The equids from the Bronze Age levels of the El Portalón site (Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)

ArticleinQuaternary International in press · December 2015with 293 Reads
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Abstract
Although the Iberian Peninsula has been proposed as a possible focus of horse domestication during the Metal Age, zooarchaeological evidence of this process is scarce due to the very reduced samples of horses found at sites from this period. In this context, El Portalón from Cueva Mayor (Atapuerca Mountain Range, Burgos, Spain) is one of the most important sites for the study of Bronze Age horses because of the high number of horse remains identified there.In this work, taxonomic, zooarchaeological and preliminary taphonomic studies of the equid remains from the Early and Middle Bronze Age levels of this site have been carried out. As a result, it is confirmed that just one species, the horse, is represented in these levels. Due to the absence of direct criteria in the sample to distinguish between wild and domestic horses, the equid from El Portalón has been classified as Equus sp. gr. Equus ferus/Equus caballus.The butchery marks, the fire alteration, the fracture pattern and the percussion damage, observed on horse bone remains, indicate the human consumption of horses during the Early Bronze Age and the Middle Bronze Age level of the El Portalón site. The mortality profile is focused on consumption of the foal meat, in contrast with the management of this species in the majority of the Iberian sites of similar age. The large accumulation of equid remains and the role horses play at Bronze Age levels of El Portalón is notable and makes it one of the most significant sites from the Bronze Age in the Iberian Peninsula context.
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