( Version V 1.1 january 2012) - to be updated
The chronostratigraphical table for (North) West Europe is mainly based on results of multidisciplinary research, such as Isotope Stage Research and palaeobotanical research. As for all information on the Pleistocene, the further back in time the less precise the information we get from the results. The chronostratigraphical table at this page is based on generalized information and combined with available information for the region.
In the Cromerian Complex the MIS stages are not clear. Some authors, place the Holsteinian in MIS 9 so the whole Cromerian Complex ranges from MIS 21- MIS 11, with the Elsterian in MIS 10 and Holsteinian in stage 9 (Vandenberghe, 1993). At this website the MIS 11 correlation is prolonged, like argued in the article of Edelman (rvde.nl). The Oostermeer- interstadial at MIS 7c has no place in a MIS 9 stage of the Holsteinian.
Version V. 2.0 january 2012, French (-Walloon) finished version ( click to enlarge)
Hans Vandendriessche; Klimaat, landschap en lithische productie in het vroege Midden-Paleolithicum van Noordwest-Europa- PDF 2009, Thesis
NJG 2006/ 85-1 G. Kuhlmann et al. Integrated chronostratigraphy of the Pliocene-Pleistocene interval and its relation to the regional stratigraphical stages in thesouthern North Sea region - article
Drees,M; An evaluation of the Cromerian complex period of The Netherlands -PDF PalArch 2004
G.J. Kukla; Pleistocene land—sea correlations I. Europe, Earth- Science Reviews 13- 4 1997
.; European Middle Pleistocene loess chronostratigraphy: Some considerations based on evidence from the Wels site, Austria Quat Int 198 :37-45 (2009)
Simon A. Parfitt et al. The earliest record of human activity in Northern Europe -PDF, Nature,438/ 15 2005
D. Edelman, De leeftijd van het Belvedèrien - article
Out of Africa, into Europe
Homo erectus is assumed to enter Europe around 800.000 -700.000 BP. Sites of H. erectus are discovered at Atapuerca, Gran Dolina (TD 6) Spain; Dorn-Dürkheim, Germany; and Pakefield, Suffolk, England, during the second "Out of Africa" by Homo erectus, around 1 Mya.
During the Mauerer Warmzeit about 600.000 BP, we find Cromerian sites like Mauer (Heidelberg) Germany; Fordwich, Kent and Kent's Cavern, Devonshire, England: H.omo heidelbergensis left Africa in the second migration wave.
During the Middle Pleistocene, after ca 500. 000 BP the number of known European sites is increasing and these sites are attributed to Homo heidelbergensis: examples are Mauer, Germany; Boxgrove and Swanscombe, Kent, England; Fontana Ranuccio, Italy; Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain; Terra Amata, Nice, France.
In the later period of the Middle Pleistocene, between 420.000 BP and 350.000 BP we find the late H. heidelbergensis sites at Bilzingsleben, Germany; Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca and Ambrona Upper Level and Torralba, Spain; Wolvercote Channel, England, etc. etc. These are sites, by ASAC assumed to be sites from the same period as the later sites (MA4, MA6 and MA7) from the Kempen - area, Belgium.
|General model of Pleistocene migrations made by H. erectus into Europe and corresponding tool technology|
The Maas/ Meuse basin, used as a corridor?
In the dispersal pathway of H. erectus to the north, it is very well possible the Maas/ Meuse region played an important role. During the early Middle Pleistocene, a large common delta spread in northern direction, slightly sloping towards the current North Sea- coast, further to the north (north of the present Dutch "Wadden- isles belt".
River basins provided migrating early hominids with known ( safe) perspectives for tool production, food supplies and a hold on "finding the way back" just in case. Indeed, such groups drew into a totally unknown area, without knowing what to expect.
Nearest tools with a possible Holsteinian date ( pre Saalian ) were found near Kärlich, Germany ( Bosinski 1981). The location of these ( surface) finds is situated in the Rhine -basin; further to the south we find the site of Mauer (Heidelberg, site type name of Homo heidelbergenis ). It is a possibility, groups migrated from the Rhine basin into the Belgian Kempen area, by the Roer -valley.
Finds from the sections in the MA project were found in different geological contexts of the landscape, i.e.gravel horizons of sloping edges, eolian sand depositions and at the plateau in what is assumed to be filled/ eroded channels. These different, difficult contexts, together with noticed different use of raw material sources, different tool technology and a different alteration, could point at different periods of habitation for the area. Maybe the originally assumed long period (between the pre- Saalian and post- Elsterian), confirmed by the general accepted idea of an "Out of Africa" by H. heidelbergensis (Bermúdez de Castro et al. 2004; Dusseldorp 2008; Fleagle, 2010), could be fine -tuned by new finds.
For this moment the probability model ( image below) is the only theoretical framework developed for the discovered sites from the Kempen region.
Migration patterns in the Maas/ Meuse basin: Migration or settlement? (1)
The MA4 location - indicating a site complex with a possible surface of 400 x 200 m - is one among several other locations in the Maas/ Meuse basin, where a pebble tool industry has been discovered. The question is , which role the site plays in a possible migration or site use by early hominids at the former Maas/ Meuse channel (s).
In the model below, there are 3 possible situations for the MA4 site complex, ABC corresponding with the model.
A: a migration wave took place, possibly in an "out of Africa" movement from the south or east. camp sites ( light blue octagons in the model), where early hominids fallowed the Maas/ Meuse river (channel), to get to a 'permanent goal" ( red octagon). In this case, early hominids were choosing rivers as migration paths, as this kind of a habitat was known ( for the production of tools from pebble clasts, predictable game, fish, etc.). In this case, MA4 served as an interim camp, with a stay e.g. during several months / years / decades before moving further.
B in a seasonal or temporary migration pathway, the early hominids came from a nearby region , and 'tried their luck 'in a n adjacent region, where they could benefit the seasonal advantages, such as migration of game and fish, berries, nuts, etc.In this case, MA4 would have served as a more large camp for food- dwelling groups along the Maas/ Meuse basin and the region.
C. an irregular migration pathway is based on both a migration-wave and temporary migrations depending on the needs or circumstances of the group.In this case, MA4 is one of the visited places, where the local raw material sources were the main determinants for a semi- permanent stay.
|Simplified model of possible migration types related to MA4 in the Maas/ Meuse basin|
Dark colored hominids ?
When Homo heidelbergensis migrated from Africa, about 600.000 BP, entering Europe in the Mauer Warmzeit , this would have been a hominid with a brown skin. After almost 200.000 years, H. heidelbergensis entered Northwest Europe in sites such as Bilzingsleben and Pakefield, and maybe the Kempen area. These hominids could (slowly) have " transformed" into "white" people by the changing of the climate during the Elsterian (Mindel).
Or, if there was a second migration wave from Africa, reaching all the way to North- West Europe during the 40.000 year long, interglacial period called the Holstein (Hoxnian) with relative high average temperatures, the migrating hominids from the south simply could be dark colored.
Though color of skin is not at all important ( except for the absorbency of UV light for the transmitting of essential vitamin D), so also unimportant for the archaeological record, it could be of some importance for the models of these early hominids: how could they have looked like?
Were they adapted to the climate? Did they look like later Europeans, like early Neanderthals?
For the Kempen region, early hominids could have had a rather dark skin,when migration from Africa took place during early Holstein phases ( 450.000 - 420.000 BP). They would have looked like the images at following links
British Pleistocene chronology (adapted after Brown, see table at page 15 of PDF), with corresponding OIS stages for England
Some beautiful pictures of ( proto- Neanderthal) Shadowness- paleoart
Homo neanderthalensis child 1
Homo neanderthalensis child 2
Homo neanderthalensis woman
Homo neanderthalensis man
(1) note: none of the finds from the Belgian Kempen are either recognized officially nor valuated for this period though recognized as artefacts.