Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 4601–4619 | Cite as

Refitting bones to reconstruct the diversity in Middle Palaeolithic human occupations: the case of the Abric Romaní site (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain)

  • Jordi RosellEmail author
  • Mario Modesto-Mata
  • María Cristina Fernández-Laso
  • Marta Modolo
  • Ruth Blasco
Original Paper


The composition and organisational patterns of Pleistocene human groups are a main research when it comes to the evolution of human behaviour. However, these studies are often limited by the restricted characteristics of the archaeological records and do not show enough resolution to make approaches with the necessary precision. The travertinic formations of the Abric Romaní site (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain) provide an ideal scenario to answer some questions about the European Middle Palaeolithic occupational patterns. The hearth-related accumulations from this site show many similarities with those generated by several contemporary forager groups, so each could represent the activity area of a specific social unit. This work contributes to the existing research by examining the faunal refits recovered in six stratigraphic units (H, I, J-Ja, K, L and M) that cover the chronological period between 44 and 55 ka. Faunal refits are analysed using the metric parameters of ethnographic hearth-related accumulations (the hearth itself and its corresponding drop and toss zones); significant relationships are found between many of these elements and the areas of influence of the hearths. In addition, connections between the activity areas from these refits are seen in several stratigraphic units. This phenomenon allows for greater diversity in the occupational patterns of this site to be identified than those recorded only from taphonomic studies. From this perspective, two main occupational models are proposed: (1) the simple model, in which isolated and unconnected hearth-related accumulations are identified (units H, L and—to a lesser extent—K) and (2) the complex model, primarily represented by the identification of several long-distance faunal refits connecting different activity areas (units I, J-Ja and M). Thus, this work provides deeper insights into the behavioural diversity of Middle Palaeolithic human groups, their social organisation and composition and their evolution in the region.


Faunal refits Hearth-related accumulations Occupational patterns Middle Palaeolithic Abric Romaní 



This study was carried out in the framework of the workshop entitled “The Big Puzzle 30 Years After: a Multidisciplinary Palaeolithic Perspective” with funding from The Wenner-Gren Foundation. J. Rosell and R. Blasco develop their work within the Spanish MINECO/FEDER projects PGC2018-093925-B-C31C, GL2016-80000-P and CGL2015-68604-P and the Generalitat de Catalunya-AGAUR projects 2017 SGR 836 and CLT009/18/00055.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Àrea de PrehistòriaUniversitat Rovira i Virgili (URV)TarragonaSpain
  2. 2.IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució SocialTarragonaSpain
  3. 3.Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH)BurgosSpain
  4. 4.Universidad Rey Juan CarlosMadridSpain

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