Project

MULTIPALEOIBERIA (ERC-2018-STG-805478) - Population dynamics and cultural adaptations of the last Neandertals and first Modern Humans in inland Iberia: a multi-proxy investigation

Goal: Our main goal is to investigate population dynamics and human-environment interactions of the last Neandertals and first modern humans in interior Iberia based on unprecedented evidence gathered by means of a macro-regional, interdisciplinary and collaborative research project. This involves the participation of a wide network of scholars and methods, including field surveys, geoarchaeological excavations and chronometric, paleoecological, zooarchaeological, techno-economic and symbolic studies applied to Middle and Upper Palaeolithic contexts.

Date: 1 January 2019 - 1 December 2023

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Project log

Ignacio Triguero
added a research item
We report a new site with Schematic rock art in the Sorbe River Valley, next to the town of Muriel (Tamajón, Guadalajara, Spain). It is located inside a vaulted cave next to a larger cavity and contains a single panel bearing 6 graphic units: four anthropomorphic figures and a sign in red paint around two partially superimposed cup-marks. In the center of the Iberian Peninsula, together with the well-known major clusters of Schematic rock art sites of Barranco del Duratón (Segovia) and Valonsadero (Soria), both on the northern Meseta, a third group to south of the Iberian Central System is emerging. The Haza la Viña rock shelter shows one of the best preserved rock art panels of this southern cluster. Its figures are clearly identified, and their homogeneity allows us to define the panel as an intentional composition. Despite the difficulties of dating, the site is best described as a Neolithic-Chalcolithic composition based on its thematic and stylistic features. Moreover, Haza la Viña has the added value of being the only rock art site in the Sorbe valley and the easternmost of the Spanish Central System group.
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added an update
Alcaraz-Castaño, M., Alcolea-González, J.J., de Andrés-Herrero, M. et al. First modern human settlement recorded in the Iberian hinterland occurred during Heinrich Stadial 2 within harsh environmental conditions. Sci Rep 11, 15161 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94408-w
 
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added a research item
As the south-westernmost region of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula stands as a key area for understanding the process of modern human dispersal into Eurasia. However, the precise timing, ecological setting and cultural context of this process remains controversial concerning its spatiotemporal distribution within the different regions of the peninsula. While traditional models assumed that the whole Iberian hinterland was avoided by modern humans due to ecological factors until the retreat of the Last Glacial Maximum, recent research has demonstrated that hunter-gatherers entered the Iberian interior at least during Solutrean times. We provide a multi-proxy geoarchaeological, chronometric and paleoecological study on human–environment interactions based on the key site of Peña Capón (Guadalajara, Spain). Results show (1) that this site hosts the oldest modern human presence recorded to date in central Iberia, associated to pre-Solutrean cultural traditions around 26,000 years ago, and (2) that this presence occurred during Heinrich Stadial 2 within harsh environmental conditions. These findings demonstrate that this area of the Iberian hinterland was recurrently occupied regardless of climate and environmental variability, thus challenging the widely accepted hypothesis that ecological risk hampered the human settlement of the Iberian interior highlands since the first arrival of modern humans to Southwest Europe.
Adrián Pablos
added a research item
The interior of the Iberian Peninsula has orographic conditions that make this territory especially vulnerable to Quaternary climate oscillations and which actually could have made it decisive for Paleolithic human populations at critical points. For this reason, the information provided by paleon-tological sites is important for reconstructing climatic and environmental conditions during the Late Pleistocene and understanding how they influenced the species that inhabited them, including humans. Nevertheless, the archaeo-paleontological record is scarce in central Iberia for the Late Pleistocene. A central Iberian site that is key to addressing this issue is Cueva de los Torrejones, which was discovered and excavated during the nineties. Clues indicating the presence of Neandertal populations near the cave site were announced during prior field excavations, including Neandertal remains, Middle Paleolithic artifacts, and evidence of anthropic exploitation of faunal resources at the site. Here we report the new results from the recent excavations and research, including detailed studies on stratigraphy, micro-morphology, macro and microvertebrate paleontology, physical and molecular anthropology, taphonomy and zooarchaeology, and analysis of lithic and pottery remains. Our research has led to the detection of three Prehistoric chronologies recorded at the site. The oldest episode corresponds to between MIS 5 and MIS 4 in which the cave was used by carnivores. The second episode is represented by a faunal association dated to 30.0 ka cal BP and is indicative of cooler and more arid environmental conditions and, therefore, compatible with the worsening climate detected previously for MIS 3 in this area. The last episode corresponds to the Chalcolithic, directly dated to~5000 cal BP in which humans used the cavity for funerary purposes. The DNA analysis of the human remain was assigned to mtDNA haplogroup K, which was originated in the Near East and reached western Europe through the Neolithic expansion. Human occupation during the Paleolithic has been ruled out, including Paleolithic human remains and any kind of anthropic intervention on the Hermann’s tortoise and leopard as was previously proposed at the site.
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added a research item
The Iberian Peninsula is considered one of the most well-suited regions in Europe to develop studies on the relationship between environmental changes and human adaptations across the Late Pleistocene. Due to its southwesternmost cul-de-sac position and eco-geographical diversity, Paleolithic Iberia was the stage of cyclical cultural/technological changes, linked to fluctuations in climate and environments, human demographics, and the size, extension, and type of social exchange networks. Such dynamics are particularly evident during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) timeframe, with a series of innovations emerging in the archaeological record, marking the transition between the traditionally defined Gravettian, Proto-Solutrean, Solutrean, and Magdalenian technocomplexes. Stemming from a workshop organized in Erlangen in 2019 on “The Last Glacial Maximum in Europe - state of knowledge in Geosciences and Archaeology”, this paper presents, in the first part, an updated review on the paleoenvironments and human adaptations across four macro-regions (Northern, Inland, Mediterranean, and Western Atlantic Façade) in Iberia during the LGM; and, in a second part, a discussion on the pronounced inter-regional variability, unresolved research questions, and the most promising research topics for future studies.
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added an update
This is our project's webpage: https://multipaleoiberia.com/
 
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added 16 project references
Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño
added a project goal
Our main goal is to investigate population dynamics and human-environment interactions of the last Neandertals and first modern humans in interior Iberia based on unprecedented evidence gathered by means of a macro-regional, interdisciplinary and collaborative research project. This involves the participation of a wide network of scholars and methods, including field surveys, geoarchaeological excavations and chronometric, paleoecological, zooarchaeological, techno-economic and symbolic studies applied to Middle and Upper Palaeolithic contexts.