Climatic change and Neolithisation in the Mediterranean basin
Professor Graeme Barker, Mc Donald Institute, University of Cambridge
Fifty years ago Grahame Clark was able to use the first suite of radiocarbon dates from the Early Neolithic to demonstrate that farming spread from the Near East into temperate Europe and across the Mediterranean basin over several millennia from around 6000 BC. He concluded that the process was partly the result of farmers colonising regions sparsely occupied by Mesolithic foragers and partly a process of ‘acculturation’ whereby Mesolithic foragers adopted agriculture. The ensuing decades have witnessed an explosion in data, especially archaeological science data, which have generally supported that model, but the development of more detailed radiocarbon chronologies has also allowed archaeologists to address questions that were not feasible when Grahame Clark was writing, including the extent to which particular pathways of ‘Neolithisation’ can usefully be understood in terms of adaptations to Holocene climate change, including for example the ‘8.2 event’. To what extent can climate change be regarded as a significant factor in explaining foraging/farming transitions in the Mediterranean basin, or is this yet another example of the loose chronologies, sloppy correlations and circular reasoning that have so often characterized the debates about past human responses to climate change?
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 1
Early Holocene Environmental Change and Human Resilience in the Eastern Adriatic.
Preston T Miracle1, Giovanni Boschian2, Cynthia Larbey1, Dinko Radić3, and Siniša Radović4
1 Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK; 2 Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Italy
3 Cultural Centre, Vela Luka, Croatia
4 Institute for Quaternary palaeontology and geology, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb, Croatia
The Eastern Adriatic region witnessed significant environmental changes during the Early Holocene period. Some changes, like the rise in sea level were time-transgressive with steady and prolonged impacts over several millennia. Others, like the 8.2 Kyr event were punctuated, sharp in impact, and restricted to a few centuries. In this paper we synthesize regional proxies of climate change in the region, focussing on southern Dalmatia. We then examine the extent to which regional changes are expressed in a long, high-resolution sequence from Vela Spila Cave (Korčula, Croatia), focussing on the geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, and zooarchaeology of Mesolithic and Early Neolithic assemblages deposited between 9,500 – 7,500 Cal BP. Human responses to environmental changes are then examined and modelled using proxies of the nature and intensity of cave use. Particular emphasis is given to: A) trends in food procurement; B) human impacts on resources; C) anthropogenic landscape change. The Mesolithic-Neolithic ‘transition’ is well documented at Vela Spila, and we conclude our discussion by examining this evidence in the context of these environmental changes.
Multi-scalar approaches to demographic dynamics between the Late Magdalenian and the Late Mesolithic in the Iberian Peninsula.
Javier Fernández-López de Pablo1,2, Sergi Lozano1,2, Magdalena Gómez1,2, Mario Gutierrez1,2, Carolina Cucart1,2, Luce Prignano3,
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social)
2Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Catalonia, Spain
2 Universitat de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
MULTI-SCALARDEM is a new research project supported by the “Europa Excelencia” program of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The aim of this project is to investigate patterns of population history and cultural transmission from the Late Magdalenian to the Late Mesolithic (c.15,000-8,000 cal BP) in the Iberian Peninsula. This period witnessed major environmental changes and cultural transformations on settlement distribution, technology and social organisation. Our project specifically addresses two major inter-related research topics: Firstly, to what extent demographic behaviour was driven by environmental factors; and secondly, how did regional population patterns influence cultural transmission processes.
This project develops a new, multi-scale, methodological approach to study population patterns and cultural change. First, at a local scale, our project will combine new empirical data obtained at open-air residential sites with well dated multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in the Upper Vinalopó Valley (Eastern Spain) to understand the impact of climate change and hydrological stress on human settlement areas. Second, we will reconstruct population patterns at 2 different Iberian regional units analysing summed probabilities of radiocarbon date distributions from a new audited radiocarbon database. Our results will be compared with summed probabilities distributions derived from simulated data sets to correct the effects of the radiocarbon calibration curve, and sampling and taphonomic biases in the observed results. Finally, we will conduct computational network analyses at a macro-regional scale to identify how diachronic variations on hunter-gatherer settlement networks affected the transmission of cultural traits and the spread of technological innovations.
The early Holocene Mesolithic at Iberian southeast Pyrenees: adaptation or exaptation? Jorge Martínez-Moreno1, Xavier Roda Gilabert1, Miquel Roy Sunyer1, Rafael Mora1
1Centre d’Estudis del Patrimoni Arqueològic de la Prehistòria. Facultat de Lletres. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
The Mesolithic has usually been considered a period of generalized crisis in hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Although global climate change during the LGM and YD does not seem to have influenced prehistoric societies, the Holocene amelioration promoted deep environmental transformations that eventually affected hunter-gatherer’s organization.
A local example of this deep impact was described in the so-called “facies of fortune”; a process resulting in environmental stress which strongly affected the socio-cultural organization of the local Mesolithic. The use of poor quality raw material, ad hoc/expedient knapping methods or the disappearance of microlithic armatures were interpreted attributes relating to the cultural degeneration of hunter-gatherer organization on both sides of the eastern Pyrenees; particularly visible during the Boreal.
The archaeological record recovered from several sites in the southeastern Pyrenees allows us to examine if this new ecological scenario promoted radical changes in subsistence and social organization. At the same time, by examining the variability, flexibility and resilience of hunter-gatherers who faced ecological remodeling, promoted by post-Pleistocene climate change, it also allows us to ask if we can consider the Mesolithic as a period of crisis.
More than representing adaptations, we underline that it would be considered exaptation’s to the new environmental structure that develops during the early Holocene. This perspective explains the spread towards new ecosystems with strong constraints but in which basic resources of subsistence are obtained that may appear abundant and predictable.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 2
Decoding hydrological variability in the Iberian Peninsula during the last termination and Holocene periods
I. Cacho1, I. Bladé2, A. Moreno3, M. Bartolomé3,4, C. Sancho4, J. Rodriguez5, H. Stoll6
1 CRG Geociences Marines, Facultat de Geologia, Univ. Barcelona, Spain
2 Departament d’Astronomia i Meteorologia, Facultat de Fisica, Univ. de Barcelona, Spain
3 Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología – CSIC, Zaragoza, Spain
4 Departamento de Geología, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
5 Departamento de Geología, Universidad del País Vasco, Bilbao, Spain
6 Departamento de Geología, Universidad of Oviedo, Spain
Past changes in hydrological patterns may have been critical in controlling human evolution, particularly when major re-organizations of the climate system occurred. The currently ongoing OPERA project aims to characterize past humidity changes in the Iberian Peninsula, from the Cantabric to the Mediterranean regions, by integrating multi-archive proxy records and modelling simulations. Speleothem records from caves are excellent hydrological sensors and their geochemical signal can accurately be interpreted from continuous monitoring of present-day conditions in key caves. These carbonate archives can also be precisely dated by U/Th thus providing unprecedented detailed chronologies of past hydrologic changes. Marine sediment cores complete this information by offering continuous and accurate temperature records that allow us to place the local hydrological changes in a more global climate perspective. The combined information from these two climate archives with modelling results will enable us to evaluate the potential ocean-atmosphere coupling and the drivers of the recorded changes. Early results from the project have already yielded a detailed record of humidity changes in the central Pyrenees region across the Younger Dryas that has been related to variations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) (Bartolome et al., 2015). Those findings provide a precise chronology of this event and reveal that a change from dry to wetter conditions occurred during the Younger Dryas in parallel to a gradual resumption of the AMOC. This strong coupling between the North Atlantic circulation and Iberia precipitation appears to also occur during at least some centennial time-scale events of the Holocene. The results from OPERA project will be reviewed and discussed in the context of climate model simulations of the mid-Holocene period.
Prehistoric Transitions in the Mediterranean: Climate change and cultural signatures between the Mesolithic and Bronze Age: A multi-proxy reconstruction from the upper Vinalopó Valley, Alicante, Spain.
Jones, SE.1, Burjachs, F.1,4,5, Schulte, L.2, Ferrer, C.3 & Fernandez-López de Pablo, J.1,4
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Campus Sescelades URV, edifici W3, E-43007Tarragona, Spain
2 Fluvalps Project Leader, ICREA Academia Researcher, Department of Physical Geography, University of Barcelona , C/Montalegre, 6-8, E-08001 Barcelona, Spain
3 Servicio de Investigación Prehistòrica, Museu de Prehistòria de València, Calle Corona, 36 – 46003 Valencia, Spain
4 Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
5 ICREA, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Abstract: The onset of the Holocene witnessed the start of environmental processes which have continued up to the present day; however these climatic processes have been far from stable. The 8.2 k cal BP event is one of the most pronounced of these climatic fluctuations. In the western Mediterranean this event coincides with the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer. Various studies undertaken in the western Mediterranean suggest that the Middle Holocene climatic crisis had drastic impacts on Late Mesolithic foragers, causing the abandonment of previously settled areas, changes on human mobility and possible population decreases. The Villena lagoon, in the upper Vinalopó valley of Spain is an ideal location to investigate human responses to climatic stress because of its very close proximity to Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic archaeological sites. This paper presents the results of multi-proxy analysis, undertaken on a 9.3 m lake core using pollen, lithology, grain size, TOC, Magnetic susceptibility and geochemical analysis. The results of this investigation, which span the Preboreal-Bronze Age, provide new insights into complex environmental processes, which have influenced prehistoric populations during the Holocene. The onset of the Holocene witnessed a major transition in sedimentation and vegetation initiated by climatic amelioration and increased fluvial intensity. Mesophilic tree taxa and lake levels increased, whilst the intensity of channel erosion caused rapid deposition of silts and sands, and is perhaps also responsible for a 1 m age reversal. Increasing dryness and lake level decline during the mid-late Holocene saw the landscape becoming increasingly dominated by pines and heath at the expense of mesophilic taxa. A number of aridity oscillations are also represented between the mid-late Holocene. The most pronounced occurs between 8.6-8.2 cal BP (Bond 5), but minor events have also been recorded between 6,500-5900 cal BP, 5000 cal BP and 4000 cal BP, and may correspond to Bond events 3 and 4. Increasing human pressures after the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition may have accelerated aridity and lake level decline.
Testing human resilience to environmental change using oral pathologies on the Late Mesolithic individuals from Casa Corona (Villena, Spain)
Marina Lozano1, Maria Eulàlia Subirà2, Consuelo Roca de Togores3, Javier Fernández-López de Pablo1
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Spain
2 UAB, Barcelona, Spain
3 MARQ, Alicante, Spain
In recent years, it has become commonly discussed that Early Holocene environmental dynamics affected subsistence and settlement patterns of Mesolithic populations in the Iberian Peninsula. In this context, the study of human paleopathologies from the Late Mesolithic period can provide privileged information to (i) determine the health conditions and life history patterns right before the introduction of agriculture and husbandry economic systems; and, (ii) to discuss the resilience capacity of the last populations of hunter gatherers to events of abrupt environmental change.
The human remains from Casa Corona (Villena, Spain), dated to 8,000-7,800 cal BP, contribute to increase our knowledge about health conditions soon after the 8.2 ka cal BP cold event. There are two burials, burial 1 is a primary interment of an adult middle-aged female and burial 2 is a primary interment of a child aged 1-1.5 years old. The oral pathologies suffered by the adult female such as enamel hypoplasia, dental caries, calculus and abscess allows us to foresee the trend towards higher prevalence of these pathologies regarding previous Paleolithic periods.
Human adaptations in the Ebro Basin to the Pleistocene-Holocene climatic transition
P. Utrilla1, L. Montes2, A. Alday3, P. González-Sampériz4, R. Domingo1, A. Moreno4, A. Soto3, J. Aranbarri4
1 Área de Prehistoria. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
2 Área de Prehistoria. Facultad de Ciencias Humanas y de la Educación. Universidad de Zaragoza, Huesca, Spain
3Área de Prehistoria. Facultad de Letras. Universidad del País Vasco-EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
4 Departamento de Procesos Geoambientales y Cambio Global. Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC, Zaragoza, Spain
The Ebro Basin can be considered one of the major areas for the study of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in SW Europe. Dozens of archaeological and natural sequences and hundreds of radiocarbon dates provide an accurate frame for those millennia. After scarce human presences along the Upper Palaeolithic, an increasingly growing population frequented the region since the Upper Magdalenian within a general process of human expansion. Except for some occupation gaps still unexplained, they exploited continuously the natural resources forming connected communities that were also linked to neighbour territories. This area presents very different climatic and landscape features that challenged the prehistoric groups but also offered them a wide variety of biotic and abiotic resources, from the wet and abrupt terrains of the NW extreme, close to the Cantabrian area, to the extremely dry flatlands of the Monegros region where, in exchange, they could obtain massive quantities of good-quality flint: a whole mosaic of resources that attracted prehistoric groups. Erosive processes during the Holocene difficult the tracking of prehistoric occupations in the central flat areas of the Basin except for some isolate findings. We know for sure that they frequented middle mountain terrains, where limestone and sandstone rockshelters and caves offered a good refuge and have preserved until now the archaeological remains. Some especially well-known areas, like Álava-Treviño, the Alto Aragón or the Bajo Aragón-Maestrazgo have made possible micro-regional holistic analyses that have been published in the last years.
Human-environment interactions during the Holocene in the Lake Banyoles area
Antoni Palomo1, Raquel Piqué1, Jordi Revelles1, Xavier Terradas2, Francesc Burjachs3,4,5, Eneko Iriarte6
1Departament de Prehistòria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain
2Departament d’Arqueologia i Antropologia, Institució Milà i Fontanals CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
3 ICREA. Barcelona, Spain
4 Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social. Tarragona (IPHES), Spain
5 Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Tarragona (URV), Spain
6 Ciencias Históricas y Geografía, Laboratorio de Evolución Humana, Universidad de Burgos, Burgos, Spain
Palaeoecological records and evidence of human occupation in the area of Lake Banyoles (North-East of Iberian Peninsula) are discussed in order to provide data on human-environment interactions during the Holocene. The archaeological record in the Lake Banyoles area shows a lack of evidence of human occupation during the early Holocene prior to the arrival of the first farming communities at 7300-6000 cal. BP. This data suggests that the area was sparsely inhabited during the early Holocene. In this frame the human arrival had an important effect on the environment, mainly due to the intensive exploitation of forest resources, as shown in the archaeological record of the site. According to the palynological record of Lake Banyoles and the archaeobotanical data from La Draga, people settled in dense oak woodland. The pollen record shows the dominance of broadleaf deciduous forests during the Holocene Climate optimum (8900-7600 cal. BP). The cooling event recorded at 7400 cal. BP, prior to the first evidence of Holocene human occupations in the area, is probably the cause of the onset of a slight regression in broadleaf deciduous trees. However, the abrupt decline in deciduous Quercus in the pollen record, dated at 7250-6050 cal. BP, is contemporaneous to the settlement of first farming communities in the area, documented at the site of La Draga. According to the obtained data human and environmental conditions played an important role in vegetation history.
Why only “paquipodes” wear pants? What Levantine rock art can bring to the climate question
Pilar Utrilla1, Manuel Martínez Bea1
1Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
Looking for new ways to better know the climate transitions in the early Holocene we propose, as a work hypothesis, those data that Levantine rock art gives us. This rock art style is supposedly linked with that transitional moment, being associated to the Geometric Mesolithic or Neolithic phases.
So, if we focus on the four main styles for Levantine human motifs (some of them with their respective subgroups) we can observe that only the so-called “pachypodes” are dressed, exclusive of the Bajo Aragón/Maestrazgo/Baix Ebre region. Indeed, these are the only figures that wear trousers in all cases, quite a lot of times also boots and maybe also hood. This appreciation could point out that those people could live in a cold period.
The thematic is always the same: people appear marching. They were depicted running and sometimes with the whole family (Centelles, Val del Charco, Roca Benedí). And that is what they warn on their walls.
We have studied the direction of the motifs (Utrilla and Bea, 2015) and all of them are oriented to inland, to the Maestrazgo. This could be related to the quest of new territories, less arid than the Bajo Aragón, where there could be a lack of game in the beginning of the 8.2 event.
Furthermore, these motifs seem to be the first painted on the shelters (occupying the central spaces), reaching large dimensions (Val del Charco, Rossegadors, Cingle dels Tolls Alts). These last figures always appear flaky, very bad preserved, something that could have to be with abrupt changes in temperature, maybe aggravate with cryoclastia effects in a cold environment.
We also analysed the hypothesis carried out by Bader. According to that, marching “pachypode” figures would be related to the quest of new flint outcrops.
Risk and Resilience in the Late Glacial: a Case Study from the Western Mediterranean
Michael Barton1; Emili Aura Tortosa2; Oreto Garcia Puchol2; Julien Riel-Salvatore3; Nicolas Gautier1, Arizona State University; Margarita Vadillo Conesa2; Geneviève Pothier-Bouchard3
1 Arizona State University, USA
2 Universitat de València, Spain
3 Université de Montréal
The period from the Last Glacial Maximum through the early Holocene encompasses dramatic and rapid environmental changes that offered both increased risk and new opportunities to human populations in the Pleistocene refugia of the Mediterranean zone. In order to better understand how humans adapted to these ecological risks and opportunities, we synthesize data from nearly 200 archaeological assemblages from a series of sites located in the arc extending from southern Spain to northern Italy. We compare information about human ecology with paleoenvironmental data derived from high-resolution downscaling of global climate models.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 3
“Mediterranean” Archaeofaunas of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Iberia?
Emily Lena Jones1
1 University of New Mexico, USA
Recent meta-analysis of Pleistocene-Holocene transition Iberian archaeofaunas (Jones 2015, 2016) has identified a consistent “Mediterranean” cluster from the Last Glacial Maximum through the early Holocene, suggesting similarities in environment and/or consistency in hunting strategy despite the radical changes in climate that took place across this time period. However, while these archaeofaunas all derive from sites located within today’s Mediterranean bioclimatic region, many of them are from locations far from the Mediterranean Sea – Atlantic Portugal, or the Spanish Meseta – which today differ significantly from each other in biotic composition. In this paper, I explore clustering (through cluster analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, and nestedness) within the “Mediterranean” archaeofaunal group and its relationship to geographic variables such as distance to the Mediterranean, distance to the Atlantic, and site elevation, and discuss the relationship between Mediterranean climates, Mediterranean environments, and human hunting.
Deciphering new cultural and climatic markers: a challenge for seed and charcoal analyses combined
Carmen María Martínez Varea1, Yolanda Carrión Marco1, Guillem Pérez Jordà2, Ernestina Badal García1
1 Departament de Prehistòria i Arqueologia, Universitat de València, Spain
2 G.I. Bioarqueología, CCHS, CSIC, Madrid, Spain
Transition from Late Glacial to Early Holocene is a very interesting scenario because of the bioclimatic changes that took place in these moments and the great economic and cultural shifting produced as a result of the new environmental conditions.
The analysis of anthracological and carpological remains recovered in archaeological sites allows for accurate landscape and paleoclimatic reconstructions, since some of the identified species live in specific ecological conditions and are excellent bioclimatic markers.
In this communication, we will discuss a group of archaeological sites in the central region of País Valencià with Final Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupations: Cova de les Cendres (Teulada-Moraira, Alicante) (Badal and Carrión 2001), Coves de Santa Maira (Castell de Castells, Alicante) (Aura et al. 2005) and Abric de la Falguera (Alcoi, Alicante) (García and Aura 2006). With the anthracological and carpological analyses carried out in these sites we can reconstruct the landscape and climate at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, from the coast to the mountains, as well as cultural adaptations to these changes.
In order to achieve this goal, bioclimatic and cultural markers documented among the archaeobotanical assemblages are discussed here. Cryophilous pines, different species of Juniperus and Quercus and the presence/absence of Olea europaea are excellent bioclimatic markers. Amongst the cultural markers we can point out the use of Olea europaea and Quercus sp.
The combined anthracological and carpological studies offer more relevant ecologic and economic information, and we achieve accurate reconstructions of climate, landscape and economy.
Environment of the last hunter-gatherers versus environment of the first agro-pastoralists between the Alps and the Apennines (7th – 6th millennium cal. BCE): review of the situation and prospective
Janet Battentier1, Didier Binder1, Roberto Maggi2, Fabio Negrino3, Ingrid Sénépart1, Carlo Tozzi4, Isabelle Théry-Parisot1, Claire Delhon1
1 Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, CEPAM (CNRS, UMR 7264), France
2 Università di Genova, Scuola di Specializzazione in beni archeologici, Italy
3 Università di Genova, Dipartimento di Antichità, Filosofia, Storia, Geografia, Italy
4 Università di Pisa, Dipartimento di Civiltà e forme del sapere, Italy
From the early 7th to the mid 6th millennium cal. BCE, major environmental and cultural shifts occurred within the contrasted area located between the Rhône and the Pô rivers and ranging from coastal lowlands to alpine belts. While the vegetation experienced a transition from the Boreal pioneer and postpioneer vegetation to the so-called Atlantic optimum, the last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the Blade and trapeze Mesolithic complex progressively disappeared as the Neolithic farming activities anchored. But, before the shift in human behaviour was completed, the Castelnovian Mesolithic populations, which already settled in this area half a millennium earlier (since c.6500 cal. BCE), partly coexisted with the first agro-pastoralists of the Early Neolithic Impressed Wares culture (from c. 6000/5800 to 5500/5400 cal. BCE).
The Castelnovian Mesolithic, occurring during a period of cultural and environmental transition, still raises many non-consensual issues. Among these, many concern the relationship tied between these groups and the first agro-pastoralists during the few centuries of their coexistence. One of the main question is related to the sharing (or not) of the territory and of its environmental resources. Another issue concerns the attractiveness of the different landscape units according to the activities led by each culture.
Through the reassessment of the geographical distribution of the sites and the critical review of the environmental data provided by archaeological sites (charcoal data) of both cultural contexts and contemporary natural sequences (pollen data), we investigate the weight of microclimatic, edaphic, and vegetation parameters in the settlement patterns of the last hunter-gatherers and that of the first agro-pastoralists. The attractiveness of the various ecosystems available at the regional scale appears to vary between these two cultural complexes. In particular, the biodiversity of the surrounding ecosystem may be of high importance for Castelnovian groups. Moreover, fir (Abies alba) could be to some extent repellent – or at least linked to other repellent features – for the settlement of these groups. We will discuss if the location preferred inside a single geographical area by the last Mesolithics on the one hand and the early Neolithics, on the other hand, can be supported by cultural features and to what extent.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 4
Humans and natural environment. From the last hunter-gatherers to the first farmers and shepherds in the south of Catalonia.
Margarida Genera i Monells1, Maria Garcia2, Francesc A. Lavega2, Maite Roig2, Álvaro Arasa2, Albert Arnau2, Alex Güell2
1 UNED (Universitat Nacional d’Educació a Distància, Centre Associat Barcelona-Terrassa, Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (IEC), AEQUA
The geographical area that at present corresponds to the southern regions of Catalonia with coastal front: Baix Camp, BaixEbre and Montsià, configures a very interesting territorial framework for detecting and reconstructing the processes of change in the environment during prehistoric times. It is a space that presents an important landscape diversity in addition to a variety of natural resources easily available: an extensive coastline rich in wetlands, a river network articulated by the Ebro, some highland areas (Ports sector), in addition to its proximity to other regions rich in quality raw materials, such as the Priorat and Conca de Barberà.
Our purpose is to present the outcome of the multidisciplinary investigation of the interval of time between the end of the Upper Palaeolithic and the Neolithic, based on the updated study of a series of archaeological sites where there is a registered sequence pertaining to these periods, in addition to examples of rock art of great significance that bring us closer, in a very illustrative way, to human behaviours in this context, as we see in the shelters of la Mallada (el Perelló), el Clot de l’Hospital and la Cova del Vidre (Roquetes), l’Areny (Mont-roig), etc.
Latest Pleistocene to Early Holocene palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic reconstruction trough the small mammal assemblage of the Grottina dei Covoloni del Broion (Colli Berici, north-eastern Italy)
Bañuls-Cardona S.1, Montanari-Canini G.1, Luzi E.2, López-García J.M.2, Berto C.1,3, Visentin D.1,4
1Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, sezione di Scienze preistoriche e antropologiche, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
2 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain. Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
3 LT Teknehub, Ferrara, Italy
4 UMR 5608 TRACES, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Toulouse Cedex 9, France
The Grottina dei Covoloni del Broion is a narrow cave located on the Berici hills (Vicenza, North-Eastern Italy), at about 120 m a.s.l. It represents the only investigated stratigraphic sequence recovered in the lowland Venetian area that covers the Latest Pleistocene and Early-Middle Holocene time span. Eight stratigraphic levels dated from the late Pleistocene to the Copper Age have been identified. The lowest layers (from 8 to 6) are composed of brownish yellow silt sediment rich in coarse clasts. Layers 7 and 6 contained respectively a Sauveterrian and Castelnovian lithic assemblage that date these strata to the Preboreal – Atlantic interval. A radiocarbon date for layer 6 is available: 7832-7686 cal BP (R-892). Layers 5 to 1 are characterized by heavy depositions of calcite and include human remains and material culture related to the use of the cave as a burial site during the Copper Age. This study is focused on layers 8 and 4, as the others have not yielded enough small mammals.
Thirteen small mammal taxa have been identified: Erinaceus europaeus, Talpa europaea, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Rhinolophus euryale-mehelyi, Marmota, Arvicola amphibius, Chionomys nivalis, Clethrionomys glareolus, Microtus (Terricola) gr. multiplex-subterraneus, M. oeconomus, M. agrestis, M. arvalis, Apodemus sylvaticus and Glis.
The small mammal assemblage has been analysed using the Habitat weighting, the Chorotypes and the Bioclimatic Model methods. The lower layer (Layer 8) attests the presence of an open landscape. Species with Euro-Siberian requirements are the most abundant and the inferred climatic conditions were humid and harsher than today possibly in relation to a cold event of the Latest Pleistocene. On the other hand, Layer 4 is dominated by a woodland landscape and taxa with Mediterranean requirements are dominant. This level indicates mild and humid climatic conditions, typical of the Sub-Atlantic period.
Climatic changes during the late glacial in the northern Italian Peninsula. The small mammals assemblage of Riparo Tagliente (Stallavena di Grezzana, Verona, Italy)
Berto C.1,3, Luzi E.2, Montanari-Canini G.1, Fontana F.1
1 Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, sezione di Scienze preistoriche e antropologiche, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy
2 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain. Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
3 LT Teknehub, Ferrara, Italy
The site of Riparo Tagliente is located under a rock shelter at an altitude of 226 m a.s.l. (Stallavena, Grezzana, VR), along the Pantena Valley, on the Lessini Mountains.
The deposit contains a complex stratigraphic sequence in which lithic industries related to the Mousterian, the Aurignacian and the Late Epigravettian are present. The Epigravettian series has accumulated in a chronological period spanning between the first part of the Late Glacial (end of GS 2) and the Bølling-Allerød Interstadial (GI 1) (between 17,404 to 13,435 years cal BP).
The small mammals coming from the Epigravettian Cuts and Stratigraphic Units have been studied in order to reconstruct the climatic and environmental context present in the Northern Italy during the late Upper Pleistocene, period in which the Tagliente shelter was occupied by the Late Epigravettian groups.
Microtus arvalis and Microtus (Terricola) gr. multiplex-subterraneus are always dominant, indicating the presence of open environments or wooded grasslands. A slight change is evident during the Bølling-Allerød Interstadial (from Cuts-Macrounits 11 and 10 to cut 4) where the moisture arises, as testified by the decrease of Microtus (Terricola) gr. multiplex-subterraneus. This change is better visible in the large mammals sequence, especially between cuts 12-11 and 10, where species adapted to open environments (ibex, bison and aurochs) are replaced by woodland ones (red deer, roe deer and wild boar).
The relative “stasis” in the small mammal assemblage of Riparo Tagliente is an exception in a context where abrupt biocoenosis changes happened during the Bølling-Allerød Interstadial. During this chronological interval, variations in small mammal assemblages are registered in other Northern Italian sites. Their main characteristics are the percentage reduction of Microtus arvalis, the reduction and disappearance of “cold indicators” such as Microtus oeconomus and Cricetus and the increase of biodiversity distribution, with assemblages often characterized by the rise of woodland environment taxa such as Apodemus (Sylvaemus), Clethrionomys glareolus and Glis glis.
Timing and consequences of the human impact on small mammal diversity in Spain during the late Pleistocene to the early Holocene
Juan Manuel López-García1,2, Hugues-Alexandre Blain1,2, Juan Ignacio Morales1,2, Carlos Lorenzo2,1, Sandra Bañuls-Cardona3, and Gloria Cuenca-Bescós4
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain
2 Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
3 Sezione di Scienze Preistoriche e Antropologiche, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, C. so Ercole I d’Este, 32, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy
4 Área de Paleontología, Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
We investigate changes in small-mammal richness and diversity in southwestern Europe (Iberian Peninsula) during the late Pleistocene– Holocene transition in order to evaluate whether they follow a climatic pattern or are predominantly determined by human impact, especially after the emergence of agriculture in the Neolithic period. We selected 6 late Pleistocene and Holocene sites that correspond to 18 different layers dated to between ca. 22 and 3 kyr B.P. Using indices of species richness and evenness diversity, we show that climate played an important role at some sites during the late Pleistocene and at the beginning of the Holocene, in that the richness and diversity of small mammals were closely related to the mean annual temperatures and landscape changes, and varied according to the different climatic fluctuations detected (Heinrich Event 1, Bølling-Allerød, and Preboreal-Boreal). However, at the beginning of the mid-Holocene, the small-mammal richness and diversity no longer seem to follow any kind of climatic pattern, and the observed changes in some studied sites are more closely related to human activities. By contrast with similar studies carried out in other parts of the world, the changes in diversity in the Iberian Peninsula do not seem to follow a constant pattern during the late Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene. Some of the changes detected appear to be related to climate (late Pleistocene), and others appear to be related to climate (late Pleistocene), and others appear to be related to human influence (Holocene) on the landscape.
Early and Middle Holocene evolution of the S Iberian National Parks. Where has all the people gone?
Saúl Manzano Rodríguez 1, Lourdes López-Merino2, Santiago Fernández Jiménez1 Manuel Munuera Giner1, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno3, José S. Carrión1
1Departamento de Biología Vegetal (Botánica), Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia
2 Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University London (UK)
3 Departamento de Paleontología y Estratigrafía, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada
The Iberian Peninsula harbours a very significant share of Europe’s plant and landscape biodiversity. Iberian National Parks (NPs) host a selection of representative and key habitats that intends to cover the overwhelming biological, geological and physiographical diversity of this territory. These hallmark areas concentrate most national conservation efforts and investments. However, many aspects regarding long-term dynamics and deep time ecology, are yet unknown.
S Iberian NPs are especially interesting from a palaeoecological point of view. They are ecologically complex and heterogeneous territories. Because of their southernmost position in Europe, they have also played an important refugial role during Quaternary glacial dynamics. Doñana and Sierra Nevada NPs are thus true outdoor laboratories for the testing of palaeocological hypothesis.
Being contrasting systems, Doñana’s littoral marshes and Sierra Nevada high summits represent geographical limits for the development of life. Our study explores the Holocene vegetation and landscape evolution of this contrasting National Parks focusing on the record of human impacts, or rather, the lack of them.
Why is there no distinct human impacts recorded in the palaeoecological sequences of Doñana and Sierra Nevada during the Middle Holocene? Is this at the base of the extant diversity of the S Iberian NPs? Our aim is to answer these questions in the light of two new palaeopalynological sequences covering the Early and Middle Holocene of Doñana and Sierra Nevada NPs.
Environmental changes, sedimentary processes and human activity in karst records c. 13 – 6 cal. ka BP in the Coastal mountains of NE Iberia
M. Mercè Bergadà1, Josep M. Cervelló1, Manel Edo2, Artur Cebrià1, Xavier Oms1, Pablo Martínez2, Ferran Antolín2,3, Juan Ignacio Morales4,5, Mireia Pedro1
1 SERP. Departament de Prehistòria, Història Antiga i Arqueologia. Universitat de Barcelona. Barcelona, Spain
2 CIPAG. Col·lectiu per la Investigació de la Prehistòria i l’Arqueologia del Garraf-Ordal. Begues (Barcelona), Spain
3 IPAS Integrative Prehistory and Archaeological Science. University of Basel. Basel, Switzerland
4 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social). Tarragona, Spain
5 Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain.
In this study we present the sequence of two archaeological sites located in karst cavity deposits: the Cova de Can Sadurní (Begues, Barcelona) and the Cova de la Guineu (Font-Rubi, Barcelona).
The coincident cultural sequence, which is object of this study, has been identified at both sites from the Epipaleolithic until a very recent phase of ancient Neolithic and is dated c. 12.7 to 5.7cal ka BP with some hiatus.
Morphologically the two cavities have the characteristics of an old channel located in the saturated zone of a karstic system with a long and complex evolution. Their current openings to the outside are characterised by clastic collapse and debris cone blocks, especially in Can Sadurní where these form a pronounced ramp into the cavity.
The methodology of the study is focused on stratigraphic-sedimentary field descriptions and micromorphological analyses of levels comprising both sequences.
We have highlighted two episodes here because of their paleoenvironmental, depositional and anthropic implications:
a) c. 7,4 – 7,2 cal ka BP. Located to date only in Can Sadurní and culturally attributed to the Cardial Early Neolithic. It originated in a clastic collapse leading to a significant decline in the roof level of the cavity. This process involved the formation of a debris cone and additional inputs of detrital mass blocks and pebbles with different colluvium reactivations. The environment was dry. This episode could correspond with the first human impact on the slopes.
b) c. 6,6 – 6,2 /5,9 cal ka BP. Registered in Can Sadurní and Guineu, culturally attributed to the Early Postcardial Neolithic. The sedimentation generated by human activity is strongly present in this cave with animal stabling practices mainly manifested by the “layer-cake” facies typical of the Mediterranean area. The environment was humid with some stability. In Can Sadurní the formation of rimstone dam with a high detrital component has been identified in some sectors. This sedimentation alternates with episodes of runoff. It is at this episode that the use of the cavity for animal pens is recorded with good resolution, quite possibly favoured by the environmental conditions.
Preliminary data about the environmental reconstruction of the latest Pleistocene from Kaldar Cave (Khorramabad valley, Iran) through the small-vertebrates assemblages
Iván Rey-Rodríguez 1,2; Juan Manuel López-García 1,2; Hugues-Alexandre Blain 1,2; Mónica Fernández-García 1,2,3 Xosé Pedro Rodríguez-Álvarez 1,2; Andreu Ollé 1,2; Behoruz Bazgir 1,2
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain
2 Area de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Fac. de Lletres, Tarragona, Spain
3 Sezione di Scienze Preistoriche e Antropologiche, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.
Kaldar Cave is located in the northern part of the Khorramabad valley (Iran, Central Zagros) at 1290 meters a.s.l. The site has a Pleistocene occupation (with lithic tools from Middle and Upper Paleolithic) and it was occupied also in Holocene periods (with Neolithic remains). The preliminary study of the small vertebrates from this locality allows us to identify 72 remains coming from levels 4 (Holocene) and 5II (Upper-Pleistocene).
The small mammals assemblage of Kaldar cave is composed of five arvicolinae, two cricetinae, one gerbidae and two murinae taxa. Due to needs for more samples, the recovered small vertebrates from level 4 do not allow us to interpret the palaeoenvironment. While the Late Pleistocene level 5II has enough sample for that.
The preliminary taphonomical analysis, regarding the digested elements, suggests that the main hypothesis for the accumulation is the predation activity, probably a category 3 predator, as Strix aluco or Bubo. Both predators produce prey assemblages representative of its known environment. The rodents assemblage indicates an environment surrounding the cave, mainly composed by open dry meadows, indicated by the most abundant taxa, Microtus gr. socialis and Meriones spp. Together with these taxa, the identified murinae species indicate the presence of a certain vegetation cover.
Also, amphibians and squamate reptile fossil remains have been recovered, and the identified taxon indicates rocky or sandy environments linked with warm arid areas.
Changes in the distribution and composition of the Iberian herpetofauna since the latest Pleistocene
Josep Francesc Bisbal-Chinesta1,2; Hugues-Alexandre Blain1,2
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain
2 Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
The studies about fossil microvertebrates have contributed to reconstruction of prehistoric climates and paleoenvironments. Specially, the amphibians and reptiles have demonstrated to be highly sensitive to climatic changes in as much as they are very susceptible to temperature’s alterations. Their ectothermy and different ethological requirements make them totally dependent on external factors, unlike the endothermic mammals and birds. The development of new analysis methods for paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction allows us to value this part of the faunal record, until now generally unpriced.
In this poster we present an approach to the movements of the different species of amphibians and reptiles since the Last Glacial Maximum, based on the synthesis of the latest researches published in recent years. The fossil associations allow us to establish two major biotic regions during the Upper Pleistocene, with ill-defined boundaries between the two groups, due to the absence of studied sites in the intermediate areas. The first biotic region is located in the center and south of the Iberian Peninsula, with thermophilic species as the most representative taxa of its herpetological record. The second biotic region is formed by the Atlantic-Cantabrian facade and the Iberian northeast area, dominated by hygrophilous species and/or Euro-Siberian species, with the significant absence of Mediterranean taxa.
The main biogeographic changes are identified as from the end of the last glacial period, with the consequent climatic improvement: the Mediterranean thermophilic species expand their distribution toward the North through the existence of natural corridors, such as the Ebro Valley and the Atlantic coast. Furthermore, new species enter to northern Iberia from Central Europe. The introduction and expansion of North African species, possibly by humans and dating from relatively recent times according to molecular studies, are the last significant movements of ancient Holocene.
Palynology from archaeological sites as tool for assessment of human environmental interactions in the Mediterranean basin
Assunta Florenzano1, Rita Fornaciar1, Paola Torri1, Marta Mazzanti1, Maria Chiara Montecchi1, Rita Messora1, Rita Terenziani1, Anna Maria Mercuri1
1Laboratorio di Palinologia e Paleobotanica, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Modern biodiversity is the result of the long-term shaping that humans and climate made on vegetation, soils and landforms. This is especially evident in the Mediterranean area, crowd of civilizations since ancient times.
Most of the biological archives, including pollen, upon which past environmental reconstructions are based, are known to respond to both climate change and human impact. Throughout the Holocene, human activities were fairly synchronous with climatic oscillations, and today it is difficult to disentangle the relative roles of climate and humans in palaeobiological records. In general, the passage from wild to human environments is evident by new flora input and by modification of vegetation cover (e.g., reduction in wild species and increase in the cultivated/synanthropic plants). Changes in flora and vegetation cover may have occurred earlier near settlements and in the places that today we call ‘archaeological sites’. The weak anthropogenic influence on the environment firstly occurred in the vicinity of the settlements. Then, human impact became evident at a larger regional scale depending on the chronological and cultural variables, and on the distance and intensity of activity performances.
A set of palynological / archaeobotanical research has been carried out in the last decades by the members of BRAIN – Botanical Records of the Archaeobotany Italian Network. The research joins multidisciplinary archaeological study to palaeoenvironmental – ecological approach, with focus on the Italian peninsula and its impressive prehistoric and historic archaeological heritage (Mercuri AM, et al. 2015. Rev Palaeobot Palyno 218:250-266).
Multidisciplinary analysis of Early – Mid Holocene wild cereal remains from central Sahara (SW Libya)
Rita Fornaciari1, Laura Arru1, Anna Maria Mercuri1, Savino di Lernia2,3
1 Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
3 School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Pollen and plant macroremains from rock shelters of central Sahara give information about environmental conditions during the Holocene, and adaptive strategies of human groups living in the area. Wild cereals were long-time exploited and are prevalent among plants selected and transported to these sites. Spikelets and grains of Panicoideae are the most abundant plant remains found at Takarkori, a rock shelter in the Tadrart Acacus Mts. (SW Libya). They have been studied by means of morphological and molecular (ancient DNA) analyses.
The excavation by the Italian-Libyan Archaeological Mission in the Acacus and Messak (Sapienza University of Rome and Libyan Department of Archaeology) exposed a surface of 140 m2. The deposit includes stone structures, fireplaces, plant accumulations and a burial area. The site (dated 10,200-4,600 cal yr BP) was occupied throughout Early and Middle Holocene, a pivotal period for human development as include the transition from hunter-gatherer subsistence to food production. Peculiarity of the sequences is the surprising preservation of organic matter.
Systematic morphobiometrical analysis was carried out on 1,450 spikelets of Panicum, Echinochloa and Sorghum selected on the basis of their different cultural contexts. The records showed uniform size in each genus. aDNA was extracted testing different protocols and then was studied by the DNA barcoding technique using four chloroplast markers. Bioinformatic analysis of the results allowed to inspect the phylogenetic relationships between the archaeobotanical records and the modern species of African wild cereals.
Environmental significance of the oxygen isotopic composition of the terrestrial gastropod Sphincterochila candidissima, a natural climatic archive abundant in Mediterranean shell middens
Yurena Yanes1, Javier Fernandez Lopez-de-Pablo2
1 Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, USA.
2 Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Tarragona, Spain
Land snails have been heavily exploited as a complementary food resource throughout the late Quaternary across the Mediterranean area. The result of this activity is manifested in the highly abundant and accessible land snail shell middens discovered throughout numerous coastal and inland locales. Well-preserved land snails can be used to reconstruct climatic conditions because their shells, which are made of aragonite, record valuable environmental information in the form of isotope codes. However, its interpretation is still challenging because multiple physical and biological factors can influence the isotopic configuration of snail shells, and this varies among species. Because the xerophilous land snail Sphincterochila candidissima (Draparnaud, 1801) is common in archaeological sites but has been minimally investigated, the present work examines the relationship between the oxygen isotopic composition of living specimens and relevant meteorological data.
A total of 49 specimens of Sphincterochila were live-collected throughout one year (from June 2013 to October 2014) in Tarragona, Spain, and the oxygen isotope ratios were measured at the shell margin, which depicts the last growth episode closest to organisms’ death.
Shell margin oxygen isotope values varied from +3.1‰ in September to -0.8‰ in April, so up to ~4‰ isotopic variability was documented among seasons. In contrast to what was expected, shell margin δ18O values did not correlate with monthly-averaged rainwater δ18O values, suggesting that other atmospheric variables are likely to be the primary control of shell δ18O values. Shell margin δ18O values significantly co-varied with monthly-averaged relative humidity values (R2=0.47; p<0.05; n=7), suggesting that Sphincterochila shells primarily record humidity conditions.
This study shows that the oxygen isotope values of Sphincterochila shells from NE Spain primarily respond to humidity conditions, and therefore, may be used as a paleohumidity proxy in the region. It however seems challenging to use shell margin values to infer the season of snail collection. The results also emphasize the importance of calibrating modern snail species prior to any paleoclimatic study.
Climate change as a modifying agent of settlement patterns in the Upper Paleolithic of the Northwest in the Iberian Peninsula.
Díaz-Rodríguez, Mikel1, Rodríguez-Nóvoa, Alba Antía1
1 Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Important climatic variations have been produced along the transition from Late Pleistocene to Holocene. These have affected the choice of place of location of hunter-gatherer societies. With this study we aim to relate the radiocarbon dates with the location data and the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental information. By means of the application of Geographic Information Systems we intend to understand how temperature variation affects the choice of a place of settlement for the societies of hunter-gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.
POSTGLACIAL-MED project. Environmental Dynamics and human responses during the Postglacial in the Mediterranean facade of Iberia (c.12700-8000 cal BP). Results and prospects.
Fernández-López de Pablo, J. 1; Ferrer, C. 2; Gómez-Puche, M. 3; Jones, S. 3 ; Morales, J.I. 1; Mosquera, M.1, Yanes, Y. 4; Gabriel, S.5 ; Tormo, C. 2; Burjachs, F. 7
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
2 Museu de Prehistòria-SIP, Spain
3 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain
4 University of Cincinnati, USA
5 Laboratório de Arqueociências – Direcçao Geral do Património Cultural and EnvArch-CIBIO-InBIO (CDGPC-LARC-EnvArch), Portugal
7 ICREA, IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
POSTGLACIAL-MED is a three-year project that investigates the socio-ecology of the last populations of hunter-gatherers in the Iberian Mediterranean region from the end of the Late Glacial to the beginning of the Neolithic. This chronological span is framed by the cold and arid climatic episodes of the GS 1 (12,896-11,703 cal BP) and the 8.2 ka event (8,300-8140 cal BP), encompassing a period of continuous increase in temperature, sea level rise and the expansion of thermophilous forests.
We present a synthesis of the results obtained from the regional unit 1, which covers the Upper Vinalopó valley and the Pego-Oliva marsh. Our research has focused on two Early Holocene open-air key sites, Casa Corona (Villena, Alicante) and El Collado (Oliva, Valencia), to confront changes in the settlement and subsistence patterns between coastal and inland settings.
Within this project (i) we have produced new palaeoecological studies around Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic settlement areas by the multi-proxy analysis of lake records (Salines Playa lake) and the stable isotope analysis of land snail shells recovered from anthropogenic contexts; (ii) we have revisited the regional radiocarbon framework by the application of chronological Bayesian modelling of two key open–air sites, Casa Corona and El Collado; (iii) we have analysed new faunal, mollusc and fish bone assemblages from El Collado site; and (iv) we have undertaken a new program of open area excavations at the Casa Corona site.
The results highlight the complexity of the GS1 and marked climatic instability during the Early Holocene, with recursive aridity events showing a good agreement with Mediterranean deep sea and Greenland ice core records. The comparison between Casa Corona and El Collado radiocarbon record indicates the relevance of Early Mesolithic occupations at both sites under a period of climatic stabilisation (ca. 9,500-8,500 cal BP) and suggest significant differences during the Late Mesolithic between coastal and inland areas soon after the 8.2 ka cal BP event.
The paleoecology of low-level food production in Early Holocene South West Asia
Dr. Eleni Asouti, University of Liverpool, UK
In research on the transition from foraging to farming in SW Asia, climate has been traditionally viewed as the enabler (or facilitator) of socioeconomic change through two non-mutual pathways: (a) negative climate impacts that lowered resource ceilings and forced Epipalaeolithic societies to adopt technological innovations (“agriculture”) in order to survive and also maintain social institutions (e.g., sedentism, emergent social complexity), and (b) climate improvement which, by creating new ecological opportunities, facilitated experimentation with novel resource management strategies and the expansion of anthropogenic niche construction. These processes eventually brought about major socio-economic changes (plant and animal domestication, agriculture, early “village” societies). Using recently published data on the nature and pace of climate change at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, and integrated off- and onsite datasets that point to associated changes in terrestrial environments across SW Asia, I argue that neither pathway offers a satisfactory explanation. An alternative model is proposed focusing on the impacts of short-term climatic instability expressed at annual and interannual scales (i.e. congruent with the timescales of direct human experience of landscape change at the individual, generational and inter-generational scales). Medium to short term climatic instability and resource unpredictability generated suitable contexts for the establishment of information exchange and community interaction networks, which underpinned much of the symbolic florescence characterising the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic societies of SW Asia.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 5
Human responses and non-responses to climate fluctuations during the Last Glacial-Interglacial transition in the eastern Mediterranean.
Neil Roberts, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Marine, lacustrine and cave sequences show a pattern of climatic change during the Late Glacial to early Holocene that was synchronous across the whole Mediterranean basin, and in tune with the North Atlantic. There were step-wise shifts between cold-dry and warm-wet conditions, while laminated lake sediments from Anatolia show that the main warming transitions were remarkably rapid, occurring within a human lifetime. Temporal synchroneity does not imply that climatic changes had the same environmental or societal consequences in different regions, however. During cold-dry time intervals (e.g. Younger Dryas), favoured regions, such as the Levant, acted as refugia for plant and animal resources and human population. By contrast, upland and interior regions were dominated by low-biomass resource-poor herb steppe, and there is only limited evidence of human occupation at these times. In some areas, the abrupt warming transitions at ~14.5 and 11.7 ka BP appear to have acted as pacemakers for rapid cultural change, coinciding with the start of the Natufian and PPNA cultures, respectively. There was significant shift in life ways and material culture at the start of the Holocene in both the Levant and southeast Anatolia, sometimes dramatic, as at Göbekli Tepe. However in other regions, such as central Anatolia, no synchronism is evident between periods of rapid climatic amelioration and major cultural break points. These contrasting human responses to climatic opportunities may have been set by antecedent conditions during periods of climatic adversity. In areas where socio-ecological continuity was maintained through the Younger Dryas, human communities were able to respond rapidly to subsequent climatic improvement. By contrast, in areas where there was a break in settlement during this interval, a lack of pre-adaptation meant that populations were slow to react to the new opportunities provided by the interglacial world. Fortune, it seems, favoured prepared minds and cultures.
Assessing the impact of the 10.2 cal. ky BP abrupt climatic event in the emergence of agricultural economies in the Levant
Ferran Borrell1, Aripekka Junno2, Joan Antón Barceló3, Markku Oinonen4
1 Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, Universidad de Cantabria, Spain
2 Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki
3 Departament de Prehistòria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
4 Laboratory of Chronology, Finnish Museum of Natural History – LUOMUS, University of Helsinki
This paper is aimed at demonstrating the interconnectedness of the first agricultural economies in the Levant and the ecosystems they inhabited, emphasizing the complex nature of human responses to environmental change during the Neolithic period in the region. An analysis of archaeological radiocarbon dates and diagnostic material culture records from a series of key sites in the Euphrates valley revealed a major cultural discontinuity taking place around 10,200 cal BP. This observed transition in archaeological material cultures occurred in synchrony with climatic anomalies present in multiple proxies at ~10.2 cal ky BP, showing that the hitherto apparent long-term continuity interpreted as the origins and consolidation of agricultural systems was not linear and uninterrupted. In order to advance our understanding of the potential correlation between human population dynamics and climate-driven changes in terrestrial ecosystem variability in the region, we have expanded our study to cover the whole northern Levant between ~11–8 cal ky BP. This allows us to explore human responses to climate variability among Neolithic communities occupying different ecosystems during the proposed 10.2 ky BP rapid cooling event. From the methodological standpoint, efforts have also been made to manage the sources of statistical error in our time-series data, particularly the effects imposed by the calibration curve, that are tracked using Principal Component Analysis and a MCMC-based random walk model. In addition, the present study introduces an all-new method for estimating variability in past population dynamics – Survival Analysis – where the radiocarbon dated sites’ survival rate as function of time is taken as index of population size.
The transition from foraging to farming in North Africa. Do we have one?
Chris O Hunt1, Giulio Lucarini2, Evan A Hill3, David Simpson3
1John Moores University, UK
2 University of Cambridge, UK
3 Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
In many Mediterranean coastlands the transition from the Epipalaeolithic to the Neolithic is relatively synchronous with considerable changes in material culture and subsistence including the appearance of ceramics and domesticates. On the North African littoral, however, this transition is highly diachronous, but in some areas appears to coincide broadly with the dates of well-known climatic events, for instance the 8.2 ka event in NE Libya. Many elements of material culture across this transition remain relatively stable, as are subsistence practices, since the exploitation of wild resources remained pivotal in the North African Neolithic. Major geomorphic changes associated with agriculture do not appear until the start of the Classical period, which seems to be when agriculture became truly widespread. We argue, therefore, that continuity marks the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition in the North African coastlands, and that the substantive change from foraging to farming occurred millennia later.
Early-Mid Holocene Socio-ecological responses to climatic instability within the Mediterranean Basin, examples from Southern France (Mid-Rhone valley and French Riviera rivers) and NW Greece (Corfu island)
Dr. Jean François Berger, University of Lyon 2, France.
The combined effects of (1) a strong rate of change in insolation, (2) variations in solar activity and (3) the last glacial outburst in the Northern Atlantic have modified the NW Atlantic marine (Bond events) and atmospheric circulations until the Mediterranean, but key questions remain about the impact of Early/Mid-Holocene cooling events (RCC) on the Mediterranean climate, ecosystems and human societies. Direct land-sea correlations across the Mediterranean confirm regional changes, according to both long-term trends as well as millennial to centennial-scale. The sensitivity of a continental record to detect a decadal-scaled climatic anomaly is also rarely assessed and the links between the transformation of river systems and climatic changes at high temporal resolution are still scarcely made. The socio-ecological approach however requires robust databases in archaeology and palaeoenvironmental studies, especially to be able to compare time scales, before discussing causalities. In absolute, only minimal empirical data are available to evaluate the sensitivity of prehistoric communities to natural hazards. And despite the recent rise of Holocene climatic and environmental data, there is very little precise geomorphological and paleohydrological data for the Early/Mid-Holocene in the Mediterranean basin, where the Neolithic developed from the PPNA period.
In parallel, the CPDF based approach now dominates the debate on historical trajectories and on European Neolithisation. While this method is useful as a semi-quantitative visual help, it cannot replace the contextual field approach and the extension of excavation of the large Southeastern European or Near East tells. Too often the emphasis is on sites that emerge from alluvial plains in particular neglecting more temporary flat sites, often invisible. In some areas intensive soil explorations (coring transects, rescue archaeology linear surveys) have backed the age of onset of the initial Neolithic (Macedonia) or have exposed periods so far significantly underrepresented in open air sites such as in caves, partially filling the existing gaps (Rhône valley, Languedoc). These observations are pushing us to question traditional approaches. An archaeological laboratory dedicated to vulnerability research in prehistoric periods is in course as recently written by Clare and Weninger and as proposed in the Paleomex project. We propose to discuss these issues from 9.5 to 7.0 ka across the northern Mediterranean, from particularly well documented sites.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS. SESSION 6
“Impact” concept as a drive shaft for science management: prospects and perspectives for prehistoric socio-ecology
Bernat Sentís1, Lluís Batista1, Cinta Bellmunt 1,2 and Marta Fontanals1,2
1 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Tarragona, Spain
2 IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Tarragona, Spain
The “impact” concept applied to scientific activities have increasingly become of wider importance to measure the socio-economic influence of research projects.
Despite most of the well stablished funding research programmes demand indicators of socio-economic impact, the identification of quantitative and qualitative indicators remains challenging. In addition to the social impact, which involves communication & public engagement and knowledge transfer sub-impacts, the political impact requires a specific consideration.
Following the recommendations of the Impact-EV EU project, in this paper we present a case study, based on a research institution in Archaeology and Paleoecology, focusing on socio-economic impact indicators.
This conceptual and methodological approach open new horizons to measure the socio-economic impact of scientific areas covered in the MEDINES Conference, particularly those related with human resilience and vulnerability to climate and environmental change.
Gathering and measuring social impact: SIOR
Marta Soler-Gallart1, Ramón Flecha1
1 CREA, University of Barcelona, Spain
The Social Impact Open Repository (SIOR) is an initiative born under the FP7 project IMPACT-EV (Evaluating the impact and outcomes of European Social Sciences and Humanities research), European Commission, and coordinated by the research centre CREA of the University of Barcelona. Following the objectives set by Horizon 2020, this project created the first repository of social impact from science, capable of displaying, citing and storing evidence of the social impacts of research results. SIOR arises from the social and political need to know and asses to what extent and how research generates improvements for society and humanity. This new repository thus becomes an unprecedented tool, which promotes transparency of science and open access systems. SIOR helps boost the transformation of scientific research, developing a resource that enables viewing and valuing social improvements deriving from research projects.
This international conference is also supported by the following research projects:
• POSTGLACIAL-MED. Environmental dynamics and human responses during the postglacial in the façade Mediterranean Iberian Peninsula (c. 12700-8000 cal. BP). Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Ref. HAR2013-41197-P
• MULTI-SCALARDEM. Multi-scalar approaches to demographic dynamics between the Late Magdalenian and the Late Mesolithic in the Iberian Peninsula. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Ref. HAR2015-70685-ERC
• PRETM. Prehistoric Transitions in the Mediterranean: Cultural and economic responses to climate change during the Mesolithic-Bronze Age. European Commission-Research Executive Agency. FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF. Ref. 628589.
• Group of analysis of socio-ecological processes, cultural changes and population dynamics in Prehistory (GAPS). Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR). Ref.2014 SGR 900.