono-specific hunting among Neanderthals since re-analysis of the 1927 assemblage has refined previous interpretations by new archeo-zoological methods (Gaudzinski, 1992). The Wallertheim-1927 find horizon is part of a sequence of brook deposits ("Bachablagerungen II"; Gaudzinski, 1992, 278) covered by Loess accumulation. The discovery of the Blake paleomagnetic event in underlying sediments (see Brunnacker in: Bosinski et al., 1983) allowed for attributing the bottom of the sequence to MIS 5e and the superimposed Wallertheim-1927 find layer into the transition from the interglacial to the subsequent glacial period, later tentatively identified as MIS 5d (with a question mark: Gaudzinski, 1992).

New excavations (1991—1993) uncovered 6 archeological horizons 60 m away from Wallertheim-1927 (Conard et al., 1995) which has since been correlated with the Wallertheim-C horizon of the new excavations. Underlying horizons Wallertheim A and B would then belong to MIS 5e and, in full accordance with earlier research, Wallertheim C to MIS 5d. As Wallertheim-F has been found to connect with an initial stage of a soil formation process, this layer was tentatively attributed to MIS 5c following the rule that soil formation must match MIS interstadials. Because Wallertheim D and E belong to the same sedimentary cycle as Wallertheim F, the whole group of horizons has since been attributed to the transition between MIS 5d and 5c which must remain a highly speculative assumption of a previous, more optimistic, research phase without any radiometric or paleomagnetic dating at hand (contra Haesaerts in: Conard et al., 1995). At Wallertheim D, small, thick prismatic

non-Levallois blades occur together with steeply retouched points reminding the blade and backed point component of Tonchesberg 2B (Conard, 1992, 233). The occurrence of burin spalls in Wallertheim D parallels the broadly contemporaneous "microlithic" Levallois assemblages of Sesselfelsgrotte U-A08 and U-A07 where burins are also common (see below).

In sum, the lower horizons (Wallertheim A and B) belong probably to the Eemian Interglacial, and the superimposed layers (Wallertheim C, B, D, E, F) to an unknown period at the onset of the Weichselian Glacial (MIS 5d or 5c or later).

In Central Germany, the Neumark-Nord 2/0 site is also best placed within the same time span, with its cervid, equid and bison fauna and stone assemblages. The lithic finds are very similar to the Neumark-Nord 2/2 artifacts that date to MIS 5e (Van Homelen, 2011, such qualifying former statement of a Micoquian attribution for the Neumark-Nord 2/0 assemblage: Laurat, 2003; Laurat and Brühl, 2010). As van Hommelens analysis includes the whole assemblage and not single fossils directeurs, I follow her evaluation of the Neumark-Nord sites, particularly since single asymmetric bifacial tools can occasionally occur within Interglacial assemblages (for abundant examples see Richter, 2005).

4.2.2. Bavaria

To our present knowledge, only one more site from Germany has delivered a whole sequence of archaeological assemblages which are stratigraphically younger than MISA 5e/d and earlier than MIS 4: the lower layers of Sesselfelsgrotte.

The Palaeolithic rock shelter site of Sesselfelsgrotte is situated in the valley of the lower Altmühl river (Bavaria), a tributary to the Danube. The site yielded a unique sequence of 23 Middle Palaeolithic occupations (Table 2) and 6 Upper Palaeolithic occupations. Field campaigns at the site were carried out from 1964 to 1977 and, again, in 1981, directed by G. Freund and collaborators (University of Erlangen; Freund, 1975,1998).

About 7 m of sedimentary deposit were excavated. The layers consisted mainly of limestone debris from the roof of the shelter and from the slope above the cave. Eight occupation units were uncovered from the lower part of the sequence ("Untere Schichten"). An early Weichselian date is suggested for these assemblages which are typologically and technologically similar to contemporaneous western European Mousterian industries (Weißmüller, 1995). They can be classified as Mousterian with micro-size tools ("primary microlithic", assemblages Ses-U-A08 and Ses-U-A07), Charentian/Ferrassie type (assemblages Ses-U-A06 and Ses-U-A05), Charentian/Quina type (assemblage Ses-U-A04), and typical Mousterian (assemblages Ses-U-A03, Ses-U-A02 and Ses-U-A01). About 10.000 stone artefacts, found in the lower layers ("Untere Schichten"), were discarded during ephemeral occupations. These occupations took place under interstadial conditions (perhaps MIS 5c and 5a) with forest and open landscape. Hunting of horses was an important subsistence activity. Only in the uppermost part of the lower layers (layers 3-West to M1), and quite close to the interface to the first glacial maximum (MIS 4) of the Weichselian glaciation, does glacial fauna like Mammoth occur for the first time. Whereas the earliest occupations might be regarded as a continuation (if not partial contemporaries) to micro-sized assemblages of the Eemian Interglacial, clear archeological parallels to the superimposed assemblages are completely absent from Germany. In sum, Early Weichselian archaeological sites are quite rare in Germany (Fig. 3).

It has repeatedly been tried to enrich the poor Early Weichselian record by furnishing MIS 5d-a with additional sites. The Micoquien/ Keilmessergruppen cultural unit has been utilized as such kind of furniture, though, at the present moment, claims to place the

J. Richter I Quaternary ¡nternational xxx (20Í6) Í —22

Table 2

Stratigraphic overview of the Sesselfelsgrotte assemblages (modified after Richter, 1997 and Street, 2002; Pal. = Paleolithic; M = Mousterian).

Sediment

Archeology

Cycle/ Group

Horizon Typological Attribution

partially disturbed Holocene and

_ Late Pleistocene

С levels

mediaval Mesolithic

late Upper Pal.

Magdalenian

pleniglacial loess

sterile

El cryo-clastic scree E2 with solifluvial E3 erosional hiatus

cryoclastic scree

Cycle 5

latest Middle Pal. MMO-B3

few artifacts derived from G1

Giavettian typical Mousterian

,,G-Complex"

cryoclastic scree

with 13 archaeological units

containing hearths and burnt faunal

remains determined as a terminal

interstadial

scree more humid few artifacts and temperate

scree small mammals few artifacts

Cycle 4 G-A01 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

MMO-B2 G-A02 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

G-A03 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

Cycle 3 G-A04 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

MMO-B1 G-A05 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

G-A06 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

G-A07 denticulated Mousterian -

Cycle 2 G-A08 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

MMO-A2 G-A09 typical Mousterian with bifacial tools

Cycle 1 G-A10 Charentian Quina with bifacial tools

MMO-A1

G-All Charentian Quina -

G-A12 Charentian Quina -

G-A13 unspecific Mousterian -

scree cold and dry sterile small mammals sterile

Ml M2 M3

N О P

„Untere Schichten" Complex consisting of limestone debris with 8 archeological units along with faunal remains of warm interstadial character

•s * £ *

U-A01 U-A02 U-A03

U-A04 U-A05 U-A06

U-A07 U-A08

typical Mousterian typical Mousterian typical Mousterian

Charentian Quina Charentian Ferrassie Charentian Ferrassie

microlithic Mousterian microlithic Mousterian

earliest part of the Micoquien/Keilmessergruppen into the Early Weichselian still lack any positive evidence (contra Jöris, 2003; Baales, 2012). Some authors (Bosinski, 2002; Jöris, 2003) tried to place the Micoquien/Keilmessergruppen sites of Koönigsaue Salzgitter-Lebenstedt and Lichtenberg into GI 21, GI 20 and GI 19, but this seems to be premature at a state of research when most of the environmental and all of the radiometric data from both mentioned sites advocate an early MIS 3 position for them. Koönigsaue at the former lake of Aschersleben, had been claimed to deliver a full calendar ("Vollgliederung") of the last glacial, based on the belief that each transgression phase of the former Aschersleben lake exactly matches one Greenland Stadial/Interstadial cycle (Mania and Toepfer, 1973). Different modes of counting the sequence of transgressions led Mania to assign the main find layer Ib with its Micoquien/Keilmessergruppen assemblages to the second Weichselian interstade (at time of the publication seen as Brörup, now as Odderade) and Joris to assign the same layer to the Odderade Interstade or GI 21 (Jöris, 2003, Fig. 20). Because there is not a single Micoquian/Keilmessergruppen site which can be

reliably dated into the Early Weichselian, and, to the contrary, a couple of sites are securely dated into MIS 3, the present paper is in favor of the late and short chronology of the Micoquian/Keilmes-sergruppen, placing it into MIS 3 (see below).

4.3. Synthesis

The Early Weichselian record currently displays three archaeological phases:

- EW initial archeological phase, middle Rhine group: this is still unsufficiently known because of the small number of sites (Tonchesberg, Wallertheim) which can be placed into this phase. Coniferous forest was now partially replaced by open steppe landscape, allowing for growing ungulate biomass. Interglacial multi-species exploitation was replaced by monospecific hunting of steppe fauna such as Bison priscus. Artefact production became heterogenuous, with bifacial and blade components available.

According to the Sesselfelsgrotte sequence, the Early Weichse-lian divides into three stages whose exact position within MIS 5d to 5a is still debatable:

- EW initial archeological phase, Bavarian variant: micro-sized assemblages made on Levallois blanks, this phase technologically similar and thus possibly a later continuation of the Late Eemian Archeological Phase (MIS 5e, continuing into 5d and 5c?). Horses were a principal hunting prey. This phase is either contemporaneous or later than the EW early phase, middle Rhine Group mentioned above.

- EW intermediate phase: assemblages with abundant side-scrapers, made on blanks from the discoidal and from the Levallois concept, partially with Quina-retouch effectuated on the discoidal blanks. Growing ratio of cervids and ibex.

- EW late phase: Mousterian "fond commun" assemblages with Levallois production. Mammouth occurs for the first time in the stratigraphy possibly indicating the interface between MIS 5a and MIS 4.

5. The late Middle Paleolithic

5.1. Chronological and paleoclimatic overview

The Early Weichselian period is followed by the first glacial maximum (70—60 ka B.P.) of the Weichselian glaciation which is synchronized with the MIS 4 of the deep-sea record (Litt et al., 2007). The MIS 4 is represented by huge Loess accumulations with ice-wedge horizons and, in caves, by rock waste layers caused by rapid, temperature-induced weathering. The MIS 4 period is almost void of any archaeological sites in central Europe and most probably the human population was very small if any humans survived a long period of glacier extension and permafrost. The warming connected with MIS 3 must have seen a considerable immigration into and a subsequent growth of human populations in central Europe. At the present state of knowledge it is even most probable that more than 85% of all Middle Paleolithic sites ever found in Germany belong to the first half of MIS 3, addressed as the Late Middle Paleolithic period in this paper. The Late Middle Paleolithic terminates, in Central Europe, by 43 ka B.P. The second half of MIS 3 comprises the onset of the Upper Paleolithic and the Aurignacian, Gravettian cultural units, thus this review will only focus on the first half of MIS 3 in detail.

MIS 3 of the marine chronology matches, in the terrestrial record, the so-called Weichselian Inter-Pleniglacial between the first glacial maximum and the second Glacial Maximum or LGM, 26 to 18 ka (cal.) B.P., of the Weichselian Glaciation. MIS 3 saw huge Loess accumulations but with interruptions that allowed for initial soil formation processes and for extend of interstadial environments such as the steppe vegetation of the Oerel, Glinde and Moershoofd paleobotanical sequences. The triple sequence of early MIS 3 in-terstadials was tentatively correlated with GI 18,17 and 16. Oerel, Glinde and Moershoofd shed light on the vegetation in the northern European plain, but, by contrast, there is only one matching interstadial (Samerberg III Interstadial) in the Alpine foreland and in eastern France (Pile Interstadial). Thus, possibly some of the cold phases between the GI 18, 17, 16 interstadials did not have any impact on the vegetation of southern central Europe and correlations with the Greenland record must be dealt with great caution. If we try to translate the rapid Greenland climatic rhythms, of 1—5 ka each, into the central European landscapes, ameliorations should have accelerated the ecological sequence from tundra to steppe vegetation thus allowing for large connected grasslands with patches of coniferous trees. By contrast, climatic deterioration should have stopped the ecological succession and caused retreat of

the demanding plant species into their refugia (f.e. trees in riverine locations and higher elevations), now disconnecting the preferable human habitats. This would urge landscapes into a pendulum motion between patchwork (interstadial) and rag (stadial) modes — the latter one probably disconnecting faunal and human habitats into insular rags.

In any case, the MIS 3 patchwork landscape saw the largest extent, within the Weichselian Glacial, of the classic Mammoth steppe fauna including wooly Rhino, horse, reindeer, bison, ibex and small mammals such as the lemmings, lagurus and along with particularly cool and arid environments, f.e. dicrostonyx. This kind of ecosystem, with its high biomass recharge and productivity, brought about optimal living conditions for the ungulate fauna which must have reached a very high population density compared to the previous Weichselian environmental stages. This concerns the environment of both, late Neanderthals before 43 (cal.) ka B.P. early European Homos sapiens, after 43 (cal.) ka B.P. though climatic conditions gained more instability and the pulse of climatic rhythms accelerated somewhat during the second half of MIS 3 (cf. Behre and Van der Plicht, 1992; Ehlers et al., 2004; Litt et al., 2007; Rasmussen et al., 2014).

5.2. Archeological dataset

The late Middle Paleolithic exclusively consists of MMO ("Mousterian with a Micoquian Option") assemblages conventionally also called Micoquian/Keilmessergruppen. All claims for additional, distinct cultural complexes at this time, different from the MMO (Mousterian of Kartstein type, Mousterian of Balve IV type, Altmühlian, Szeletian) must be rejected as they all lack integrity and they do not clearly separate from the Micoquian/Keilmesser-gruppen. The problem of lacking integrity of the mentioned cultural units has been known for a long time, since Kind (1992) had clearly addressed it in his detailed statistical analysis of the southern German database (Kind, 1992: "Mischinventare"). As far as it concerns MIS 3 Central Europe, all of them now occur as subsets of the MMO (Richter, 2014).

5.2.1. Stratigraphic observations

During the last two decades it was particularly new information gained from the longest Middle Paleolithic sequence ever excavated in Germany, Sesselfelsgrotte (Table 2), that on the one hand, put existing knowledge about Late Middle Paleolithic chronology into question and on the other hand, offered a key to the integrity problem. The stratigraphy supports a short and late chronology of the Micoquian/Keilmessergruppen and has yielded ample evidence for the relationship between the Micoquian, the Mousterian and the Altmuehlian. All three, as they were traditionally defined, belong to one and the same artifact system which I have since called "MMO" (i.e. the MIS 3 Mousterian with a Micoquian Option).

The Sesselfelsgrotte record gives an impression into the enormous range of contemporaneous variability within each phase of the late Middle Paleolithic. According to the evidence from this sequence, the vast majority of the whole German Middle Paleolithic belongs to this cultural unit (Fig. 3). Most of the cultural chronology of the late Middle Paleolithic, seems to be represented in the Sesselfelsgrotte record:

The Sesselfelsgotte sequence (Freund, 1998, 85; Freund and Reisch, 2014) begins at its bottom with 8 early Weichselian occupations (Weißmüller, 1995) which were described above. A series of layers follows upward, containing no archaeological material, but abundant rodent remains (layers L,K,I; Van Kolfschoten, 2014). They are dated to the first glacial maximum of the Weichselian glaciation (MIS 4; Richter et al., 2000; Böhner, 2008,150). The rodent bones (remnants of owl pellets) suggest several subsequent stages of

environmental change from a steppe landscape towards an arctic tundra landscape (Van Kolfschoten, 2014). At Sesselfelsgrotte this period is marked by a thick layer of limestone debris without traces of human occupation. This might apply for the whole area of Germany though recently, M. Baales has claimed the "Knochensande" finds (redeposited assemblages, mostly of MMO character) from Westphalia (cf. Richter, 2006b) as belonging to MIS 4 (Baales, 2012). More convincingly, Loess deposits from the Garzweiler Lignite mine yielded stratified artifacts (without cultural attribution) from the latest phase of MIS 4 (Uthmeier et al., 2011).

At Sesselfelsgrotte, the overlying "G-Komplex" (layers H, G5, G4a, G3, G2, G1; Richter, 1997) yielded 13 Mousterian and/or MMO assemblages (Table 2). Some of them were recovered from virtual living floors (in particular the layers G4 and G2 with several fireplaces). 85.000 stone artifacts from the "G-Komplex" go along with abundant prey remains, mainly from mammoth, reindeer and horse. Men lived in a steppe landscape with some arctic elements, increasing towards the top of the stratigraphic series. The "G-Komplex" is presumed to be part of a later stage within a post-MIS 4 interstadial close to its interface to the next stadial.

It must be stressed that the overall time-depth of the whole G-Komplex with all 13 assemblages would not exceed a few thousand years, as a variety of proxies has indicated. The G-Komplex comprises of the final part of one interstadial period (which had already begun during the deposition of underlying layers I and H) to the onset of the following cool oscillation which is documented in the upper part of the G-Komplex (see f.e. Rathgeber, 2014; Van Kolfschoten, 2014; Boöttcher, 2014; Maul, 2014).

This would imply contemporaneity with the Oerel or Glinde vegetational occurrences or their southern German equivalent (which might include both, since the cold phase between Oerel and Glinde may have failed to reach southern Germany resulting into only one interstadial phase) such as Samerberg III which attest open steppe landscapes for this time range. Men were present here at some time between 60.000 and 43.000 cal. B.P. (but probably not for the whole time span, see above) based on a series of radiometric dates.

Separated by an archaeological sterile layer (layer F), the "G-Komplex" is overlain by another late Middle Paleolithic horizon (layer E3; Böhner, 2008). Whereas this assemblage would conventionally run as a Mousterian with a few bifacial artifacts, it is now interpreted as an Initialinventar (see below) of one MMO land-use cycle. Radiocarbon dates and all kinds of environmental parameters place this assemblage into the chronological neighborhood of the Early Aurignacian, around 43—42,000 cal. B.P. (Böhner, 2008,151).

This means that a standard MMO lacking any traces of acculturation to the regional Upper Paleolithic marks the very end of the Middle Paleolithic (Böhner, 2008, 148—158). As it has been extensively documented by several authors (Richter, 2002; Uthmeier, 2004; Böhner, 2008) there is no chronological space left to place any transitional industries between the MMO and the Aurignacian. And there are no formally or technically transitional attributes visible within the latest MMO assemblage: layer E3 of Sesselfelsgrotte. To the contrary, the southern German leaf point assemblages (Altmühlian) appear as a functional variant of the MMO assemblages. This model applies to the whole of southern Germany as indicated by an extensive analysis of all regional MIS 3 sites (Uthmeier, 2004). Thus, the southern German leaf point assemblages clearly belong to the Middle Paleolithic period, and they are not of transitional nature. On the other hand, growing intensity of Middle Paleolithic land exploitation with growing differentiation of seasonal site functions were responsible for a technological and typological variability of previously unknown quality. This produced seasonal and functional variants which

were then misunderstood as cultural units different in time and space.

The Sesselfelsgrotte sequence lacks any Aurignacian occupation, yielding only a small assemblage of Gravettian character (Boöhner, 2008). On top are loessy limestone rubble deposits of the second glacial maximum of the Weichselian and another two archaeological horizons with several late Upper Paleolithic and Late Paleolithic assemblages (Dirian, 2003). To summarize, the G-Komplex and Layer E3 deliver a detailed record of the Late Middle Paleolithic cultural evolution until its very end.

The lack of any transitional industries in Southern Germany and the immediate onset of the Aurignacian might indicate that the regional Aurignacian (Keilberg/Bavaria and Geissenkloösterle/Sua-bia; Uthmeier, 2004) occurred earlier in southern Germany than in central Germany and Poland where the LRJ (see Flas, 2011; Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanovician-: a so-called transitional industry, but in reality rather Upper Paleolithic because of its blade technology) leaf point complex existed at the same time around 43—42,000 cal. B.P. and is, at Ranis cave, stratigraphically sandwiched between a MMO and an Aurignacian layer (Richter, 2009). In any case, present evidence clearly argues against any claims for transitional assemblages in Germany (this applies also to the Remagen-Schwalbenberg site which had previously been understood as an assemblage with Middle Paleolithic technology and Upper Paleolithic raw material procurement. The upper part of this loess sequence including the archaeological assemblage must now be regarded as 10 ka younger than expected; see Klasen et al., 2015; for earlier views see: App et al., 1987; Pasda 2000; Bosinski 2008).

5.2.2. What is the MMO?

If conventional typological classification is applied the problem occurs in that most inventories can be attributed equally well to different "Micoquian" variants (if classification is derived from bifacial "type tools"), as well as to specific "Mousterian" variants (if classification is based on unifacial tool counts). "Micoquian" and "Mousterian" turn out to be multiple, interlaced aspects of one and the same technological repertoire, and (as far as it concerns MIS 3) not distinct cultural units clearly separated in time and space (Kind, 1992; Richter, 1997).

Which parameters are responsible for the main characteristics of such stone artifact assemblages? The observation of cyclic raw material procurement patterns revealed four different occupation cycles, being also coherent in terms of technology and typology (Table 2). The cycles start with small assemblages of broad spectrum raw material procurement (Initialinventare). The cycles end with mostly larger assemblages (Konsekutivinventare) of more specialized raw material procurement confined to few resources. Initialinventare might originate from the beginning reconnaissance and exploitation of a region (f.e. the Altmühl valley). Konsekuti-vinventare document a more specialized exploitation of resources and might arise from a time when people had already been present in the region for weeks or months.

The mentioned cycles are also tied together by the technological recipes prevailing in each cycle: Characteristic modes of stone artifact production (Turq, 1992; Boöda, 1994) are: During Cycle 1 (layer I/H with assemblages Ses-G-A13 to Ses-G-A10) a Quina method of artifact production (sensu Bourgignon 1992), during Cycle 2 a Quina and a Levallois method (layer G4 with assemblages Ses-G-A08 and Ses-G-A09), during Cycle 3 the centripetal-recurrent Levallois method (layers G3 and G2 with assemblages Ses-G-A07 to Ses-G-A04), and during Cycle 4 the parallel-recurrent Levallois method (layer G2/G1 with assemblages Ses-G-A03 to Ses-G-A01).

At the beginning of the land-use cycles (not at the beginning of single occupations, as it was often misunderstood: f.e. Jöris, 2003)

J. Richter / Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1—22

bifacial tools tend to reflect their initial status (Table 2 and Figs. 5 and 6): at the end they tend to be more reduced. Corresponding change can be observed between the unifacial tools within the cycles. By increasing tool numbers, the denticulate-to-other tools ratio changes such that the denticulate percentage decreases. Analysis of modification stages shows that bifacial tools can be subject to multiple reworking. Single forms, double forms and reduction forms can be recognized, as well as their relations to each other, should be known before interpreting formal tool counts.

As a result of the Sesselfelsgrotte record, the relationship between Mousterian and Micoquian and their position within the Weichselian chronology had to be reconsidered in the light of Neanderthal land-use cycles. As each land-use cycle has overarching attributes, such as a characteristic blank production method and overarching trends within tool reduction (f.e. increasing numbers of denticulated pieces) and the raw material procurement (from diverse to specialized), the four G-Complex land-use cycles must represent four distinct behavioral contexts representing the activities of one and the same human group each. As each single cycle includes both Mousterian-like and Micoquian-like assemblages (both with unifacial components absolutely not distinguishable), Mousterian and Micoquian must, in this context, be products of one and the same people. Separating out the Mousterian from the Micoquian elements would mean to break up the given land-use cycles which have been empirically proven by a series of mentioned archeological proxies (Richter, 1997; for a recent overview see Richter, 2014).

In order to characterize the specific relationship between conventional Mousterian and Micoquian, a new term was proposed as a cultural unit: "Mousterian with a Micoquian option". MMO should not necessarily replace Micoquian or Keilmessergruppen as a term, but users should be aware that — if it concerns MIS 3 assemblages — this is a subset of the Mousterian complex with all kinds of Mousterian attributes featuring in the unifacial component of these assemblages. MMO labels a new understanding of the conventional terms Micoquian and Keilmessergruppen: the same people were the authors of Micoquian sub-assemblages as well as of Mousterian sub-assemblages within the "G-Komplex" and comparable assemblages from a large number of contemporaneous sites.

The MMO land-use system applies not only to Sesselfelsgrotte but extends to all virtually contemporaneous sites in Central Europe as comparisons of all relevant Late Middle Paleolithic

assemblages have shown. Evaluation of published data based on my own visual examination of original finds including the assemblages which had previously been taken as references for one cultural unit (f.e. Bockstein-III for the "Inventartyp Bockstein", La Micoque-VI for the "Micoquian" and Ciemna VI for the "Pradnik-Horizont"; the results are reported in Richter, 1997). One group of assemblages (see Richter, 1997, 224—235) displays formal and technical similarity to components as included in cycle 1 and cycle 2 of the G-Komplex. As a most important issue, this group features only one joint operatory sequence for both, blank production and bifacial production, mostly based on the application of the Quina concept of flake production. The second, much larger group of assemblages matches attributes observed in cycle 3 and cycle 4 of the G-Kom-plex (f.e. including Balve, Schambach, Klausennische, Kulna 6a, Wylotne, Kartstein-III, Schambach I-IV and Mauern). All these assemblages link directly to Sesselfelsgrotte counterparts (see Richter, 1997, 235—242) by technological and typological means, particularly the application of two different operatory chains for flake production on the one side (several Levallois methods) and bifacial production (simple and double plan-convex surface shaping) on the other side. To summarize, the evidence from the Sesselfelsgrotte "G-Komplex" and the MMO system appear as representative for a very large part of the Central European Late Middle Paleolithic — without saying there would be no regional variation. This remains to be researched more intensively.

5.3. Human remains

The skeleton eponymous for all Neanderthals comes probably from this period according to radiometric dates (Schmitz, 2006). Re-excavation of the back dirt of the 19th century Fuhlrott excavation yielded an MMO-B assemblage perhaps belonging to the Neanderthal skeleton. Salzgitter-Lebenstedt, Klausennische and the nearby Sesselfelsgrotte yielded more Neanderthal remnants, the latter one a Neanderthal child (Hublin, 1984; Rathgeber, 2006; Street et al., 2006).

5.4. Synthesis

Based on the analysis of the Sesselfelsgrotte sequence, the following chronological model of the late Middle Paleolithic came into existence (Table 2):

Fig. 5. Three reduction stages of bifacial knives which were previously mistaken as distinct subtypes of bifacial knives (all pieces from Sesselfelsgrotte/G-complex).

— "Micoquian" tools with facial shaping assemblage size

Fig. 6. A model of MMO assemblage formation within the Sesselfelsgrotte/G-complex. Camp sites (circles) possibly indicate short term occupations within a system of residential mobility (frequent changes of site locations, small groups, for example one family, perhaps during the summer season). Long duration camp sites (triangles) seem to mirror a logistic system of mobility (larger groups, site locations close to seasonal passage routes of prey animals). Small hunting halts (squares) would then belong to the same logistic system. Note that bifacial tools occur preferably both in camp sites and in short halts. Thus, occurrence of bifacial tools within small assemblages does not contradict the present model (contra Jöris, 2003).

The MMO-A begins just after the end of the first glacial maximum and, thus, falls within an interstadial complex between 60.000 and approximately 50.000 (cal.) B.P. Stone artifact production is dominated by the Quina concept (MMO-A1) and by other non-Levallois methods (MMO-A2). Larger assemblages contain bifacial tools (conventionally attributed to the Bockstein type of inventories; Bosinski, 1967) such as Micoquian handaxes, simple bifacial backed knives, Halbkeile, Faustkeilblatter.

The MMO-B is dated to a late stage of the same interstadial complex and with its latest variant, perhaps, to a subsequent interstadial. It is characterized by the exclusive application of several Levallois methods within the unifacial component. The small assemblages resemble the Denticulate Mousterian (or Kartstein — type inventories), the larger assemblages contain type tools of the Klausennische- and Koönigsaue-type inventories (convergent bifacial backed knives, bifacial scrapers, Halbkeile, Faustkeilblaötter), and many "microlithic" elements. The Sesselfelsgrotte occupation cycles 3 and 4 are attributed to the MMO-B (MMO-B1 with centripetal-recurrent Levallois, MMO-B2 with parallel-recurrent Levallois method). A presumably later variant MMO-B3 with exclusively parallel-recurrent Levallois method and few bifacial tools is not present in the "G-Komplex" of Sesselfelsgrotte, but in Balve-IV. Assemblages of the Altmühlian (leaf point industries) may be placed in the same MMO-B3.

During MMO-A, bifacial tools and unifacial tools were both effectuated on the same kind of blanks from the same kind of chaine operatoire (Quina at Sesselfelsgrotte, lower G-Complex), but during MMO-B, bifacial tools were made on plaquettes and uni-facial tools were made on blanks based on the Levallois concept,

thus two different chaines operatoires present in the MMO-B (Sesselfelsgrotte, upper G-Komplex).

6. Discussion and conclusion

The conventional cultural units of the MIS 3 western central European Mousterian are now suggested to be parts of one and the same system. The historic reality can possibly be understood in terms of an early Micoquian and a later Micoquian (MMO), combined lasting not much more than 17.000 years and being part of the latest cultural heritage of Neanderthal man. The later MMO seems to be the only Central European Middle Paleolithic cultural unit which displays attributes specific of time and space: the combination of plane-convex/plane-convex Keilmesser, small handaxes and foliates, along with Mousterian tools based on the Levallois concept and with small endscrapers and groszaki (flat, circular scrapers) is indicative of the MMO. If all sites with such attributes are mapped, it turns out that about 100 sites, more than half of all Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany, belong to this unit. The map (Fig. 4) shows (1) larger inventories with at least three combined technological/typological attributes indicative of the MMO as mentioned above, (2) small inventories and single pieces attached to the MMO by stratigraphic means (and not necessarily by typology or technology, f.e. Nußloch because of its stratigraphic context within a Loess sequence or a large number of Westphalian finds because of their connection to the "Knochensande" stratigraphic complex; cf. Baales, 2012) and (3) sites reliably dated by multiple contextual indicators (f.e. Sesselfelsgrotte, Lichtenberg, Salzgitter-Lebenstedt).

Theoretically many more sites would add to this number which display only Mousterian (fond commun) attributes but (invisibly) still belong as Initialinventare to the same cultural unit. This means that more than 50% of the German Middle Paleolithic occupations happened to occur between c. 60,000 and 43,000 cal. B.P. only to rapidly disappear thereafter within less than 1000 years. The German Neanderthals must have disappeared just shortly after having reached the absolute maximum of their demographic evolution.

Adaptational strategies and technological concepts of the Middle Paleolithic emerged around 300,000 years ago and persisted until 40,000 years ago. The Middle Paleolithic covered the whole time span of the Neanderthal human lineage and reached as far back as the time of latest Homo heidelbergensis. During the long time of its existence, the Middle Paleolithic had to overcome major climatic and environmental challenges (f.e. glacial maxima around 150 and 70—60 ka B.P., but also phases of forest yield with shrinking ungulate biomass 240—190 and 130—70 ka B.P.) connected with dramatic demographic change among Neanderthal populations (Table 3).

Seen from the Neanderthal demographic perspective, Immigration, contraction, dispersal, fragmentation, emigration, regional extinction of populations and subsequent resettlement must have occurred several times. On the continental scale we should thus expect a colourful patchwork of different technologies and toolkits, emerging and vanishing at different places and times. And this is exactly what we see: Technological and typological phenomena appear and disappear such as their authors would play with a bookshelf full of cookery books, taking out a specific recipe book from time to time just to put it back after the preparation of the meal: Typological concepts such as asymmetric bifacial tools (Keilmesser) occur at several times and at different places during the Middle Paleolithic. And technological recipes such as the recurrent centripetal Levallois method occur several times at different places during the Middle Paleolithic.

Consequently, it is absolutely not surprising that the majority of all predictions about the chronological value of selected and simplified types and technotypes have regularly turned out to be erroneous (see Kind, 1992). For the present time, dating has to rely on radiometry, paleomagnetism, stratigraphy, palynology, paleontology and other scientific disciplines, but not on cultural units alone. Extensive reviews of the German Middle Paleolithic undertaken by Bosinski (1967, 2002), Joris (2003) have split historical complexes into fragments: components of one and the same MMO were sorted out as "KMG", "Inventartyp Kartstein", "Inventartyp Balve IV", "Micoquien vom Typ Bockstein", "Micoquien vom Typ Klausennische", "Micoquien vom Typ Schambach", "Micoquien vom Typ Königsaue", "Micoquien vom Typ Rörshain" and "Altmühlgruppe".

Contrasting Bosinski's and Jöris's approaches, another recent study of the NW-European Late Middle Paleolithic in my view overestimated contemporaneous typological variability and lumped a large sample of assemblages of different ages and heterogeneous qualities into typology-based cultural groupings (Ruebens, 2013) following a "fossil directeur" approach.

At the present stage of research we conclude:

1) Early Middle Paleolithic assemblages are very rare in Germany. They come from moraine contexts in Northern Germany, and from Loess sequences in the Middle Rhine area and Central Germany. Variability in space and time seems to be large, but essays to identify chronological patterns turned out as to have been premature. Three groups of assemblages can be identified: Levallois-plus-blade production combined with bifacial tools, along with a mammoth steppe fauna (Markkleeberg; earlier than the MIS 6 glacial maximum), Levallois production with a unifacial, conventional Mousterian toolkit (f.e. Ariendorf, Rheindahlen B3, MIS 7), Levallois production along with (Levallois) blade production with a small number of formal tools (exclusively at Rheindahlen B1, MIS 7). The EMPal ended during MIS 6 which saw the most extensive ice advance of the Quaternary in Central Europe, the Saalian (with Drenthe, c. 150,000 and Warthe, c. 140,000 B.P.). From 150,000 to 121,000 B.P., the region must have been abandoned by humans. Resettlement occurred not earlier than at the beginnning of the Eemian warming.

2) Compared to the neighbouring areas, Germany displays a good number of Eemian sites, very often well preserved in travertine complexes. Its unique Eemian archeological record is among the most important contributions of Central Europe to the European Middle Paleolithic Archeology. Many travertine sites yielded plant remains linking them to separate phases of the Eemian vegetational history. Eemian archeology resolves into two phases: During the first half of the Eemian, humans often settled in open birch, pine and hornbeam forest landscapes near lakesides and exploitation of large mammals such as Rhino or their cadavers played an important role for nutrition. During the second half of the Eemian, open pine forests expanded. Rhinos and elephants had disappeared and hunting of red deer and other forest species prevailed. Mousterian assemblages of unspecific Middle Paleolithic character prevail during the first phase of the Eemian. The small-size Mousterian, elsewhere mistakably called the "Taubachian" (though Taubach itself does not belong to this group; Weißmüller, 1995) is restricted to the second Eemian phase.

3) The Early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic occurs as a continuation of the Eemian occupation of Central Europe and the question remains fairly open to which degree the early Weichselian cooling phases had impact on human occupation. During the onset of cooling (MIS 5d) herd hunting began and steppe species such as bison and horse were preferred. Assemblages display variable Mousterian variants, with occasional blades, and do not allow for further classification at the present stage of research. Environmental sequences show woodland dominance during the interstadial stages 5c and 5a and fastidious fauna occurs throughout the whole time span (Koenigswald, 1985). The volcano sites in the Middle Rhine area display Loess sequences with early Weichselian steppe soils (some of them still part of MIS 5d). Only one site delivers a series of occupations within a later stage than 5d of the Early Weichselian: the Sesselfelsgrotte, with eight occupations following each other.

Table 3

Comparison of site counts of the German Middle Paleolithic (see appendices 1—4 for site references).

Archeological period Climate stage Duration (ka) Net durationa (ka) Site count Sites per 1000 years

Early Middle Paleolithic Saalian sensu lato MIS 8-6 300—121 159 45 0.28

Eemian Middle Paleolithic Eemian Interglacial MIS 5e 121—110 11 16 1.45

Early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic Early Weichselian Glacial MIS 5d-a 110—70 40 4 0.10

Late Middle Paleolithic Mid-Weichselian MIS 4-3 70—43 16 94 5.87

a Net Duration (column 4) equals: Duration (column 3) minus phases "void of humans" (cf. Table 1).

J. Richter / Quaternary International xxx (2016) 1—22

4) The following cold stage (first glacial maximum; MIS 4) might have been void of human occupation in Central Europe, except its latest part.

5) The late Middle Paleolithic has always attracted interest because of its particular Micoquian assemblages which unite the central and southeast European Middle Paleolithic (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Northern Romania, Slovakia, Tchechia, Poland). Whereas the beginning of the Micoquian, now understood as the MMO, is placed into MIS 5a by some researchers ("long chronology"), an MIS 5 age for the MMO must now be rejected and an early MIS 3 age has to be envisaged. Such short chronology is strongly supported by the Sesselfelsgrotte sequence as well as the notion that the MMO marks the very end of the regional Middle Paleolithic and that no transitional industries exist in southern and west-central Germany. As more than half of all Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany display more than one MMO attribute, we argue for a population maximum of Neanderthals just at the end of the Middle Paleolithic.

6) The German Neanderthals must have disappeared around 43 (cal.) ka B.P. just shortly after having reached the absolute maximum of their demographic evolution around 50,000 years ago.

Finally it has to be mentioned that the present state of research, unequal preservation issues and varying potential of dating, all seriously impact the attributions and site counts presented in this contribution. Because of their advanced state of research, the Elbe/ Saale province (this concerns mainly Fig. 1) and the Westphalian province (mainly Fig. 4) show much higher site numbers in comparison with neighbouring regions. On the other hand the six mentioned results would even hold when both provinces had been excluded from the analysis.

Research of the last two decades has considerably changed our notion of the cultural units connected with the late Middle

Paleolithic of Europe. The revision of lithic assemblages from Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany resulted in a new understanding of the relationship between techno-typological entities of artifact assemblages, on the one hand, and the utilization of prehistoric natural landscape, on the other hand. The future aim is to deliver a complete reconstruction of an annual cycle of activities and mobility within a territory in order to understand the composition of assemblages, the structures of sites and their location within the landscape before cultural affiliations can be evaluated.

Acknowledgements

The presented research is part of the CRC 806 "Our Way to Europe", programme D1, at the Universities of Cologne, Bonn and RWTH Aachen, financially supported by the DFG (German Research Foundation). Most of the site data mapped in this paper (particularly concerning the end of the Middle Paleolithic) were retrieved byJanina Meesenburg M.A. (Kiel), references were checked by Anja Duwe M.A. (Cologne). Figures were prepared by H.H.Schluse, L.Hermsdorff-Knauth and A.Duwe (all Cologne). The author profited essentially from comments by the guest editors and two anonymous reviewers. I would also like to thank all colleagues who contributed to the present state of research by their excavations and publications. Though I tried to compile a picture as complete as possible, I am aware that some regions and time ranges are more reliably covered than others, and I would be grateful for any further information.

Appendix 1. Early Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (Fig. 1)

1 Lüchow-Dannenberg Steguweit, 1998

2 Woltersdorf Weber et al., 1996, 14

3 Vahrholz Weber et al., 1996, 14

4 Arneburg Weber et al., 1996, 14

5 Niegripp Weber et al., 1996, 14

6 Gerwisch Weber et al., 1996, 14

7 Hundisburg Ertmer, 2011; Weber et al., 1996,14; Glapa, 1969

8 Magdeburg-Rothensee Weber et al., 1996, 14

9 Barleben Weber et al., 1996, 14

10 Magdeburg-Salbke Weber et al., 1996, 14

11 Biere Weber et al., 1996, 14

12 Heyrothsberge Weber et al., 1996, 14

13 Magdeburg-Neustadt Weber et al., 1996, 14

14 Frohser Berg Weber et al., 1996, 14

15 Barby Weber et al., 1996, 14

16 Arnum Bosinski, 1967

17 Alfeld Bosinski, 1967

18 Gronau Bosinski, 1967

19 Beulshausen Bosinski, 1967

20 Bielefeld-Lutherstaße Bosinski, 1967

21 Mühlheim Bosinski, 1967

22 Essen-Vogelheim Bosinski, 1967

23 Essen-Werden Bosinski, 1967

24 Rheindahlen Thieme et al., 1981

25 Maastricht-Belvedere Roebroeks, 1989

26 Hochdahl Bosinski, 1974

27 Zwochau Pasda, 1996a, 1996b; Weber et al., 1996, 14

28 Wannen Justus, 2000

29 Schweinskopf Schäfer, 1990a, 1990b

30 Tönchesberg 1A Conard, 1992

31 Tönchesberg 2A Conard, 1992

32 Kärlich Jb Bosinski, 1992

33 Ariendorf 2 Turner, 1997

34 Naumburg Toepfer, 1981

(continued )

35 Eythra Weber et al., 1996, 14

36 Markkleeberg Weber et al., 1996, 14; Baumann and Mania, 1983

37 Zehmen Grahmann, 1955

38 Leipzig-Wahren Eissmann, 1983

39 Leipzig-Lindenau Eissmann, 1983

40 Leipzig-Leutsch Eissmann, 1983

41 Hunas Groiss et al., 1998

42 Achenheim 15—17, 19—20 Junkmanns, 1991

43 Ried Bosinski, 1967

44 Augsburg-Wörleschwang Steguweit, 2011, 2008

45 Murg Pasda, 1994

Appendix 2. Eemian Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (Fig. 2)

1 Lehringen Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

2 Veltheim-Steinmühle Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

3 Gröbern Weber et al., 1996

4 Neumark-Nord 1 und 2 Gaudzinski-Windheuser

and Roebroeks, 2014; Mania et al., 1990

5 Grabschütz Weber et al., 1996

6 Rabutz Weber et al., 1996

7 Burgtonna Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

8 Ehringsdorf Weber et al., 1996

9 Weimar-Parktravertin Weber et al., 1996

10 Taubach Weber et al., 1996

11 Wallertheim A Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

12 Hangenbieten I Bosinski, 1967; Wernert, 1946/47

13 Stuttgart-Untertürkheim Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

14 Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

15 Sesselfelsgrotte, Untere Schichten Weißmüller, 1995

16 Vogelherd, Höhlensohle Wenzel, 1998, p. 3

Appendix 3. Early Weichselian Middle Paleolithic sites (Fig. 3)

1 Neumark-Nord 2/0 Gaudzinski-Windheuser and Roebroeks, 2014;

2 Tönchesberg 2B Conard 1992

3 Wallertheim C, D Gauszinski, 1992; Adler et al., 2003

4 Sesselsfelsgrotte, lower layers Weißmüller, 1995

Appendix 4. mid-Weichselian Middle Paleolithic sites in Germany (Fig. 4)

1 Lichtenberg

2 Borgholzhausen-Cleve

3 Bocholt

4 Gescher

5 Garzweiler

6 Rhede

7 Velen-Ramsdorf, "Die Berge" site

8 Velen, Tecklenborg sand pit

9 Haltern, Stever (river)

10 Borkenberge (hills) between Haltern and Lüdinghausen

11 Velen-Ramsdorf, Knüverdarp site

12 Halterner Stausee (dam)

13 Hullerner Stausee (dam)

14 Coesfeld-Flamschen (sand pit)

15 Münster-Gittrup

16 Greven, Schencking lake

Weber et al., 1996; Veil et al., 1994 Neujahrsgruß, 1982, 17 Neujahrsgruß, 1986, 19 Neujahrsgruß, 1993, 17 Uthmeier et al., 2011

Tromnau, 1983; Tangerding, 1984a, 1984b

Neujahrsgruß, 1994, 26; Günther, 1988a, 1988b, 1980,1970, 1969

Neujahrsgruß, 2006, 95; Neujahrsgruß, 2003, 72; Günther, 1988d

Bode, 1984, 1970; Günther, 1980

Bode, 1984, 1970; Günther, 1980

Neujahrsgruß, 1994, 26; Günther, 1988c; Finke, 1983; Neujahrsgruß, 1980,19

Neujahrsgruß, 2006, 97; Neujahrsgruß, 1993, 15; Neujahrsgruß, 1985,18

Neujahrsgruß, 1993, 16; Neujahrsgruß, 1985, 18

Günther, 1988, 68; Richter, 2013

Schlosser, 1992,13-24; Eckert, 1985, 348-349.

Neujahrsgruß, 1991, 23

(continued on next page)

17 Greven-Bockholt

18 HOrstel-Riesenbeck, Lage (parish), Lager Berg site

19 Borgholzhausen-Holtfeld, Nollheide site

20 Steinheim-Rolfzen, Hohlenberg

21 Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, Stukenbrock, FW site

22 Lippstadt and Wadersloh

23 Bielefeld-Sennestadt, Markengrund site

24 Bielefeld-Lutterstraße

25 Bielefeld-Gadderbaum

26 Warendorf and Harsewinkel-Greffen

27 Halle-Hesseln

28 Minden, railway station

29 Detmold-Heidenoldendorf

30 Detmold-Meiersfeld and -Nienhagen

31 Salzkotten-Oberntudorf and Paderborn-Sande (sand pits)

32 Nieheim

33 Borgentreich-Natingen

34 Willebadessen-Peckelsheim

35 Porta Westfalica-Costedt

36 Petershagen, Weser (river gravels)

37 Petershagen-Heimsen

38 Petershagen-Windheim

39 Lage-Hörste, Stapelage (parish)

40 Hannover-Döhren

41 Salzgitter-Lebenstedt

42 Rethen

43 Königsaue A, B, C

44 Bottrop

45 Rhein-Herne-Kanal, near Bottrop

46 Buer-Erle

47 Rhein-Herne-Kanal, near Herne

48 Herne

49 Kogelstein

50 Menden, Feldhofhöhle I

51 Bielefeld, Johannistal

52 Senden-Huxburgsheide

53 Ostertalhöhle

54 Albersloh and Sendenhorst

55 Calle-Meschede

56 Ruhr near Meschede

57 Volkringhauser Hohle

58 Burschenhöohle

59 Grürmannshöhle

60 Balver Hoöhle II, III, IIIa, IV

61 Martinshoöhle

62 Höonnetal near Balve

63 Buhlen IIIb, IIIb2

64 Desenberg

65 Kirchberg

66 Maden 1, 2

67 Fritzlar 1-6

68 Neandertal

69 Buchenloch

70 Reutersruh

71 Roörshain

72 Münzenberg-Goldberg

73 Treis

74 Kirtorf-Wahlen

75 Wittlingen

76 Koösten

77 Schney

78 Kronach 1-3

79 Happurg, Hohler Fels

80 Kleinheppach

81 Heidenschmiede

82 Bockstein III, IV

83 Große Grotte

84 Vogelherd

85 Schambach, Hohler Stein

86 Mauern I, II

87 Breitenfurter Hoöhle

88 Hohler Stein

89 Klausennische, Untere Klause, Mittlere Klause

90 Sesselfelsgrotte, layers E3, G1-G4, G4a, G5

91 Nussloch Loess sequence

92 Schulerloch and Schulerloch shelter

93 Halle-Petersberg

94 Oppurg-Gamsenberg

Schlosser, 1992, 13—24 Adrian, 1982, pl. 171,68 Adrian, 1982

Neujahrsgruß, 1991, 21; Günther, 1986a, 360

Adrian, 1982, pl. 231ff

Bosinski, 1967, pl. 42, 2; Baales 2012

Adrian, 1954, Fig. 9a

Adrian, 1954, Figs. 5—7

Adrian, 1954, Fig. 8

Neujahrsgruß, 1992, 26; Baales 2012

Neujahrsgruß, 2006, 77; Neujahrsgruß, 2003, 57; Adrian, 1982, pl. 162, 1

Neujahrsgruß, 1990, 22

Adrian, 1982, pl. 172—173

Neujahrsgruß, 1996, 26; Adrian, 1982, Taf. 170, 1

Baales 2012

Neujahrsgruß, 1999, 63 Adrian, 1982, pl. 299, 2,3 Adrian, 1982, pl. 315, 1 Adrian, 1982 Neujahrsgruß, 1989,19 Günther, 1988, 31

Günther, 1986b, 411; Günther, 1988, 32 Adrian, 1954, pl. 9a Bosinski, 1967, 102

Pastoors, 2001; Gaudzinski, 1998,163—220; Tode, 1982

Bosinski, 1967, 102

Mania and Toepfer, 1973

Bosinski, 1982

Günther, 1988, 62

Bosinski, 1982, Fig. 38; Brandt 1940, Taf. 20, 1—8 Kahrs, 1928, 61—68; 1927, 301—305; 1925, 93—95; 1912, 2; Bosinski, 1982 Böottcher et al., 2001

Bosinski, 1967, 115; 1984; Rothe, 1983, 95—111; Günther, 1988, 71—72

Günther, 1988, 54, 56—57; Adrian, 1982, 74

Neujahrsgruß, 1993, 34

Günther, 1988, 90, 93

Neujahrsgruß, 1991, 24; Baales 2012

Neujahrsgruß, 1994, 26

Neujahrsgruß, 1997, 33; Neujahrsgruß, 1996, 27 Bosinski, 1984, 381; Günter, 1961, 273; Brandt, 1960 Andree, 1928, pl. 26, 6, 7 Andree, 1932, pl. 25, 26

Günther, 1964; Neujahrsgruß, 2006, 53; Neujahrsgruß, 2005, 42; Neujahrsgruß, 2004,42; Neujahrsgruß, 2003,40

Andree, 1939, 330 Neujahrsgruß, 1998, p. 42—43 Joöris, 2001

Desenberg I: Bosinski, 1967, Taf. 162, 5; Desenberg II: Adrian, 1982, Taf. 320

Bosinski, 1967, 128

Bosinski, 1967, 129

Bosinski, 1967, 125—126

Schmitz, 2006

Bosinski, 1967, 134

Luttrop and Bosinski, 1971

Luttrop and Bosinski, 1967

Bosinski, 1967, 130

Fiedler, 1994

Fiedler, 1994; Fiedler et al., 1979/80

Burkert et al., 1992

Zotz, 1959

Bosinski, 1967, 171

Zotz and Freund, 1973

Bosinski, 1967, 161

Bosinski, 1967, 145

Bosinski, 1967

Wetzel and Bosinski 1969; Bosinski 1967, 146—149 Wagner, 1983 Bosinski, 1967, 149, 150 Bosinski, 1967

Bosinski, 1967, 165—166; Zotz, 1955 Bosinski, 1967, 155—156; Bosinski, 1967, 154—155 Bosinski, 1967, 157—160 Richter, 1997; Bohner 2008 Kind, 1998

Bosinski, 1967, 156, 157; Bohner, 2008 Schafer 1993 Schafer 1993

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