Advertisement

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
  • 69 Downloads

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

References

  1. Bartram LE, Kroll EM, Bunn HT (1991) Variability in camp structure and bone food refuse patterning at Kua San hunter-gatherer camps. In: Kroll EM, Price TD (eds) The interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning. Plenum Press, New York, pp 77–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Binford LR (1978) Dimensional analysis of behavior and site structure: learning from an eskimo hunting stand. Am Antiq 43(3):330–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binford LR (1981) Bones: ancient men and modern myths, vol 320. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Binford LR (1983) In the pursuit of the past: Decoding the archaeological record. Thames and Hudson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Binford LR, Mills MGL, Stone NM (1988) Hyena scavenging behaviour and its implications for interpretation of faunal assemblages from FLK22 (the Zinj Floor) at Olduvai Gorge. J Anthropol Archaeol 7:99–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bischoff JL, Julià R, Mora R (1988) Uranium series dating of the Mousterian occupation at Abric Romaní, Spain. Nature 332:68–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blasco R, Rosell J, Domínguez-Rodrigo M, Lozano S, Pastó I, Riba D, Vaquero M, Fernández Peris J, Arsuaga JL, Bermúdez de Castro JM, Carbonell E (2013a) Learning by heart: cultural patterns in the faunal processing sequence during the Middle Pleistocene. PLoS One 8(2):e55863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blasco R, Rosell J, Fernández Peris J, Arsuaga JL, Bermúdez de Castro JM, Carbonell E (2013b) Environmental availability, behavioural diversity and diet: a zooarchaeological approach from the TD10-1 sublevel of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain) and Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain). Quat Sci Rev 70:124–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blasco R, Domínguez-Rodrigo M, Arilla M, Camarós E, Rosell J (2014) Breaking bones to obtain marrow: a comparative study between percussion by batting bone on an anvil and hammerstone percussion. Archaeometry 56(6):1085–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blasco R, Rosell J, Sañudo P, Gopher A, Barkai R (2016) What happens around a fire: faunal processing sequences and spatial distribution at Qesem Cave (300 ka), Israel. Quat Int 398:190–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blumenschine RJ (1995) Percussion marks, tooth marks, and experimental determinations of the timing of hominid and carnivore access to long bones at FLK Zinjanthropus, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. J Hum Evol 29:21–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blumenschine RJ, Selvaggio M (1988) Percussion marks on bone surfaces as a new diagnostic of hominid behavior. Nature 333:763–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brain CK (1969) The contribution of Namib desert Hottentots to an understanding of australopithecine bone accumulations. Sci Paper Namib Desert Res Stn 39:13–22Google Scholar
  14. Brain, CK (1981) The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy. University Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  15. Cáceres I, Rosell J, Huguet R (1998) Séquence d'utilisation de la biomasse animale dans le gisement de l'Abric Romaní (Barcelone, Espagne). Quaternaire 9(4):379–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Camarós E, Cueto M, Teira LC, Tapia J, Cubas M, Blasco R, Rosell J, Rivals F (2013) Large carnivores as taphonomic agents of space modification: an experimental approach with archaeological implications. J Archaeol Sci 40:1361–1368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Capaldo SD, Blumenschine RJ (1994) A quantitative diagnosis of notches made by hammerstones percussion and carnivore gnawing on bovid long bones. Am Antiq 59(4):724–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carbonell E (ed) (2012) High resolution archaeology and Neanderthal behavior. Time and space in level J of Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  19. Clark JGD (1954) Excavations at Star Carr: an early Mesolithic site at Seamer near Scarborough, Yorkshire. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 252Google Scholar
  20. Costamagno S, Rigaud JP (2014) L’exploitation de la graisse au Paléolithique. Costamagno, S. (Ed.). Histoire de l’alimentation humaine : entre choix et contraintes. Paris, Édition électronique du CTHS (Actes des Congrès des Sociétés Historiques et Scientifiques), pp 135–152Google Scholar
  21. Costamagno S, Griggo C, Mourre V (1999) Approche experimentale d’un probleme taphonomique: utilisation de combustible osseus au Paleolithique, vol 13. Préhistoire Européenne, pp 167–194Google Scholar
  22. Faith JT, Gordon AD (2007) Skeletal element abundances in archaeofaunal assemblages: economic utility, sample size, and assessment of carcass transport strategies. J Archaeol Sci 37:872–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fernández-Laso MC (2010) Remontajes de restos faunísticos y relaciones entre áreas domésticas en los niveles K, L y M del Abric Romaní (Capellades, Barcelona, España). Ph.D. Thesis. Universitat Rovira i Virgili, TarragonaGoogle Scholar
  24. Fisher JW, Strickland HC (1991) Dwellings and fireplaces: keys to Efe Pygmy campsite structure. In: Gamble CS, Boismier W (eds) Ethnoarchaeological approaches to mobile campsites. Michigan, International Monographs in Prehistory, pp 215–236Google Scholar
  25. Gabucio MJ, Cáceres I, Rodríguez-Hidalgo A, Rosell J, Saladié P (2014) A wildcat (Felis silvestris) butchered by Neanderthals in Level O of the Abric Romaní site (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain) Quat Inter 326–327: 307–318Google Scholar
  26. Gabucio J, Cáceres I, Rivals F, Bargalló A, Rosell J, Saladié P, Vallverdú J, Vaquero M, Carbonell E (2016) Unraveling a Neanderthal palimpsest from a zooarcheological and taphonomic perspective. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 10(1):197–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Giralt S, Julià R (1996) The sedimentary record of the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in the Capellades area (NE. Spain). The last Neandertals/the first anatomically modern humans. Cultural change and human evolution: the crisis at 40 Ka BP. E. Carbonell and M. Vaquero. Igualada (Barcelona, Spain), pp 365–376Google Scholar
  28. Grayson DK (1984) Quantitative zooarchaeology: topics in the analysis of archaeological faunas. Academic Press, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  29. Gron O (1991) A method for reconstruction of social organization in prehistoric societies and examples of practical application. In: Gron O, Engelstad E, Lindblom I (eds) Social space. Human spatial behaviour in dwellings and settlements. Odense University Press, Odense, pp 100–117Google Scholar
  30. Haynes G (1980) Evidence of carnivore gnawing on Pleistocene and recent mammalian bones. Paleobiology 6:341–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Haynes G (1983) Frequencies of spiral and green-bone fractures on ungulate limb bones in modern surface assemblages. Am Antiq 48:102–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Haynes G (1988) Spiral fractures, cutmarks and other myths about early bone assemblages. Anthropol Pap Am Museum Nat Hist 21:145–151Google Scholar
  33. Henry DO (2003) Behavioral organization at Tor Faraj. In: Henry DO (ed) Neanderthals in the Levant. Behavioral organization and the beginnings of human modernity. Continuum, London-New York, pp 237–269Google Scholar
  34. Isaac GL (1983) Bones in contention: competing explanations for the juxtaposition of Early Pleistocene artifacts and faunal remains. Clutton-Brock J. G. (Ed.). Animals and archaeology: 1. Hunters and their prey. BAR International Series 163, 3–17Google Scholar
  35. Jones KT (1993) The archaeological structure of a short-term camp. From bones to behavior: ethnoarchaeological and experimental contributions to the interpretation of faunal remains. J Hudson, Centre for Archaeological Investigations. Occasional Papers 21. Southern Illinois University, pp 101–114Google Scholar
  36. Leakey MD (1971) Olduvai Gorge. In: Excavations in beds I and II. 1960-1963, Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  37. Leroi-Gourhan A, Brézillon M (1966) L'habitation magdalènienne n° 1 de Pincevent, près Montereau (Seine-et-Marne). Gallia Préhistoire 9(2):263–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leroi-Gourhan A, Brézillon M (1972) Fouilles de Pincevent. Essai d'analyse ethnographique d'un habitat magdalénien: la section 36. Gallia Préhistoire VIIé (Supplément, 2 vols.), 263–385Google Scholar
  39. Lyman RL (1994) Vertebrate taphonomy, vol 550. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lyman RJ (2008a) Quantitative paleozoology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lyman RL (2008b) (Zoo)archaeological refitting a consideration of methods and analytical search radius. J Anthropol Res 64:229–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marean CW, Bertino L (1994) Intrasite spatial analysis of bone: subtracting the effect of secondary carnivore consumers. Am Antiq 54:748–767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marín J, Saladié P, Rodríguez-Hidalgo A, Carbonell E (2017) Ungulate carcass transport strategies at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Comtes Rendus Palevol 16:103–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Modolo M, Rosell J (2017) Reconstructing occupational models: bone refits in level I of Abric Romaní. Quat Int 435:180–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Morrow TM (1996) Lithic refitting and archaeological site formation processes. A case study from the Twin Dicht Site, Greene County, Illinois. In: Odell GH (ed) Stone tools: theoretical insights into human prehistory. Plenum Press, New York, 345–373Google Scholar
  46. O'Connell JF (1987) Alyawara Site Structure and Its Archaeological Implications. Am Antiq 52:74–108Google Scholar
  47. O'Connell JF, Hawkes K, Blurton Jones N (1991) Distribution of refuse-producing activities at Hadza residential base camps: implications for analyses of archaeological site structure. In: Kroll EM, Price TD (eds) The interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning. Plenum Press, New York, pp 61–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pickering TR, Egeland CP (2006) Experimental patterns of hammerstone percussion damage on bones: implications for inferences of carcass processing by humans. J Archaeol Sci 33:459–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rigaud JP, Simek J (1991) Interpreting spatial patterns at Grotte XV: a multiple-method approach. In: Kroll EM, Douglas Price T (eds) Interpretation of archaeological spatial patterning. Plenum Press, New York, pp 199–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rolland N (2004) Was the emergence of Home Bases and domestic fire a punctuated event? A review of the Middle Pleistocene record in Eurasia. Asian Perspect 43(2):248–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Romagnoli F, Vaquero M (2016) Quantitative stone tools intra-site point and orientation patterns of a Middle Palaeolithic living floor: a GIS multi-scalar spatial and temporal approach. Quartär 63:47–60Google Scholar
  52. Rosell J, Blasco R, Fernández-Laso C, Vaquero M, Carbonell E (2012a) Connecting areas: faunal refits as a diagnostic element to identify synchronicity in the Abric Romaní archaeological assemblages. Quat Int 252(2):56–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rosell J, Cáceres I, Blasco R, Bennàsar M, Bravo P, Campeny G, Esteban-Nadal M, Fernández-Laso C, Gabucio J, Huguet R, Ibáñez N, Martín P, Rivals F, Rodríguez -Hidalgo A, Saladié P (2012b) A zooarchaeological contribution to establish occupational patterns at Level J of Abric Romaní (Barcelona, Spain). Quat Int 247:69–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rosell J, Blasco R, Huguet R, Cáceres I, Saladié P, Rivals F, Bennàsar M, Bravo P, Campeny G, Esteban-Nadal M, Fernández-Laso C, Gabucio J, Ibáñez N, Martín P, Muñoz L, Rodríguez -Hidalgo A (2012c) Occupational patterns and subsistence strategies in level J of Abric Romaní. In: Carbonell E (ed) High resolution archaeology and Neanderthal behavior. Time and space in level J of Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Springer, pp 313–372Google Scholar
  55. Saladié P, Aïmene M (2000) Análisis zooarqueológico de los niveles superiores del Abric Romaní (Cataluña): actividad antrópica. Actas do 3° Congresso de Arqueologia Peninsular. Oporto, II, pp 189–201Google Scholar
  56. Sharp WD, Mertz-Kraus R, Vallverdú J, Vaquero M, Burjachs F, Carbonell E, Bischoff JL (2016) Archeological deposits at Abric Romaní extend to 110 ka: U-series dating of a newly cored, 30 meter-thick section. J Archaeol Sci Rep 5:400–406Google Scholar
  57. Stiner MC (1994) Honor among thieves: a zooarchaeological study of Neandertal ecology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, p 447Google Scholar
  58. Stiner MC, Kuhn SL, Weiner S, Bar-Yosef O (1995) Differential burning, recrystallization, and fragmentation of archaeological bones. J Archaeol Sci 22:223–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Thomas DH (Ed) (1983) The archaeology of Monitor Valley 2. Gatecliff Shelter, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol 59(1)Google Scholar
  60. Todd LC, Stanford DJ (1992) Application of conjoined bone data to site structural studies. In: Hofman JL, Enloe JG (eds) Piecing together the past: applications of refitting studies in archaeology, vol 578, Oxford, BAR International Series, pp 21–35Google Scholar
  61. Vallverdú J, Allué E, Bischoff JL, Cáceres I, Carbonell E, Cebrià A, Garciá-Antón, Huguet R, Ibáñez N, Martínez K, Pastó I, Rosell J, Saladié P, Vaquero M (2005) Short human occupations in the Middle Palaeolithic level I of the Abric Romaní rock-shelter (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain). J Hum Evol 48:157–174Google Scholar
  62. Vallverdú J, Gómez de Soler B, Vaquero M, Bischoff J (2012) The Abric Romaní site and the Capellades Region. In: Carbonell E (ed) High resolution archaeology and Neanderthal behavior. Time and space in level J of Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Springer, pp 19–46Google Scholar
  63. Vaquero M, Pastó I (2001) The definition of spatial units in Middle Palaeolithic sites: the hearth-related assemblages. J Archaeol Sci 28:1209–1220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vaquero M, Chacón MG, Rando JM (2007) The interpretive potential of lithic refits in a Middle Paleolithic site: Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). In: Schurmans U, De Bie M (eds) Fitting rocks. Lithic refitting examined. BAR International Series 1596. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp 75–89Google Scholar
  65. Vaquero M, Chacón MG, Cuartero F, García-Antón MD, Gómez de Soler B, Martínez K (2012) The lithic assemblage of level J. In: Carbonell E (ed) High Resolution Archaeology and Neanderthal Behavior. Time and space in level J of Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Springer, Dordrecht, pp 189–311Google Scholar
  66. Vaquero M, Allué E, Bischoff J, Burjachs F, Vallverdú J (2013) Environmental, depositional and cultural changes in the Upper Pleistocene and Early Holocene: the Cinglera del Capelló sequence (Capellades, Spain). Quaternaire 24(1)Google Scholar
  67. Vaquero M, Bargalló A, Chacón G, Romagnoli F, Sañudo P (2015) Lithic recycling in a Middle Paleolithic expedient context: evidence from the Abric Romaní (Capellades, Spain). Quat Int 361:212–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vaquero M, Fernández Laso C, Chacón G, Romagnoli F, Rosell J, Sañudo P (2017) Moving things: comparing lithic and bone refits from a Middle Paleolithic site. J Anthropol Archaeol 48:262–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Villa P (1982) Conjoinable pieces and site formation processes. Am Antiq 47(2):276–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Villa P, Mahieu E (1991) Breakage patterns of human long bones. J Hum Evol 21:27–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Whallon RJ (1973) Spatial analyses of occupation floors I: application of dimensional analysis of variance. Am Antiq 38:267–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Whallon RJ (1974) Spatial analyses of occupation floors II: the application of nearest neighbor analysis. Am Antiq 39:16–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Yellen JE (1977) Archaeological approaches to the present: models for reconstructing the past, vol 259. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  74. Yravedra J, Uzquiano P (2013) Burnt bone assemblages from El Esquilleu cave (Cantabria, Northern Spain): deliberate use for fuel or systematic disposal of organic waste? Quat Sci Rev 68:175–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© 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

Personalised recommendations