Upper Paleolithic Transitional "Moments" on the Iberian Peninsula

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Anthropologists have a longstanding interest in understanding cultural continuity and change. Modern research in Upper Paleolithic archaeology has a legacy in cultural-historical research, which focused on defining cultural periods based on unique artistic styles or tool types. These periods form the basic lexicon that archaeologists use to characterize Upper Paleolithic adaptations. Recently, Upper Paleolithic researchers have shifted focus to transitional "moments" in prehistory, where they have incorporated precise radiocarbon chronologies, environmental reconstructions, and robust analytic modeling techniques in order to document cultural changes (i.e., from Gravettian to Solutrean). This session will focus on one European Upper Paleolithic region—the Iberian Peninsula—as a case study for how archaeologists can address long-term cultural continuity and change. The session’s contributors will discuss how Upper Paleolithic behavioral transitions were influenced by several interrelated factors: (1) global climatic and local environmental change; (2) regional and sub-regional cultural adaptations; (3) demography; and (4) inter-regional interactions with groups who resided within Iberia and in adjacent regions (e.g., the French Pyrenees). Overall, this session will distinguish Iberian cultural adaptations and transitions in relation those in other European Upper Paleolithic settlement areas.

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  • Documents (11)

  • An Assessment of small game exploitation at Gruta Nova da Columbeira in the Middle Paleolithic (Portugal) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Milena Carvalho.

    In Europe, differences in subsistence between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans are one of the ways in which archaeologists detect behavioral shifts in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. In this paper, I present faunal and stable isotopic analyses of Oryctolagus cuniculus (the European wild rabbit) from levels C.6, C.7, C.8 and C.9 of Gruta Nova da Columbeira, a Mousterian cave site located in central Portugal. I use these data to test two subsistence models: 1. Anatomically...

  • Bioarchaeologocal approaches to reconstructing Upper Palaeolithic environments in the Cantabrian Region, Northern Spain. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Jones. Ana B. Marín Arroyo. Michael Richards.

    The Cantabrian Region of Northern Spain was an important refugium during the harsh conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets covered much of Northern Europe and populations were pushed further south. Late Upper populations in the Cantabrian region thrived at this time, and there is an increase in the density of archaeological sites is seen, in addition to cultural changes such as the creation of rich cave art assemblages. Understanding the climatic and environmental conditions...

  • The Elusive Vasco-Cantabrian Middle Magdalenian: Reflections from Urtiaga Cave, Guipúzcoa, Spain (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Fontes.

    The Vasco-Cantabrian Middle Magdalenian (14.3-13.2 ka uncal. BP) remains intangible—known in the region from relatively few archaeological sites and principally defined on the basis of portable art items with Pyrenean origin. Recent research undertaken with collections from Urtiaga cave (Guipúzcoa, Spain) has included two radiocarbon assays of Level E that date to the Middle Magdalenian interval. This level lacks diagnostic portable art items, however, lithic and faunal analyses (conducted by...

  • The end of an Era: the final moments of the Pleistocene-like hunter-gatherer lifeway in the Westernmost Eurasian site of Pena d´Água (Portugal) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Telmo Pereira. António Carvalho.

    The 8.2 ky cal BP climatic event seem to have had a striking impact in the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, where the hunter-gatherer populations kept their Pleistocene-like lifeway until (and possibly through) this event, after which emerged the Mesolithic societies. We present a detailed overview of the Epipaleolithic occupation of Pena d’Água Rockshelter (8.19 ky cal BP) as study case of these final moments, focusing the lithic economic patterns, namely the different patterns of...

  • Lapa do Picareiro and the Gravettian-Solutrean Transition: Refining the Chronology of the Solutrean Techno-complex in Western Iberia. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brandon Zinsious. Jonathan Haws.

    The Solutrean techno-complex, traditionally divided into three broad temporal phases, has been an area of great interest for those studying human adaptations during the Upper Paleolithic, specifically the Last Glacial Maximum. Distinguishing more discrete phases of the Solutrean period is hampered by the lack of adequate radiocarbon dates from secured contexts. Currently, Solutrean stratigraphic information relies mostly on older excavations that produced lower resolution data. This paper...

  • Late Glacial to middle Holocene demographic dynamics in Iberia: a chronological modeling approach (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Javier Fernandez-Lopez De Pablo. Mario Gutiérrez-Roig. Magdalena Gómez-Puche. Sergi Lozano.

    This paper presents the preliminary results of the research project MULTI-SCALARDEM and our current work in the context of a new ERC supported project: PALEODEM. Both projects aim to reconstruct the population history of the Iberian Peninsula from the Late Magdalenian to the Late Mesolithic (c.16,000-8,000 cal BP), a time framework of major cultural and socio-economic adaptations to climatic and environmental change. For this presentation, we will focus on the analysis of the radiocarbon record...

  • The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in southern Iberia: New dates from Lapa do Picareiro, Portugal (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Haws. Michael Benedetti. Nuno Bicho. João Cascalheira. Lukas Friedl.

    The transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic in western Eurasia remains a hotly debated and intensely researched archaeological problem. Recent developments in radiocarbon dating and genetics have permitted some refinements to our understanding of the spatiotemporal process but many issues remain unresolved. For the Iberian Peninsula, Zilhão’s ‘Ebro Frontier’ model of late Neanderthal survival and subsequent replacement by anatomically modern humans has held sway for over two decades....

  • The repeated replacement model reexamined – Methodological considerations and dataset improvements (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marcel Bradtmöller. Gerd Christian Weniger. Andreas Maier. Isabell Schmidt. Maria José Iriarte-Chiapusso.

    Five years ago a general explanation model was introduced regarding the observed dynamics during the Upper Paleolithic timeframe on the Iberian Peninsular. In doing so, a scenario of repeated replacements of human groups was established, reflected by fluctuations within the radiocarbon chronology and changes within the archaeological record. Incorporated into the "Adaptive Cycle Model", this model assumes a strong relationship between the constant changes of stadial-interstadial environmental...

  • The social consequences of climate-driven changes in the spatial distribution of human populations during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ariane Burke. Colin D. Wren. Julien Riel-Salvatore.

    Risk-reducing strategies allow humans to manage ecological risk while minimising disruptions. Unpredictable resource fluctuations, i.e. ecological risk, are driven by a combination of climate conditions and climate variability. Under extreme conditions reduction strategies may fail, however, forcing a reorganisation of the social and economic structure of affected populations, as well as their technological systems. Risky conditions during the LGM, for example, affected the spatial distribution...

  • Symbolic behavior at the end of the Paleolithic: a view from Cantabrian region rock art (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Aitor Ruiz-Redondo.

    In the field of graphic activity, the recent Magdalenian (14,500-11,500 BP) is characterized by a homogenizing process along a vast territory in southwestern Europe. It also represents the most splendorous rock art period and, at its end, figurative graphic activity suddenly disappears from Europe for millennia. A representative assemblage of recent Cantabrian Magdalenian rock art sites has been studied. The results of this research led to the discovery of several unpublished figures and...

  • Walking before running. Late Palaeolithic regional dynamics in the Spanish Mediterranean region previous to the "last big transition" (17 - 10 ky cal BP) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only J. Emili Aura Tortosa.

    The lapse of time between the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the Holocene 8.2 cold event, can be considered as a Long Transition, in which global diachronic changes and regional processes are combined. Between 17 - 10 ky cal BP important ecological changes (increased temperatures, forestry and presence of some species of herbivores, variations in sea-level and coastline , etc), techno-economic transformations (abandonment of osseous weapons, active and passive grinding stones related...