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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Macrolithic Epipaleolithic in NE Iberia

I have just found about a very interesting and intriguing phase of the Epipaleolithic in the NE Iberian peninsula, which I did not know about before. Thanks to
Millán Mozota for the reference.

It seems that what used to be thought as a facies of Mousterian, defined by the saw-like edges of the tools, was eventually dated with radiocarbon to a very narrow period of the Epipaleolithic, between 10 and 8 thousand years ago.

The following papers (all in Spanish) deal with the issue:

A. Alday Ruiz, El Mesolítico de muescas y denticulados en la Cuenca del Ebro y el litoral Mediterráneo peninsular: síntesis de los datos. 2006.

Carlos Mazo Pérez et al., El Epipaleolítico macrolítico en Aragón en el contexto del valle del Ebro y la Cataluña costera. 2006.

Manuel Vaquero Rodríguez, El Mesolítico de Facies Macrolítica en el centro y sur de Cataluña. 2006.

All these articles, as well as others, are gathered in a book.

This map (from Mazo's paper, dates in thousand years ago) explains a bit how it happened:

Group 1: the macrolithic industries close the ocupation of the site after a period of abandonment

Group 2: the macrolithic industries are intercalated between early Epipaleolithic levels (Azilian/Sauveterrian) and late Epipaleolithic levels with geometrics of Cocina style (Tardenoisian of Iberian facies).

Group 3: the macrolithic industries initiate the occupation of the site, continued later with geometrics of Cocina style.

This other graph, from Vaquero's article illustrates the chronology in Catalonia:

Above: dated levels by millennium (in Roman numbers, often used in Spanish for ordinals). Below total of dates by millennium. The patterns indicate: Upper Paleolithic Magdalenian industries (black), Early "Sauveterroid" Epipaleolithic industries (horizontal stripes) and Macrolithic Epipaleolithic industries (vertical stripes).

I won't extend much on the matter as of now, as I'm still learning about it. But I find important the fact that this strange industry, allegedly related to a temporary and dramatic increase of the forests (Alday), seems to indicate the end of the so-called Microlaminar Epipaleolithic (Azilian/Sauveterrean) and precedes the establishment of the Geometric Epipaleolithic (Tardenoisian-derived).

As I have mentioned recently this last industry, though widespread, did not achieve full implantation in all the Iberian peninsula. It seems almost non-existent in Ronda (Andalusia) and as far as I know also in Murcia, where the Neolithic transition happened with the oldest Epipaleolithic facies (Microlaminar) still in use.

Instead in all this North/NE area, the Neolithic transition happens in a context of Geometric industries, also older than Neolithic itself but more recently arrived from France than the Microlaminar industries.

I wonder therefore if the Y-DNA lineage R1b1b2a1a2 (of which three subclades are found in the area described here, the others present in mainland Europe and Ireland, but very rare in West or South Iberia) may be related to the Tardenoisian spread, with the other major sublcade of R1b1b2a1, R1b1b2a1a1, being maybe related to Maglemosean and related epi-Magdalenian industries of the North Sea basin. It would make good sense if one accepts that R1b1b2a1 as a whole spread with Magdalenian culture.


Millán Mozota said...

I'll suggest a change here:

"It seems that what used to be thought as a facies of Mousterian"

instead I'll write:

It seems that many sites which used to be thought belonging to a facies of Mousterian.

(i'm not sure if the phrase is gramatically OK, but i think you'll undesrtand what I mean)

Maju said...

I know what you mean: what you said at Mundo Neandertal about the sites of Cantabria being true Mousterian, with stratigraphy, etc.

I take notice but guess it doesn't matter that much because most readers (probably all but you and me) won't have ever heard before of the "Musteriense de Denticulados" (Toothed Mousterian?).

Also I'm not really sure at this moment if the Cantabrian sites are this or that. You said that they should have a stratigraphic datation but even stratigraphies have been challenged a lot these days (just let Zilhao get involved and he'll change everything people used to think as facts).

I'd be really surprised if there was a true Musteriense de Denticulados anywhere, if most of the sites have already been carbon-dated to the Epipaleolithic.

In any case your sentence is grammatically correct, I think.