Mountain occupations of the first agro-pastoral communities of the Central Pyrenees during the 6-5<inf>th</inf> millennia cal BC: A paleoeconomic perspective

Niccoló Mazzucco, Ignacio Clemente Conte, Ermengol Gassiot Balbè, David Rodríguez Antón

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In this paper, we present a review of the available information about the first agro-pastoral communities which occupied the Central Pyrenees, between the 6th and the 5th millennium cal BC. Our aim is to discuss some aspects related to the paleoeconomical behaviours of such first settlers, with particular attention to two relevant productive activities: hunting and crop-husbandry. Both are frequently claimed to be used in mountainous areas in integration to domestic animal herding. However, to which extent both economic processes were carried out at midand high-altitudes? Do were they intensively or marginally practiced? Which was their role within the overall economic system? In this review, we will take in consideration all the available information in the Pyrenean sites; however, most of them have been only partially or fragmentarily published. Our results suggest that both activities were only marginally practiced in the mountainous areas of the Pyrenees. Despite both hunting and crop-husbandry can be considered everyday activities, commonly represented within the archaeological records of the period, they do not appear to be intensively carried in at higher altitudes. Hunting appears only occasionally practiced as a secondary source of food gathering. Neolithic groups occupying the mid- and high-altitude of the Pyrenees do not seem to rely on hunting more than the communities settled at lower altitude; on the contrary the consumption of wild games appears, generally, lower. For what concern crop-husbandry, on the basis of the available data, we must conclude that there are no clear evidences that cereal cultivation has been carried out at mountain altitude, at least during Early Neolithic. Despite that, the archaeological record testifies the consumption of agricultural provisions -carried into the site from elsewhere and not produced or processed locally-in several cave-sites located at mountain and subalpine altitudes. This pattern suggests that, in the mountainous areas of the Central Pyrenees, crops were mainly exploited as integrative alimentary sources. In conclusion, our data indicate the existence of mobile herding groups which gradually occupied the mountainous areas of the Pyrenees starting from the second half of the 6th millennium cal BC. Such groups moved over relatively large territories to develop their economic practices. Hunting and agriculture were integrated within this system and provided integrative alimentary sources and/or provisions which were moved and transported from one site to another. Nevertheless, further investigations are needed to deepen our understanding of the economic and social organization of such communities.
Idioma originalEnglish
Pàgines (de-a)339-348
RevistaMunibe Antropologia-Arkeologia
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 1 de gen. 2016


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