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Galería is one of the main sites of the Trinchera del Ferrocarril (railway trench) in Atapuerca, together with Gran Dolina and Sima del Elefante. The Galería excavations took place mainly during the 1980s and 1990s and continued until 2010. Work has recently resumed in the upper levels of the sequence, which has prompted us to summarize the previously collected data and plan an entire new set of questions in order to be able to compare that earlier data with information yielded from the new interventions. Galería consists of a long sequence dating from around 500 ka to 250 ka, which has made it possible to conduct a diachronic study of the technology at the site. As a consequence of the sustainment of similar occupational patterns and a similar ‘toolkit’, the technology at Galería generally enjoyed a broad stability throughout the technology the Middle Pleistocene. Nevertheless, we have isolated technological characteristics which reflect technological changes through time.
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The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain):
A technological perspective
Paula García-Medrano
a
,
*
, Isabel C
aceres
b
,
a
, Andreu Oll
e
a
,
b
, Eudald Carbonell
b
,
a
,
c
a
Institut Catal
a de Paleoecologia Humana i Evoluci
o Social (IPHES), Zona educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV (EdiciW3), 43007 Tarragona, Spain
b
Area de Prehist
oria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain
c
IVPP, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of Beijing, China
article info
Article history:
Available online xxx
Keywords:
Acheulean
Galería
Rets
Occupational patterns
abstract
Galería is one of the main sites of the Trinchera del Ferrocarril (railway trench) in Atapuerca, together
with Gran Dolina and Sima del Elefante. The Galería excavations took place mainly during the 1980s and
1990s and continued until 2010. Work has recently resumed in the upper levels of the sequence, which
has prompted us to summarize the previously collected data and plan an entire new set of questions in
order to be able to compare that earlier data with information yielded from the new interventions.
Galería consists of a long sequence dating from around 500 ka to 250 ka, which has made it possible to
conduct a diachronic study of the technology at the site. As a consequence of the sustainment of similar
occupational patterns and a similar toolkit, the technology at Galería generally enjoyed a broad stability
throughout the technology the Middle Pleistocene. Nevertheless, we have isolated technological char-
acteristics which reect technological changes through time.
In this case, we present a synchronic analysis of the human occupation phases of each subunit, which
nally led us to a diachronic view of the site. Most of the knapping sequences occurred outside of the
cave, making the chaînes op
eratoires very fragmented. This was the result of short and sporadic occu-
pations for the basic purpose of obtaining the animals that had fallen into the cave through a natural trap
created by the TN shaft, in successful competition with carnivores. Although lithic rets are very scarce,
we used them in this study to characterize the spatial distribution not only of the activities performed,
but also of the knapping sequences carried out inside the cave. The two knapping locations (outside and
inside) reect different knapping strategies.
©2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction and context
Rets are a crucial instrument in the framework of lithic tech-
nological analyses. Spurrell (1980) was one of the rst researchers
to use this method, when he identied rets between Levallois
akes and cores at Crayford (UK). Around the same time, a retof
the shaping sequences used to make a handaxe was found in
Caddington (UK) (Smith, 1984; Bradley and Sampson, 1986). The
utility of rets has been related to three main spheres of knowledge
(Ashton, 2004): rstly, to analyse horizontal and vertical displace-
ments and time lapses; secondly, to nd direct evidence of human
behaviour through the knapping processes identied and the
movements used by the knappers; and thirdly, to gain a deeper
understanding of human activities through the analysis of artefacts
and their movements as a reection of spatial use by humans,
including determining the retted artefacts' lifespan.
This study presents a diachronic analysis of the occupational
pattern of the Galería site, combining previous studies on the main
characteristics and spatial distribution of the faunal (C
aceres, 2002;
C
aceres et al., 2010) and lithic remains (García-Medrano, 2011;
García-Medrano et al., 2013, 2014, 2015; Oll
e et al., 2013) with
the current ret analysis; see Vallverdú et al. (1999) for a pre-
liminary combined study. Few studies have focused on the spatial
distribution and movement of pieces in Lower and Middle Pleis-
tocene sites. Some exceptions are the site of Melka Kunture in
Ethiopia (Galloti and Piperno, 2004); Lokalalei in Kenya (Roche
et al., 1999); Boxgrove (Bergman et al., 1990; Roberts, 1999; Pope
and Roberts, 2005), Barham (Ashton et al., 1998), and Eldeven in
the UK (Ashton et al., 2005); Monte Poggiolo in Italy (Peretto et al.,
1998); Maastrich-Belvedere in the Netherlands (Roebroeks, 1989);
*Corresponding author.
E-mail address: pgarciamedrano@gmail.com (P. García-Medrano).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Quaternary International
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/quaint
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
1040-6182/©2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e16
Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
and
Aridos (Villa, 1990) and Gran Dolina TD10.1 (L
opez-Ortega
et al., 2011), both in Spain. This work presents the rets and
spatial analysis of the faunal and lithic remains recovered in the
eldwork seasons from 1981 to 2008. As eldwork is currently
under way, in the future we will be able to compare and expand
upon the ret information and occupational interpretation of this
site.
The Sierra de Atapuerca is located in the northern Iberian
Meseta, 15 km east of the city of Burgos (Fig. 1). It is a small
Cenozoic limestone elevation containing several caves (P
erez-
Gonz
alez et al., 2001). Excavations at the numerous sites in Ata-
puerca have yielded a rich archaeological record spanning the last
million years and including several items that have provided key
information regarding our knowledge of Lower and Middle Pleis-
tocene populations (Carbonell et al., 1995a, 1995b; Arsuaga et al.,
1997a, 1997b; Bermúdez de Castro et al., 1999; Carbonell et al.,
2008; Rodríguez et al., 2011; Oll
e et al., 2013). The Galería com-
plex is located on the western side of the Sierra. The cavity is
roughly 14 m high, 18 m wide and over 12 m deep. The name
Galería is used to refer to the entire cave system, which is
comprised of three different areas: a central area (TG), joined at the
northern end to a small chamber (TZ) and containing a vertical
shaft that rises to the surface at the southern end (TN). Five main
lling phases have been distinguished in Galería, from GI to GV and
one paleosol, GVI (Oll
e and Huguet, 1999; P
erez-Gonz
alez et al.,
1999, 2001; Vallverdú, 2002). The archaeo-paleontological de-
posits are in units GII and GIII. Each one of them is subdivided into
two main subunits: GIIa, GIIb, GIIIa and GIIIb (from base to top). The
site has been dated by means of various different methods: ERS,
UTh, ESR-UTh, TL-IRSL, TT-OSL, pIR250, and pIR290 (Arnold et al.,
2014; Berger et al., 2008; Demuro et al., 2014; Falgu
eres et al.,
2001, 2013; Grün and Aguirre, 1987; P
erez-Gonz
alez et al., 1999).
In general terms, the timeframe of the site lies between 500 ka and
250 ka. These subunits are the divisions considered in this paper.
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 suggest conditions of waterlogged ground and semi-darkness
that can, to some extent, explain the relatively limited domestic
activities documented. The occupational model thus infers sporadic
and repeated low intensity visits for the purpose of obtaining the
herbivores 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, 2003; Oll
e et al.,
2005; C
aceres et al., 2010). The activity in Galería correlates with
the functionality and effectiveness of the natural trap. The gradual
reduction in the meat supply must have led to a loss of interest in
the cave, which thus became of marginal appeal to both the
humans and carnivores in Sierra de Atapuerca. According to this
model, the Galería site would have been a complementary settle-
ment area in the complex karst network of Sierra de Atapuerca to
which hominins made occasional planned visits (Carbonell et al.,
1995b; Oll
e et al., 2013). This type of strategy suggests that these
Fig. 1. Location of the Atapuerca sites, focusing on the Trinchera del Ferrocarril (Railway Trench) and the Galería site.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e162
Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
groups of hominins had a high degree of knowledge of the envi-
ronment and good planning and organizational abilities. The faunal
assemblage is composed of herbivores and carnivores (Table 1).
Among the carnivores, there is higher taxonomic variety, although
the herbivorous remains are predominant. Among the herbivorous,
cervids and equids are the best represented, combined with other
minor species.
Two human remains have been recovered in Galería (both in the
TZ area). The rst (from unit GII) is a right adult mandible fragment
containing M2 and M3 (Bermudez de Castro and Rosas, 1992). The
second specimen, from the base of GIII, is a neurocranial fragment
from the lambdatic area of an adult individual (Arsuaga et al., 1999).
As both remains have features in common with the fossils from the
Sima de los Huesos site (Arsuaga et al., 1997a) located less than
2 km from Galería, they can be ascribed to the same clade.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Methodology of technological analysis
The lithic technology from the Galería site has been studied in
several previous works (Carbonell et al., 1995b, 1999; García-
Medrano, 2011; García-Medrano et al., 2013, 2014, 2015;
Mosquera, 1995; M
arquez, 1998; Terradillos-Bernal, 2010, 2013;
Oll
e, 2003; Oll
e et al., 2005, 2013). Fieldwork has been conducted
over an extended period, specically from 1981 to 1996 and from
2001 to 2010. This work presents all of the ndings from units GII
and GIII from 1981 to 2008, and covers the entire area of the Galería
site (including the three sectors, TZ-TG-TN, Fig. 1).
The Atapuerca lithic assemblage has been analysed using the
Logical Analytical System, LAS (Carbonell et al., 1983, 1992, 1999;
Rodríguez, 2004). In this study, we combined different methodo-
logical approaches in order to complement the processual (and not
typological) view of the LAS. Knapping methods are dened by
means of faciality (number of aked faces), direction of removals
and arrangement of striking platforms. (For more information, see
Oll
e et al., 2013.) The following size classes are used to provide a
basic metric description: micro (20 mm), small (21e60 mm),
medium (61e100 mm) and large (>100 mm) (Carbonell et al.,
1999).
We conducted a more detailed study of the large tools, due to
the signicance of these tools in Acheulean contexts. In order to
better address this goal, we adapted the description of the cong-
uration sequence dened by the British research tradition
(Newcomer, 1971; Wenban-Smith, 1989; Wenban-Smith and Ash-
ton, 1998). This method establishes several phases in the shaping
process: Test, Rough-out, Shaping and Finishing. The tools have
been assigned to a stage on the basis of their technological char-
acteristics, such as the amount of cortex, the distribution, size and
shape of the removals, the use of a hard or soft hammer or a
combination of both, the type of retouch, the angle between the
two faces of the tool, etc.
This basic analysis has been completed by means of the use of
several measurements that have traditionally been used in the
study of the variability of large tools (Bordes, 1961; Roe, 1968,1981).
These measurements complement the information about mor-
phologies and variations in size and shape (García-Medrano, 2011)
and were combined into three main indices: elongation (ratio of
total length to maximum width), renement (ratio of maximum
width to maximum thickness) and planform (ratio of total length to
base length). To complete our analysis of the technological strate-
gies carried out inside the cave, we performed rets and spatial
analyses, which will be described below.
2.2. Methodology for analysing the spatial distribution of remains
Galería has an excavated area of approximately 124 m
2
, using a
grid of 1 m
2
. The three main areas that make up Galería were
excavated using independent grids (TG and TN together, and TZ
separately). Therefore, in the last few years we have been working
on making an exact correlation between the three areas. There was
a disorientation of 24.727
(sexagesimal degrees) between TG and
TZ. The coordinates from one area (TZ) were converted in relation
to the others (TG-TN). To do this, square corners for computerizing
the transformation parameters were used with the application of
the Helmert transformation (Table 2) (Raquel P
erez, pers. comm.).
With this data and the Excel program, the transformation param-
eters were applied to every object in the database. This yielded a
single site, including the different archaeological levels and the
whole archaeological assemblage, using the same grid. Given that
the TG-TN grid was used as a reference, the X axis numbering of TZ
has changed. The new gridlines from 9 to 14 in the TG area corre-
spond to the original gridlines 1 to 6 in TZ (Fig. 2).
We used two primary software programs, ArchePlotter_v127
and Surfer, to analyse scatters and associations between the re-
mains. The former was used to make a contingency matrix, which
was used to obtain the scatter plots with the Surfer software,
analysing the maximum concentrations of remains, the empty
spaces and the distribution of different types of remains (i.e. lithic
or faunal remains).
2.3. Methodology of rets
Within this paper, the rets are a key part of the technological
analysis of the Galería assemblage. Although some were identied
during previous studies (Carbonell et al., 1999b), many were
identied later (Oll
e, 2003; García-Medrano, 2011), and these
could provide more information about the technological activities
carried out inside the cave as well as the spatial distribution of the
hominins' activities. The identication of rets requires that the
pieces and their surfaces possess a certain degree of quality.
Therfore, concretioned and degraded objects were excluded from
the study. Seven raw materials have been identied in Galería:
Neogene chert, Cretaceous chert, quartzite, quartz, limestone,
Table 1
Relation of herbivore and carnivore species identied in the Galería site. For more
detailed information, see Rodríguez et al., 2011.
Herbivore Carnivora
Dama dama clactoniana Ursus deningeri
Cervus elaphus priscus Panthera leo
Megaceroides solilhacus Lynx pardinus spelaeus
Hemitragus bonali Felis silvestris
Bison sp. Cuon alpinus europaeus
Equus ferus Canis lupus
Equus cf hydruntinus Vulpes vulpes
Stephanorhinus cf hemitoechus Meles meles
Mustela nivalis
Mustela putorius
Table 2
Helmert transformation parameters to unify the two grids of Galería (TZ-TG-TN).
Helmert transformation Parameters
Coefcient A¼0.908309756
B¼0.418331707
Displacement X: 11.262
Y: 3.35
Parameters Scale: 1.000014015
Angle: 372.5234
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Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
sandstone and schist. In this case, the sandstone and especially the
Neogene chert exhibit a high degree of alteration (Garcia-Ant
on
et al., 2002). For this reason, a signicant number of these mate-
rials was excluded.
After the selection of suitable materials for the study, the pieces
were separated into units, subunits, levels, sublevels and, nally,
into raw material units (RMU, Roeboroeks, 1988; Odell, 2004).
Within the same raw material, we made subgroups based on
macroscopic features such as the colour of the cortical and non-
cortical surfaces, grain size, internal inclusions (such as veins or
incipient fractures), etc. (L
opez-Ortega et al., 2011). In the next
stage, the reassembly process per se, the skill of the researcher in
identifying the morphologies or characteristics of each object is
crucial.
In terms of types of rets, we followed the classical groups
dened by Cziesla (1990):
1. Knapping sequence rets: the rets of the products resulting
from knapping.
2. Fracture rets: mainly the reconstruction of fragmented pieces
and Siret fractures.
3. Modication rets: include the rets of the products obtained
by the modication of a blank edge.
3. Technological characterization, spatial distribution and
rets
3.1. Galería-GIIa subunit
Only partial faunal information can be gleaned from subunit
Galería-GIIa due the poor preservation of the bone record. This is a
consequence of the high degree of acidity of the organic layer in the
TG-TN areas (Fernandez-Jalvo et al., 1999; C
aceres, 2002). The only
Fig. 2. Planimetry of the Galería site before (top) and after (bottom) the application of the Helmert transformation parameters (Raquel P
erez).
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Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
real data we can give is that there is a predominance of herbivore
remains compared to carnivore remains and that axial and cranial
remains are more abundant than appendicular elements. The few
bone remains were recovered from the TZ area (Fig. 4). Neverthe-
less, they are insufcient to draw any conclusion.
For this reason, the analysis of this subunit focuses on the
technological data. The Acheulean assemblage of Galería-GIIa is
characterized by six raw materials, of which Neogene chert (around
50%) and quartzite (33.57%) were the most frequently used. Prod-
ucts including simple akes, retouched akes, broken akes, ake
fragments and angular fragments make up the largest category
(54.51%), followed by retouched tools (24%) and non-modied
cobbles (18%). 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 mainly
made of quartzite. There are few cores, mainly knapped using
longitudinal and orthogonal methods. Galería-GIIa exhibits a
unique characteristic which is not found in the rest of the Galería
levels or in other Atapuerca sites: the use of cobbles for shaping and
knapping. The large tools are in the last stages of the shaping
sequence. Most seem to have been made outside, and then intro-
duced to the cave where they were abandoned. The shaping
strategy involved taking advantage of the morphological charac-
teristics of the original blanks, keeping part of the cortical surface
and focusing the extractions on a single part of the instrument
(García-Medrano et al., 2014, 2015).
The lithic assemblage is mainly concentrated in the TN area (to
the right of the cave) (Figs. 3 and 5). This is the only known illu-
minated point inside the cave, under the vertical duct. It more than
80% of large and small retouched tools and more than 90% of the
knapping products (simple akes, ake fragments, fragments of
akes and simple fragments) were found in this area. Natural bases
and cores are distributed between TN and TG. In this case, TZ rep-
resents a marginal area for knapping activities.
The rets from Galería-GIIa are characterized by their scarcity.
We found only ve rets, made up of a total of 15 retted pieces
(Table 3). The aim of most of these knapping sequences was to
produce akes, such as GIIa-R01, GIIa-R02 and GIIa-R03 and 3
(Fig. 6). GIIa-R04 represents the fragmentation of a hammerstone
with numerous marks on its cortical surface, related to the inten-
sive use of this cobble for percussion activities. Therefore, this
hammerstone was either brought previously used into the cave
from the outside or its use inside the cave was more intense than
the low number of rets would suggest.
Table 3
Ret and conjoin description (type of connection, pieces code, type of instruments, raw material and main remarks on each ret).
Subunit Code Connect Pieces code Tool type Raw mat. Type Remarks
GIIa GIIa-R01 Ret Ata93 TN2 F27,7 Core on ake Neo.chert Knap. seq. e
Ata94 TN2B G26,1 Simple ake
GIIa-R02 Ret Ata93 TN2B E27,1 Core on cobble Cretac.chert Knap. seq. Orthog.met
Ata93 TN2B E27,2 Retouch. ake
Ata93 TN2B E27,3 Frag. of ake
Ata93 TN2B E27,4 Frag. of ake
Ata93 TN2B E27,5 Simple ake
GIIa-R03 Conjoin Ata95 TN2B G25,1 Simple ake Neog.chert Fracture Parasite ake
Ata95 TN2B G25,2 Simple ake
GIIa-R04 Conjoin Ata93 TN2B H23,1 Frag. Nat. base Quartzite Fracture Percus. marks
Ata94 TN2B F22,6 Nat. base frag.
GIIa-R05 RMU Ata87 TN2 S/C LCT on ake Neog.chert Modif. seq. e
Ata93 TN2B F24,16 Simple ake
Ata93 TN2B G25,9 Retouch. ake
Ata93 TN2B G25,10 Flake frag.
GIIb GIIb-R01 Ret Ata93 TN5 E24,6 Retouch. tool Neog.chert Modif. seq. e
Ata92 TN5 F25,48 Frag. of ake
GIIb-R02 Ret Ata92 TN5 G26,72 Retouch. tool Neog.chert Modif. seq. e
Ata92 TN5 G26,74 Simple ake
GIIb-R03 Ret Ata96 TZ GIIc L2,48 LCT on ake Neo.chert Modif. seq. e
Ata96 TZ GIIc L2,39 Simple ake
GIIb-R04 Ret Ata91 TN6DA F24,76 Retouch. tool Quartzite Modif.seq. e
Ata91 TN6DA F24,32 Flake frag.
Ata91 TN6DA F24,35 Flake frag.
Ata91 TN6DA F25,93 Simple ake
Ata91 TN6DA F23,0 Frag. of ake
GIIb-R05 Ret Ata92 TG10B G18,78 Core on ake Quartzite Knap.seq. Centrip.meth.
Ata92 TG10B G20,125 Retouch. ake
GIIb-R06 Ret Ata92 TG10B G20,19 Core on cobble Sandstone Knap.seq. Centrip.meth.
Ata92 TG10B F19,334 Simple ake
GIIb-R07 Conjoin Ata08 TZ GIIc N2,152 LCT on ake Sandstone Fracture Diagen.fract.
Ata08 TZ GIIc N2,177 Simple ake
GIIIa GIIIa-R01 Conjoin Ata90 TG10A G20, 7 LCT on cobble Quartzite Fracture e
Ata90 TG10A G20, 8 Frag. of ake
GIIIa-R02 Conjoin Ata90 TG10A G21,67 Nat. base frag. Quartzite Fracture Percus.marks
Ata91 TG10A G22,2 Frag. of Nat. base
GIIIa-R03 Ret Ata90 TN7 F25,27 LCT on cobble Sandstone Modif.seq. e
Ata90 TN7 F26,2 Simple ake
GIIIa-R04 Conjoin Ata90 TN7 E26,16 Nat. base frag. Quartzite Fracture Percus.marks
Ata90 TN8 E26,17 Frag. Nat. base
GIIIb GIIIb-R01 Ret Ata04 TZ GIII N3,60 Core on cobble Quartzite Knap.seq. e
Ata95 TZ GIII L5,13 Frag. of ake
GIIIb-R02 Ret Ata92 TZ GIII M5,21 LCT on ake Quartzite Modif.seq. e
Ata92 TZ GIII L5,14 Simple ake
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Fig. 3. Surfer density analysis of stone tools from Galería by subunits (GIIa-GIIb-GIIIa-GIIIb). The grey tones indicate the concentrations of remains. The dark grey indicates the areas
in which the highest densities of remains were found.
Fig. 4. Surfer density analysis of faunal remains from Galería by subunits (GIIa-GIIb-GIIIa-GIIIb). The grey tones indicate the concentrations of remains. The dark grey indicates the
areas in which the highest densities of remains were found.
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Fig. 5. Spatial distribution of the lithic remains in Galería-GIIa indicating the rets documented.
Fig. 6. Rets Galería-GIIa. GIIa-R01, Ata'94 TN2B G26,1 eAta'93 TN2 F27,7; GIIa-R02, Ata'93 TN2B E27,1 eAta'93 TN2B E27,2 eAta'93 TN2B E27,3 eAta'93 TN2B E27,4 eAta'93
TN2B E27,5; GIIa-R03, Ata'95 TN2B G25,1 eAta'95 TN2B G25,2; GIIa-R04, Ata'93 TN2B H23,1 eAta'94 TN2B F22,6; GIIa-R05, Ata'87 TN2 S/C eAta'93 TN2B F24,16 eAta'93 TN2B
G25,9 eAta'93 TN2B G25,10.
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Meanwhile, the RMU association (GIIa-R05) between a large tool
and three akes speak to shaping strategies (Fig. 6). The tool is a large
ake and the shaping is located on its distal part. Three of the ve
rets are of pieces made from Neogene chert and one from Creta-
ceous chert. In contrast to the ret data, Galería-GIIa is characterized
by the extensive use of quartzite cobbles, accounting for more than
70% of the artefacts (García-Medrano et al., 2015). We can therefore
conclude that these populations mostly introduced shaped quartzite
cobbles from the outside and the knapping activities documented
inside the cave were mainly carried out using chert.
3.2. Galería-GIIb subunit
More than 75% of the faunal remains are located in the TG area
(Fig. 4), while more than 50% of the lithic remains are in the TN area.
However, the TG area also contains 30% of the lithics (Fig. 3). Her-
bivore remains (medium-sized and large) predominate in the
faunal assemblage, mainly concentrated in TG. All of the skeletal
elements are represented. We can therefore assume that the ani-
mals arrived to the cave complete and no fossildiagenetic processes
disturbed the remains. Most of these remains are of infant and
adult individuals (C
aceres, 2002).
The lithic assemblage from Galería-GIIb represents a signi-
cant technological change (García-Medrano et al., 2014, 2015).
Firstly, the extensive use of quartzite is replaced by a combi-
nation of six raw materials, of which sandstone was the most
common (36.8%). Secondly, concerning the retouched toolkit, a
wider variety of raw materials was used, with sandstone rep-
resenting 24% of the assemblage. Thirdly, knapping was mainly
performed on large akes, which required considerable planning
to produce and which represents a different level of resource
management.
The distribution of the lithic remains also reects a signif-
icant change from that seen at Galería-GIIa. The remains are
mainly distributed between the TG and TN areas, and these
two areas present a different tool composition. In TG, we found
most of the cores, large and small tools. On the other hand, in
TN we documented knapping products (simple akes, akes
fragmented, fragments of akes and simple fragments) and 40%
of the unknapped cobbles, most of them with clear percussion
marks and fractures. So, the Galería-GIIb occupation consisted
of at least two main activity areas. The hominins continued
using the point of light for their main knapping activities (in
the TN area) and they probably used the instruments in the TG
zone. In spite of the scarcity of the bone breakage documented
in Galería, there is an increase in the percentage documented
in TN, to 3.48%. TZ represents a marginal zone with respect to
the general distribution of the tools inside Galería. Neverthe-
less, in TZ 30% of cores and more than 20% of unknapped
cobbles were recovered from that area. This signicant accu-
mulation does seem to correspond to any postdepositional
process, but to be the product of anthropic activities likely
related to knapping.
In spite of the high degree of fracturing of the chaînes op
eratoires
and the scarcity of rets, these point to the existence of both
shaping and knapping activities inside the cave (Table 3). The
modication rets are located in the TN area (Fig. 7), and these are
mainly focused on the modication of the edges of small akes to
create tools, such as that in GIIb-R04 (Fig. 8). This is a complete
retouching sequence of a medium-sized ake made of sandstone. It
seems to consist of the recycling of a ake to extend the useful life
of this instrument. The other two rets seem to be a part of longer
retouching sequences. The rets of knapping sequences are located
in the TG area. These do not correspond to nal exploitations, but
rather knapping continued after the detachment of the retted
akes. This leads us to think that with the new excavations it would
be highly likely to nd at least some more elements of these
technological sequences.
Fig. 7. Spatial distribution of the lithic remains in Galería-GIIb indicating the rets documented.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e168
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The abundant presence of manganese on the faunal remains and
supercial concretions point to high degrees of humidity and
waterlogged conditions. These cave conditions did not favour the
use of the cave as a occupation site. In addition, the scarcity of
trampling marks and fractures on the bones is related to the short
duration of the hominins' visits to the cave (C
aceres, 2002). It is also
important to note the scarcity of light in the cave. Very few fossils
were altered by atmospheric agents or by plant action. To our
knowledge, there is only one point of light, through the vertical
duct in TN. Through the lithic analysis, the spatial distribution of
the remains and the ret information, we can deduce that the TN
area was the preferred zone for knapping activities, taking advan-
tage of the natural light (Mosquera, 1995; Vallverdú et al., 1999).
3.3. Galería-GIIIa subunit
Galería-GIIIa exhibits another distribution of remains inside the
cave. In this case, nearly 90% of the faunal remains are distributed
between TG and TZ (Fig. 4). The faunal remains are mainly herbi-
vores (Díez et al., 1999). The axial and cranial skeletons are the most
abundant, and were mainly found in TZ, indicating a partial
displacement of the occupation to the middle-left of the cave.
Galería-GIIIa and Galería-GIIIb conrm the technological trends
documented in GIIb. Firstly, Neogene chert and quartzite continue
to be the primary raw materials, but the progressive introduction of
sandstone is signicant. Secondly, there is also a progressive
diversication in the representation of the raw materials, with less
Fig. 8. Rets Galería-GIIb. GIIb-R01, Ata'92 TN5 F25,48 eAta'93 TN5 E24,6; GIIb-R02, Ata'92 TN5 G26,72 eAta'92 TN5 G26,74; GIIb-R03, Ata'96 TZ GIIc L2,48 eAta'96 TZ GIIc L2,39;
GIIb-R04, Ata'91 TN6DA F24,76 eAta'91 TN6DA F24,32 eAta'91 TN6DA F24,35 eAta'91 TN6DA F25,93 eAta'91 TN6DA F23,0; GIIb-R05, Ata'92 TG10B G18,78 eAta'92 TG10B
G20,125; GIIb-R06, Ata'92 TG10B F19,334 eAta'92 TG10B G20,19; GIIb-R07, Ata'08 TZ GIIc N2,152 eAta'08 TZ GIIc N2,177.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e16 9
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common types taking on increased signicance. Thirdly, 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). Additionally, longitudinal and
orthogonal exploitation methods are combined with the signicant
use of centripetal techniques. Lastly, the large tools are mainly
made on akes and the total length of the instruments decreases
(García-Medrano et al., 2014, 2015).
The lithic remains are distributed between TZ (morethan 40% of
the remains) and TN (35% of remains) (Fig. 3). The distribution of
tools is quite balanced, although in TZ there is a predominance of
hammerstones, knapping products and some retouched tools. In
TG, we found most of the cores and large and small tools. We
documented four rets (Table 3)(Fig. 9), two of which are conjoins
of intensively used fragmented percussors. The other two come
from longer shaping processes (Fig. 10). In this case, the hominins
expanded the space occupied inside the cave, although we cannot
distinguish different areas in relation to different activities.
3.4. Galería-GIIIb subunit
In subunit Galería-GIIIb, we detected a decrease in the number
of remains. The remains are faunal in over 88% of cases. There is a
predominance of herbivore remains, distributed between TG and
TZ (Fig. 4). The axial and cranial skeletons are the most represented.
In this case, TZ is consolidated as the main activity area inside
Galería, as more than 60% of the lithic remains and more than 50%
of the faunal remains were concentrated in that area.In the TNarea,
occupation is very limited. In this subunit, both faunal and lithic
remains exhibit equal distribution inside the cave. Considering the
spatial distribution of the lithic remains, a signicant concentration
in the TZ and TG areas is clear, while there are practically no re-
mains in the TN area.
Most of the lithic remains are located in the TZ area (Fig. 3), with
the exception of the small tools, located between TN and TG. The
only two rets came from TZ (Fig. 11). One corresponds to a
knapping sequence and the other to a modication sequence, both
on quartzite (Fig. 12).
From Galería-GIIIa we detected the total displacement of the
occupation to the TZ area, where the hominins carried out the
majority of their activities. In addition, in Galería-GIIIb we
documented new taphonomic alterations such as trampling,
which was favoured by dry environmental conditions (C
aceres,
2002). These two aspects are the clear consequence of the
reduction of the cave environment and the loss of the effective-
ness of the natural trap.
4. Discussion: the occupational pattern of the Galería site
Galería is one of the few European Middle Pleistocene sites
containing an exceptionally long sequence (from c.500 ka to
c.250 ka). In addition, this site has yielded information about the
appearance of the Acheulean and its technological changes over the
course of ~250 ky (García-Medrano et al., 2014, 2015; Oll
e et al.,
2013). The occupational pattern is crucial to correctly interpreting
the lithic assemblage. Successive short-term hominin occupations
had the main purpose of acquiring meat from the herbivores that
had fallen into the cave through the vertical duct. The lithic
assemblage is characterized by a high degree of fragmentation of
the chaînes op
eratoires and a high degree of instrument mobility.
However, the excavation process is ongoing and more remains will
be recovered, which might complement existing data.
The connections found between the lithic instruments do not
lead to a rm hypothesis due to their scarcity and degree of
incompleteness. Nevertheless, combining the ret information
with the faunal and lithic distribution and interpretation, we can
Fig. 9. Spatial distribution of the lithic remains in Galería-GIIIa indicating the rets documented.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1610
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make some inferences about the occupational patterns and changes
though time. The rets reveal little postdepositional displacement
of the remains due to sedimentary processes or other disturbances
such as trampling, produced by hominin and carnivore transit. For
example, GIIa-R03 and GIIb-R07 represent the non-intentional
breakage of two akes. The pieces of these rets were very close
to one another, so no postdepositional movements altered the
original distribution of the remains. The ret distribution is
consistent with the distribution of the total lithic and faunal
dispersion. Therefore, by analysing the ret information, we can
also detect the displacement of the occupation from the TN area,
under the vertical duct, to the TZ area.
The rets also provide new information about the technological
activities carried out inside the cave. In their rst occupations
(Galería-GIIa), the hominins made extensive use of quartzite
cobbles as blanks. However, most of the rets in these subunits are
with artefacts made of chert. In the upper part of the sequence, the
presence of quartzite decreases but most of the rets are of items
made from this material. In spite of the scarcity of cores, most of
the rets are related to knapping sequences, or are between akes
or between cores and akes. We can therefore deduce that the
shaping processes mainly took place outside and the tools were
subsequently introduced into the cave and left inside. Sponta-
neous technological activities that took place inside the cave as
needed were mainly related to the production of akes, and less
frequently, to tool (re)sharpening (Oll
e, 2003; García-Medrano,
2011).
Taking into account the cave conditions of Galería (i.e. it was
humid, waterlogged and dark), the occupation of this cave must
revolve around the possible points of light. Contrary to a classical
Fig. 10. Rets Galería-GIIIa. GIIIa-R01, Ata'88 TG10A G20,7 eAta'88 TG10A G20,8; GIIIa-R02, Ata'90 TG10A G21,67 eAta'91 TG10A G22,2; GIIIa-R03, Ata'90 TN7 F25,27 eAta'90
TN7 F26,2; GIIIa-R04, Ata'90 TN7 E26,16 eAta'90 TN8 E26,17.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e16 11
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perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
theory (Rosas et al., 1998), we believe that the accumulation of
lithics under the vertical duct during the rst occupations (Galería-
GIIa) is related to the existence of light at this point. At that time,
the cave was open and the vertical duct was operative. However, in
this case, we cannot make use of faunal information because of its
poor state of preservation. In addition, together with the light, the
efcacy of the vertical duct is a key issue in understanding the
displacement of the occupation from the TN to the TZ area (Fig. 13).
Fig. 11. Spatial distribution of the lithic remains in Galería-GIIIa indicating the rets documented.
Fig. 12. Rets Galería-GIIIb. GIIIb-R01, Ata'04 TZ GIII N3,60 eAta'95 TZ GIII L5,13; GIIIb-R02, Ata'92 TZ GIII M5,21 eAta'92 TZ GIII L5,14.
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1612
Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
In the base levels, Galería-GIIa, most of the technological
assemblage is located in the TN area, and all of the rets came from
that zone. Galería-GIIb represents a higher occupational impact,
due to the higher quantity of remains recovered from this subunit.
More than 50% of the lithic remains are from the TN area, and more
than 30% are from TG. Meanwhile, the faunal remains are mainly
from TG (in more than 75% of cases). Therefore, TN continued to be
a crucial point inside Galería, because of the light and because it is
the zone in which the hominins found the herbivores. Nevertheless,
the combination of the faunal and lithic data provides a more
realistic vision. The TN area, containing most of the percussors and
knapping products, seems to be the area where knapping and bone
breakage activities preferentially took place, while the TG area
yielded most of the faunal remains combined with cores and in-
struments. We can therefore interpret this zone as the place where
the hominins carried out butchering activities.
Galería-GIIIa reects two main changes. Firstly, the occupational
impact decreases compared to the previous subunit. Secondly, the
total internal space of Galería is occupied and used. We found more
than 40% of the lithic remains in TZ, 35% in TN and 25% in TG. On the
other hand, the fauna is located mainly in TG and TZ. With this data,
we cannot deduce the distribution of activities by area, as the lithic
remains are homogeneously distributed throughout the entire
cave. The TZ area was a new preferred zone inside the cave, and the
occupations relocated from TN to TZ. It is possible that the pro-
gressive loss of effectiveness of the vertical duct as a natural trap for
herbivores (as the cave lled in with sediment) contributed to this
displacement. In addition, the TZ area, which corresponds with the
hominin and carnivore entrance, could be a new point of light in-
side the new cavity distribution.
From both the lithic and faunal data, subunit Galería-GIIIb
points to the total displacement of the hominin occupation to the
TZ area. In TZ there is a predominance of percussors, cores, products
and small tools. In TG, we found most of the large and small tools.
From this perspective, TZ seems to correspond to the preferential
area for knapping activities and TG to a preferential butchering
area. Nevertheless, the fauna remains offered a quite homogeneous
distribution between these two zones. At that time, the cavity
would have been so lled with silt that the natural trap would have
been practically useless.
5. Conclusions
The scarcity and degree of incompleteness of the rets docu-
mented in Galería do not lead to a rm hypothesis. Nevertheless,
we can make some inferences about the occupational patterns and
changes though time. The rets reveal little postdepositional
displacement of the remains due to sedimentary processes or other
disturbances. The rets also provide new information about the
technological activities carried out inside the cave. In their rst
occupation moments, the hominins made an extensive use of
quartzite cobbles as blanks. However, most of the rets in these
subunits are with artefacts made on chert. In the upper part of the
sequence, the presence of quartzite decreases but most of the rets
are of items made from this material. In spite of the scarcity of
cores, most of the rets are related to knapping sequences, or are
between akes or between cores and akes. So, the shaping pro-
cesses mainly took place outside and the tools were subsequently
introduced into the cave and left inside. Spontaneous technological
activities that took place inside the cave as needed were mainly
related to the production of akes.
The whole cave was equally occupied. However, the successive
short-term occupations of Galería changed in relation with their
main location (Fig. 14) and with their intensity. In the base of the
sequence, the most of technological activities are produced under
the vertical duct. In addition, together with the light, the efcacy of
the vertical duct is a key issue in understanding the displacement of
the occupation from the TN to the TZ area.
The new excavation process must focus on the resolution of
several questions: is it possible to conrm the occupational pattern
dened in this study? What is the authentic morphology of the
cave? What inuence did this morphology have on the occupa-
tional distribution inside Galería? Could it be possible to identify
faunal rets which could complete the distribution of remains in-
side this cave?
Fig. 13. Faunal and lithic histograms through the Galería subunits (GIIa-GIIb-GIIIa-GIIIb) and areas (TZ-TG-TN).
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e16 13
Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
Fig. 14. Virtual reconstruction of the successive inlling phases of the Galería site and the location of the main occupational areas (Marco García-Medrano).
P. García-Medrano et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1614
Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
Acknowledgements
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 the Fundaci
on Atapuerca and
to all the members of the Atapuerca team involved in the recovery
and study of the archaeological and paleontological record of the
Galería site. Thanks go also to the Atapuerca team topographer,
Raquel P
erez, for making the correlation between the two archae-
ological grids applied in Galería. Also, we want to thank Toni Canals
for helping us with the software ArchePlotter_v127 and Surfer.
Thanks to Elías Maldonado for helping with the Surfer software and
the density analysis of the remains. Thanks to Marco García-
Medrano for create the virtual reconstruction of the Galería site. P.
García-Medrano beneted from a pre-doctoral research grant from
the Fundaci
on Siglo para las Artes en Castilla y Le
on. This study
was carried out in the framework of the session entitled What's
happening now in Atapuerca? Latest research at the Sierra de Ata-
puerca sites from the 17th UIPPS World Congress (Burgos, 1e7
September 2014).
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Please cite this article in press as: García-Medrano, P., et al., The occupational pattern of the Galería site (Atapuerca, Spain): A technological
perspective, Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.013
... The industrial assemblage of the whole site thus unified was then considered as fully representative of the Acheulean techno-complex, and integrated in a continuous sequence within the general framework of the European Acheulean known at the time (Mosquera et al. 1995: 507-524;Carbonell et al. 1999: 344-349). Subsequent studies, which already took into account the recorded materials from TZ in a global way Ollé et al. 2005Ollé et al. , 2013Ollé et al. , 2016García-Medrano et al. 2014, 2017Terradillos-Bernal 2013), have established more detailed conclusions, although always insisting on the evolutionary nature of the industrial sequence, and adopting the established stratigraphic units or subunits (GIIa, GIIb and GIII) as the subject of analysis, despite the fact that each one integrates a variable number of levels that show evident discontinuities . ...
... The sequence of Galería has been considered as one of the most representative of the European Acheulean García-Medrano et al. 2014, 2017Moncel et al. 2015), and a development from 503 ± 95 to 221/269 ka has been proposed. The industrial sequences of Galería and the Gran Dolina TD10 level-which are adjacent sites, 50 m from each Ollé and Huguet 1999;TZ according to García Medrano et al. 2014). 1 TG11: this level, which is 1.2 m thick in average, includes 12 sublevels between 4 and 18 cm thick, consisting of small gravels and/or lutite from the inner area of the cave. ...
... Virtually all of these pieces have been found in the Burgos Museum and in the Museum of Human Evolution. In order to establish this total of 37 pieces, we have consulted all publications covering the industry of Galería, both the older general publications (especially Carbonell et al. 1999), which refer exclusively to the industry obtained in the 1982-1995 seasons in TG and TN, as well as later ones (Ollé et al. , 2016García-Medrano et al. 2014, 2017. Some of these are dedicated exclusively to this precise type of tool, which also include the industry of TZ, although without providing detailed information by level. ...
Article
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.
... Possible Acheulean assemblages have also been noted in caves with different technological features from those recognized in open-air sites. At Atapuerca (Burgos) the complete sequence of Galería (Ollé et al., 2016;García-Medrano et al., 2017) and the upper levels of Gran Dolina (Ollé et al., 2016), as well as minor references at Sima del Elefante (de Lombera-Hermida et al., 2015). Another outstanding site is Gruta da Aroeira in Portugal (Daura et al., 2017 and. ...
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In the upper basin of the Guadiana River, especially in the sectors drained by its right-bank tributaries, the Bullaque and Becea rivers, important concentrations of Acheulean and Mousterian industries can be found in a superficial position. These industries have provided series containing tens of thousands of pieces. Deposits in stratigraphic position have also been identified, related to the fluvial terraces of the Guadiana and Jabalón rivers and some tributaries. Within the sector studied, in the province of Ciudad Real, the position of these deposits is related to alluvial fans developed on the slopes of the immediate reliefs. These fans, mainly composed of Lower and Middle Ordovician quartzite gravel, were eroded in their distal positions by the Bullaque and Becea rivers, forming very low terraces on which large concentrations of Acheulean and Mousterian lithic industry can be found. El Sotillo, the only known stratigraphic site in the area, was excavated in 2017–2019 and consists of several levels with Mousterian and Acheulean industry. We present the technological characteristics of the main Acheulean assemblage recognised at this site, for which numerical dates have been obtained placing its chronology in the second half of the Middle Pleistocene. The location of these sites, in surficial position and El Sotillo, allows us to recognise a territorial space with specific geographic characteristics and a very significant human impact.
... The third system, Trinchera del Ferrocarril, is an abandoned railway trench that exposed several fossiliferous caves, including the sites of Gran Dolina and Trinchera Galeria among others. In Trinchera Galería a marmot fossil, Middle Pleistocene in age, was recovered (García-Medrano et al., 2017). The Gran Dolina site contained some of the oldest hominin remains of Western Europe from level TD6, which in 1997 were recognized as a new species, Homo antecessor (Bermúdez de Castro et al., 1997). ...
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Full-text available
The oldest European remains of marmots (Genus Marmota) are 0.8 my old and come from the site of Gran Dolina, Atapuerca. Dental measurements from the specimens recovered at Gran Dolina are compared with other Early Pleistocene fossil marmots from Croatia; as well as a set of Middle and Late Pleistocene marmots from France and Italy and Middle Pleistocene fossils from other sites at Sierra de Atapuerca. These fossils are also compared with four species of modern marmots, including an extensive sample of Marmota marmota. Plotting the length of each dental piece of Gran Dolina versus its width, less than 25% of the Early Pleistocene specimens fall into the variability of Marmota marmota, meanwhile the Middle Pleistocene fossils fall within (or extremely close) to its variability. These Early Pleistocene marmots cannot be metrically assigned to the extant alpine marmot.
... The strikes vary depending on size, placement and chronology (Méndez Quintas, 2017;Stout et al., 2014;Terradillos Bernal, 2010). For this study, handaxes found in the Galería site at Sierra de Atapuerca were used as archaeological references (García-Medrano et al., 2017;Ollé et al., 2016), because the same raw material was utilized. According to Terradillos Bernal (2010), 70 successful strikes are needed to create a Galería handaxe and, therefore, to produce a lithic scatter. ...
Conference Paper
Humans evolved specializations to integrate tools into their cultural, perceptive and cognitive systems. Tools extend cognitive functions beyond the brain and directly improve the range of our cognitive skills. A characteristic of human beings is their hand-eye coordination, associated with a specialized visuospatial system. In fact, parietal lobes, larger and more complex in modern humans, are involved in the management of the relationships between brain, body and environment. Tools activate brain motor regions even during passive viewing. When a tool is touched, it is integrated into the body scheme, expanding the peripersonal space. Recently, different disciplines have adopted an embodied cognition perspective arguing that physical tools should be considered as a functional part of the cognitive network. Vision is the dominant source of sensory information in primates, channelling action and body-environment relationships. We applied eye-tracking technology to investigate visual perception during human interaction with Lower Paleolithic stone tools. We quantified visual attention during a free exploration of stone tools in peripersonal space and during tool physical manipulation. Our results suggest that choppers are usually more explored at the upper region and cortex, while handaxes receive more attention at the base and edges. We can consider whether choppers, displaying a simpler morphology, may require less attention associated with the grasping strategy, while handaxes, with a more complex profile and more grasping and use possibilities, may need a finer exploration of its base. That differences during visual exploration are the same whether or not the tools are physically manipulated, suggesting haptic exploration simply serves visual perception, without influencing the visual exploration scheme. The analysis of visual behaviour associated with these affordances can supply information on the early steps of this brain-body-tool interaction, evidencing common factors as well as type-specific perceptual differences
... The strikes vary depending on size, placement and chronology (Méndez Quintas, 2017;Stout et al., 2014;Terradillos Bernal, 2010). For this study, handaxes found in the Galería site at Sierra de Atapuerca were used as archaeological references (García-Medrano et al., 2017;Ollé et al., 2016), because the same raw material was utilized. According to Terradillos Bernal (2010), 70 successful strikes are needed to create a Galería handaxe and, therefore, to produce a lithic scatter. ...
Article
In situ archaeological assemblages are scarce. Most artefacts are affected by post-depositional processes, which complicate the identification of human factors involved in the formation of lithic workshops, such as hand laterality, knapping positions, and knapping expertise. In this regard, experimental archaeology can reproduce past processes to test present hypotheses. In this study, experimental knapping processes were carried out to examine how techniques and methods learned by experience can affect waste flake assemblages. Our results show that, in addition to knapping position, experience affects both flake measurements and spatial distribution. The techniques applied, the knappers’ skill and the control of the application of force all affect spatial flake distribution. However, flakes do not exhibit any preferential orientation, contrary to those affected by some post-depositional factors. The experimental design and results could contribute to the ability to discern Palaeolithic in situ assemblages as well as some human factors that affect their formations.
... Four samples of chert lithic remains came from the Middle Pleistocene units of the site. Two of them (samples SX3 and SX9) were collected from unit GIII of Galería site, dated at around 300 ky [18,19] and another two (samples SX1 and SX17) were collected from the TD10.2 unit in the upper part of Gran Dolina and dated at around 400 ky [10,20]. Two further, fresh chert samples, were collected from the surrounding outcrops in the Sierra de Atapuerca (samples SX18 and SX19) with the aim of comparing these with the decayed samples collected from the archaeological sites ( Figure 2). ...
Article
Full-text available
Chert tools from Galería and Gran Dolina Caves, located in the Sierra de Atapuerca site complex (Burgos, Spain), were characterized (macro-visual inspection, mineralogical phases, degree of crystallinity, soluble salts, surface morphology and optical surface roughness) and compared to chert samples collected from the surrounding Atapuerca mountain range. The chert tools were studied to determine their causes of decay and for selecting the most compatible consolidation treatments. It was found that samples solely containing quartz were not significantly altered and required little conservation treatment compared to those that contained quartz and moganite, which were more weathered and powdery, requiring consolidation. The efficacy of the consolidating products traditionally used by conservators (acrylic resin and ethyl silicate) to preserve these chert remains, together with novel nanoparticle-based products (SiO2 and a mixture of SiO2 and Ca(OH)2 nanoparticles) were assessed in this study. Changes produced by these consolidating products in the physical (surface morphology and cohesion) and aesthetic properties of the chert tools were evaluated using non-destructive techniques (peeling test, spectrophotometry and optical surface roughness), followed by destructive techniques, such as SEM and XRD.
Article
Quaternary faunal remains are key for the understanding of the effect of climatic changes on both animal and human populations. Here we show for the first time in Atapuerca the analysis of an avian assemblage through the MIS9/8 boundary, a moment of climatic deterioration that coincides with the spread of Neanderthals and the adoption of Levallois technology. A total of 603 bird remains belonging to 17 taxa have been identified in the Middle Pleistocene units GIII and GIV (Galería site, Atapuerca, Spain). The assemblage is dominated by the extinct raven Corvus corax antecorax, followed by other cave-dwelling taxa. The palaeoenvironmental reconstruction points to the presence of open landscapes and water bodies in the lower units. Both the number of remains and the taxa diversity decreases dramatically towards the upper unit. This general decreasing concurs with the beginning of the MIS8 stage, and it is observed in other faunal groups in Atapuerca, pointing to a MIS8 glacial stage in the Iberian Peninsula stronger than previously described.
Preprint
We use models from human behavioral ecology to examine stone artifacts from 23 sites in Korea to investigate mobility and site occupation patterns during the Late Pleistocene. This is an important period because new tools, such as stemmed points and blades, appeared in the archaeological record. We focus on two questions: what changes in foragers’ landscape use were associated with the introduction of new tools? And what changes in mobility and the way people used habitation sites were associated with the new technology? To answer these questions we present quantitative analyses of artifact volumetric density, retouch frequency, composition of toolkits, and artifact raw materials. We explore environmental and demographic contexts by applying paleoclimate simulations and summed probability distribution models. We find that quartz and side scrapers, in addition to cores and choppers, remain dominant in assemblages before and after the introduction of stemmed points throughout the Late Pleistocene. Our results show that forager groups using stemmed points may have been associated with occupation of marginal or extreme environments. Groups with stemmed points were associated with expedient technologies, indicating residential and less mobile behaviors. The environmental context of this technological innovation was a gradual decrease in temperature into the LGM. Population increased before the appearance of stemmed points.
Article
We use models from human behavioral ecology to examine stone artifacts from 23 sites in Korea to investigate mobility and site occupation patterns during the Late Pleistocene. This is an important period because new tools, such as stemmed points and blades, appeared in the archaeological record. We focus on two questions: what changes in foragers’ landscape use were associated with the introduction of new tools? And what changes in mobility and the way people used habitation sites were associated with the new technology? To answer these questions we present quantitative analyses of artifact volumetric density, retouch frequency, composition of toolkits, and artifact raw materials. We explore environmental and demographic contexts by applying paleoclimate simulations and summed probability distribution models. We find that quartz and side scrapers, in addition to cores and choppers, remain dominant in assemblages before and after the introduction of stemmed points throughout the Late Pleistocene. Our results show that forager groups using stemmed points may have been associated with occupation of marginal or extreme environments. Groups with stemmed points were associated with expedient technologies, indicating residential and less mobile behaviors. The environmental context of this technological innovation was a gradual decrease in temperature into the LGM. Population increased before the appearance of stemmed points.
Article
The Galería Complex is a cave sediment succession at the Atapuerca paleoanthropological site (Burgos, Spain) that offers detailed environmental information about the late Middle Pleistocene, especially the period between marine oxygen isotope stages MIS10 and MIS7. Previous studies have reconstructed the chronology and detailed the environmental development of this key succession. We introduce rock magnetic climate proxies from the sedimentary units of the Galería succession that we correlate with the global climate record as represented by the marine oxygen isotope record. The cave sediment sequence consists of five infilling phases, four of which were sampled at high resolution across a 5 m thick composite profile. We propose a novel goethite climate proxy along with a frequently used ultrafine ferrimagnetic mineral proxy for paleoclimate reconstruction and detailed chronostratigraphic correlation with isotope stages and substages MIS10/MIS10-9, MIS9e-a and MIS8. The proxies reveal new paleoenvironmental information about paleoprecipitation and indicate that MIS9e was a humid (~650 mm/ year maximum annual precipitation) and intense interglacial in northern Spain that declined in steps into the globally weak glacial stage MIS8. MIS8 consisted of drier periods with 430e510 mm/year annual precipitation and at least one humid substage (600 mm/year).
Article
Analytical procedures applied to Acheulian artefacts have reached an impasse. The process known as a reduction sequence provides an alternative framework for analyses, leading to an improved understanding of the factors controlling variability within Acheulian assemblages. Examples drawn from Caddington in the Chiltern Hills of southern England indicate that a 'middle' course might be to replicate the bifacies and cores from the site, using local raw materials and hammers.-J.Sheail