A southern refugium for temperate tree species in the Mediterranean mountains of El Port massif (NE Iberia): Charcoal analysis at Cova Del Vidre

Marta Alcolea*, Lucie Chabal, Josep Bosch-Arguilagós, Raquel Piqué

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This study focuses on the analysis of wood charcoal from Cova del Vidre (Roquetes, Tarragona, Spain). This cave, located at an altitude of 1000 m a.s.l., is a key site for understanding the transition from hunting and gathering to farming in a mountainous region of north-eastern Iberia so far unexplored by archaeobotany. The anthracological study is based on four archaeological levels from the Epipalaeolithic to the Early Neolithic dated between 12.9 and 6.8 kyr cal BP, that is, from the Late Glacial period to the Middle Holocene. During the Younger Dryas, the record is dominated by a little varied spectrum of cryophilous pines (Pinus tp. sylvestris) and thorny shrubs revealing an open landscape where Prunus may prefigure the spread of temperate taxa. In the Early Holocene, a significant change in temperature and precipitation is evidenced, which promoted successional changes in plant communities, with a decline of pine and the sudden rise of temperate/Mediterranean taxa, such as Prunus and Quercus coccifera/ilex. During the Middle Holocene, other temperate taxa appear, such as Quercus deciduous, Buxus sempervirens and Taxus baccata, with yew finally dominating the anthracological record. The appearance and early development of temperate or Mediterranean species as early as the Younger Dryas and the Early Holocene periods, in a mountain context that had long been favourable for Scots pine, allows us to argue the local existence of a glacial refugium. Differences with the nearby sites in the lowlands demonstrate that altitudinal differences in vegetation were already established in the Holocene. Furthermore, the site helps to define the palaeodistribution of Taxus baccata, Abies alba and Fagus sylvatica in southern Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number09596836221095992
Pages (from-to)794-806
Number of pages13
JournalHolocene
Volume32
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Abies alba
  • charcoal analysis
  • Early Holocene
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • first farmers
  • late hunter-gatherers
  • Taxus baccata
  • Younger Dryas
  • FAGUS-SYLVATICA L.
  • GLACIAL REFUGIA
  • ARCHAEOBOTANICAL ANALYSIS
  • POLLEN RECORD
  • MESOLITHIC-NEOLITHIC TRANSITION
  • CENTRAL PYRENEES
  • TAXUS-BACCATA
  • VEGETATION DYNAMICS
  • ABIES-ALBA MILL.
  • HOLOCENE HISTORY

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