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Université de Bordeaux
LabEx LaScArBxCluster of Excellence
Cluster of excellence

TeHoTeCa – Land of men, Land of canids: the evolution of an interaction

Jean-Baptiste Mallye amd Myriam Boudadi-Maligne (PACEA-PPP)





CEA Saclay

Museum d’Histoire naturelle de Genève

Finance: €80,850

Duration: 3 years (September 2014-August 2017)

Fixed-term contract recruitment: planned.

This project aims to determine the ways in which land was appropriated by human groups at the end of the Pleistocene era in the South-West of France. To do this, the study of Man-Canid relations is ideal. The Canid family (wolf, dog, fox, dhole etc) covers taxons whose social organisation, hunting techniques and prey are, in numerous ways, similar to human societies. Numerous canids have been and still are competitors to Man, but nonetheless it is admitted today that from the recent Palaeolithic period onwards, the wolf was the first animal to penetrate the domestic space. The study of the interactions between Man and the Canids in fact constitutes a fundamental focus for research in the study of human societies and their relation with the natural world.

This interdisciplinary project involves taphonomy, archaeozoology, and genomics. It will be centred on the study of animal remains found in the deposits occupied alternately by Man and canids. In the light of new taphonomic data (Igue du Gral, Parc des Loups du Gévaudan, Réserve de la Haute Touche) several archaeological series in Aquitaine and on its borders (Grotte du Noisetier, Amalda, Grotte Maldidier, Troubat) will be re-evaluated. It will then be possible to identify the average bag for different predators and also to assess the amount of inter-species competition and/or closeness between man and the canids over the course of time.

The osteoarchaeological approach will be completed by the analysis of ancient DNA contained in fossilised faeces. This new approach will provide the opportunity to throw a different and complementary light on the predators that produced it and the prey that they consumed.

Also a direct carbon-14 dating campaign on the remains of small canids identified in the different sites of the end of the late glacial period (Le Morin, Fontarnaud, Abri Mège, Troubat, Pont d’Ambon) will be carried out to ensure that these remains are contemporaneous with the archaeological groupings and to complete the chronological framework of domestication. The genetic heritage of the fossil canid populations is not well-documented, so a genomic analysis will also be carried out to try and understand the biological diversity of these first populations of dogs better.

Thus implementing this project will provide the opportunity to draw conclusions about problems in major research, such as the emergence of domestication and anthropisation in the area.