The neolithic necropolis of Feixa del Moro (Juberri, Andorra): Review and new data

Gerard Remolins, Juan F. Gibaja, Florence Allièse, Stéphanie Duboscq, María Fontanals, Patricia Martin, Alba Masclans, Niccolo Mazzucco, Millán Mozota, Monica Oliva, Xavier Oms, Francisco J. Santos, Xavier Terradas, María E. Subira, Xavier Llovera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

At the beginning of the 1980s, a series of archaeological interventions carried out by what was previously called the 'Servei d'Investigacions Arqueológiques del Patrimoni Artistic Nacional d'Andorra' in a Pyrenean valley in Andorra allowed the investigation of the Feixa del Moro site. In a high-altitude area below a series of abandoned terraces, several dwellings and burial structures were located, all of them with chronologies ranging between the Early and the Middle Neolithic (from the mid 5th millennium to the early 4th millennium cal. BC). The distinctiveness of this site does not only lie in its geographical location, nor in the kind of structures discovered, but also in the very good state of preservation of the human bone material recovered from the burials, making Feixa del Moro one of the reference sites for the Neolithic in the Pyrenees and, in general, the Western Mediterranean. So far, sites with a similar conservation of both bones and burial structures are really uncommon. Moreover, the concentration in so small an area, and in the same stratigraphic unit, of such a diversity of evidence, including burials, silos and hearths, is yet more unusual. There are no similar sites in Andorra, or even in the entire Pyrenees. The only other burial site of comparable chronology discovered in the area is the Segudet site, and only a few high-altitude Neolithic dwelling sites are known. Even if cist burials are quite common in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula and in Southern France, Feixa del Moro is the first that has been found at high altitude. The archaeological work undertaken between 1983 and 1985 provided a picture of a farming community belonging to the so-called 'Sepulcros de fosa' Culture, established in the very heart of the Pyrenees and, thus, highlighted the complexity of Neolithic settlement patterns, even in mountainous zones. At the same time, several analyses of the archaeological materials were already carried out, making Feixa del Moro a reference site for archaeological research even now. Nevertheless, three decades later, new methodologies and the technical advances available are allowing archaeologists to refine old interpretations, to reopen old debates and to carry out new analyses that can improve our understanding of the past. In this respect, since 2011, within the research project 'Aproximación a las primeras comunidades neolíticas del NE peninsular a través de sus prácticas funerarias' (HAR2011-23149), funded by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness, a group of interdisciplinary researchers have begun to study several Neolithic burial contexts in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, among which Feixa del Moro. Following this perspective, in this paper, we present the outcome of the new analyses carried out on the burial goods and of the biochemistry and radiocarbon analyses carried out on the human bone material from the three cist burials of Feixa del Moro, with the aim of better understanding the early farming communities who settled in the Pyrenees. Since the last archaeological work carried out in the 1990s, large quantities of data have been lost. This has produced a certain degree of confusion and misunderstanding that has been repeated in other studies undertaken a posteriori on the site by other scholars. Some of these interpretations need to be revised. That it is why, within the current research project, we are not only bringing in new analyses, but also re-examining all the old written and graphic information available, as well as the state of the conserved archaeological material. The data presented in this paper resume all the available information on the Feixa del Moro site, correcting old mistakes and bias, updating the 1980s archaeological registers and presenting new analyses as well. Our aim is to ensure that Feixa del Moro remains a reference site for the Pyrenean and Western Mediterranean Neolithic. At the same time, we wish to encourage other researchers to undertake new analyses and to embrace new perspectives in order to improve our understanding of Neolithic societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-289
JournalBulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise
Volume113
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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