Hominin Subsistence Patterns During the Middle and Late Paleolithic in Northwestern Europe

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The aim of this paper is to more clearly classify Middle Paleolithic subsistence tactics by considering this evidence against an Upper Paleolithic background, where we discern a clearer picture of human subsistence tactics. Therefore, a diachronous comparative analysis of reindeer assemblages from northwestern European archaeological sites was undertaken. Differences in exploitation strategies become clearly visible for the late Upper Paleolithic, which can be interpreted to partly reflect the demands of elaborate settlement dynamics, evidence of which we especially lack for the Middle Paleolithic. Because of these differences in social networking strategies between Middle and Upper Palaeolithic groups, it seems highly likely that subsistence behavior involving the careful selection of large mammal resources was particularly crucial to maintaining high foraging return rates during the Middle Palaeolithic.