Early human occupation of western Europe: Paleomagnetic dates for two paleolithic sites in Spain

O. Oms, J. M. Parés, B. Martinez-Navarro, J. Agustí, I. Toro, G. Martinez-Fernández, A. Turq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

203 Citations (Scopus)


The lacustrine deposits infilling the intramontane Guadix-Baza Basin, in the Betic Range of Southern Spain, have yielded abundant well-preserved lithic artifacts. In addition, the lake beds contain a wide range of micromammals including Mimomys savini and Allophaiomys burgondiae and large mammals such as Mammuthus and Hippopotamus together with the African saber-toothed felid Megantereon. The association of the lithic artifacts along with the fossil assemblages, themselves of prime significance in the Eurasian mammal biochronology, is providing new insight into the controversy of the human settlement in Southern Europe. Despite the importance of the artifacts and fossil assemblage, estimates of the geological age of the site are still in conflict. Some attempts at dating the sediments have included biochronology, uranium series, amino acid racemization, and stratigraphic correlation with other well-dated sections in the basin, but so far have failed to yield unambiguous ages. Here we present paleomagnetic age dating at the relevant localities and thus provide useful age constraints for this critical paleoanthropological and mammal site. Our data provide firm evidence for human occupation in Southern Europe in the Lower Pleistocene, around 1 mega-annum ago. The current view of when and how hominids first dispersed into Europe needs to be reevaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10666-10670
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2000


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