Spain

The Iberian Peninsula is one of our key research regions:

Continuity or Discontinuity? Land Use and Climate Change in the Late Pleistocene on the Iberian Peninsula

The Iberian Peninsula was the final refugium of the Neanderthals. Since 2009 this project has examined the migration and settlement history of the last Neanderthals, and the connections that existed between this and the spread of modern humans. Important factors include population density, as well as the short, abrupt climatic events which regularly exerted a strong influence on living conditions in the western Mediterranean region. A comparison with the situation in North Africa should clarify whether intercontinental contact spanning the Strait of Gibraltar existed. Within the scope of the project many sites in the Iberian peninsula will be, or have been, investigated, and a database of all important sites will be compiled. This work is being carried out in cooperation with Spanish and Portuguese research institutes and museums.

Sponsored by the DFG: Collaborative Research Centre 806 (since 2009). Our Way to Europe.

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The Settlement History of San Quintín de Mediona Valley
Project completed
 
The travertine area of San Quintín de Mediona in the province of Barcelona contains a ca. 2 km stretch containing numerous rock-shelter sites. At the Mediona I, La Canyada, Can Costella, and La Boria rock-shelters, Middle Palaeolithic living sites were excavated and investigated between 1987 and 1997. Archaeological evidence for the Middle Palaeolithic settlement of San Quintín de Mediona Valley dates to between 90,000 and 80,000 years BP. In this period, erosion of the travertine dam that had spanned the valley led to the creation of rock-shelters and small caves fronted by sedimentary fans. Middle Palaeolithic people settled here on the hillside of the valley, with undisturbed access to the river or small lakes and ponds. In Can Costella is a living site from the final period of Oxygen Isotopic Stage 5.
 
In Mediona I there is a long series of at least seven occupation layers. The series begins in Oxygen Isotopic Stage 5 and stretches into, and possibly through, Stage 4. The late dating of the uppermost artefact horizon to a cool climatic phase is based on the topmost sediments which are of loess. Besides stone artefacts and prey animal remains, hearths and other features associated with occupation have been found. ESR dating of burnt flint returned dates for the occupation of Mediona I of between 84,000 and 62,000 years BP. The time period of occupation of the La Boria site is still unclear. Here, the interlocking strata of human habitation and travertine deposition can be seen most clearly. Occupation took place on travertine sands of old basin deposits and, most probably, in close proximity to standing pools of water. From around 40,000 years BP there began another period of heavy erosion in the valley, which deepened it a further 15m. Archaeological evidence of human habitation in the valley disappears at this point. Only with the beginning of the Holocene do we once again find archaeological traces of human occupation in the valley.
 
The investigations were carried out in partnership with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Archaeology Department of the University of Tübingen, the Institute for Geography and Geo-ecology at the University of Karlsrühe, and the German Archaeological Institute in Madrid. Analysis of the excavated material is ongoing.
 
Project sponsored by the DFG: WE 1022/xx (1996-98) Steinzeitliche Besiedlungs- und Umweltgeschichte im westlichen Mittelmeergebiet - Exemplarische Studien in Katalonien.
Regional Differentiation in the Late Middle Palaeolithic

Project completed

The Iberian Peninsula was one of the final refugia of the Neanderthals. A much-discussed hypothesis states that, for a long period, anatomically modern humans did not penetrate the peninsula further than the River Ebro, while Neanderthals continued to live on the peninsula south of the Ebro. The cultures of the Middle Palaeolithic in Europe have traditionally been associated with the Neanderthals, while those of the Upper Palaeolithic have been seen as new cultures, possibly brought to Europe by anatomically modern humans. How the transition from the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic transpired on the Iberian Peninsula is still unknown. The cause of the disappearance of the Neanderthals is also a mystery.

To aid research into these fascinating questions, important finds, including human fossils, new tool-types from the Upper Palaeolithic, and decorative objects, from the Iberian Peninsula have been recorded and analysed with the help of 3D surface scanners and computerised tomography.

This project was sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (2008-10). Regionale Differenzierungen im späten Mittelpaläolithikum der Iberischen Halbinsel. Erstellung einer Datensammlung zur wissenschaftlichen Analyse und zur Implementierung in NESPOS.

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Resource Use in the Late Middle Palaeolithic and the Early Upper Palaeolithic

Project completed

The project examined the changing technology of stone tool production during the critical period of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. It concentrated on a core region for stone tool research in which there is an abnormally high density of data. Artefacts from the sites of El Castillo, Cueva Morin, L'Arbreda, Abric Romani, and Jarama VI formed the basis of the analysis.

One focus was a quantitative analysis of the presence of Middle Palaeolithic stone tool technologies in the Upper Palaeolithic inventory of the Châtelperronian and the Aurignacian, and the presence of Upper Palaeolithic microlithic technology in Middle Palaeolithic technology complexes. That flakes were used as the basis for tool production in Aurignacian technology is undisputed, but is an aspect of the technology that has not been closely examined. The same can be said of microlith production in the Middle Palaeolithic. In order to form a clear picture of the spectrum of technological knowledge and efficiency of resource use, a comprehensive collection of quantitative data had first to be amassed.

The project was sponsored by the DFG: WE 1022/8 (2007-11). Der Übergang vom Mittel- zum Jungpaläolithikum in Südwesteuropa. Modelluntersuchungen zur Steingerätetechnologie.

Literature

Continuity or Discontinuity? Land Use and Climate Change in the Late Pleistocene on the Iberian Peninsula

Bradtmöller, Marcel; Pastoors, Andreas; Weninger, Bernhard; Weniger, Gerd C. (2011): The repeated replacement model - Rapid climate change and population dynamics in Late Pleistocene Europe. In: Quaternary International.

Schmidt, Isabell; Bradtmöller, Marcel; Kehl, Martin; Pastoors, Andreas; Tafelmaier, Yvonne; Weninger, Bernhard; Weniger, Gerd C. (im Druck): Rapid climate change and variability of settlement patterns in Iberia during the Late Pleistocene. In: Quaternary International.

Widlok, Thomas; Aufgebauer, Anne; Bradtmöller, Marcel; Dikau, Richard; Hoffmann, Thomas; Kretschmer, Inga; Panagiotopoulos, Konstantinos; Pastoors, Andreas et al. (im Druck): Towards a theoretical framework for analyzing integrated socio-environmental systems. In: Quaternary International.

Regional Differentiation in the Late Middle Palaeolithic

Weniger, Gerd C.; Estévez, Jordi (1994): Prospektionen und Sondagen in den Travertinen von San Quintín de Mediona. Mit Beiträgen von Dieter Burger, Albert Solé und María Ángela Taulé. In: Madrider Mitteilungen 35, S. 1-31.

Resource Use in the Late Middle Palaeolithic and the Early Upper Palaeolithic

Pastoors, Andreas; Peresani, Marco (2012): Preface. In: Andreas Pastoors und Marco Peresani (Hg.): Flakes not blades. The role of flake production at the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe. Mettmann: Neanderthal Museum (Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums, 5), S. 7-10.

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