Site formation processes, human activities and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions from archaeobotanical records in cave and rock-shelter sites in NE Iberia

Jordi Revelles*, Ethel Allué, Marta Alcolea, Ferran Antolín, Marian Berihuete-Azorín, Isabel Expósito, Blanca Garay, Bàrbara Mas, Raquel Piqué, Laura Obea, Cristina Val-Peón, Francesc Burjachs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The main aim of this paper is to evaluate the potential of cave and rock-shelter sites for palaeoecological and archaeobotanical research. Climate conditions in the Mediterranean region and the depositional and post-depositional dynamics involved in the formation processes of open-air sites cause, in many cases, poor conservation of archaeobotanical remains, especially in the case of pollen, affected by oxidation and other taphonomic agents. However, more stable temperature and humidity, as found in cave and rock-shelter sites, provide optimum conditions for the preservation of vegetal remains. This study presents integrated archaeobotanical data from several NE Iberian sites, with occupations from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age. On the one hand, the diachronic study of the pollen record in archaeological stratigraphies reconstructs vegetation evolution and abrupt climate changes during the Pleistocene and the Holocene. On the other hand, archaeopalynology reveals the need to consider different taphonomic agents in the interpretation of pollen records in archaeological cave and rock-shelter sites, especially the anthropogenic input of plants to the archaeological contexts. The study of anthracological remains offers a picture of the surrounding wooded landscape, and provides data to characterise vegetal resource management and to verify which plants were brought to the cave. Finally, the carpological record shows the presence of edible wild fruits from bushes and trees in the Pleistocene and beginnings of the Holocene, and cultivated and synanthropic plants from the Middle Holocene onwards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104612
Number of pages16
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Volume299
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

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