The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in southern Iberia: New dates from Lapa do Picareiro, Portugal


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. Unfortunately, this and other models remain open to debate because of persistent problems with stratigraphic integrity, depositional hiatuses, and dating uncertainties at the relevant Middle-Upper Paleolithic transitional sites. New radiocarbon results from these sites have overturned their status and some have questioned the idea of late Neanderthal survival after 40 kya. Here we present new radiocarbon dates from Lapa do Picareiro, a cave with about 10m of sediments spanning 50,000 years of the Late Pleistocene. The sequence includes almost 2m of deposits dated between 30-42k cal BP, making it an ideal locale to track the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition. Level FF, dated 36-38k cal BP, contains diagnostic Middle Paleolithic discoidal core technology, supporting models of late Neanderthal survival in southern Iberia.

Cite this Record

The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in southern Iberia: New dates from Lapa do Picareiro, Portugal. Jonathan Haws, Michael Benedetti, Nuno Bicho, João Cascalheira, Lukas Friedl. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430153)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14956