ARCL140 Summer2020/TermProject Group19

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All group members collaboratively wrote the introduction and conclusion

Melanie was responsible for writing the first site

Anna was responsible for writing the second site

Rebecca was responsible for writing the third site

Kiara was responsible for writing the fourth site

All group members edited the term project.


Terra Amata

Latitude: 43°70'01.6" N

Longitude: 7°28'81.3" E


Latitude: 39°39′28″ N

Longitude: 115°52′17″ E

Ain Mallaha

Latitude: 33°05'13.11" N

Longitude: 35°34'44.97" E


Latitude: 19°68'17.50" N

Longitude: -98°84'59.72" W


The concept of human shelter has changed throughout evolution. In the early stages of human evolution, shelters were simply places to stay while living nomadic lifestyles and migrating to hunt and forage for food. Later on, shelter became a source of protection from the harsh climate conditions as well as dangerous predators while living solitarily. Subsequently, along with the introduction of agriculture, shelters turned into sedentary locations in which people permanently stayed and lived with groups other than their immediate family unit. In more recent times, shelter has become an expression of symbolic behaviour with larger regional variations.

The topic of human shelter is interesting because as well as the purpose of the shelters changing, shelters have both intentionally and unintentionally affected and been affected by human evolution. Shelters relate to both the biological and cultural evolution of the genus Homo. Biologically, with changes in morphology, such as brain size, human’s cognitive abilities were enhanced. Biological evolution allowed them to advance shelters, thus creating a chain reaction. Culturally, innovations such as tools and art have allowed for hominins to change their migration patterns and become sedentary, and in return, behavioural tendencies have shifted (Shook et al. 2019, 10).

The various sites that we have selected are vital demonstrations on how homo sapiens have been able to adapt to various environments which in turn changes their lifestyle as well. The four sites we have selected are: Terra Amata, Tianyuandong, Ain Mallaha, and Teotihuacan.

The Terra Amata site is a demonstration of one of the first shelters to appear in Europe. It provides evidence that yearly migrations of populations were driven by changes in climate and environments, as well as the availability of local resources, which impacted the way that culture was expressed. (Davis and Ashton 2019, 1).

The Tianyuandong site is a demonstration of a cave shelter in East Asia, specifically near modern day Beijing, China. It provides evidence of behavioural patterns such as tool use and hunting (Fernandez-Javlo, Andrews, and HaoWen 2007, 4). The shelter is meant for homo sapiens to survive the harsh changes in climates during the Pleistocene epoch (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 12).

Ain Mallaha is one of the main archaeological sites representing the late Epipaleoithic culture of the Natufian. This time period is of importance as it marks the transition from nomadic living patterns to semi-sedentary and sedentary settlements with the introduction of agriculture, stone architecture and large burial grounds. (Haklay, and Gopher 2015, 1).

Teotihuacan is a site where an ancient mesoamerican city used to be inhabited by a large population of Teotihuacanos. This site is not only a demonstration of how agriculture allowed people to live sedentary but it is also a demonstration of how symbolic behavior played a role in shelters. This city was considered a religious center where people could come together and worship their gods (Cowgill 2015, 1).

These sites will be discussed in more detail in the next sections.


AUTHOR: Melanie Kilchherr

LOCATION: This site is located in the city Nice on the southern coast of France, specifically in the Human Palaeontology Terra Amata Museum.

Latitude: 43°70'01.6" N

Longitude: 7°28'81.3" E

AGE: The Terra Amata sites are thought to have been built around 300,000 years ago, due to many different methods of dating, such as pollen, the discovery of unique artifacts from different tool industries, and distinguishable bones (Lumley 1969, 42).


This site is located in the country of France, located on the continent of Europe between the larger countries of Germany and Spain, respectively on the East and West ends. The southeastern city of Nice along the Mediterranean coast is home to the widely known Terra Amata site (Lumley 1969, 42).

Terra Amata stands on a base composed of limestone and marl, as well as layers of sand, clay and soil covering the basement formation (Lumley 1969, 42). Over time, the erosion of such layers have shown evidence of glacial periods around or before the Riss and Würm periods (42). Such materials (limestone and cobble) found along the coast of the beaches, were also useful to the people back then in tool construction (Davis and Ashton 2019, 8).

The climate in Nice is hot and dry in the summers and temperate in the winter months. The shells of land snails found in the reddish soil in excavations, show that the climate at the time was more temperate, but brisker and more humid than today (Lumley 1969, 42).


The discovery of the Terra Amata site was very unusual and unexpected. In 1959, the construction of a shipyard was well under way, when artifacts resembling Paleolithic workmanship were found at the construction site (Lumley 1969, 42). Similarly, in the eastern part of Nice on the grounds of the Château de Rosemont, bulldozers cut into terraces revealing even more Paleolithic artifacts (42). As these sites were close in proximity, the French Ministry of Culture decided to assist in salvaging these important archaeological pieces (42).

Soon following the discoveries on January 28, 1966, excavations over 144 square yards began (Lumley 1969, 42). There were over 40,000 men devoting their time to these excavations, many of them being young university students or enthusiastic amateurs (42). Through this process, around 35,000 objects were discovered and placed into 1,200 charts, and a total of 9,000 photographs were taken as evidence (42).

The first layer of the sites was 9 feet thick where potsherds of the Roman period were found followed by a layer of clay where series of strata confirmed Würm, Riss, and Mendel glacial periods along with warmer inter-periods; where the younger layers of sand housed human habitation evidence (Lumley 1969, 42).


During the excavation of 1966, many pieces of groundbreaking evidence were found in Terra Amata to describe migration patterns, shelters, and overall lifestyles of homo sapiens at the time.

The destruction and compaction of previously built shelters and tools due to heavy winds of winter and rain, suggests that homo sapiens migrated to and from Terra Amata every year during summer months, rebuilding their shelter each time they went (Edwards 1978, 136). Temporary materials, such as a series of stakes (served as walls), line of stones (protect the walls), organic material and ash (living floor) and stout posts, show that homo sapiens never permanently stayed in Nice year round (Lumley 1969, 43).

The purpose of their visits to Terra Amata were to hunt and fish. Evidence of this comes from the early Acheulean industry tools that were excavated (Lumley 1969, 45). The use of a volcanic rock in these tools found 30 miles from Nice suggests that they would bring with these rocks and craft their tools upon arrival (Lumley 1969, 47). Such tools were used to hunt birds, turtles, eight species of mammals, along with smaller animals such as rabbits and rodents; as well as to fish (45).

The shelters show evidence of activities that occupied them. The tool maker would sit in a designated spot to craft tools and a 2 foot hole as a central fire pit in the sand would exist at the hearth (Lumley 1969, 49-50). It was one of the first sites to show evidence of fire through coal and ash remnants. Along with this, it also provides slight evidence that homo sapiens did not strictly create and indulge in new technologies for survival purposes, but rather for cultural and more symbolic purposes (Edwards 1978, 137).


AUTHOR: Anna Bakhchedjian

LOCATION: The archaeological site is located on the Tianyuan Tree Fram of Huangshandian village in Zhoukoudian town, near Fangshan district of Beijing, China.

Latitude: 39°39′28″ N

Longitude: 115°52′17″ E

AGE: Radiocarbon dating using the Tianyuan 1(human skeleton) estimated the date to be 40,000 years before present. Faunal fossils indicate activity in the Holocene and Late Pleistocene epoch (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 12).


The archaeological site is located 62km from Beijing, China in the southwest margin of Yanshan Inner Blocker Tectonic Belt of the North China Platform at 174.5 m above sea, and it approximately 6 m deep and 6-7 m wide (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 4).

The formation of the cave occurred within the carbonatite of Jixian System of the Middle Precambrian, resulting in openings and passages in the rocks. The formation made water supplies accessible and also helped with a karst system, both these features were still present before excavation and the water supply was one of the major factors in the discovery of the cave (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 4).

The first layer of faunal remains date to the Holocene age including remains dating back 900 AD, these remains show signs of a warmer climates (Shang et al. 2007, 6574). Further, analysis of each layer show different climate conditions, in contrast to the first layer the bottom layers remains have experienced colder and drier climates.


In June 2001, the site was discovered by the workers of the Tianyuan Tree Farm during the search for water in the limestone formations on the south side of the valley. They came across bone and teeth from faunal and human remains (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 6). Shortly after the initial findings, the Institution of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing analyzed the remains and investigated the site (7).

In 2003, a systemic excavation took place by a team led by Haowen Tong from the institute (Shang and Trinkaus 2010, 7). After the landowners collected the water sources, the excavation took place through a process of analyzing 20cm deep layers. The majority of the remains were uncovered from the first and third layers. The excavation continued until 2004, a total of 864 animal bones were uncovered (10). The taxonomic identifications of the animal remains were made primarily by Hong Shang and Haowen Tong (Fernández-Jalvo, Andrews, and HaoWen 2007, 2).


The site presents biological and cultural adaptations that have created variations of homo sapiens. The concept of the emergence of modern humans in eastern Asia can be analyzed through a comparison of characteristics.

The homo sapiens remains excavated is referred to as Tianyuan 1, the sample is classified as a 40 to 50year old male (Fernández-Jalvo, Andrews, HaoWen 2007, 2). This almost complete skeleton shows morphological similarities to early modern homo sapiens and archaic homo sapiens; some of the features include anteriorly rotated radial tuberosity, modest talar trochlea and reduced radial curvatures form early modern homo sapiens and posterior dental proportions, large hamulus length and rounded distal phalangeal tuberosity from archaic characteristics (Shang et al. 2007, 6573). Genetic analysis indicates no sufficient amount of Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in the sample, as a result of natural selection removing variants that can cause sterility (Qiaomei et al. 2012, 2226). These morphological indicates implies a spread of modern humans from Africa was unlikely, and before the emergence of the modern humans in the late Pleistocene period and initial emergence took place in the late middle Pleistocene, to produce the overlapping of characteristics (Shang et al. 2007, 2225).

The topic of the evolution shelters and lifestyle features of homo sapiens such as food supply, cultural innovations and symbolic behaviour are investigated. The enclosed structure still allows the cave to receive sunlight throughout the day, however species living within the cave during a particular season or multiple seasons are not fully resistant to the harsh climates.

The faunal remains show light burning indicating the bones had come in contact with embers but exposed to flames, heat is used to extract bone marrow for a source of protein. (Fernández-Jalvo, Andrews,HaoWen 2007, 4). The Tianyuandong homo sapiens diet consists of consuming protein rich animals such as fresh water fish (Fernández-Jalvo, Andrews, HaoWen 2007, 1). Secondly, signs of tool use had been identified on the faunal remains however, no specific tools were found during the initial excavation; Experimental cuts have indicated limestone edges had been used on several of the remains. An investigation is needed to determine whether any of the limestone pieces near or in the cave, would form the marks of the remains. Slight marks on the homo sapiens remains, initially indicated possible signs of cannibalism, however comparison with the faunal bones has proven the initial theory false (Fernández-Jalvo, Andrews, HaoWen 2007,12). The cave is a setting for the homo sapiens to preform these behavioural features and enhance their survival.


AUTHOR: Rebecca Coxson

LOCATION: This site is located in northern Israel, around 25 kilometres north of the Sea of Galilee (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1).

Latitude: 33°05'13.11" N

Longitude: 35°34'44.97" E

AGE: This village was built and settled circa 10,000-8,000 BCE, and was occupied for roughly 3,000 years (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1).


The archaeological site of Ain Mallaha, also known as Eynan is located roughly 200m from the spring of Enyan, situated at the foot at the Naftali mountains on the upper Galilee eastern slope in Israel (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1).

Ain Mallaha was built during the Natufian era, and occupation of the site has been dated to all three Natufian cultural phases spanning over roughly 3,000 years. The village covered approximately 2,000 sq m, with a population of 50-100 people (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 2). Excavation of the burial grounds at Ain Mallaha uncovered 102 human remains (Eshed et al. 2003, 320 ).

The most prominent structure located in Ain Mallaha has been referred to as Shelter 131/51. Shelter 131/51 is categorized as a “semi-subterranean curvilinear” structure where limestone was the primary material for construction. As the village landscape was not level, villagers often built strong retaining walls against the sloped ground. Each shelter consisted of at least one “living floor” which were 10-15 cm thick but differed by geological topography. The walls of the shelter were made of limestone, stacked in a way which allowed lateral loads to be applied to the wall while the vertical post stayed upright. The roofs were generally made up of organic material (Haklay, and Gopher 2015, 2).


Natufian culture was first uncovered by Dorothy Garrod in 1928, where she discovered several natifuan cave sites located by the Mediterranean coastal plain. The site of Ain Mallaha, also known as Enyan, was not found until French archeologist Jean Perrot excavated the site in the late 1950s, and then not until the 1960s that the substantial architectural features of Ain Mallaha were recognized (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1).

In the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, another series of excavations were conducted by Valla and Khalaily. During these excavations, A series of smaller, curvilinear stone structures were uncovered which were of a different nature than typical Natufian structures in the village (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1).


Ain Mallaha is one of the primary archeological sites representing the Late Epipaleolithic culture of Natufian. This era marked the transition to sedentary culture, and the emergence of agriculture.

The Late Natufian phase was the last cultural entity before the development of Neolithic communities, and therefore is an important marker as to the transition to agriculture. Natufian communities such as Ain Mallaha can be characterized by being large sites with permanent architecture, established burial sites, rich ground stone, bone tools, and artistic traditions (Grosman et al. 2016, 5). As well as being an established sedentary community, the people of Ain Mallaha operated a broad-spectrum economy involving the harvesting of large and small seeded grasses, such as wild cereals (Turner et al. 2009, 397).

Prior to the Natufians, stone architecture associated with sedentary culture and agriculture was rare (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 1). The transition to agriculture has greatly impacted all aspects of human life and evolution. By having greater control over food, human health was able to improve, resulting in lengthened lifespan and increased fertility leading to greater population sizes. However, it is also debated that early agriculture had negative effects as the denser population linked to farming, as well as contact with livestock lead to the transmission of many diseases (Eshed et al. 2003, 3015).

Today, Ain Mallaha's most prominent shelter; 131/51, has become a pivotal emblem in sedentism where its architecture provides the foundation of the world’s early knowledge in stone construction. The landscape of Ain Mallaha has a lot of history where the village underwent many cultural phases, where some aspects of these past architecture remains are still present (Haklay and Gopher 2015, 2-3).


AUTHOR: Kiara Correa

LOCATION: Teotihuacan is located about 45km northeast of Mexico city (Cowgill 2015, 1).

Latitude: 19°68'17.50" N

Longitude: -98°84'59.72" W

AGE: The geological age of the site is still being discussed but the city’s growth was thought to happen 2120 years before present (Nichols 2016, 4).


Teotihuacan was a large ancient Mesoamerican city located 45 km outside of modern day Mexico city, in the Basin of Mexico (Nichols 2016, 3). To be specific, the site is located in the Teotihuacan Valley which is surrounded by mountains, lakes, and an extinct volcano. The location allowed for irrigated fields that the Teotihuacanos could farm on and cultivate stable crops like maize (8). It can also be assumed that the weather was warmer due to the proximity to the equator which would allow Teotihuacanos to farm for longer periods of time.

The age of the site is not confirmed but scholars believe that the city was first built and inhabited by Teotihuacanos around 100 BCE. Subsequently, it was thought to be discovered and inhabited by the Aztec people in the 1400s (Cowgill 2015, 14).

Today, the central district of the city, where the pyramids are located, is a popular tourist destination with thousands of people visiting annually. Other areas of the city are still being studied by many archaeologists or have now been turned into “modern settlements” in Mexico (Cowgill 2015, 1).


There is no exact date known for when the site was found but it could not be hidden due to the size of the city as well as the size of the pyramids. As previously mentioned, Aztec people found it during the 1400s. They believed the city was a gift from the gods and used it as a ceremonial centre as well as did some digging. They used the items they found as offerings that would have been used in their ceremonies (Cowgill 2015, 14).

When Mexico was being colonized, there was a period of time where the site was neglected. In 1675, Carlos de Sigüenza excavated a small tunnel under a pyramid called the moon pyramid (Cowgill 2015, 15). The tunnel was subsequently filled and the city was neglected for a couple decades.

Further excavations were done in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These excavations helped archaeologists and anthropologists understand the culture of the Teotihuacanos and Aztec people. Tunnels were dug under multiple pyramids, they studied the architecture, and used stratigraphy techniques to figure out the approximate age of the site during this time (Cowgill 2015, 17-18).    

A notable project that occurred in the late twentieth century was one which mapped the whole city of Teotihuacan. It was spearheaded by René Millon and it was very informative. During the project, they not only mapped the structures that are still standing and would have existed in the city, but they also examined artifacts found (Cowgill 2015, 23-24).

Digs on the site are still occurring today but the central area of the city has been restored and is used for economic purposes in Mexico (Cowgill 2015, 1).


During the Teotihuacan Mapping Project, many remains of preexisting structures were found and mapped. Due to the structures found as well as the art placed on the relics such as a fire god, it is thought that the city was used as a religious centre. The pyramids and various structures are thought to be devoted to different gods that Teotihaucanos worshiped (Manzanilla 2016, 137).

The most important aspect found in regard to the topic of Human shelter are the remains of thousands of multifamily apartment compounds. These compounds allowed families to have a permanent place to stay and worship and farm all year. In these homes, certain stains and wears were found which suggest that the apartment compounds were not only a roof over the Teotihuacan peoples heads but they were also a place to prepare meals (Manzanilla 2016, 134). The apartment compounds were also found to be relatively close to each other which suggests that the Teotihuacanos valued community when thinking of shelter (Cowgill 2015, 14).

Teotihuacan was a lively city which involved very complex interactions among the citizens. Human shelter evolved during this time due to the ability to farm food so people could be less nomadic and stay in one place for an extended period of time. The ability to farm was due to more advanced tools and techniques to grow crops and hunt animals efficiently and locally.  

This site also relates to the wider topic of human evolution because it is clear that the Teotihuacan people were able to think symbolically as well as communicate. It is clear because they believed in a religion and also lived in complex communities. In the process of human evolution, our brains have gradually become bigger which enabled our species to think in complex ways other primates can not (Shook et al. 2019, 3).


The four sites we selected: Terra Amata, Tianyuandong, Ain Mallaha, and Teotihuacan, reflect the idea that shelters have changed over time as humans have evolved.

Beginning with Terra Amata, there has been evidence displaying that the genus homo are able to adapt to their environment using local resources in the creation of their tools. These tools aided them in their yearly hunting and gathering trips. To successfully complete such hunting trips during the summer months every year, temporary shelters made of lines of stakes and stones to protect the walls were built.

The second site Tianyuandong, shows the lifestyle of early modern homo sapiens in East Asia during the Pleistocene epoch. The homo sapien fossils have morphological similarities to other early modern homo sapiens and archaic homo sapiens, such as dental proportions and hamulus length. This identifies overlap and interbreeding of species (Qianomei et al. 2012, 2223). Cultural innovations such as tools and shelters, allowed homo sapiens to adapt to the changing environments and greater access to food (Fernandez-Javlo, Andrews, and HaoWen 2007, 1).

The third site Ain Mallaha, shows a change in migratory and living patterns as it was a permanent location where multiple families lived together throughout the year. (Haklay, and Gopher 2015 15-16) Innovations such as the emergence of agriculture allowed for hominids to better adapt to their environment. Biological evolution such as longer lifespans and increased fertility were able to appear as there was greater control over food. (Eshed et al. 2004, 316).

The fourth site, Teotihuacan, revealed how the ability to produce symbolic thought lead humans to live in religious cities brought together by common beliefs. In the case of the Teotihuacanos, the pyramids devoted to different gods such as their fire god brought the people together to live in close proximity to one another (Manzanilla 2016, 137). The apartment compounds found in Teotihuacan were also another demonstration of a permanent location where people could live due to agricultural innovations. Both the ability to think symbolically and agricultural innovations in Teotihuacan exemplify the idea that shelter changes as humans evolve.

As demonstrated through the four sites, the concept of shelter has evolved as well as both intentionally and unintentionally influencing human evolution. Shelters have the ability to demonstrate both how the biology and culture of genus Homo have changed. The purpose and concept of shelters have changed throughout the course of human evolution. To this day, shelter is an ever-evolving concept which changes along with the growing needs and evolution of the human race.


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