Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar—The persistence of a Neanderthal population

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DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2007.11.016
Cite this publication
Abstract
The stratigraphy of the late Neanderthal occupation of Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, between 33 and 24 ka BP, the latest known site of Neanderthal occupation, is discussed. Level IV at Gorham's Cave exclusively records Neanderthal occupation and is characterised by Mousterian technology and a sequence of 22 AMS dates. The overlying Level III is Upper Palaeolithic, and the earliest diagnostic culture is the Solutrean at around 18.5 ka BP. A dating interval of over four thousand years separates these two horizons. The ecological and bioclimatic characteristics of the site are considered as an explanation for the late survival of the Neanderthals in the region.
Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–71
Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar—The persistence of
a Neanderthal population
Clive Finlayson
a,b
, Darren A. Fa
a,
, Francisco Jime
´nez Espejo
c,d
,Jo
´se S. Carrio
´n
e
,
Geraldine Finlayson
a
, Francisco Giles Pacheco
f
, Joaquı
´n Rodrı
´guez Vidal
g
,
Chris Stringer
h
, Francisca Martı
´nez Ruiz
c
a
The Gibraltar Museum, 18-20 Bomb House Lane, Gibraltar
b
Department of Social Sciences, University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada
c
Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, CSIC-UGR, Granada, Spain
d
Departamento Mineralogı
´
a y Petrologı
´
a, Universidad de Granada, Spain
e
Department of Plant Biology, Universidad de Murcia, Spain
f
Museo Arqueologico de El Puerto Santa Marı
´
a, Ca
´diz, Spain
g
Departamento de Geodina
´mica y Paleontologı
´
a, Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad de Huelva, Spain
h
Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London, UK
Available online 24 November 2007
Abstract
The stratigraphy of the late Neanderthal occupation of Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, between 33 and 24 ka BP, the latest known site of
Neanderthal occupation, is discussed. Level IV at Gorham’s Cave exclusively records Neanderthal occupation and is characterised by
Mousterian technology and a sequence of 22 AMS dates. The overlying Level III is Upper Palaeolithic, and the earliest diagnostic culture
is the Solutrean at around 18.5 ka BP. A dating interval of over four thousand years separates these two horizons. The ecological and
bioclimatic characteristics of the site are considered as an explanation for the late survival of the Neanderthals in the region.
r2008 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The 6-km long, 426 m high, Rock of Gibraltar is situated
in the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula (361N
050W), 21 km from the coast of North Africa (Morocco).
The significance of the archaeological and palaeontological
record of its caves first came to the fore in the eighteenth
century (Boddington, 1771;Mullens, 1913). The discovery
of a Neanderthal cranium at Forbes’ Quarry in 1848, eight
years before that of the Neander Valley in Germany
(Stringer, 2000a), and the subsequent discovery of a
Neanderthal child’s cranium in 1926 (Garrod et al., 1928)
established the importance of the Rock in the context of
Neanderthal presence. The long occupation of the site of
Gorham’s Cave by Neanderthals was first brought to light
in the 1950s (Waechter 1951, 1964) and work at this site
recommenced in the early 1990s (Stringer et al., 1999;
Stringer, 2000b). Excavations in the inner part of the cave,
an area not previously systematically excavated, com-
menced in 1997. It is here that dating of a stratigraphic
horizon (level IV), that included a Mousterian hearth,
revealed late Neanderthal occupation to at least 28 ka BP
and most probably down to 24 ka BP (Finlayson et al.,
2006). The aim of this paper is to present a more detailed
analysis of level IV at Gorham’s Cave and discuss its
significance in the wider context of Neanderthal extinction
and the so-called Middle–Upper Palaeolithic transition.
2. The Gorham’s Cave sequence
The area excavated in the innermost part of the cave in
the period 1997–2005, includes the late Mousterian
level IV and an Upper Palaeolithic level III, directly above
(Fig. 1,Table 1). It contrasts with the upper part of the
sequence, towards the exterior of the cave, first excavated
by (Waechter, 1951,1964)(Fig. 1), then re-excavated
ARTICLE IN PRESS
1040-6182/$ - see front matter r2008 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.11.016
Corresponding author. Tel.: +350 74289; fax: +350 79158.
E-mail address: darrenfa@gibraltar.gi (D.A. Fa).
subsequently between 1991 and 1997 (Pettitt and Bailey,
2000). Zilhao and Pettitt (2006) located this excavation
towards the cave interior when it was actually in the part of
the cave that is more exposed to external conditions and is
heavily bioturbated in places. The sedimentary environ-
ment in this part has been contributed by an aeolian infill
formed by coastal dune sands that penetrated upwards
towards the interior of the cave. This created a sloping
entrance, with a strong gradient (15–201), in places sandy
in nature and soft, with its sedimentary stratigraphy
showing evidence of disturbance by animals and hominins.
The deep part of the cave, however, is a depositional
surface, with subhorizontal stratigraphy and lower sand
content. The main post-depositional effects are, therefore,
compaction through trampling, rather than bioturbation.
The stratigraphic integrity of level IV is beyond question
on scientific grounds (Finlayson et al., 2006). Table 1
summarises the AMS dates obtained for level IV and
contrasts it with level III, directly above it. There is
therefore complete independence of the two levels on
dating, cultural, mineralogical, geochemical and strati-
graphic grounds. The position is strengthened further by
the total absence of any pre-Solutrean Upper Palaeolithic
technologies anywhere in the stratigraphy. The sequence of
dates obtained were from significant pieces of charcoal
(mean weight ¼2.04 g, standard deviation 3.13) and
corresponds closely with the archaeological sequence for
the region. Here there is a general absence of Aurignacian
(with the possible exception of the site of Bajondillo,
Corte
´sSa
´nchez, 2007), and the Gravettian is rare (Ferreira
Bicho, 2005), which appears concomitant with a late
Mousterian presence instead.
The dates within level IV do not appear in perfect
stratigraphic sequence, as clearly shown and explained by
Finlayson et al. (2006). The results obtained were, however,
consistent with expectation of a level that had repeatedly
been visited and re-occupied by generations of Nean-
derthals. The repeated use of one place as a hearth implies
the removal of previous materials. These people would
have disturbed the floor used and fires made by their
predecessors when they occupied the site, so although a
general temporal sequence of dates would be expected
(as is the case with the chronology from Gorham’s), it
would be unrealistic to expect a perfect and precise
stratigraphic sequence of charcoals and corresponding
dates in fine detail. This kind of disturbance is very
characteristic and the case in most Palaeolithic sites. It is
well known on the basis of present models and other
archaeological localities (e.g., Valverdu´ et al., 2005;
Sergeant et al., 2006). This disturbance implies a minor
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 1. Plan of Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar. Black ellipse (marked by A) is
area in interior of cave excavated in period 1997–2005 and the area of late
Neanderthal occupation. Grey ellipse (marked by B) is area excavated
prior to 1999 by Waechter and later the Gibraltar Caves Project team,
including Pettitt (erroneously marked in Zilhao and Pettitt, 2006).
Table 1
Distribution of AMS dates from Gorham’s Cave, Levels III and IV
Number of AMS
Dates
o24 kyr bp
Number of AMS
dates 4
24 kyr bp
Youngest Date
(lower 95%
confidence limit)
Oldest Date
(upper 95%
confidence limit)
Number of
mousterian
artefacts present
Number of
upper
Palaeolithic
artefacts present
Mg/
Al
K/
Al
La/
Lu
Level III 8 0 10 800 18 600 0 240 0.285 0.70 117.1
Level IV 0 22 23 040 33 340 103 0 0.175 0.555 125.0
The difference between levels III and IV are highly significant: Fisher exact test, po0.00001. In the extreme situation presented, with the lowest 95%
confidence limit for level IV contrasted with the oldest confidence limit for level III the age hiatus between the levels is 4,440 years. Any question of
contamination of charcoal from level III into level IV is therefore discarded. These dates are supported by the completely separate geochemical signals
identified for the two levels (this table and Finlayson et al. 2006 for details). There is furthermore a complete technological separation between the levels
(Fisher exact test, po0.00001).
Average values.
C. Finlayson et al. / Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–71 65
vertical disturbance and horizontal re-distribution of
combustion remains that avoid a perfect vertical chrono-
stratigraphic sequence.
The key question is the degree of stratigraphic integrity
of level IV compared with the level directly above. The
apparent absence of human activity for over four thousand
years after the last Middle Palaeolithic occupation suggests
Neanderthal abandonment of the site, or their extinction,
which left level IV undisturbed. Subsequent, and appar-
ently sporadic, occupation by modern humans did not
intrude into level IV. Thus no Upper Palaeolithic artefacts
appear in level IV, there are no charcoals dating to the
Solutrean in level IV, and the mineralogical/geochemical
signature is completely distinct. The use of geochemical
ratio for materials characterisation is a well-developed
technique (e.g., Romano et al., 2006). Levels IV and III
originated by a combination of inorganic and organic
inputs, and cultural artefacts. Inorganic input to the cave is
associated with autochthonous cave minerals originating
through calcite dissolution (the so-called ‘‘terra rossa’’),
and external inputs. External inputs are mainly related to
aeolian input and surface or near-surface materials
occurring around the cave, usually after suffering a certain
degree of pedogenesis (Ellwood et al., 2001, 2004). A priori,
the conditions of formation of every level must be unique
and will generate a characteristic geochemical imprint that
could be relatively homogeneous across levels or at least
show variations following gradual tendencies. Detrital
proxies, in particular, tend to exhibit highly homogeneous
values along similar stratigraphic levels. Among others,
lateral progressive variations from entrance to deep
locations, local disturbances, and diagenetic effects, could
all affect the interpretation of the geochemical proxies.
In any case, at Gorham’s Cave the hiatus between levels
III and IV is confirmed following geochemical analysis in
three separate excavation fronts (see Finlayson et al., 2006
for details), representing different depositional conditions.
After analyzing major and trace elements, diverse detrital
proxies have been investigated and Mg/Al, K/Al and
La/Lu ratios (Table 1) have been selected as the most
informative. In both levels the mineralogical phases
associated with Mg and K have a detrital origin (chlorite,
dolomite and ankerite as Mg sources and illite and
K-feldspars for K). The other detrital proxy used, the
La/Lu ratio (e.g., Hamroush and Stanley, 1990;Martinez-
Ruiz et al., 2000), is related with the source of sediments.
For level IV, the Mg/Al ratio ranged from 0.17 to 0.18 and
from 0.55 to 0.56 for K/Al ratio (Table 1). At level IIIB
Mg/Al ranged from 0.27 to 0.30, two times higher than
level IV, and the K/Al ratio ranged from 0.69 to 0.71. The
La/Lu ratio at level IV ranged from 124.5 to 125.5 and for
the level III from 114.1 to 123.7 with an average value of
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 2. Spider diagram of the mean concentrations of trace elements at different levels; n¼3, in ppm. K¼level IIIA, ~¼level IIIB, m¼level IV. Note
level III is distinguished between the upper part (A) and the lower part (B) that is closest to level IV.
C. Finlayson et al. / Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–7166
117.1 (Table 1). These clear differences between levels have
been also confirmed by the chemical characteristics
of sediments (Fig. 2). The high resolution geochemical
mapping developed using Tatscanner F-2 (Sakamoto
et al., 2006) at each of the different cave levels indicate a
laminar/subhorizontal (discarding brecciated or chaotic)
deposition (Finlayson et al., 2006). All these geological
data indicate a distinctive and highly homogeneous bed
deposition for several geochemical ratios at each separate
level, a relatively common phenomenon in caves with low
levels of disturbance (e.g., Forbes and Bestland, 2007).
Finally, the suggestion of contamination of 24–30 ka BP
charcoals from level III into level IV (Zilhao and Pettitt,
2006) begs the obvious question—why were no 24–30 ka
BP charcoals found in level III? It seems very unlikely that
all the 24–30 ka BP charcoals filtered down into level IV,
leaving none behind in level III, and seems equally unlikely
that no older charcoals migrated up into level III.
In total, the Gorham’s Cave stratigraphy represents a
sequence of about 18 m, covering the period from the Last
Interglacial (Rodrı
´guez-Vidal et al., 2007) to the Last
Glacial Maximum and beyond, into the Neolithic and
Protohistoric periods (Finlayson, 2006). However, regard-
ing level IV, our previous conclusion seems the most
reasonable: this was the uppermost part of a long sequence
of occupation of Gorham’s Cave by Neanderthals. The
cave was not a refugium but rather a favoured habitation
for the Neanderthals and the optimal conditions of the
site and surrounding region enabled persistence of this
population. In our view there is nothing diagnostically
Aurignacian nor Gravettian in the sequence and there are
no radiocarbon dates falling in the period 24–18.5 ka BP.
The site was then occupied in the Solutrean after 18.5 ka
BP. To suggest that dates in the 24–30 ka BP range were
related to modern human activity would therefore require
either:
(a) that all 24–30 ka BP charcoals had percolated into level
IV from level III without leaving any behind in level
III; or
(b) that the Solutrean culture here commenced in the
period 24–30 ka BP , thousands of years before its
commencement in the rest of southern Iberia. Even
then, the Solutrean artefacts did not percolate into
level IV while all the charcoals did; or
(c) that people (Aurignacian or Gravettian or both)
entered the cave between 24 and 30 ka BP, made fires,
consumed animals, but left no artefacts in level IV.
Tools attributed to the early Upper Palaeolithic were
described by Waechter (1951, 1964) and reported
(though not described) by Pettitt and Bailey (2000).
These may well have been the products of Nean-
derthals, or of later Upper Palaeolithic modern
humans. Alternatively, since these tools were recovered
towards the front of the cave, it remains theoretically
possible that there were sporadic visits by early Upper
Palaeolithic humans who did not access the rear of the
cave, and impact the Neanderthal occupations in level
IV. However, this possibility would require much more
evidence before it could be seriously considered.
3. Why did Neanderthals survive late in Gorham’s Cave?
The answer seems to lie in the ecological diversity of the
environment that the Neanderthals exploited outside
Gorham’s Cave. To date, in level IV, two species of
amphibian, seven reptiles, 11 large mammals and 44 bird
species have been identified (Finlayson et al., 2006). At
least 10 species of intertidal and shallow water molluscs
have also been identified (Fa, in press). The flora and
vegetation of the Gibraltar region and surrounding
mountains also reveal great diversity within a small area
(Carrio
´n et al., 2005, in press;Finlayson et al., 2006;
Finlayson and Carrio
´n, 2007). It is this small scale mosaic
of diversity, combining rocky habitat, open woodland,
wetland and coast, which offered the Neanderthals
opportunities for year-round subsistence, a strategy that
they had successfully pursued for over 100 thousand years
(Finlayson, 2006).
Such a strategy was pursued in mild Mediterranean
bioclimatic conditions that strayed little beyond the range
covered by thermo- and meso-Mediterranean thermotypes
and subhumid and dry ombrotypes, with mean annual
temperatures oscillating between 13 and 17 1C and annual
rainfall between 350 and 1000 mm (Finlayson, 2006). Such
conditions also appear to have pertained to the Solutrean
occupation during OIS 2 (Finlayson et al., 2007).
4. What killed off the last Neanderthals?
Jime
´nez-Espejo et al. (2007) have shown that the most
inhospitable conditions of the previous 250 ka BP affected
the region surrounding Gibraltar between 22.5 and 25.5 ka
cal BP (dates were calibrated to allow direct comparison
with marine core sequences) and have linked this with
unstable conditions, extremely cold, arid and highly
variable related to Heinrich event 2 (HE2) that led to the
final disappearance of the Neanderthals. This study was
based on new data from marine cores as well as an
extensive literature concerning marine palaeoenviromental
reconstructions (e.g., Cacho et al., 2002;Martrat et al.,
2004;Moreno et al., 2005). We suggest that this event,
particularly severe and short-lived around 24 ka cal BP,
would have been sufficient to kill off any surviving
Neanderthals.
At the population level, the process must have been
spatially heterogeneous within southern Iberia (Finlayson
and Carrio
´n, 2007), and we may well keep the expectation
that other populations will be dated between the most
recent part of MIS3 and onset of MIS2. On this basis, it is
not surprising that (subject to confirmation from further
excavations) new dating results from Neanderthal-bearing
beds in Carihuela Cave, northwards from Gibraltar in
ARTICLE IN PRESS
C. Finlayson et al. / Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–71 67
continental Andalucı
´a, fall within the 28–22 ka BP span
(Ferna
´ndez et al., 2007).
5. Discussion
5.1. Late southern Iberian Neanderthals—implications for
the Lagar Velho child
The publication of the discovery of a juvenile human
from the Gravettian period at the site of Lagar Velho,
Portugal (Duarte et al., 1999) raised the possibility of
hybridisation among Neanderthals and modern humans.
That the Lagar Velho child was a hybrid at all has been
seriously contested (e.g. see Tattersall and Schwartz, 1999).
In any case, to base a taxonomic claim on a single, juvenile,
specimen is difficult especially since the body proportion
data potentially lie within the expected Gravettian range.
Additionally, Pettitt et al. (2002) subsequently placed the
age of the burial between 24 and 25 ka BP, relatively late
for a Gravettian burial.
The late date of the burial, supposedly long after the last
Neanderthals had disappeared from Iberia, led to the
argument that hybridisation must have been widespread
among Neanderthals and modern humans for such mosaic
features to survive so recently in an individual (Zilhao and
Trinkaus, 2002). The findings related to level IV at
Gorham’s Cave suggest that the Lagar Velho child could
have been contemporaneous with the southern Iberian
Neanderthals, but we have no evidence of how far north
any surviving Neanderthals extended. Even accepting the
contentious position of the individual being a hybrid, the
argument that it represented widespread admixture now
becomes increasingly difficult to sustain.
5.2. There was no Ebro Frontier
Much has been made of an apparent division of
occupation of the Iberian Peninsula into that north of
the Ebro River (largely occupied by Aurignacian modern
humans) and south of it (largely occupied by Neanderthals)
until 30–20 ka BP (Zilhao, 2000). However, recent work
has provided evidence that the apparent stasis for five
thousand years across the so-called Ebro stable biocultural
frontier is an artefact of the dates chosen to represent each
side of the division. There were, in fact, modern humans
south of this frontier and Neanderthals north of it during
the presumed frontier period between 35 and 30 ka BP
(Finlayson, 2004;Vaquero et al., 2006).
The processes of Neanderthal extinction and modern
human colonisation are a major bone of contention. These
processes may be viewed as independent events in which
Neanderthal populations survived longest in the thermo-
and meso-Mediterranean zones of southern Iberia, parti-
cularly the south-west and south-east (Finlayson, 2006),
with a slow entry into Mediterranean zones of modern
humans from the Eurosiberian region to the north (Fig. 3).
Zilhao and Pettitt (2006) interpret the statement by
Finlayson et al. (2006) that during the transition between
the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic in southern Iberia
human populations were at low densities, to estimate that
the remaining Neanderthal population needed a minimum
land area of 50,000 km
2
(at a population density of a single
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Fig. 3. Distribution of major bioclimatic belts of the Iberian Peninsula (from Finlayson, 2004). White—Eurosiberian; pale grey-oro-Mediterranean;
grey—supra-Mediterranean; dark grey-meso-Mediterranean; and black-thermo-Mediterranean.
C. Finlayson et al. / Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–7168
Neanderthal for every 100 km
2
). Based on this hypothetical
model they go on to state that Neanderthals and Moderns
in this region must have lived in total sympatry, with
extensively overlapping mating networks, and query how
no exchange of genes or culture could have resulted. In the
first instance, there is no requirement for a minimum
population size of 500 individuals since we know that the
existing Neanderthal population eventually went extinct.
Secondly, their model ignores the spatio-temporal mosaic
that is an intrinsic part of Finlayson et al.’s scenario. By
failing to consider the extremely heterogeneous nature of
the southern Iberian Peninsula and the generally accepted
premise that these humans would have moved around this
environment in small, possibly family, groups, both factors
that would have significantly decreased encounter rates,
they provide a model that is unrealistic.
At Gorham’s Cave, in the extreme south, events are seen
in terms of regular periods of occupation by Neanderthals,
interrupted at times that in some cases at least can be
related to cool periods associated with Heinrich (HE)
Events. By HE2 the last Neanderthals had left the cave,
(Fig. 4), but on this occasion they did not return.
Subsequent visits by modern humans later appear much
more sporadic. These fluctuating periods of occupation of
the cave were independent of modern humans, who were
not in the area for the greater part of the time. As we move
north-eastwards and Mediterranean and Eurosiberian
zones are compressed more closely (Fig. 3), the probability
of contact between the populations is greater, thus
providing a functional explanation for the strikingly
different patterns observed in Catalun
˜a and Cantabria
(Vaquero et al., 2006) when compared to the deep south. It
was in the extreme south-west, the haven within the
refugium, that the last Neanderthals survived.
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Years BP
60000
50000
40000
30000
20000
10000
0
95% cl Uppe
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Date BP
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ARTICLE IN PRESS
C. Finlayson et al. / Quaternary International 181 (2008) 64–71 71
  • ... A nivel de Andalucía el número de yacimientos es mayor, aunque en muchos casos las informaciones son parciales o sujetas a ciertas dudas. La cueva de la Carihuela (Vega et al., 1988), Bajondillo (Cortés et al., 2019), cueva de Gorham's (Finlayson et al., 2008) o los datos más dudosos del Boquete de Zafarraya (Barroso et al., 2006) pueden entrar en esta discusión. ...
    Chapter
    Full-text available
    Los descubrimientos llevados a cabo en los últimos años están haciendo que el sureste e convierta en referencia para todos los estudiosos del Paleolítico. La Cueva del Arco, ubicada en el paraje del Cañón de Almadenes (Cieza, Murcia), posee una de las secuencias más importantes para comprender la tran-sición entre el Paleolítico Medio y el Superior en nuestra Región. Además, se trata de uno de los pocos yacimientos del sureste que aglutina arte rupestre y ocupaciones paleolíticas. Sin duda, se trata de un yacimiento de gran interés científico y que ha generado un gran impacto social. En esta comunicación se presentará un compendio de los hallazgos desde el comienzo de las intervenciones, en el año 2015, hasta el momento.
  • ... Together with P. antiquus there was a late survival in Iberia of some megafauna, as well as some of the last Neanderthals, until at least the early stages of the Last Glacial. Osteological and new ichnological data found at Gibraltar, in the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula, once again is confirming and adding new insights to the theory that southwest and south of Iberia constituted a key location in determining the timing of the replacement of Neanderthals by anatomically modern humans (Finlayson et al. 2008;Muñiz et al. 2019, Cunha et al. 2019. ...
    Article
    In his short joint ventures across the world of vertebrate tracks, Richard Bromley recognized the aeolian sands as unsuitable soft substrates for their preservation. Only after his work in the Balearic Islands, a more systematic study of coastal aeolianites worldwide revealed that these depositional systems could preserve a highly important record of behavioural trace fossils for the evolution of vertebrates, especially in the Pleistocene, including extinct megafauna and the escalation of the Homo. Here we describe coastal aeolianites from the upper Pleistocene of SW Iberia, namely SW Portugal and Gibraltar, with trackways, tracks and trampled surfaces of the last elephants in mainland Europe. Photogrammetric 3 D modelling and analysis of the relevant proboscidean track levels allowed revision of and support for previous ichnotaxonomic identification to Proboscipeda panfamilia and behavioural interpretations of the producer. Smaller and very large trackways and footprints attributed to Palaeoloxodon antiquus are described and discussed according to new and recent, but always rare findings. The seeming progressive and definitive extinction of this species towards southern Iberia, following the same pattern for the replacement of the Neanderthals during the last initial Pleniglacial (until ca. 28 ka), suggests evidence for co-evolution.
  • ... Many regions present this production independently of their geographic location or geomorphological context (see Table 3 and Fig. 14). In Spain, Cuesta de la Bajada (Teruel, MIS 9-8), Cueva del Bajondillo (Málaga, MIS 5e), Cueva Amalda (Guipúzcoa, MIS 4) and Abrigo de la Quebrada (Valencia, MIS 3) are some examples where a micro-production is cited (Burdukiewicz et al., 1994;Mania, 1998;Müller and Pasda, 2011;Pasda, 2012;Moncel, 2001Moncel, , 2003Moncel, , 2003aMoncel, , 2003bMoncel and Neruda, 2000;Moncel and Svoboda, 1998;Burdukiewicz and Ronen, 2003;Borel et al., 2017;Moncel et al., 2011;Moles and Boutié, 2009;Turq et al., 2008;Aldeias et al., 2012;Anzidei et al.;2012;Bietti and Grimaldi, 1996;Soriano Villa, 2017;Dogand and Ljiljana, 2017;Darlas, 1994Darlas, , 2007Santonja and Pérez, 2002;Santonja et al., 2014;Cortés, 2007;Villaverde et al., 2012;Finlayson et al., 2008;Giles Pacheco et al., 2012). ...
    Article
    The presence of small retouched stone tools in the lithic industries of the Middle Palaeolithic is a well-known and repeated-and not necessarily in recent times-fact in several European sites. Although modern research accepts the existence of microlithism in these contexts, it is necessary to define the process in the Palaeolithic industries of flakes with greater precision from the point of view of a technological aim in the societies of Neanderthal lineage. In this study, we analyse the case of Bolomor Cave (Tavernes de la Valldigna, Valencia, Spain) in an overview that includes statistics, techno-typology and metric analysis through the site's main phases of occupation. We first analysethe raw material compositions of each phase as well as their possible catchment areas. In this study, the reconstruction of the original volumes is key to understanding the degree of exploitation of the blanks linked to the different processes of lithic reduction (shaping, recycling, resharpening). Microlithic production has been studied by analysing the interrelation of several variables in categories and ranges that allow us to compare data along this long chronostratigraphic sequence (350-100 ka). In the future, this wide chronological range will evaluate this phenomenon, not only from the technological point of view but also from a functional overview, opening new interesting research lines. We also consider the scope and diffusion of microlithism through the lithic industries of the Middle Palaeolithic. We propose the denomination of flake microlithism as a concept based on the data exposed in Bolomor Cave and endorsed by data from other sites.
  • ... These refugia of Neanderthals could have existed in peripheral areas (such as at Gibraltar) until 30,000 years ago based on controversially dated Neanderthal artefacts (Finlayson et al. 2008), but incontrovertibly no more recent physical evidence exists of Neanderthals. The absence of Neanderthal skeletons and artefacts throughout later prehistory and recorded history explains why the relict hominoid hypothesis is untenable. ...
    Conference Paper
    Full-text available
    In 1982 Myra Shackley published "The Case for Neanderthal Survival: Fact, Fiction or Fraction?" in the journal Antiquity, followed by a book the next year Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma. While focusing on recent alleged sightings of the almas (a hairy human-like creature) across Central Asia as a possible relict population of Neanderthals surviving in remote mountainous areas, she also discussed Boris Porshnev's (1968) theory that there might have been Neanderthal survival in other parts of the world such as forests and mountains in Greece, furthermore that satyrs in Greek myth, rather than being imaginary creatures, were based on sightings of relict Neanderthals, albeit distorted, as stories about them were retold. This paper examines evidence for the satyr-Neanderthal relict hominoid hypothesis (based on classical artwork and ancient literary descriptions of satyrs) concluding like Shackley did, Porshnev's theory "deserves serious consideration".
  • ... Caben destacar entre estos el yacimiento de Barranco León, datado entre 1,4-1,2 Ma (Agustí et al., 2015), donde se ha hallado material dental homínido (Toro-Moyano et al., 2013;Ribot et al., 2015), y el de Venta Micena, donde se descubrió el polémico fragmento de cráneo potencialmente homínido de en torno a 1,6 Ma conocido como el "hombre de Orce", además de una gran cantidad de mamíferos (Borja et al., 1997). Para terminar este repaso, el yacimiento de Gibraltar aporta valiosísima información del modo de vida de los últimos reductos Neandertales conocidos, ya que está datado en 0,032 Ma (Finlayson et al., 2008;Zilhão et al., 2017) (Fig. 1). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    El Pleistoceno es la franja geológica comprendida entre 1,806 y 0,0117 millones de años atrás. La Península Ibérica cuenta con un registro Paleontológico importante de esta época, aunque hay un hiato de yacimientos de esta cronología en algunas áreas peninsulares, como es el caso de La Mancha. Aunque bien es cierto que, si contemplamos también el registro arqueológico Paleolítico, podemos encontrar más referencias, estas normalmente tratan de yacimientos donde el contexto es dudoso o ausente. El motivo de la carencia de fósiles, a mi parecer, no es una realidad de sesgo, ya que las regiones circundantes presentan buen registro, y el registro arqueológico apoya la presencia de homínidos fósiles en la zona. Es probable que dicha carencia obedezca a una falta de dedicación por parte de la academia e instituciones manchegas, así como al uso eminentemente agrícola de la tierra en La Mancha, que también puede haber propiciado que los yacimientos al aire libre se alteren o se pierdan. Futuros trabajos han de ir encaminados a la búsqueda de yacimientos de cronologías pleistocenas en la zona.
  • ... To better understand Neanderthal population dynamics and assess the degree of regional behavioural variability during critical conditions of environmental change it is important to seek evidence from the Iberian Peninsula, which has previously been considered as a refugium during cold periods, particularly the south of the peninsula [5][6][7][8] and more recently the east coast as well 9 . Considerable work has been done to establish site-specific palaeoclimatic records for Iberian sites dating to MIS 5 9-13 and MIS 3, e.g. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    There is a relatively low amount of Middle Paleolithic sites in Europe dating to MIS 4. Of the few that exist, several of them lack evidence for anthropogenic fire, raising the question of how this period of global cooling may have affected the Neanderthal population. The Iberian Peninsula is a key area to explore this issue, as it has been considered as a glacial refugium during critical periods of the Neanderthal timeline and might therefore yield archaeological contexts in which we can explore possible changes in the behaviour and settlement patterns of Neanderthal groups during MIS 4. Here we report recent data from Abric del Pastor, a small rock shelter in Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) with a stratified deposit containing Middle Palaeolithic remains. We present absolute dates that frame the sequence within MIS 4 and multi-proxy geoarchaeological evidence of in situ anthropogenic fire, including microscopic evidence of in situ combustion residues and thermally altered sediment. We also present archaeostratigraphic evidence of recurrent, functionally diverse, brief human occupation of the rock shelter. Our results suggest that Neanderthals occupied the Central Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula during MIS 4, that these Neanderthals were not undergoing climatic stress and they were habitual fire users.
  • ... Sur la période de -50 000 à -14 700 ans, on retiendra ici que (1) la disparition de l'Homme Cette hypothèse est supportée par les vestiges Néandertaliens de Gibraltar ( Finlayson et al., 2008). ...
    Thesis
    Le Bergsee offre une séquence sédimentaire terrestre et continue sur l’histoire environnementale de l’Europe de l’Ouest entre 50 ka BP et aujourd’hui.Un enregistrement pollinique continu et séculaire permet la construction de l’évolution de la végétation et du climat sur la dernière période glaciaire.Outre l’opposition entre le Stade Isotopique Marin 3 et 2 (le second étant plus steppique), la succession de stades et d’interstades courts nord-atlantiques est reflétée par l’alternance de steppes (i.e. climat froid/sec) et de courts épisodes forestiers (i.e. réchauffements). Des phases glaciaires plus prononcées attestent de Stades de Heinrich en Europe de l’Ouest.Ces résultats sont validés par : 1) la confrontation avec des études européennes et 2) l’approche multi-proxy (chironomes, alkanes, géochimie) appliquée à des épisodes clés.Une comparaison avec les données archéologiques montre finalement le potentiel de contribution du contexte climato-environnemental du Bergsee à la compréhension des changements sociétaux du Paléolithique Supérieur.
  • Article
    The Cueva de Los Toriles belongs to a karstic system found in the southern Iberian plateau. Construction works in the cave (not related to paleontological activities) have allowed for the recovery of fossil remains of macromammals, including two lower molars of a mustelid that are presented in this work. They can be attributed to the species Meles cf. thorali based on morphological and morphometric comparisons. This extinct mustelid is known mostly from Villafranchian deposits of France, Spain, and Greece spanning from the late Pliocene potentially, even reaching with some doubts the Early-Middle Pleistocene of France. Therefore, according to the presence of this badger in the cave, we could tentatively assume a chronological age ranging from the Late Pliocene to the Middle Pleistocene, chronologies that would be consistent with some lithic tools found in the cave. We highlight the importance of Cueva de Los Toriles for the Quaternary Paleontology of the southern Iberian plateau, one of the places from the Iberian Peninsula with a more limited fossil record from these chronologies.
  • Article
    The country of Serbia is situated on the Balkan Peninsula and has a moderate continental climate. Dramatic tectonic activity in the early Miocene generated two main mountain ranges and led to the retreat of Paratethys. This meant the Balkan Peninsula became a crossroads for many migrating species. Currently, the majority of central European species, along with some Mediterranean, and even Euro-Siberian taxa can be found in Serbia. Fossil records from caves reveal changes in fossil fauna from the Pleistocene to Holocene. There is evidence that the distinct configuration of the terrain in the Balkans led to many isolated areas, enabling large mammal species, together with Neanderthals that were living in the area, to find refuge and survive longer than in the rest of Europe. The best fossil associations containing small vertebrates come from the Baranica, Hadži Prodanova, Pešturina, and Smolućka caves. Based on available numerical dating, an attempt has been made to fit these within the chronological context of the Mousterian-Aurignacian-Gravettian cultural succession. The stratigraphy of the layers corresponds to the so-called MIS 5 to MIS 2 (i.e., from 70,000 to 14,000 years ago). This paper presents a review of the herpetofaunal findings from Serbia, and analyses the data collected. Statistical approaches, involving hierarchical clustering and correspondence analysis, have been used on the fossil amphibian and reptile assemblages. As associated context is often not sufficient, small mammal assemblages have been used as a comparative proxy for reconstructing the palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment, through the application of taxonomical habitat indexes and bioclimate analysis. The overall analysis reveals that the herpetofaunal composition experience substantial change between MIS 3 and MIS 2, when there were a loss of diversity and the concurrence of species adapted to cold climates and environments, in accordance with the glacial cycle.
  • Thesis
    Full-text available
    Neanderthals have had a long-standing stereotype as hunters of large mammalian fauna such as woolly mammoth or reindeer, leading to assumptions of a very narrow dietary niche for this species, attributed by some as a contributary factor in their demise. Evidence from Southern European sites, however, illustrates that Neanderthals were exploiting resources outside of large mammals. The presence of butchered tortoise, birds and marine species is noted at a number of sites. The sites of Gorham's Cave and Vanguard Cave (Gibraltar) exhibit a wide array of "alternative resources" exploited by Neanderthals. The remains of marine mammals, plant resources, avian prey and possibly tortoise and lagomorphs at these sites indicate a broad-spectrum diet. The sites at Gibraltar are believed to be among the last occupied by Neanderthals before their extinction. This paper proposes that the highly varied diet presented by these sites may have been the catalyst in the longevity of this species in Gibraltar and in turn may prove other factors aside from competition were responsible for the Neanderthal extinction.
  • Book
    Full-text available
    Preface In August of 1998, the two of us participated in the first Gibraltar conference on the Neandertals and modern human origins, held to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the discovery of the Forbes’ Quarry Neandertal cranium. At that conference, which integrated various aspects of Late Pleistocene human ecology, behavior and biology, the focus seemed to keep coming back to the two questions which have plagued European Late Pleistocene paleoanthropology for much of the past century. How similar were the Neandertals to early modern humans in their behavior and adaptive patterns, and how closely related were these two groups of humans? Since southern Iberia appeared, in 1998, to be the last refugium of the Neandertals, the focus of the conference, on both of these general issues and the natures of the Late Pleistocene changes in Iberia, seemed to bring the various questions into focus, if not any closer to resolution. After the conference, one of us (ET) accompanied the other (JZ) to Portugal to view the first of the Middle Paleolithic human remains from the Gruta da Oliviera (a manual middle phalanx from the fifth ray) and to discuss possible further human paleontological work in the context of ongoing archeological excavations in the Almonda karstic complex. It was a pleasant couple of days that ended with a casual agreement to continue the collaboration should further and interesting Paleolithic human remains be found. Little did we expect what would emerge less than three months later. The discovery of the Abrigo do Lagar Velho and the child’s burial in late November of 1998 and the subsequent salvage excavation during December and early January 1999 (see Chapter 2) was initially carried out largely in secret, since the site was unprotected and there was fear of damage to the skeleton by curious but poorly informed onlookers. However, after it was announced by the Portuguese media on December 25, every effort was made to make information on the site, the burial and skeleton available to both the public and the profession. Indeed, other than the normal restrictions dictated by excavation, laboratory cleaning and reassembly, and curatorial concerns regarding the fragile specimens, we have made an effort to be as open as possible about the remains and the site, to colleagues and the general public. It is in the context of our belief that paleontological data should be made available as soon as is reasonably possible that we have conceived of the current volume on the Abrigo do Lagar Velho and its Gravettian human remains. It is less than four years since the site was first discovered, and less than three years since all of the scattered cranial pieces of the child were recovered from the rockshelter. Moreover, extended excavations of the site have continued each year, with additional data on the geology, paleoecology and archeology of the preserved levels. For these reasons, our current study of both the site and the skeleton are not exhaustive — such a detailed level of analysis would take decades to be fully accomplished. However, the research has reached the point at which we feel that we have reliable information and inferences to present. This volume is the result. In the excavation and analysis of the Abrigo do Lagar Velho, it was apparent to us from the beginning that any such project required a variety of expertises to produce a worthwhile result. In order to accomplish this, we put together a team, with JZ being concerned with the excavation and analysis of the site and ET taking responsibility for the assembly and analysis of the human skeleton. Through all of this, absolutely critical work was undertaken and overseen by Cidália Duarte, who both excavated the skeleton in the field exquisitely (who else has excavated pedal phalangeal epiphyses identified as to digit from a Paleolithic burial?) and took care of the skeleton and all of the logistics surrounding its analysis in Lisbon. Even though she is not a co-editor on this volume and remains an author on only two chapters, she probably contributed more to the analysis of the skeleton than any one of us. The contributions of the others are evident in their authorships of the various chapters in the volume. The volume is divided into two sections, one concerned with the site and the other with the skeleton, preceded by a brief history of work at the site and on the skeleton and followed by discussions of the human phylogenetic and behavioral implications of the remains. Even though fieldwork continues at the site, principally in Gravettian levels in the western portion of the shelter, we have limited the discussions here to those concerned with the overall structure of the prehistoric deposits, the human burial and skeletal remains, and the paleoenvironmental, archeological and chronological contexts of the remains. In addition, it was decided that the comparative frameworks employed for the description of the site and its contents (since all description is by definition comparative) would be largely limited to currently available data and interpretive frameworks. In a few cases the contributors have engaged in the collection of additional comparative data specific to this project, but the vast majority of the comparative frameworks have been put together from the published literature, personal experience, and data and ideas shared by colleagues. It is expected that we, and others, will pursue further a number of the issues raised by this site, refining and enlarging upon the results presented here. Ironically, it is the one aspect of Late Pleistocene paleoanthropology, human phylogeny, that was furthest from our primary interests which has sparked the pronounced and ongoing interest in “the Lapedo child.” Although both of us had written extensively on the transition from the Neandertals to early modern humans in Europe, and its complex interrelationships with the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition, we had both been concerned principally with the behavioral dynamics of the two human groups, asking questions about the natures and the degrees of behavioral similarities and differences between them. Phylogeny had entered into those discussions, primarily to the extent that it had a bearing on the probable patterns of interactions in time and space between the two groups of Late Pleistocene humans. Following on this train of research, when we proposed in 1999 that the Lapedo child, Lagar Velho 1, exhibited evidence of Neandertal-modern human admixture in Iberia, our primary thrust was what it told us about the degree of similarity of their behavioral patterns that enabled them to regard each other as potential mates. Yet, the intensity of the debate concerning whether Neandertals and early modern humans had interbred, both in the professional and public arenas, led us to realize that these are issues about which people feel very strongly. However, unlike most academic arguments that are primarily concerned with the reputations of the scholars involved, this one touched deeply on a concern that went far beyond academic rivalries and previous position statements. It became increasingly apparent to us that it confronted the issue of how special we, as modern humans, actually are, how distinct we are (or are not) from humans who were not quite “us.” The Gravettian child from the Lapedo Valley cannot, despite our efforts, resolve that question. Yet, it is our hope that our presentation of its remains and the contents of the site into which it was buried after its untimely death 25 millennia ago will contribute a little to our understanding of the processes that led to the emergence of early modern humans, and of the people who were involved in that process.