Economic subsistence of the hunter-gatherer groups in El Miron cave (northern Spain) during the Upper Pleistocene

All Titles

  • Economic subsistence of the hunter-gatherer groups in El Miron cave (northern Spain) during the Upper Pleistocene

Dublin Core

Title

Economic subsistence of the hunter-gatherer groups in El Miron cave (northern Spain) during the Upper Pleistocene

Description

This paper won 2nd Place in the 2006 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize.

Abstract: El Miron is a large cave located in the Cantabrian Cordillera at the eastern edge of Cantabria (Spain). It has been systematically excavated since 1996 and has a complete cultural sequence from the Middle Paleolithic to the Bronze Age, dated between 41.000 and 3.200 BP by 54 radiocarbon determinations. Because of this long human frequentation, the strata of the cave are extremely rich in lithic, ceramic and specially bone remains, among other materials including marine shells, ochre or copper instruments, all of them showing a varied degree of alteration and preservation. This communication is focused on its Upper Pleistocene macromammalian remains. The first archaeozoological results show that the hunter-gatherer groups who inhabitated this cave during this period have an economical strategy based fundamentally on Cervus elaphus and Capra pyrenaica. Both species are usually recovered from other contemporaneous settlements close to El Miron in the River Ason Valley. Besides, roe deer and chamois appear less frequently, and bovine and horse remains are extremely limited. In the level 108, dated between 13660±70 and 14850±60 B.P., an interesting discovery has been made. We have found several bones of neonatal and no natal red deers, which is a good indicator about hunting age and food preference. At the same time, a complete taphonomical study has been developed. Although cut marks and fractures are commonly described as well as several natural processes like weathering, root etching, pitting, etc, the main difference between excavation zones is the external aspect and conservation of bones. In fact, the cave has two main excavation areas: the outer one of nine square meters, call as the "Cabin", and a second one in the rear of the vestibule, of similar extension, known as the "Corral". The "Cabin" lies near the cave mouth oriented to the West, and receives direct sunlight during the afternoon, while the "Corral" is colder, darker and damper. The material recovered show a significant different color between each zone, white at the "Cabin" and dark or black at the "Corral". Even though this dark pigmentation is similar to the aspect of materials exposed to heat, this material is not burnt, nor shows traces of fire. Various explanations are now being considered: one that the bones are stained by organic substances like humic acids, two that they are slightly burned (either at low temperatures or for a short while) and three that manganese percolation, with the action of microorganisms, has covered the bones. The results of chemical investigation of water leakage, sediment materials, fungus and also cortical surface of bones will allow us to explain this special phenomenon. Finally, a spatial distribution analyses will be carried out with the help of ArcView GIS. The aim of this process is to know where the remains of each species are mostly discovered, to identify butchering and consumption areas and to differentiate the natural alterations linked witch each excavation zone.

Creator

Ana Belen Marin Arroyo

Source

Arroyo_TextImages.pdf

Format

pdf

Coverage

238

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Document Item Type Metadata

Citation

Ana Belen Marin Arroyo . "Economic subsistence of the hunter-gatherer groups in El Miron cave (northern Spain) during the Upper Pleistocene," in BoneCommons, Item #455, https://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/455 (accessed August 26, 2019).

License

Creative Commons License

File: ../archive/files_download/arroyo_textimages_179.pdf