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Title: High-resolution Neanderthal settlements in mediterranean Iberian Peninsula: a matter of altitude?
Authors: Sánchez-Hernández, Carlos
Gourichon, Lionel
Blasco, Ruth
Carbonell, Eudald
Chacón Navarro, María Gema
Galván Santos, Bertila
Hernández Gómez, Cristo Manuel
Rosell, Jordi
Saladié Ballesté, Palmira
Soler i Subils, Joaquim
Soler i Masferrer, Narcís
Vallverdú Poch, Josep
Rivals, Florent
Keywords: Pleistocene;Paleoecology;Western Europe;Dental microwear;Dental mesowear;Dental cementum;Paleodiet;Ungulates;Occupational patterns
Issue Date: Nov-2020
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Quaternary Science Reviews, 2020, 247, 106523
Abstract: Neanderthals are widely known to be a resilient human species that successfully faced constant and strong environmental fluctuations modifying the landscapes they inhabited and the availability of their potential resources. It has been traditionally assumed that environmental features could strongly affect human behaviour due to the stretch relationship between their potential prey and the availability of habitats. Environmental changes would produce a high variability in the settlement patterns of the Neanderthal groups. However, the preponderant influence of environmental conditions on these human groups has recently been strongly questioned. This is especially true for the Iberian Peninsula, where latitudinal position and orographic features supported the persistence of environmental conditions that allowed the permanence of a wide range of biotopes and animal and vegetal resources. In the present study, we reconstruct the Neanderthal settlement patterns (i.e. duration and season) from four archaeological sites located in the Mediterranean area of the Iberian Peninsula: Arbreda Cave (Serinyà, Girona), Teixoneres Cave (Moià, Barcelona), Abric Romaní (Capellades, Barcelona), and El Salt (Alcoy, Alicante). We focus on identifying whether they show a high variability in settlement patterns and check for the existence of local influences, such as the altitude. To reach these objectives, we designed a multi-proxy approach combining tooth wear and dental cementum analysis of the main Neanderthal preys: Cervus elaphus, Equus ferus, Equus hydruntinus, Bos primigenius and Capra pyrenaica. Our results first suggest that local features (i.e. orography, altitude, and environment) appear to be predominant factors determining the main feeding behaviour of the ungulates hunted by Neanderthals. Additionally, seasonal environmental variations seem to have influenced horse migratory behaviour, involving altitudinal movements in search of high-nutritive pastures. Neanderthal survival strategies and settlement patterns seem to have been less affected by environmental particularities and more linked to selective prey procurement based on the seasonal resource availability. Therefore, the duration and seasonality of their settlement patterns and their mobility throughout the landscape indicate they had a high level of knowledge on the territory they inhabited, as well as on the behaviour and availability of their potential preys.
ISSN: 0277-3791
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106523
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Arqueología

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