Oxygen isotope analyses of Equus teeth evidences early Eemian and early Weichselian palaeotemperatures at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Neumark-Nord 2, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Kate H. Britton* (Corresponding Author), Sarah Pederzani, Lutz Kindler, Wil Roebroeks, Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, Michael P. Richards, Thomas Tütken

*Corresponding author for this work

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Here we present phosphate oxygen isotope (δ 18OPO4) data from horse (Equus sp.) tooth enamel (bioapatite) from the early Eemian and early Weichselian find levels at the archaeological site of Neumark-Nord 2, Germany. Based on the relationship between δ18OPO4 of bioapatite, body water, local precipitation and air temperature, these data are used to reconstruct palaeoclimatic conditions contemporary to the different phases of Neanderthal activity at the site. Bulk enamel samples representing one year of growth were taken from horse teeth from early Eemian (NN2/2b [∼121 ± 5 ka], and NN2/1c) and early Weichselian (NN2/0; ∼93 ± 7 ka) find levels, and δ18OPO4 values were then utilised to calculate δ18O of local environmental water and mean annual air temperature (MATs) during these phases of MIS5. Results indicate that during the early Eemian MAT was ∼9 °C, with some evidence of variability through time. Although ∼3 °C lower, the calculated early Weichselian MAT exceeds that indicated by other local and regional climate proxy datasets, suggesting that Neanderthal activity may have coincided with more ameliorate phases of the early Weichselian in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106029
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date8 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank Annabell Reiner (MPI-EVA) for technical and practical support with preparation of samples and Bernd Steinhilber for the oxygen isotope measurements of the silver phosphate samples at the Institut für Geowissenschaften (Universität Tübingen); Thanks to the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Landesmuseum Sachsen-Anhalt in Halle for providing samples; and to Geoff Smith (RGZM Monrepos and MPI-EVA) for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Financial support for the Neumark-Nord 2 excavations was provided by the Lausitzer Mitteldeutsche Braunkohlengesellschaft mbH, the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt (Harald Meller, Susanne Friederich), the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, the Leids Universiteits Fonds “Campagne voor Leiden” program and the NetherlandsOrganization for Scientific Research (N.W.O.). The isotope research was funded by the Max Planck Institute and a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Junior Research Grant to KB (ref: A0970923). Thanks also to the University of Aberdeen, and The Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2017-410) for financial and professional support during this project and preparation of the manuscript. TT acknowledges funding by the German National Science foundation in the framework of the Emmy Noether Program (DFG grant TU 148/2-1 “Bone Geochemistry”).


  • Pleistocene
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Europe
  • Stable isotopes
  • Bioapatite
  • Phosphate
  • Neanderthal
  • Last Interglacial
  • Interstadial


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