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Project C1

Settlement Patterns and Climate Change in the Late Pleistocene of the Western Mediterranean – A Synthesis

Principal Investigators: G.-C. Weniger, K. Reicherter, H. Brückner

The present state of research argues for the earliest immigration of Iberia by modern humans not from Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar, but from central Europe. Thus, Iberia appears as a late refugium for Neanderthals. The project will test cultural patterning of late Neanderthals and modern humans in their environmental setting based on new stratigraphical data. Background for the study is the outstanding archaeological record of this period of the Iberian Peninsula. The Iberian situation will be compared to the evidence from North Africa as well as from the northern foothills of the Pyrenees.

The transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic and the replacement of Neanderthals by anatomically modern humans in Europe took place between 45-25 ka. The Iberian Peninsula holds a key role concerning this process. Various authors regard the southern part of Iberia as a refuge for Neanderthals and discuss their prolonged persistence in this area compared to the rest of Europe (e.g. Finlayson et al. 2006). The modelling of the process of transition is hotly debated. Cultural continuity is postulated in the debate as well as total replacement. Different models for different areas of the Iberian Peninsula have been proposed. The impact of climatic changes is gaining increasing importance in the discussion. The diverse geography of Iberia results in climatically very distinct regions. This patterning is most suitable for studying relationships between environment and human adaptation. A dense record of more than 100 archaeological sites from the relevant periods provides an excellent database that is outstanding in Europe.

Based on a multi-proxy approach a cluster of major archaeological sites from the French foothill of the Pyrenees to Gibraltar will be reanalysed. The project will focus on changes between Mousterian and Aurignacian as well as Aurignacian and Gravettian. It is assumed that the transitional process from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic was finished at the latest with the onset of the Gravettian. Similarities and differences of both cultural changes will be compared to understand the underlying process and its possible relationship to environmental changes. These results will be compared to the archaeological evidence in Northern Africa.

Analysis of lithic inventories, new radiometric dating and reanalysis of selected profiles from archaeological key sites will provide new sedimentological information and thus build the backbone of the project. A hiatus of sedimentation during the transition is reported from several sites that display continuity in human occupation. Furthermore, some Middle Palaeolithic sites document a break down of occupation in the late Middle Palaeolithic without reoccupation in the early or even middle Upper Palaeolithic. Other sites start their history of human occupation as late as in the Gravettian although below Gravettian layers substantial cave sedimentation without any archaeological artefacts is documented. The patterning of human occupation will be investigated in detail by on-site analysis, collection work and by compiling environmental data from a rich supply of literature.

Laboratory analysis will focus on the detection of possible climatic changes in the profiles. By means of heavy minerals and heavy metal analysis, aeolian components (drier climate) within the cave layers will be identified. Micromorphological analysis may detect carbonate (re)solution and oxidation processes as consequences of climatic impacts. Additionally, sampling and analysing molluscs and macro remnants are useful tools for gaining further information about palaeoenvironmental changes. On-site data and off-site data of terrestrial archives of the Iberian Peninsula will be compiled and compared to published data from marine archives that are well documented from the adjacent Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean coast.

 

1st Phase - Research Programme
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2nd Phase
- Posters presented at international
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Corings in the Zafarraya Polje (Andalucia, Souther...

Corings in the Zafarraya Polje (Andalucia, Southern Spain)

The Zafarraya Polje is an endorheic tectonic basin (about 20 km2) located in the external zone of the Betic Cordillera. The nature...

Lake Banyoles - First off-site archive for palaeoc...

Lake Banyoles - First off-site archive for palaeoclimatic reconstruction on the Iberian Peninsula

During our field campaign in October 2010 a sediment core was collected from Banyoles Lake, drilled by our colleague Ramon Julià f...

Lake Como - Palaeoenvironmental archive in the Wes...

Lake Como - Palaeoenvironmental archive in the Western Mediterranean

Investigations of a 65 m long sediment core from Lake Como (northern Italy) have recently been initiated in cooperation with Prof....

A glance at methods – Micromorphology

A glance at methods – Micromorphology

Archaeological finds are usually embedded in anthropogenic and natural sediments which accumulated during or after the occupation...

Fieldwork in September 2012 – Sampling for lumines...

Fieldwork in September 2012 – Sampling for luminescence dating and micromorphology

In autumn 2012, colleagues from the geochronology lab (project F2) and members of the C1-team visited several rock shelter sites i...

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra – Sediment cores from a...

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra – Sediment cores from a perennial salt lake in southern Spain for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction

Fieldwork in Spain in March 2012 saw the drilling of more than 100 metres of sediment cores from small lakes and lagunas in southe...

Fieldworks in Abrigo del Molino (Segovia, Central...

Fieldworks in Abrigo del Molino (Segovia, Central Spain)

Abrigo del Molino is a new Mousterian site in Central Spain discovered in 2012 in the frame of the research project "Primeros Pobl...

Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition at Cuevas...

Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition at Cuevas de Los Casares?

The last week of September 2014, three members of the C1-Project flew to Madrid to support a Spanish team of archaeologists in Los...

Between darkness and brightness: Preparation of fi...

Between darkness and brightness: Preparation of fieldworks in Ardales Cave and Sima de Las Palomas de Teba (Málaga, Spain)

From 20th until 23rd of January, some members of C1 project, together with Dr. Andreas Pastoors (Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann), we...

Way down South – Conference and excavation in Spai...

Way down South – Conference and excavation in Spain

This summer, Viviane Bolin travelled to Spain to attend a conference and to excavate in the frame of CRC 806 project C1. In Septem...

Trips to South and East Europe

Trips to South and East Europe

From November 24th to December 2nd in 2015, part of the C1-team carried out a second campaign in the Palaeolithic cave Ardales in...

Excavation in Andalucia: Deep inside the cave

Excavation in Andalucia: Deep inside the cave

In C-Cluster, we cannot get enough of caves. This year, our excavation campaign in Ardales Cave (Málaga, Andalucia) was continued....

Mobility of hunter-gatherer groups at the Universi...

Mobility of hunter-gatherer groups at the University of the Basque Country. Vitoria 2016

The 21st of November, María de Andrés-Herrero, PhD candidate in the C1 project, was invited as guest-speaker to participate in the...

Prehistoric rock art and mobile art conference in...

Prehistoric rock art and mobile art conference in Santander

Last year, Viviane Bolin attended the fifth ASP Conference (Art des Sociétées Préhistoriques) at the University of Santander (Cant...

International Conference on the Solturean

International Conference on the Solturean

The Solutrean, a cultural phase of the Last Glacial Maximum in Europe, constitutes a focus of interdisciplinary research within se...

Presenting our science to the public: CRC 806 at t...

Presenting our science to the public: CRC 806 at the research day of the Neanderthal Museum

During this year’s „Day of Research“ (November 19th, 2017) in the Neanderthal Museum at Mettmann, scientists of the A- and C-Clust...

 

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