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This article focuses on the origins for technological variation during the Middle Pleistocene through the analysis of the lithic assemblages from Galería and Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1 (Atapuerca, Spain). The technological study was organized into three main levels of analysis. The first stage consisted of the technological characterization of the whole assemblage (e.g. the general composition of each sample, the exploitation and shaping methods used, and the characteristics of each item). The second stage involved the morphometric analysis of the large tools, mainly handaxes and cleavers, given the significance of these instruments in Middle Pleistocene assemblages. In this case, we combined traditional technical and metrical analyses with current morphometric methods. Lastly, taking into account the general characteristics of these sites, the third stage consisted of assessing how the different occupational strategies affected the lithic representation. These analyses allowed us to define three technological groups. The first includes unit Galería-GIIa, which corresponds to the appearance of the Acheulean in the Atapuerca caves. The second is represented by the rest of the sequence of the Galería site, mainly the upper part of the sequence (unit GIII). And the third technological corresponds to Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1. Thus, the Galería sequence shows the technological evolution of the Acheulean over a period of 250 ka. Furthermore, subunit TD10.1 represents a new occupational strategy combining traditional Acheulean tools with more evolved technical strategies.
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The nature of technological changes: The Middle Pleistocene stone
tool assemblages from Galería and Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1
(Atapuerca, Spain)
Paula García-Medrano
, Andreu Oll
, Marina Mosquera
, Isabel C
Eudald Carbonell
Institut Catal
a de Paleoecologia Humana i Evoluci
o Social (IPHES), Zona educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV (EdiciW3), 43007, Tarragona, Spain
Laboratorio de Prehistoria, IþDþI, Universidad de Burgos, Pl. Misael Ba~
nuelos s/n, 09001, Burgos, Spain
Area de Prehist
oria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), av. Catalunya, 35, 43002, Tarragona, Spain
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing (IVPP), China
article info
Article history:
Available online 29 March 2015
Large Cutting Tools
Technological evolution
Raw material
Occupation type
This article focuses on the origins for technological variation during the Middle Pleistocene through the
analysis of the lithic assemblages from Galería and Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1 (Atapuerca, Spain). The
technological study was organized into three main levels of analysis. The rst stage consisted of the
technological characterization of the whole assemblage (e.g. the general composition of each sample, the
exploitation and shaping methods used, and the characteristics of each item). The second stage involved
the morphometric analysis of the large tools, mainly handaxes and cleavers, given the signicance of
these instruments in Middle Pleistocene assemblages. In this case, we combined traditional technical and
metrical analyses with current morphometric methods. Lastly, taking into account the general charac-
teristics of these sites, the third stage consisted of assessing how the different occupational strategies
affected the lithic representation. These analyses allowed us to dene three technological groups. The
rst includes unit Galería-GIIa, which corresponds to the appearance of the Acheulean in the Atapuerca
caves. The second is represented by the rest of the sequence of the Galería site, mainly the upper part of
the sequence (unit GIII). And the third technological corresponds to Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1. Thus,
the Galería sequence shows the technological evolution of the Acheulean over a period of 250 ka.
Furthermore, subunit TD10.1 represents a new occupational strategy combining traditional Acheulean
tools with more evolved technical strategies.
©2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
This article compares the lithic technology of two sites, Galería
and Gran Dolina-TD10.1 (Atapuerca, Spain), in order to dene their
technological variations during the Middle Pleistocene. Comparing
lithic assemblages involves considering conditions such as: the
type of occupation, the raw materials used, and the chronological
framework. Firstly, the type of occupation refers to the activities
carried out at each site. Functional variables would have affected
the compositional characteristics of the assemblages. Secondly, the
types of raw materials available and their physical limitations could
have lead hominins to develop local technical solutions, notably the
use of specic knapping strategies. Finally, the chronological range
is a crucial variable in evaluating the characteristics of the tools
which make up an assemblage, including the presence of specic
tool types or specic manufacturing features, such as the type of
retouch used.
The Gran Dolina-TD10.1 and Galería sites have been interpreted
to reect different occupational patterns. The archaeological record
of subunit TD10.1 has been documented as the result of intense
occupations, exhibiting clear base-camp features (Carbonell et al.,
2001; M
arquez et al., 2001; Rosell, 2001; Rodríguez, 2004). How-
ever, recent works have also identied repeated shorter-term oc-
cupations (Blasco et al., 2013a, 2013b). In all cases, hunting
practices, the transport of prey into the cave and domestic activities
*Corresponding author. Institut Catal
a de Paleoecologia Humana i Evoluci
o Social
(IPHES), Zona educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV (EdiciW3), 43007, Tarragona,
E-mail address: (P. García-Medrano).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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1040-6182/©2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111
related to carcass processing have been observed. The lithic as-
semblages from most of the archaeological levels forming TD10.1
exhibit complete knapping sequences and spatial correlation with
faunal remains. Comparatively, the Galería sequence reects short,
sporadic and successive occupations, in which analogous activities
were carried out over the course of 250 ka: exploiting the animals
that fell into the cave through a vertical duct (Díez and Moreno,
1994; Huguet et al., 2001; C
aceres, 2002; Oll
e et al., 2005;
aceres et al., 2010). The main feature of the lithic assemblages
deriving from this use of the cave is a clear fragmentation of the
reduction sequences. Apparently, most of the knapping activities
occurred outside of the cave, with nished tools being generally
introduced into the site. This site specicity resulted in consider-
able technological uniformity.
Because the sites are situated only about 50 m apart (Fig. 1), we
may assume that the hominin groups shared the same environ-
ment and that they would have had access to the same raw ma-
terials (Oll
e et al., 2013). In spite of constraints relating to the
different dating methods used, the chronological range of the two
sequences is roughly complementary. The Galería site presents a
continuous sequence from 503 ±95 ka (Berger et al., 2008)to
221e269 ka (Falgu
eres et al., 2013). More recently, (Falgu
eres et al.,
2013), the age of Gran Dolina's subunit TD10.1 has been evaluated
to around 300 ka (Fig. 2).
Three different technological groups have emerged through the
comparison of the lithic assemblages of Galería and Gran Dolina-
TD10.1. The rst includes the GIIa subunit of Galería, and corre-
sponds to the appearance of the Acheulean in Atapuerca. The sec-
ond is represented by the remainder of the Galería sequence,
mainly the upper part (unit GIII) and the third to Gran Dolina-
subunit TD10.1. This article presents results from a two-fold lithic
analysis and discusses the origins of technological changes high-
lighted by our data. The rst stage of our work includes the tech-
nological analysis of the assemblages (e.g. the composition of each
sample, the exploitation and shaping techniques used and the
characteristics of the resulting products). The second stage focuses
on the morphometric analysis of the large tools; mainly handaxes
and cleavers, given their signicance in Middle Pleistocene as-
semblages. Finally, we discuss the technological data, placing it
within the framework of each site's specicities in order to assess
how different occupational strategies might have affected the lithic
2. Site context: Galería and Gran Dolina
The Sierra de Atapuerca is located on the northern part of the
Iberian Meseta, 15 km east of Burgos (Fig. 1). It is a small Cenozoic
limestone elevation containing several caves (P
alez et al.,
2001). Excavations at the numerous sites in Atapuerca have yielded
a rich archaeological record spanning the last million years,
providing key information about Early and Middle Pleistocene
populations (Carbonell et al., 1995a,b; 2008; Arsuaga et al., 1997a,
Fig. 1. Location of the Atapuerca sites, showing the proximity of the Galería and Gran Dolina sites. On the right, a map of the karst (adapted from Ortega, 2009). (For an inter-
pretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 93
1997b; Bermúdez de Castro et al., 1999; Rodríguez et al., 2011; Oll
et al., 2013).
2.1. The Galería complex
The Galería complex is located on the western side of the Sierra.
The cavity, developing inwards for over 12 m, is around 14 m high
and 18 m wide. The name Galeríarefers to the complete cave
system, which comprises three distinct areas: a central area (TG),
joined to the north by small chamber (TZ) and containing a vertical
shaft that rises to the surface to the south (TN). Five main inlling
phases (GI to GV) and one paleosol (GVI) have been distinguished
e and Huguet, 1999; P
alez et al., 1999, 2001;
Vallverdú, 2002)(Fig. 2). Only units GII and GIII are archeo-
paleontological deposits. Unit GI is formed by archeologically
sterile endokarstic detrital sediment, dated to >350 ka (U/Th) and
317 ±60 ka (ESR) (Grün and Aguirre, 1987). The Matuyama-
Brunhes boundary has been identied less than half a meter
below the chronometric samples (Fig. 2).
Unit GII is divided into two subunits, separated by a continuous
organic layer. The earliest of these, GIIa, contains evidence of the
cave's rst exposure to the outside and is correlated with OIS11
(Aguirre, 2001). However, TL dates provide older chronologies
(503 ±95 ka and 422 ±55 ka for TG9, Berger et al., 2008). Further
data from ESR-US give an age of 350e363 ka (Falgu
eres et al., 2013).
The more recent dates were obtained using TT-OSL and pIR-IR
(330 ka and 230 ka, Demuro et al., 2014). The youngest subunit,
GIIb, has recently been dated by ESR-US to 237e269 ka (Falgu
et al., 2013). Unit GIII is also divided into two subunits which
have been dated using different methods (TL, ESR, ESR-US, TT-OSL,
Fig. 2. Chronostratigraphic correlation between the Gran Dolina-subunit TD10.1 and the Galería sequence, according to Arnold et al. (2014), Berger et al. (20 08), Demuro et al.
(2014), Falgu
eres et al. (2001, 2013), Grün and Aguirre (1987), and P
alez et al. (1999).
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e11194
and pIR-IR
). The age of unit GIIIa, has been evaluated to
between 460 ka and 220 ka (Berger et al., 2008; Falgu
eres et al.,
2013; Demuro et al., 2014). and that of Unit GIIIb to between
300 ka and 250 ka (Berger et al., 2008; Demuro et al., 2014;
eres et al., 2001, 2013; Arnold et al., in press). The nal inll-
ing event corresponds to the edaphic relict formation that sealed
the cave (Units GIV to GVI). A stalagmite from the top of GIV has
been dated to between 250 ka to 87 ka (ESR, U/Th, TT-OSL and pIR-
)(Fig. 2).
Two human fossils were recovered at Galería (TZ area). The rst
(from unit GII) is an adult mandible fragment with two molars
(Bermúdez de Castro and Rosas, 1992) and the second, from the
base of GIII, is a neurocranial fragment of an adult individual
(Arsuaga et al., 1999). Both remains display features in common
with the fossils from the Sima de los Huesos site (Arsuaga et al.,
1997a), located less than 2 km from Galería, and have been
ascribed to the same clade.
The Galería assemblage lacks the characteristic features of a
home-base (e.g. a high degree of hominin impact on the faunal
remains, abundant and complete lithic reduction sequences, and a
certain degree of spatial organization). In addition, the taphonomic
data suggests conditions of waterlogged ground and semi-darkness
that may, to some extent, explain the relatively limited domestic
activities documented. The occupational model inferred is one of
sporadic and repeated low intensity visits for the purpose of
obtaining animals that had fallen into the natural trap created by
the TN shaft, in successful competition with carnivores (Díez and
Moreno, 1994; Huguet et al., 2001; C
aceres, 2002; Oll
e et al.,
2005; C
aceres et al., 2010). A gradual reduction in the meat sup-
ply could have led to a loss of interest in this cave to both humans
and carnivores. According to this model, the Galería site would have
been a complementary settlement areain the complex karst
network of Sierra de Atapuerca to which hominins made occasional
planned visits (Carbonell et al., 1995a,b; Oll
e et al., 2013). This
suggests that the hominins were familiar with the environment
around the site and that they were capable of planning and
2.2. Gran Dolina site
The Gran Dolina site (TD), located ca. 50 m north of Galería, is a
cave inlled by interior and exterior deposits. Its stratigraphic suc-
cession (up to 18 m thick) was initially divided into 11 units (TD1 to
TD11 Fig. 2)(Gil et al., 1987). This schema was later slightly revised
es and P
alez, 1999; P
alez et al., 2001;
Rodríguez et al., 2011). Palaeomagnetic data place the Matuyama-
Brunhes boundary at the top of level TD7, thus dividing the strati-
graphic sequence into an Early Pleistocene section (TD1-2 to TD7)
and a Middle Pleistocene section (TD8 to TD11). No radiometrical
dates have been obtained from TD3-TD4 but biostratigraphic data
indicates an age of ca. 1 Ma (Made,1999; Cuenca-Besc
os et al., 2011).
Unit TD6 is a formed by several groups of beds, the penultimate of
which is TD6.2 (the Aurora stratum)(Vallverdú et al., 2001). This
unit has yielded a signicant collection of human remains attributed
to Homo antecessor, associated with abundant stone tools and faunal
remains (Bermúdez de Castro et al., 1997, 2008; Carbonell et al.,
1995a,b, 1999; 2005). According to palaeomagnetic data, the age
of TD6 is ca. 0.8 Ma (Par
es and P
alez, 1999), an age that is
consistent with the ESR and U-series dates (Falgu
eres et al., 1999,
2001). Sublevel TD6.3 has recently been dated by TT-OSL, to
856 ±75 ka and 831 ±90 ka (Arnold et al., in press, Arnold and
Demuro, in press). A slightly older TL date of 960 ±120 ka (Berger
et al. 2008) for the overlying level TD7 is corroborated by recent
paleomagnetic data from the top of TD7 indicating an age of 900 ka
for TD6 (Par
es et al., 2013). Following archaeologically sterile units
TD8 and TD8-9, the rst unit with evidence of a hominin presence at
Gran Dolina is TD9 (with only four stone tools) dated by TL to
480 ±130 ka (Berger et al. 2008).
Most of the site's archaeological record is concentrated in the
overlying unit (TD10) that has been divided into four lithostrati-
graphic subunits (TD10.4 to TD10.1, from bottom to top).
Geochronological studies have provided a TL date of 430 ±59 ka for
subunit TD10.3 and a series of ESR/UTh dates. However, a slightly
discordant TL mean date of 244 ±26 ka for the bottom of unit
TD10.2 has also been reported. The stratigraphic succession nishes
with the archaeologically sterile unit TD11, dated to between
240 ±44 and 55 ±14 ka (Falgu
eres et al., 1999, 2013; Berger et al.,
2008; Rodríguez et al., 2011).
Together with TD10.2 (number of faunal remains and lithic
artifacts ¼77.743), TD10.1 is one of the richest subunits of the
Atapuerca sites, and has yielded 48,000 faunal remains and more
than 20,000 lithic artifacts (Oll
e et al., 2013). The archeological
assemblage has been interpreted as a base-camp, resulting from
the combination of high intensity occupations and a succession of
short-term occupations (Carbonell et al., 2001; L
opez-Ortega et al.,
2011; M
arquez et al., 2001; Men
endez, 2009; Rodríguez, 2004;
Rosell, 2001; Terradillos-Bernal, 2010; Blasco et al., 2013a, 2013b).
The high intensity of the occupations is reected by the abundant
evidence of faunal processing and domestic activities (Rosell, 2001;
Blasco, 2013a, 2013b), as well as in the complete lithic knapping
sequences (Carbonell et al., 2001; M
arquez et al., 2001; Rodríguez,
2004). The features of faunal assemblages (such as skeletal ele-
ments with high nutritional values) suggest that hominins has
primary access to animals, and that they transported the richest
anatomical segments into the cave.
3. Methods
The Atapuerca lithic assemblage has been analyzed using the
Logical Analytical System (Carbonell et al., 1983, 1992, 1999;
Rodríguez, 2004). Additional methodological approaches have
also been applied. Knapping methods are dened in terms of core
surface exploitation (faciality), the direction of removals, and the
arrangement of the striking platforms. We have identied Longi-
tudinal, Centripetal, Discoidal, Levallois, and Orthogonal methods.
- The Longitudinal knapping strategy was performed on a single
core surface, with ake scars oriented unidirectionally along the
thickest part of the blank. This aking method was commonly
used at Atapuerca to reduce pebbles and cobbles, leading to
products with a signicant amount of cortex on their lateral
- The Centripetal method was practiced by means of recurrent
knapping around the edge of a support. (a) Discoidal cores
present core surfaces were knapped using a similar extraction
angle and worked alternately, (b) In the case of hierarchical
centripetal cores, one core surface (usually the attest) was
preferentially worked during production, while the other (the
more abrupt) was reserved to prepare the striking platforms.
This hierarchical organization of core surfaces ensured a certain
degree of predetermination in the shape of the akes. Levallois
reduction methods would, in fact, be the extreme expression of
this hierarchical process.
- Orthogonal strategies are based on the continuous creation of
ake extraction surfaces that were used as striking platforms.
The angles between these surfaces tend to be close to 90
et al., 2013).
To analyze the morphometric variability of the akes, we
considered several indices (Stout et al., 2014) such as: elongation
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 95
(length/width), renement (width/thickness), relative thickness
(thickness/(length*width)), relative platform area ((platform
length*platform width)/(ake length*ake width)) and platform
shape (platform length/platform width). This analysis was
restricted to whole akes with a maximum dimension of >20 mm.
We also undertook a more detailed study of some of the char-
acteristic groups of tools in Middle Pleistocene assemblages, paying
special attention to the Large Cutting Tools. We follow here the
denition of Large Cutting Toolproposed by Sharon (2007: 20) as,
A single headline for unifacially and bifacially knapped Acheulian
tools of all types (i.e. handaxes, cleavers, knives, picks, core axes,
thriedrals and more), which emphasizes the important of the cut-
ting edge as the tools' main raison d'^
etre. In this case, due the
characteristics of our record, we have considered the LCT made on
large akes (more than 10 cm, Sharon, 2008) as well as those made
on smaller blanks.
In addition to conventional LAS characterization, focusing on
faciality, percentage of perimeter modied by shaping, extent of the
removals, and direction and delineation of the retouched edge
(Rodríguez, 2004), we further described shaping strategies to
include aspects such as the percentage of residual cortex and the
number of scars per face on each tool. We also adapted the shaping
sequencing of large tools, based on the British research tradition,
which considers the different phases of the conguration process:
test, rough-out, shaping and nishing (Newcomer, 1971; Wenban-
Smith, 1989; Wenban-Smith and Ashton, 1998). The tools were
assigned to a specic stage of this process, in accordance to their
technological characteristics, such as: the amount of cortex, the
distribution, size and shape of the removals, the use of different
percussion modalities, the type of retouch, the angle separating the
two faces of the tool, etc.
3.1. Classic morphometric methods for LCT
Focusing on LCTs, our basic analytical description was
completed by various measurements (Fig. 3), traditionally used in
the study of the variability of large tools (Bordes, 1961; Roe, 1968,
1981; Crompton and Gowlett, 1993; McPherron, 1995, 1999, 2000,
2003), and which complement the information about morphol-
ogies and size and shape variations (García-Medrano, 2011). These
measurements were combined into three main indices and were
used to evaluate each tool's shape: elongation (ratio of total length
to maximum width), renement (ratio of maximum width to
maximum thickness), and Bordes' Edge Shape (the relative location
of the maximum width with a ratio of the width at the midpoint
of length to the maximum width; which is summarized with
the formula [(Length/Base Length) e4.575] [Mid width (n) /
Maxim. Width (m)]), (Bordes, 1961).
3.2. Morphometric methods for the study of LCTs
We applied a geometric morphometric methodology to extract 2-
dimensional coordinate data using digital photographs taken of each
handaxe at a 90
zenithal angle. Coordinate extraction was per-
formed manually with a digitizing program (tpsDig2, Rohlf, 2009),
and resampled with 60 equally spaced points, preserving the orig-
inal, manually digitized starting point. Then, the XYoutline data le
was opened in PAST (Paleontological Statistics), a program that can
be used to analyze morphometric data (Hammer et al., 2001). A 2D
Procrustes superimposition of the XY outline coordinate data was
performed, which scales, rotates, and translates the XY coordinate
data, bringing all biface outlines to a standardized size, orientation,
and position before subsequent analysis. Essentially, the shape co-
ordinates are tted around the centroid or group mean, which cen-
ters the specimen outlines. Subtracting the sample mean from the
dataset ensures that principal component axes are centered at (0, 0)
for subsequent PCA (Hammer and Harper, 2006). The multivariate
outline data obtained using PAST was projected into two dimensions
so that the underlying shape variables could be qualitatively exam-
ined and compared (Hammer and Harper, 2006)(Fig. 4).
In order to interpret the meaning of the PCA results from a
morphological perspective, Procrustes superimposed shape data
was examined with the thin-plate splines, grids used to facilitate
visualization of shape changes from the group mean along relative
Fig. 3. Set of measurements taken from handaxes and cleavers, expressed as name and initials. Modied from García-Medrano (2011).
Fig. 4. Procrustes superimposition process removes size, translation, and rotation (i.e.,
orientation) from the original shape data. Original outline data (left) vs. Procrustes
aligned data (right). These images correspond with the outlines of the handaxes and
cleavers of Galería and TD10.1.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e11196
Table 1
Contingency table between the raw materials and type of instruments, by subunits. Undetermined elements (due to their poor state of conservation and the loss of technological characteristics) are not included. LCT (Large
Cutting Tools) includes handaxes ad cleavers. Products include simple akes, retouched akes, broken akes, ake fragments and simple fragments. The TD10.1 data has been extracted from Oll
e et al., 2013: 159 (Table 15). Bold
signies for the total number of tool category and italics for the % of this total with respect to the global total of the assemblage.
Natural bases Cores LCT Chopper &
Retouched tools Products Total
Sandstone 5 9.80 ee 323.08 ee35.88 12 7.95 23 8.30
Limestone ee ee ee 125.00 ee 21.32 31.08
Quartzite 45 88.24 114.29 753.85 375.00 14 27.45 23 15.23 93 33.57
Quartz 1 1.96 ee ee e e 11.96 ee 20.72
Cret.Ch. ee 342.86 ee e e 611.76 95.96 18 6.50
Neog.Ch. ee 342.86 323.08 ee27 52.94 105 69.54 138 49.82
Total 51 7 13 4 51 151 277
%18.41 2.53 6.14 6.14 18.41 54.51
Sandstone 6 12.50 19.09 529.41 2100.00 54.95 21 8.86 40 9.62
Limestone 12 25.00 19.09 15.88 ee54.95 11 4.64 30 7.21
Quartzite 29 60.42 436.36 423.53 ee16 15.84 24 10.13 77 18.51
Quartz 1 2.08 ee ee e e 32.97 11 4.64 15 3.61
Schist ee ee ee e e e e 20.84 20.48
Indet Ch. ee ee 15.88 eeeeee10.24
Cretac.Ch. ee 218.18 15.88 e11 10.89 21 8.86 35 8.41
Neog.Ch. ee 327.27 529.41 ee61 60.40 147 62.03 216 51.92
Total 48 11 17 2 101 237 416
%11.54 2.64 4.09 0.48 24.28 56.97
Sandstone 12 14.63 16.67 746.67 266.67 68.45 13 10.66 41 13.31
Limestone 7 8.54 213.33 ee e e e e 54.10 14 4.55
Quartzite 62 75.61 ee 426.67 ee811.27 15 12.30 89 28.90
Quartz 1 1.22 ee 16.67 133.33 11.41 21.64 61.95
Schist ee ee ee e e 22.82 ee20.65
Cretac.Ch. ee 213,33 ee e e 68.45 43.28 12 3,90
Neog.Ch. ee 10 66.67 320.00 ee48 67.61 83 68.03 144 46.75
Total 82 15 15 3 71 122 308
%26.62 4.87 4.87 0.97 23.05 39.61
Sandstone 13 18.84 16.67 225.00 ee 915.52 20 18.18 45 17.05
Limestone 5 7.25 213.33 ee ee 23.45 21.82 11 4.17
Quartzite 50 72.46 426.67 337.50 4100.00 18 31.03 54.55 84 31.82
Quartz 1 1.45 ee ee ee 23.45 32.73 62.27
Schist ee 16.67 112.50 ee 11.72 10.91 41.52
Indet Ch. ee 16.67 ee ee 11.72 10.91 31.14
Cretac.Ch. ee ee ee ee 58.62 76.36 12 4.55
Neog.Ch. ee 640.00 225.00 ee 20 34.48 71 64.55 99 37.50
Total 69 15 8 4 58 110 264
%26.14 5.68 3.03 1.52 21.97 41.67
Sandstone 35 23.81 29 15.43 11 33.33 325.00 73 11.51 2750 18.79 2901 18.54
Limestone 5 3.40 ee ee 18.33 10.16 36 0.25 43 0.27
Quartzite 82 55.78 38 20.21 721.21 866.67 197 31.07 3233 22.10 3565 22.79
Quartz 19 12.93 31.60 ee e e 23 3.63 658 4.50 703 4.49
Other R. 2 1.36 ee ee e e e e 13 0.09 15 0.08
Indet Ch. 3 2.04 ee 13.03 ee20.32 162 1.11 168 1.07
Cretac.Ch. ee 23 12.23 ee e e 105 16.56 1245 8.51 1373 8.78
Neog.Ch. 1 0.68 95 50.53 14 42.42 ee233 36.75 6535 44.66 6878 43.96
Total 147 188 33 12 634 14,632 15,646
%0.94 1.20 0.21 0.08 4.05 93.52
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 97
warp axes (Hammer and Harper, 2006; see Fig.18). This process
allows estimated shape to be displayed at any point within a plot of
any two principal components. This facilitates the translation of
shape variation represented by the principal component axes into
causative factors that may have affected artifact morphology
(Costa, 2010). By examining the morphological deformations (i.e.,
principal components axes) and XY plots of specimens from the
PCA scatters (Fig. 13), it was possible to interpret the shape varia-
tion which each principal component encompassed.
4. Results
4.1. Raw materials and artifact type frequencies
Seven main types of raw materials were identied in the
archeological records of Galería and Gran Dolina, all of which were
available within a 2e5 km radius around the sites, sites (García-
on et al., 2002; García-Ant
on and Mosquera, 2007)(Table 1).
The Acheulean assemblage of Galería'sesubunit GIIa is charac-
terized by six raw materials, of which Neogene chert (around 50%)
and quartzite (33.57%) were the most frequently used. Products
including simple akes, retouched akes, broken akes, ake
fragments and angular fragments make up the main category
(54.51%), followed by retouched tools (24%) and non-modied
cobbles (18%), brought into the cave by hominins. Retouched
tools were generally made from Neogene chert and quartzite. Large
tools, which include handaxes and cleavers as well as choppers and
chopping-tools, were made of quartzite (59%). There are few cores
(2.53%), basically made of chert (Neogene or Cretaceous) (Table 2).
However, GIIa displays a unique characteristic which is not found in
the rest of the Galería levels or in other Atapuerca sites: the use
cobbles for shaping large tools (over 50% of the large tools) (García-
Medrano, 2011:218;García-Medrano et al., 2014)(Table 1).
The lithic assemblage from Galería-GIIb is different in several
aspects. Firstly, the raw materials are more divers: quartzite is less
common, dropping to 18.5%, and sandstone, Cretaceous chert and
limestone were more extensively used, increasing to 9.6%, 8.4% and
7.2%, respectively. Secondly, the use of quartzite is substituted by a
combination of six raw materials, of which sandstone was the most
common (36.8%). Concerning the retouched toolkit, a wider variety
of raw materials was used, with sandstone representing 24% of the
assemblage. And thirdly, the knapping was mainly performed on
large akes, which required considerable planning to produce and
which represent a different level of resource management (García-
Medrano et al., 2014).
Subunits GIIIa and GIIIb conrm trends observed in GIIb:
Neogene chert and quartzite continue to be the primary raw ma-
terials, but the progressive introduction of sandstone is signicant,
reaching 17% in GIIIa and 18.5% in GIIIb. There is also progressive
diversication in the representation of the raw materials, with less
common types taking on increased signicance. The tool type
representation also changes, with a higher number of cores (4.9% in
GIIIa; 5.7% in GIIIb), and a lower number of Large Cutting Tools
(4.9% in GIIIa, 3.0% in GIIIb).
The Gran Dolina-TD10.1 lithic assemblage reects the same
tendencies as the upper levels of Galería (unit GIII) in terms of raw
material representation, such as the intensive use of Neogene chert,
quartzite and sandstone for both exploitation and shaping. Never-
theless, the TD10.1 assemblage presents specic technological as-
pects, such the scarcity of cobbles, complete chaînes op
decrease in the presence of LCTs, and an over-representation of
products derived from these sequences (akes and ake
fragments ¼>93% of the TD10.1 assemblage) (Table 1). This could
mask the signicance of other the technological items and could
also be derived from the function of the site.
4.2. Exploitation sequences and products
Although cores represent less than 6% of the assemblages, we
remark the preferential use of cobbles in the oldest levels (GIIa),
(>50% of the cores, Fig. 5A), whereas akes were preferred for cores
in the more recent levels (unit GIII). This transition seems to have
occurred in subunit GIIb, where both cobbles and akes have equal
representation among the core supports. Bifacial exploitation pre-
dominates throughout sequences at both Galería and Gran Dolina-
TD10.1. However, unifacial exploitation is also signicant (>40% of
the cores from subunit GIIIb).
We identied signicant changes in the knapping methods,
along the Galería sequence. In the oldest levels (Galería-GIIa), the
Table 2
The R
correlation coefcients between the maximum dimension and shape
indices of products (elongation, renement, relative thickness, ake volume, plat-
form area and platform shape).
Elongation R
0.0059 0.0124 0.0008 0.0001 0.0107
Renement R
0.0035 0.0052 0.0398 0.0019 0.0103
Relative thickness R
0.6024 0.5851 0.5949 0.5371 0.4140
0.6097 0.6340 0.6230 0.6059 0.1914
Flake volume R
0.8900 0.8708 0.8064 0.8313 0.8001
0.7872 0.5898 0.7782 0.8116 0.5080
Relative platform area R
0.0107 0.0012 0.0013 0.0129 0.0070
Platform shape R
0.0524 0.0106 0.0045 0.0082 0.0000
Fig. 5. A) Type of blank cores, by subunit. B) Type of exploitation method, by subunit.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e11198
longitudinal and orthogonal methods are most common. The lon-
gitudinal method, a constant in the archeological record of Ata-
puerca, is represented throughout the sequence in different
proportions. It was used to reduce quartzite cobbles, whose
morphology favors this kind of technical approach. Flake extraction
was opportunistically carried out from natural platforms.
The orthogonal core reduction methods were used on the
smallest supports or at the end of the knapping sequences, when
their small size limited the viability of other knapping strategies.
Orthogonal strategies lose their signicance through the sequence,
representing only 10e15% in the upper part (mainly Galería-GIIIb
and Gran Dolina-TD10.1), where they are replaced by centripetal
and discoid methods. In addition, Levallois methods also appear,
mainly in subunit TD10.1. (Fig. 5B).
The presence of knapping products is massive in all the as-
semblages (Fig. 6A). In TD10.1, we have documented an over-
representation of akes (>93% of the assemblage). The major-
ity are simple akes and ake fragments of Neogene chert.
Fig. 7. Relationship between ake size (maximum dimension) and shape indices.
Fig. 6. A) Percentage of products (simple akes, ake fragments and broken akes) in each assemblage. B) Raw materials of products between the different assemblages.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 99
Fig. 9. Cleavers from GIIa (Ato C), GIIb (Dto H) and GIIIa (Ito J) of Galería (A, Ata'94 TN2B F27, 2; B, Ata'94 TN2B F22, 3; C, Ata'94 TG07 F20, 2; D, Ata'92 TG10C G18, 1; E, Ata'93 TN05
F25, 32; F, Ata'96 TG GIIc H13, 17; G, Ata'08 TZ GIIc N02, 14; H, Ata'91 TG10B F20, 53; I, Ata'88 TG10A G17, 83; J, Ata'85 TG11 GSU11 G21, 48).
Fig. 8. A) Blank types of large tools, by subunits. B) Types of large tools, by subunits, detailing the number of pieces.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111100
However, the presence of this raw material gradually decreases
along the sequence, in favor of quartzite and sandstone. The
scarcity of Cretaceous chert and quartz is constant throughout
the sequence. The other raw materials (limestone, schist and
slate) were marginally used and their frequency is variable
(Fig. 6B).
When ake shape indices were correlated with ake size
(maximum dimension) in the Galería sequence (Fig. 7), results
show a fairly strong inverse relationship between their size and
thickness. In fact, larger akes tend to be thinner than smaller ones
(Table 2). This relationship is poorly represented in the upper levels
of Galería (GIIIb) and becomes particularly limited in TD10.1
Fig. 10. Handaxes from GIIa (Ato D) and GIIb (Eto H) of Galería (A, Ata'94 TG07 F20, 4; B, Ata'94 TN2B G22, 5; C, Ata'95 TN2B H23, 1; D, Ata'96 TG GIId H12, 10; E, Ata'95 TN05 G25,
30; F, Ata'92 TG10B H20, 25; G, Ata'88 TG10B E18, 1; H, Ata'08 TZ GIIc N02, 152).
Fig. 11. (A), Presence of cortex on handaxes by subunit (CO, cortical; CO(NCO), mainly cortical; NCO(CO), mainly non-cortical; NCO, non-cortical). (B), Percentage of the handaxes'
surface affected by the shaping process by subunits.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 101
¼0.1914). Flake volume is the second index most
closely correlated with ake size. In the ve assemblages the
longest akes present the highest volumes. The effects on other
variables, though signicant, were quite small.
Interestingly, when analyzing the relationship between ake
size (maximum dimension) and platform shape (Fig. 7F), the
akes from Gran Dolina-TD10.1 appear to be split into two
groups: those shorter and thicker platforms and those with longer
Fig. 12. (A) Presence of primary and secondary retouch on handaxes, by subunits. (B) Number of scars on handaxes, by subunits.
Fig. 13. Handaxes from subunits GIIIa (Ato B) and GIIIb (Cto F) of Galería (A, Ata'90 TG10A G21, 90; B, Ata'90 TN07 E29, 1; C, Ata'93 TZ GIII Q05, 11; D, Ata'92 TZ GIII M04, 21; E,
Ata'92 TZ GIII M05, 21; F, Ata'95 TZ GIII K05, 20).
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111102
and thinner platforms. In addition, all the akes from Galería
belong to the rst group. This leads us to suggest that these two
groups may have a different origin. This fact could be derived
from the use of different knapping methods. Galería exhibits the
intensive use of centripetal and longitudinal methods, which in
most cases produce akes with thick platforms. Although TD10.1
shares these characteristics, it also exhibits signicant use of
Levallois method, which generates more controlled ake charac-
ters (Eren and Lycett, 2012; Lycett and von Cramon-Tubadel,
2013). Therefore, on one hand, the Galería sequence represents
stability in terms of the metrical characteristics of the akes,
while the TD10.1 sequence represents heterogeneity in terms of
the use of different exploitation systems, which is reected in the
dimensional characteristics of the akes.
4.3. Shaping sequences
The large tools clearly illustrate the technological evolution
documented in the Middle Pleistocene sequence of Atapuerca. One
of the most important changes in the technological characteristics
of the large tools is the transition from the preferential use of
cobbles for shaping (>70% of tools in the oldest levels of Galería-
GIIa) (Fig. 8A) to the use of akes as supports for shaping (reaching
70% at TD10.1). The intensive use of quartzite was replaced by an
Fig. 14. Roe's morphological LCT variation in three main groups (cleaver type, oval type and pointed type), and according to the distribution of the instruments by subunits. (B1/B2
means Distal width/Proximal Width; B/L means Maximum Width/Total Length).
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 103
increase in the use of sandstone and Neogene chert akes (García-
Medrano et al., 2014).
Generally, there is a complete set of Middle Pleistocene tool
types: choppers, chopping-tools, cleavers, and handaxes, in
different stages of conguration (Fig. 8B). The presence of
chopper and chopping-tools is constant through the sequence.
Cleavers are more frequent at the base of the sequence (subunits
GIIa and GIIb). Tixier (1956:916)dened cleavers as tools made
on akes that have an unworked distal cutting edge which cor-
responds to the distal edge of the ake. But at Atapuerca and
other sites, some tools go beyond this denition. We use the term
cleaverfor all tools in which a distal transverse edge clearly
prevails, regardless of the type of support (Figs. 9 and 15 Gand
H). Although in Atapuerca the distal edges of the cleavers are
mainly without retouch, some of them appear slightly shaped.
The Atapuerca cleavers are typologically variable (types 1, 2 and 5
being the most common) and were manufactured on a wide
variety of raw materials (quartzite, quartz, sandstone and
Neogene chert). No cleavers have been recovered from Galería
subunit GIIIb.
Handaxes are most frequent among the large tools. Represent-
ing 50% of the LCTs in GIIa, they account for over 70% of the LCTs in
subunit GIIIb (Fig. 8B). All the handaxes from Galería correspond to
the last stages of the shaping process. These tools were made
outside the cave. The little ret information that has been docu-
mented suggests that minor shaping activities were carried out
inside the cave for the purpose of solving specic problems related
to the use of the instruments, such as improving the prehensile
Fig. 15. Handaxes (Ato F) and cleavers (Gto H) from subunit TD10.1 of Gran Dolina (A, Ata'88 TD10 J15, 10; B, Ata'00 TD10 N19, 120; C, Ata'00 Td10 J21,13; D, Ata'00 TD10 L13, 6; E,
Ata'03 TD10 J10, 29; F, Ata'05 TD10 J19, 20; G, Ata'03 TD10 J10, 34; H, Ata'01 TD10 N14, 320).
Fig. 16. Correspondence analysis between tool type frequencies (natural pebbles,
cores, large tools, small tools and products) and the subunits considered. The
Dimension 1 refers to the Subunits (GIIa, GIIb, GIIIa, GIIIb) and the Dimension 2, to the
type of instruments.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111104
areas. In most cases, the handaxes are in the shaping stage, and
retain part of the cortical surface and the characteristics of the
original supports. Handaxes in the nishing stage of conguration
are less common and their frequency decreases along the sequence.
These artifacts exhibit more careful techniques along their edges,
the presence of secondary retouch (Figs. 8B and 12A), and the use of
simple angles for shaping. The rough-out phase has only been
documented in TD10.1, which means that the most complete
shaping sequences are concentrated in this level. The presence of
the rough-out phase implies that the initial management of the
support, which would result in the creation of large tool, took place
at the occupation.
In general, the presence of residual cortical surfaces disappears
over time (Fig. 11A): the handaxes from the oldest levels (Galería-
GIIa, Fig. 10) are characterized by entirely or largely cortical sur-
faces. Conversely, those from the upper part of the Galería sequence
and from Gran Dolina-TD10.1 (Figs. 13 and 15) are mainly non-
cortical tools. This seems to be closely related to both the massive
use of akes as supports for shaping in the more recent levels and
to more extensive shaping strategies. In fact, in more than 60% of
cases, shaping affects between the 60 and 100% of the surface of the
tool (Fig. 11B).
Regarding the different retouch phases, despite retaining a good
part of the original surface, more secondary retouch is observed in
the basal levels (Fig. 12). It is mainly concentrated in the mid-distal
part of the tools, along with a higher number of scars per face.
Meanwhile, the more recent levels show a reduction in the use of
secondary retouch, and a lower number of scars per face. Thus, in
the older levels, the original characteristics of the supports were
used and the shaping strategies focused on specic sectors of the
pieces, with more care taken along the edges. A transition then
occurs towards increased modication of the supports with the use
of fewer removals.
Roe (1968, 1981) identies three handaxe types based on their:
pointed, ovate and cleaver traditions, dened by the location of the
maximum width in relation to the total length. The dichotomy
between the oval and pointed traditionshas been the main goal
of the most traditional British discussion. According to Roe's
morphological descriptions (and excluding choppers, chopping
tools and rough-outs), the large tools from Galería and Gran
Dolina-TD10.1 are mostly included in the oval type. This means
that the common characteristic within these sites is the location of
the maximum width, which is situated in the mid-length of the
But there are differences between the various levels. While the
Galería's instruments present narrow silhouettes (Fig. 14) with
convex and broad proximal parts, those from TD10.1 exhibit more
rhomboidal shapes, with a clear tendency to pointed distal and
proximal ends. Other large tools fall into the cleaver type, charac-
terized by the location of the maximum width in the distal part of
the tool. In Galería, these tools have a narrow medium-sized
proximal part and a straight transverse edge, while in TD10.1
these have a wider proximal part and more convex transverse
edges. The third group, the pointed type, exhibits wide variability in
terms of shape (i.e. little standardization).
Through a more detailed analysis of the linear measurements
and indices of the handaxes and cleavers (Table 3), it became clear
that Galería's large tools are longer, wider and thicker. The largest
ones are from subunit GIIb, and their dimensions decrease over
time in the sequence. The shortest handaxes are from Gran Dolina-
TD10.1 except for GIIIb, where wider forms dominate. The rene-
ment index classies Galería as a very homogeneous assemblage,
with a predominance of thick large tools (Table 3). This techno-
logical aspect is derived from the massive use of large akes rather
than cobbles as supports.
The data from Bordes' Edge Shape Index conrms Roe's mea-
surements, revealing that the tools exhibit oval shapes (mean
values >1). Nevertheless, the TD10.1 subunit represents the more
pointed distal and proximal ends.
Looking at size standardization (expressed in Table 3 by CV),
most of the variability occurs in the width measurements
(maximum width, distal width and base width), the distal length,
and Bordes' Edge Shape. There is a clear relationship between
length and elongation in all of the assemblages (Table 4). However,
when the same relationships are assessed using the tip length
(Table 5), we observe that these variations affect the morphology of
the Edge Shape (reecting the general morphology of tools) more
than elongation or renement. This is due to the relative lack of
shape standardization caused by the marginality of the secondary
retouching phases on the distal parts of the instruments. Bordes'
Edge Shape is also affected by both the total length and the tip
Table 3
Descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation, SD) and coefcients of variation
(CV) for the linear variables and indices related to size of the handaxes and cleavers.
(N) 13 17 13 9 29
Length Mean 105.9200 129.8800 108.4600 108.0000 96.1000
SD 27.5232 26.1320 27.0590 23.8635 22.4745
CV 0.2598 0.2012 0.2495 0.2210 0.2339
Width Mean 67.9200 79.1200 67.7700 75.1100 62.8900
SD 15.4836 13.6409 12.4646 12.3489 13.3152
CV 0.2280 0.1724 0.1839 0.1644 0.2117
Thickness Mean 32.4600 39.4100 34.9200 35.1100 34.5100
SD 10.8036 10.1120 12.3294 8.8244 9.5382
CV 0.3328 0.2566 0.3531 0.2513 0.2764
Distal length Mean 57.6900 75.7500 62.6500 55.7500 58.1700
SD 18.8710 20.8069 26.4798 19.4818 17.1738
CV 0.3271 0.2747 0.4227 0.3494 0.2952
Distal width Mean 46.8500 63.6800 54.3200 50.6400 46.2300
SD 14.0895 13.3070 13.9602 12.2315 11.7947
CV 0.3007 0.2090 0.2570 0.2415 0.2551
Distal thickness Mean 21.1500 28.7400 21.6000 22.5300 19.8400
SD 9.0323 8.8770 5.9081 9.6448 7.4430
CV 0.4271 0.3089 0.2735 0.4281 0.3752
Base length Mean 48.2300 57.3100 49.6300 52.2400 37.8900
SD 16.9334 18.6070 23.1802 19.3244 14.1426
CV 0.3511 0.3247 0.4671 0.3699 0.3733
Base width Mean 57.8500 69.5100 64.8000 62.5000 57.2200
SD 11.1700 9.9949 7.3620 11.3494 15.8176
CV 0.1931 0.1438 0.1136 0.1816 0.2764
Elongation Mean 1.5700 1.6300 1.5800 1.4700 1.5500
SD 0.1888 0.2225 0.2193 0.2850 0.2148
CV 0.1203 0.1365 0.1388 0.1939 0.1386
Renement Mean 2.2000 2.0700 2.0900 2.1900 1.8700
SD 0.4340 0.4319 0.5419 0.4509 0.4048
CV 0.1973 0.2086 0.2593 0.2059 0.2165
Bordes' Edge Shape Mean 2.0500 1.9900 2.0700 1.9900 1.6700
SD 0.6200 0.7711 0.7900 0.9400 1.2200
CV 0.3024 0.3875 0.3816 0.4724 0.7305
Table 4
Regression of shape indices on length.
(N) 13 17 13 9 29
Elongation R 0.5475 0.6608 0.7892 0.6338 0.4739
0.2997 0.4367 0.6229 0.4017 0.2246
Renement R 0.1746 0.1042 0.2275 0.0761 0.2759
0.0305 0.0108 0.0510 0.0057 0.0761
Bordes' Edge Shape R 0.1544 0.2310 0.4009 0.3521 0.1447
0.0238 0.0533 0.1607 0.1240 0.0210
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 105
5. Discussion
Acheulean assemblages are present in Europe at the late Early
Middle Pleistocene, as indicated by sites such as La Boella in Spain
(ca. 1 Ma, Vallverdú et al., 2014), Notarchirico in Italy, (640 ka,
Piperno, 1999), and La Noira (700 ka, Moncel et al., 2013) and Levels
Pof Caune de L'Arago in France (570 ka, Barsky and de Lumley,
2010). There are more sites of 500 ka and younger, such as Box-
grove in England (Roberts and Partt, 1999), Galería, Atapuerca in
Spain (Berger et al., 2008; Falgu
eres et al., 2013), and Cagny-la-
Garenne in France (Bahain et al., 2001), among many others (see
Santonja and Villa, 2006). A basic set of characters technologically
dene the Acheulean: the structural presence of LCTs, the gradual
standardization of shapes, the development and increasing use of
bifacial centripetal exploitation strategies, and an increasing
number and variety of small retouched tools (Mosquera et al.,
Atapuerca's long archeological sequence shows a considerable
gap in hominin presence between levels TD6 and TD9 of Gran
Dolina, that is, between c. 850 and c. 500 ka (Mosquera et al.,
2013; Oll
eetal.,2013). After this more than 300 ky hiatus, a
new cultural phase has been documented between 500 ka and
300e250 ka in three sites: Sima de los Huesos, Galería and Gran
Dolina-TD10.1. In these sites Galería-GIIa represents the rst
appearance of Acheulean technology (García-Medrano et al.,
2014), characterized by the intensive use of quartzite cobbles
for knapping and shaping and by simple knapping strategies,
mostly taking advantage of the natural characteristics of the
cobbles. Nevertheless, the unit above GIIa, subunit GIIb, exhibits a
signicant technological change that implies diversication in
the use of raw materials (including sandstone and Neogene
chert) and the use of akes for knapping in more than 50% of
cases. This involves the development of longer knapping se-
quences, with more planning and morphological predetermina-
tion of the products. We hypothesize that Galería-GIIa could
correspond to the occupation of the Sierra de Atapuerca by new
Middle Pleistocene populations, and Galería-GIIb to the suc-
cessful adaptation of these populations to the local environment.
The Galería sequence would then bear witnessed to how the
Acheulean became established and gradually developed into new
technologies. From the massive use of longitudinal and orthog-
onal core reduction strategies, the centripetal technique becomes
the preferred exploitation method. Shaped tools continued to be
an important element at this site, where the signicance of large
tools decreases in favor of small retouched tools over time (i.e.
denticulates, scrapers, and points). Fig. 16 reects the specic
weight of shaping in the lower levels of Galería (subunits GIIa
and GIIb).
The upper part of the sequence (unit GIII) represents a new
association, more conditioned by the presence of natural bases
and cores. Gran Dolina-TD10.1 reects an important change:
shaping loses its presence in favor of exploitation: cores and
akes become the most abundant items. The technology shows a
clear technical evolution of where simple centripetal methods are
combined with discoid and with Levallois strategies. Also, the
small retouched tools become more numerically signicant than
the large ones. However, the overrepresentation of akes docu-
mented in TD10.1 could be related to a more intense occupation
pattern, reected also by the complete chaînes op
Table 5
Regression of shape indices on distal length.
(N) 13 17 13 9 29
Elongation R 0.2098 0.3627 0.2694 0.4780 0.2725
0.0728 0.1316 0.0725 0.2285 0.0743
Renement R 0.0981 0.0504 0.2165 0.4803 0.1433
0.0096 0.0025 0.0468 0.2307 0.0205
Bordes' Edge Shape R 0.4700 0.4891 0.4863 0.5291 0.6908
0.2215 0.2392 0.2365 0.2799 0.3671
Fig. 17. Correspondence analysis between the blank type of large tools (A) and raw material (B) and the subunits considered.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111106
addition, the metrical characteristics of the akes are different:
Galería yielded a more homogeneous set of akes, in which the
longer ones tend to be thinner, while TD10.1 presents a more
heterogeneous set of akes, with two clear metrical groups: akes
with shorter and wider platforms and akes with longer and
thinner platforms. The Galería assemblage ts within the rst
group, with the introduction of more controlled exploitation
methods (discoid and Levallois) in TD10.1, generating more
metrically standardized akes.
The signicance of large tools in Middle Pleistocene contexts has
resulted in a detailed morphological and metrical study, mainly
focused on handaxes and cleavers. In general, the massive use of
quartzite cobbles is exclusive to Galería-GIIa, which according to
the correspondence analysis makes this subunit different from the
rest of the assemblages (Fig. 17). The transitional phase (Galería-
GIIb) is characterized by the introduction of sandstone and
Neogene chert akes for shaping LCTs. The upper levels of the
Galería sequence and Gran Dolina-TD10.1 are the maximum
expression of that occurrence.
At Atapuerca, there are two different ways of shaping handaxes.
The rst involves taking advantage of the original characteristics of
the supports, retaining cortical surfaces and using a high number of
removals, but focusing on specic sectors of the tools. In these
cases, up to 45% of the tools present secondary retouch. This
technique is documented mainly in Galería unit GII. The second
appears in Galería unit GIII and in unit TD10.1, and is characterized
by the transformation of ake supports using fewer blows, which
affect a higher percentage of the surface but result in more irregular
shapes and edges.
A detailed metrical analysis of the large tools recovered from
these sites allowed us to observe a progressive reduction in their
size throughout the sequence. In addition, the handaxes and
Fig. 18. Principal components scatter plots, convex hulls and thin-plate splines of the Large Cutting Tools (LCT) from Galería and TD10.1 of Gran Dolina. Upper graphics:A) PC1 vs.
PC2 and B) PC2 vs. PC3 of Galería (green points) and TD10.1 (blank points). Lower graphics:C) PC1 vs. PC2 and D) PC2 vs. PC3 of the different subunits of Galería: GIIa (red points),
GIIb (pink points), GIIIa (green points) and GIIIb (blue points). (For an interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111 107
cleavers from Galería were found to be the most elongated and
thickest, except in the upper part of the sequence (Galería-GIIIb)
and in TD10.1, where there is a predominance of shorter, wider
shapes. Furthermore, shape is most affected by the changes in tip
length, clearly related to the scarcity of standardization and to the
limited secondary retouch, mainly in the most recent levels (GIIIb
and TD10.1).
According to Bordes' (1961) and Roe's (1968, 1981) morpho-
logical analyses, the LCTs of Galería and TD10.1 present ovate
morphologies. Nevertheless, there are signicant morphological
changes. The Galería tools feature narrow proles, with convex
and broad proximal parts, while those from TD10.1 exhibit
rhomboidal shapes with more pointed distal and proximal ends.
Geometric morphometric analyses allowed us to obtain a more
detailed and statistically signicant view of this feature. The PC
analysis shows that most of the variance is accounted for by the
ten main components (87.5%) (Tab le 6 ). Scatter plots of the rst
three principal components with convex hulls show that the
highest variability is represented by the Galería assemblage
(Fig. 18A), while the TD10.1 sample represents a more homoge-
neous group. PC1 represents the elongation, or pointednessvs.
ovatenessof the bifaces. This component accounts for 27.3% of
the variability. PC2 (18.3%) represents the position of the
maximum width of the bifaces. PC3 seems to show the signi-
cance of the base characteristics in relation to the total length of
the tools.
Regarding the comparison between the Galería and TD10.1 large
tool samples, PC1 vs. PC2 shows that the bifaces from TD10.1 are
less elongated and that they tend towards shapes with wider bases
in relation to more pointed distal ends (Fig. 18A). As pointed out
earlier, shaping in TD10.1 is characterized by short sequences,
mainly focused on providing LCTs with their general morphologies.
Most of the tools were made on akes, indicating previous selection
of suitable supports. In contrast, Galería represents a higher degree
of variability; there is less standardization in shapes, with tools
ranging from pointed and elongated to shorter and wider.
In relation to PC2, the position of the maximum width overlaps
in both groups again. In this respect, the TD10.1 sample is highly
inuenced by PC2 with most of the bifaces being widest on their
proximal end (Fig. 18A). Meanwhile, the medial-distal parts of the
tools are widest in the Galería set, creating more quadrangular
morphologies. This is related to the high quantity of cleavers in this
assemblage. Finally, PC3 represents the minor inuence and shows
that the majority of supports are wider and more convex (Fig. 18B).
Due to the high degree of variability documented in Galería, we
performed another PCA within this LCT set, taking into consider-
ation the different sublevels (Fig. 18C, D). In this case, the ten
principal components represent 89.9% of the characterization of
this LCT set (Table 7). PC1 (26.7%) and PC2 (21.7%) represent the
highest variability. In general, this is a Middle Pleistocene tech-
nology characterized by intermediate shapes, the majority of which
are ovate. Signicant diachronical, differences were however
detected. Galería-GIIa tools feature less elongated and wider
shapes, with the maximum width located in the middle of the tools
(Fig. 18C). The distal ends vary from pointed edges to more convex
ones. As we have detected by analyzing other technological char-
acteristics, Galería-GIIb represents a morphological change, mainly
due to the increase in tools with the maximum width located at the
medial-distal part of the tools. Subunit GIIIa has yielded elongated
pieces to very narrow ones with a high degree of morphological
variability between them. Subunit GIIIb represents a more homo-
geneous sample, with the scatter mainly centered in the middle-
lower part of the graphic. This means that the instruments have
changed to globular shapes but with wider bases and more pointed
distal ends. The tools in this subunit are therefore similar to those
documented in subunit TD10.1.
6. Conclusions
During the Middle Pleistocene at Atapuerca multiple occupa-
tional patterns and subsistence strategies developed, leading to a
diverse archeological record. In this paper we focused our attention
on Galería and on the upper levels of Gran Dolina, two very close
caves which were used more or less simultaneously. Therefore, the
hominins shared the same environment and had access tothe same
resources. Nevertheless, the documented occupational patterns
turned out to be quite different in each site, perhaps reecting
complementary strategies which had a direct effect on the
composition of the lithic assemblages.
Galería retains a constant occupational pattern throughout its
entire sequence. This site was likely never used as a base camp but
Table 6
Percentage shape variance of the combined Galería and TD10.1. LCT explained by
each principal component from the analysis.
PC Eigenvalue % Variance Cumulative % variance
1 0.00198111 27.33800 27.33800
2 0.00133011 18.35500 45.69300
3 0.00087901 12.13000 57.82300
4 0.00078722 10.86300 68.68600
5 0.00037858 5.22410 73.91010
6 0.00034608 4.77570 78.68580
7 0.00021228 2.92930 81.61510
8 0.00016345 2.25550 83.87060
9 0.00014474 1.99730 85.86790
10 0.00011994 1.65510 87.52300
11 0.00010352 1.42850 88.95150
12 0.00009589 1.32320 90.27470
13 0.00007963 1.09880 91.37350
14 0.00007674 1.05900 92.43250
15 0.00006020 0.83078 93.26328
16 0.00005295 0.73072 93.99400
17 0.00004980 0.68718 94.68118
18 0.00003678 0.50758 95.18876
19 0.00003448 0.47574 95.66450
20 0.00003004 0.41447 96.07897
Table 7
Percentage shape variance of the Galería large tools explained by each principal
component from the analysis.
PC Eigenvalue % Variance Cumulative % variance
1 0.00191316 26.75600 26.75600
2 0.00154894 21.66200 48.41800
3 0.00092350 12.91500 61.33300
4 0.00063813 8.92440 70.25740
5 0.00042157 5.89580 76.15320
6 0.00035301 4.93700 81.09020
7 0.00023146 3.23700 84.32720
8 0.00015601 2.18190 86.50910
9 0.00013474 1.88430 88.39340
10 0.00010679 1.49350 89.88690
11 0.00008908 1.24570 91.13260
12 0.00008567 1.19810 92.33070
13 0.00007083 0.99060 93.32130
14 0.00006741 0.94268 94.26398
15 0.00005508 0.77033 95.03431
16 0.00004390 0.61393 95.64824
17 0.00003669 0.51316 96.16140
18 0.00003266 0.45675 96.61815
19 0.00002743 0.38367 97.00182
20 0.00002417 0.33806 97.33988
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International 368 (2015) 92e111108
rather for sporadic and repeated low intensity visits for the purpose
of obtaining the herbivores that had fallen into the natural trap
created by the shaft. The homogeneity and the repetition of the
activities documented in Galería contribute to the general image
of technological stability along the sequence. The chaînes
eratoires always appear fragmented, with an over-representation
of functional objects, and with knapping activities mainly under-
taken outside the cave. Only short knapping processes aimed to
solve immediate problems took place inside.
The Gran Dolina upper sequence represents a quite different
model in terms of occupation patterns. In fact, TD10.1 has been
interpreted as the result of a combination of high intensity occu-
pations with long sequences of short occupations. Despite the dif-
ferences among the various archaeological levels that make up
TD10.1, at the time it was in use, the entrance of Gran Dolina cave
acted as a point of reference, where hominins lived and carried out
a multiplicity of domestic activities. The documented complete
knapping sequences (and the overrepresentation, in this case, of
knapping products of all sizes) emerge as clear evidence of this.
To what extent are we able to identify evolutionary technolog-
ical trends beyond questions which depend on occupational pat-
terns? During this study, we dened three technological groups
along the Galería sequence and in Gran Dolina-TD10.1. The rst one
corresponds to the base of Galería (GIIa). Transitional features have
been documented in GIIb, corresponding to the second techno-
logical group, which is consolidated in the uppermost part of the
Galería sequence (unit GIII). The third one is documented in Gran
Dolina-TD10.1, which, although quite different in many composi-
tional aspects, seems to share many technological features with the
top levels of Galería.
In general, Galería ts within the classical Acheulean tradition,
although there is a clear technological evolution along the
sequence, such as, a progressive adaptive pattern towards the use
of local raw materials. Initially, quartzite cobbles were widely used
for knapping, there was a dominance of longitudinal and orthog-
onal knapping strategies, and intensive rather than extensive
shaping of large tools (especially focused on the distal parts). The
transition identied in GIIb may be summarized by the marked
diversication in raw material use, and, more signicantly, in the
replacement of cobbles by akes for knapping. This trend is fully
consolidated in the upper levels of Galería as well as in Gran
Dolina-TD10.1. LCTs underwent several changes: their relative
representation declined, their size slightly decreased, compara-
tively less effort was invested in the nishing stage, and pointed
shapes increased their relative presence. Despite the similarities
between GIII and TD10.1 in terms of LCT shaping, the latter shows
clear innovations in other technological features, such as the
evolution from the predominantly centripetal core reduction
techniques towards more standardized discoid and Levallois stra-
tegies, and the increase in both the frequency and the typological
diversity of small retouched tools.
This research is part of the Spanish MINECO projects CGL2012-
38434-C03-03 and HAR2012-32548, and the Catalan AGAUR proj-
ect 2014SGR-899. The eldwork is sponsored by the Junta de Cas-
tilla y Le
on. We are deeply grateful to Fundaci
on Atapuerca and to
all the members of the Atapuerca team involved in the recovery and
study of the archaeological and paleontological record from the
Galería and Gran Dolina sites. Also, we want to thank Andrea Picin
and Carlos Lorenzo for helping us with the geometric morpho-
metric analysis and interpretation. Thanks to Palmira Saladi
e and
Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo for their support with the faunal record
of TD10.1. Thanks to Arturo de Lombera-Hermida for his help with
the lithics from TD10.1. P. García-Medrano beneted from a pre-
doctoral research grant from the Fundaci
on Siglo para las Artes en
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... The wide variety in the size of the cobbles in alluvial environments does not explain why Sartalejo, on a terrace of the Alagón River, exhibits evidence of a strong preference for flakes (77%) when it also includes those shaped on smaller pebbles (Mejías, 2009;Moloney, 1992). In Galería, the changes to the LCT blanks (García-Medrano et al., 2015) occurred in a similar raw material procurement environment and would not have been related to their availability. ...
... In Cueva del Á ngel, the majority of handaxes were knapped on flakes and fractured stones, and the quartzite side scrapers were knapped on large flakes (Barroso et al., 2012). Galería, from level GIIb, has yielded evidence of the frequent use of flakes for shaping LCTs and as cores (García-Medrano et al., 2015). In Santa Ana, the selective use of blanks dissociates the flakes from the reduction scheme and links them with shaping. ...
... The evidence from Santa Ana and Galería indicates that, along with handaxes and cleavers, there was an accumulation of manuports and percussive material that contrasts the importance of allochthonous knapping. The abundance of hammers in Galería (Galería-GIIa: 18%; GIIb: 11%) suggests that they were versatile elements, essential in roaming strategies (García-Medrano et al., 2015). Accumulations of pebbles like these are documented in habitat areas in which high bone fragmentation has been recorded, like in Aroeira-level Xb/c (21%) (Daura et al., 2018). ...
The Acheulean of the Iberian Peninsula is considered a homogeneous technocomplex within the Large Flake Acheulean (LFA) of northern African origin. In this work, we describe the lithic industry of Santa Ana Cave, interpret the territorial functions of the site and search for its technological parallels. Our results place the lithic industry of Santa Ana within the LFA. This assemblage is characterised by: 1) an association of spheroids and large cutting tools (LCTs), 2) the systematic shaping of handaxes on flakes, and 3) quartz knapping. The lithic industry of Santa Ana is unique in the Iberian Peninsula within a region of broad technological variability masked by the apparent homogeneity derived from the extensive presence of handaxes and cleavers. Outside Africa, the technological features observed in the Santa Ana assemblage have only been documented at a few sites in the eastern Mediterranean, China and India. These features illustrate the homeostasis of the Acheulean technocomplex and the expansion of African groups, including northern African groups, towards the Iberian Peninsula.
... Although Acheulean elements have been mentioned in Sima de los Huesos and in the upper levels of Sima del Elefante, and their existence has been assumed in the lower sublevels of TD10 De Lombera-Hermida et al. 2015), Galería represents the most important Acheulean reference in Atapuerca, and its sequence has been considered representative of the complete evolution of this techno-complex in Europe (Mosquera et al. 1995;Carbonell et al. 1999Carbonell et al. , 2001Carbonell et al. , 2015Ollé et al. 2005Ollé et al. , 2013. However, the most recent chronological determinations (cf. ...
... 29a). It has also been interpreted as a cleaver(García-Medrano et al. 2015: 100,fig. 9J) or as handaxe/cleaver(Ollé et al. 2016: 319,fig. ...
La industria lítica del yacimiento de Galería (complejo de Atapuerca, Burgos), datado en la segunda mitad del Pleistoceno Medio, ha sido interpretada como uno de los más notables conjuntos del tecnocomplejo achelense que se conocen en la península ibérica y en el sur de Europa. Se ha estimado que su prolongada secuencia estratigráfica permitiría observar la evolución del Achelense en la segunda mitad del Pleistoceno Medio. Esta propuesta ha sido objeto por nuestra parte de una revisión reciente, en la que se destaca el carácter discontinuo de la estratigrafía de Galería y se valora negativamente la posibilidad de establecer cualquier tipo de secuencia arqueológica basada en el limitado registro que contiene. A partir del análisis nivel por nivel de la representatividad de la industria lítica publicada, se discutía además en ese trabajo la atribución exclusiva al tecnocomplejo achelense de los conjuntos arqueológicos de Galería. Con objeto de valorar en profundidad la atribución achelense y de contrastar la consistencia de las tendencias evolutivas que han sido propuestas para este tecnocomplejo a través de la estratigrafía de Galería, presentamos aquí un estudio detallado de todos los artefactos interpretados en publicaciones precedentes como LCT (bifaces, hendedores y otros macro-útiles). Este trabajo, complementario de nuestra revisión anterior, se ha efectuado sobre las colecciones obtenidas en las campañas realizadas en Galería en 1982-1996, actualmente depositadas en el CENIEH y en el Museo de la Evolución Humana (Burgos). Las conclusiones alcanzadas corroboran la débil y discontinua presencia de elementos achelenses característicos en este yacimiento, descartando la posibilidad de llegar a reconocer cualquier tipo de secuencia evolutiva en estos materiales. Nuestra principal conclusión es que las interpretaciones que proponen ver en la industria de Galería una secuencia representativa del Achelense europeo con una evolución progresiva, carecen de fundamento.
... Carretero et al., 2004) and associated typo-technological assemblages (Ollé et al., 2013), has been well documented in Atapuerca (Sima de Los Huesos and Gran Dolina TD10) and Gruta de Aroeira (Daura et al., 2017) at the end of the Tagus Basin (Portugal). This species, now considered as "pre-Neanderthal" , produced a Mode 2 technology associated with systematic and directional carcass processing, includ-ing hunting events like in Gran Dolina TD10 (García-Medrano et al., 2015;Rodriguez-Hidalgo et al., 2017). The rest of the Middle and Late Pleistocene is well documented by the presence of Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula, with Mode 3 technology and numerous fossil sites all around the Iberian Peninsula (Baquedano et al., 2012;Fernández Peris et al., 2008;Rodriguez-Perez et al., 2017;Rosas et al., 2006;Rosas et al., 2017;Walker et al., 2011). ...
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We present the discovery of a Middle Pleistocene fossil assemblage at Los Villares locality (Ruidera, Ciudad Real, Castilla-La Mancha), which has possible evidence of associated human activity. The potential of the site has been evaluated through multidisciplinary research including taxonomy, anatomy, deep learning, and direct dating of fossil remains. A surface study carried out in 2017, over a very limited area (2 m2) on the slope of one of the Ruidera lakes led to the discovery of more than 50 fossil specimens, including cranial (mainly teeth) and postcranial remains. This rich assemblage is dominated by the remains of Caprinae, although the presence of some small or medium carnivore remains also stands out. The identification of a cut mark, tested with Convolutional Neural Networks, suggests the presence of human activity within the bone assemblage. Several fossils were directly dated using a multi-technique approach involving radiocarbon, U-Th, and ESR methods. The results constrain the fossil assemblage to between 300 ka and 400 ka, positioning Los Villares as one of the first Middle Pleistocene localities identified in the Upper Guadiana basin, on the Southern edge of the Southern Iberian Plateau. These promising initial results show the great potential of the site to contribute to filling a gap of knowledge in the Pleistocene archaeo-paleontological record of the Iberian Peninsula. Nevertheless, we also acknowledge the need for systematic excavations in the future, not only to obtain a better idea of the lateral and stratigraphic extension of the fossil assemblage and its complete taxonomic composition, but also to confirm the human presence at the site.
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The Sima del Elefante site is located within the Sierra de Atapuerca karst system (Burgos, northern Spain), and forms part of a series of important Early, Middle and Late Pleistocene archaeological complexes that have been dated previously with luminescence techniques (Gran Dolina, Galería Complex, Sima de los Huesos, Galería de las Estatuas). This study focuses on the upper Middle Pleistocene units (TE18 and TE19) at Sima del Elefante, which contain Acheulean and transitional lithic assemblages (Mode 2/3), as well as large and small mammal fossils. Importantly, these uppermost units are associated with a sediment plug located in the cave's interior at Galería Baja, which marks the closure of a significant palaeoentrance to the Atapuerca karst system. Establishing the accumulation history of these related deposits is important for understanding both Lower Palaeolithic technological dynamics via comparisons with similar levels at other Atapuerca sites (i.e., Gran Dolina and Galería Complex), as well as past human occupation patterns and carnivore use of (and accessibility to) the caves. We present single-grain TT-OSL and multi-grain pIR-IR chronologies for the Sima del Elefante upper sequence and the Galería Baja sediment cone, as well as U-series dating results for a stalagmitic crust capping the combined clastic infill sequence. The paired luminescence ages for the upper occupation levels are in agreement with each other and reveal that the host deposits accumulated 576–481 ka for the TE18 stratified scree layers, 266–237 ka for TE19 and 206–250 ka for the Galería Baja upper cone section (weighted mean 2σ age ranges). A concordant U-series age of 202 ± 65 ka is obtained for the overlying stalagmitic crust at Galería Baja. The Sima del Elefante ages are consistent with those previously obtained using U-series and biochronology, confirming that there is an erosional unconformity and complex carbonate deposition phase associated with the upper layers of unit TE18 and that the original cave entrance likely closed by ∼200 ka. Chronological correlation with other Atapuerca sites reveals potential equivalence between TE18 and unit TD8 (at Gran Dolina), and between TE19 and units GIIb–GIIIb (at Galería Complex) and, possibly, TD10.1 and TD10.2 (at Gran Dolina), though more refined dating is required to confirm the latter.