The project "Face to face: Study of Neanderthal behaviour in high resolution contexts", coordinated between three research centres, has the main objective to characterize the variability of the beh aviour of Neanderthals groups in the Middle Palaeolithic. We also propose to analyze the relationship between this variability and significant changes in the environment, and to assess the similarities and differences of these patterns with those of anatomically modern humans. For this purpose we propose to study various micro-scale features of Neanderthals lifestyle (such as hunting strategies, competition with carnivores, seasonality of occupations, procurement of vegetal resources, raw materials acquisition, diversification of lithic assemblages, organization of space) analyzing the relationship between behavioural flexibility and their ecological contexts.
We hypothesized that (1) we can identify high-resolution events in all types of archaeological sites and (2) the variability of the Neanderthals behaviour can only be assessed properly if the archaeological record is analyzed at a high resolution level. This project attempts to address these questions from a multidisciplinary and novel methodological approach, combining analysis of raw materials, zooarchaeology, tooth wear analyses, palaeobotany, lithic technology and spatial distribution. This approach is possible because we have a significant amount of data from recent excavations in caves, rock-shelters and open-air sites. The localities included in this project – Abric Romaní, Arbreda Cave, Ermitons Cave, Mollet Cave, Mollet III Cave, Cau del Roure, Covalejos Cave, Teixoneres Cave, Esquilleu Cave, El Cañaveral and Ahijones – have been subject to systematic excavations in recent years and meet the requirements to apply correctly the multidisciplinary methodology proposed in this project. It is suggested here that there will be little definitive progress on this issue without an analysis of the archaeological record at a high temporal scale that provides direct evidence of the variability of Neanderthal behaviour and its relationship to the environment. ... [more]