Wind of change: zooarchaeological approach to the Middle–Upper Palaeolithic transition in Cova Gran of Santa Linya (Lleida, south-eastern Pre-Pyrenees)

Sofía C. Samper Carro, Jorge Martínez-Moreno, Rafael Mora

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Zooarchaeological analyses from late Middle Palaeolithic (LMP) and early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) contexts allow to examine changes in subsistence that are key in the debate about Neanderthal and anatomically modern human socio-organisational changes. However, the effects of syn-/post-depositional processes in the modification and preser- vation of faunal remains are sometimes overlooked. Moreover, the quantification units chosen have implications into the way in which inferences can be made from highly fragmented assemblages. To illustrate these issues, this paper addresses the analysis ofthe faunal assemblages assigned to the LMP and EUP documented in Cova Gran (south- eastern Pre-Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula). We discuss the suitability of different quantifi- cation units, taxonomical composition, skeletal part representation, age at death, the state ofpreservation, breakage patterns, bone surface modifications, and spatial distribution of the bone assemblages from the S1B (LMP) and 497D (EUP) levels documented in Cova Gran. The important role played by syn-/post-depositional processes is discussed to assess the resolution that zooarchaeological assemblages could offer to analyse subsistence patterns and occupation dynamics in similar geo-sedimentary environments. We investi- gate how the spatial distribution of the remains permits observations regarding strati- graphic and contextual resolution that might overcome the limitations imposed by aggressive post-depositional processes, which bias the statistical data that can be tested in these types ofassemblages. Our results suggest patterns ofcontinuity and discontinuity in human subsistence behaviour affecting the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. The results from Cova Gran provide information to facilitate discussion on the role of zooarchaeological studies in the analysis of the lifestyle of late Neanderthals and early modern humans in the Iberian south-eastern Pre-Pyrenees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Paleolithic Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020


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