Landscape and firewood at Espantalobos Mesolithic site (Huesca, Spain). First results

Marta Alcolea, Rafael Domingo, Raquel Piqué, Lourdes Montes

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10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA Wood charcoal analysis carried out at Espantalobos (Quicena, Huesca) provides key data on the research of past vegetation and woodland exploitation by late Mesolithic groups in the middle Ebro Valley. Radiocarbon dates place the occupations between 8975-8547 cal BP and 8321-8046 cal BP, the last one related to the well-known 8.2 cal BP event. Its location, outside the mountainous ranges of the Ebro Basin where a large network of Mesolithic seasonal rockshelters are known, helps to improve our understanding on the prehistoric occupation of plains. This research provides also palaeoecological information about the natural environmental conditions of a poorly documented bioclimatic belt in which present-day vegetation has been heavily modified by human activity (intensive agriculture practices and deforestation). Anthracological study has focused on the main vegetation changes along the two described archaeological levels and the taxa distribution across their surfaces. A total of 1711 charcoal remains have been studied: 1120 are scattered fragments (560 from each of the two archaeological layers) and the rest belong to three different hearths. A high taxonomic diversity is observed in the assemblage. Juniper wood is the main taxon used as fuel. Mediterranean trees and shrubs, both xerophytic and thermophilous, are abundantly documented, in contrast with the presence of mesophilous and deciduous taxa, mainly maples, which nevertheless are also well represented. According to wood charcoal analysis, the collection of firewood was carried out following opportunistic strategies, in a regime of recurrent and seasonal short-term visits to a settlement whose surroundings were characterized by an open landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-210
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Environmental archaeology
  • Mesolithic
  • NE Iberian Peninsula
  • Wood charcoal analysis


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