By the seaside: The role of marine resources in northern Spain from the late Palaeolithic to the Neolithic

Author(s): Pablo Arias; Esteban Álvarez-Fernández

Year: 2015


Cantabrian Spain is a privileged area for a diachronic study of the relationship between human societies and the marine resources. The region can boast one of the highest densities of Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites in Europe, and a long and dense tradition of archaeological research, especially in the coastal areas. Moreover, its continental shelf is very narrow, so the preserved sites are closer to the late Pleistocene shoreline than in other parts of the Continent.

This paper presents a summary of current research on the use of marine resources during the late Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic in northern Spain. Information on settlement patterns and on the exploitation of fish and marine invertebrates is summarised, and indirect evidence of other types of activity is discussed. Finally, the evolution of the economic relevance of the marine environment and its relationship with the rising of the sea level and the climatic change are assessed. Information on social and symbolic aspects of the relationship between the human groups and the sea, provided by proxies such as the extensive use of shells for adornment or the presence of marine motives in portable and rock art, are also discussed.

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Cite this Record

By the seaside: The role of marine resources in northern Spain from the late Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. Pablo Arias, Esteban Álvarez-Fernández. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395693)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;