Dissecting Middle Palaeolithic Palimpsests at El Salt and Abric del Pastor (Alcoy, Spain)

Our lab members are currently carrying out geoarchaeological work at the Middle Palaeolithic sites of El Salt and Abric del Pastor (Alcoy, Spain). We are focusing on finding ways to dissect the cumulative archaeological palimpsests found at these sites through a microcontextual approach. We seek to test the feasibility of merging different sources of microstratigraphic data (mainly from micromorphology, archaeomagnetism, archaeobotany and geo- and bio-chemistry) and integrating it with other sources of archaeological and paleoecological information including spatial analysis (GIS) of the archaeological remains, RMU (Raw Material Unit) analysis of the lithic assemblages, zooarchaeological and anthracological data.

Approaching “human time” (as opposed to geologic time) is a big challenge in Archaeology. Nevertheless, as archaeological science techniques develop and become more accessible we have the opportunity to obtain multiple lines of evidence, and the potential of narrowing our scales of observation become greater. In our view, three of the key ingredients are: good fieldwork, microstratigraphic analysis and good integration of different sources of data.



El Salt

Mayor, A., Sossa-Ríos, S., Molina, F. J., Pérez, L., Galván, B., Mallol, C. & Hernández, C. M. 2022. An instance of Neanderthal mobility dynamics: a lithological approach to the flint assemblage from stratigraphic unit VIII of El Salt rockshelter (Alcoi, eastern Iberia). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 44, 103544. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103544

Marquina-Blasco, R., Fagoaga, A., Crespo, V.D., Bailon, S., Mallol, C., Hernández, C.M., Galván, B., Ruiz-Sánchez, F.J. 2021. Amphibians and reptiles as palaeonvironmental proxies during the Late Pleistocene (MIS3): The case of Stratigraphic Unit V of El Salt, Alcoi, Spain, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 110372.

Leierer, L., Alonso, Á. C., Pérez, L., Lagunilla, Á. H., Herrera-Herrera, A. V., Connolly, R., Jambrina-Enríquez, M., Hernández, C. & Mallol, C. 2020. It’s getting hot in here–Microcontextual study of a potential pit hearth at the Middle Paleolithic site of El Salt, Spain. Journal of Archaeological Science, 123, 105237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105237

Mayor, A., Hernández, C. M., Machado, J., Mallol, C., & Galván, B. 2020. On identifying Palaeolithic single occupation episodes: archaeostratigraphic and technological approaches to the Neanderthal lithic record of stratigraphic unit xa of El Salt (Alcoi, eastern Iberia). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 12(4), 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-020-01022-4

Rampelli, S., Turroni, S., Mallol, C., Hernandez, C., Galván, B., Sistiaga, A., Biagi, E., Astolfi, A., Brigidi, P., Benazzi, S. and Lewis, C.M., 2021. Components of a Neanderthal gut microbiome recovered from fecal sediments from El Salt. Communications biology, 4(1), pp.1-10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-01689-y

Leierer, L., Jambrina-Enríquez, M., Herrera-Herrera, A.V., Connolly, R., Hernández, C.M., Galván, B. and Mallol, C., 2019. Insights into the timing, intensity and natural setting of Neanderthal occupation from the geoarchaeological study of combustion structures: A micromorphological and biomarker investigation of El Salt, unit Xb, Alcoy, Spain. PloS one, 14(4), p.e0214955. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214955

Connolly, R. et al. 2019. A multiproxy record of palaeoenvironmental conditions at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Abric del Pastor (Eastern Iberia). Quaternary Science Reviews. 225, pp. 106023 Connolly, R., Jambrina-Enríquez, M., Herrera-Herrera, A.V., Vidal-Matutano, P., Fagoaga, A., Marquina-Blasco, R., Marin-Monfort, M.D., Ruiz-Sánchez, F.J., Laplana, C., Bailon, S. and Pérez, L., 2019. A multiproxy record of palaeoenvironmental conditions at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Abric del Pastor (Eastern Iberia). Quaternary Science Reviews, 225, p.106023.

Fagoaga, A., Blain, H. A., Marquina-Blasco, R., Laplana, C., Sillero, N., Hernández, C. M., Mallol, C. & Ruiz-Sánchez, F. J. 2019. Improving the accuracy of small vertebrate-based palaeoclimatic reconstructions derived from the Mutual Ecogeographic Range. A case study using geographic information systems and UDA-ODA discrimination methodology. Quaternary Science Reviews, 223, 105969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105969

Fagoaga, A., Laplana, C., Marquina-Blasco, R., Machado, J., Marin-Monfort, M. D., Crespo, V. D., Hernández Gómez, C. Mallol, C., Galván, B. & Ruiz-Sánchez, F. J. 2019. Palaeoecological context for the extinction of the Neanderthals: A small mammal study of Stratigraphic Unit V of the El Salt site, Alcoi, eastern Spain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 530, 163-175. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2021.110221

Sistiaga, A., Mallol, C., Galván, B., Summons, R. 2014. The Neanderthal meal: a new perspective using faecal biomarkers. PloS one. 9 – 6, pp. e101045 – e101045. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101045

Garralda, M.D., Galván, B., Hernández, C.M., Mallol, C., Gómez, J.A. and Maureille, B., 2014. Neanderthals from El Salt (Alcoy, Spain) in the context of the latest Middle Palaeolithic populations from the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Human Evolution, 75, pp.1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.02.019

Galván, B., Hernandez, C.M., Mallol, C., Mercier, N., Sistiaga, A. and Soler, V., 2014. New evidence of early Neanderthal disappearance in the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Human Evolution, 75, pp.16-27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.002

Gómez de la Rua, D., Mallol, C., Galván, B. and Gómez, C.H., 2010. Una visión geoarqueológica general del yacimiento musteriense de El Salt (Alcoy, Alicante) a partir de la micromorfología de suelos. Recerques del Museu d’Alcoi, 19, pp.19-32. ISSN 1135-2663

Abric del Pastor:

Sossa-Ríos, S., Mayor, A., Hernández, C. M., Bencomo, M., Pérez, L., Galván, B., Mallol, C. & Vaquero, M. 2022. Multidisciplinary evidence of an isolated Neanderthal occupation in Abric del Pastor (Alcoi, Iberian Peninsula). Scientific Reports, 12, 15883.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20200-z

Mallol, C., Hernández, C., Mercier, N., Falguères, C., Carrancho, Á., Cabanes, D., Vidal-Matutano, P., Connolly, R., Pérez, L., Mayor, A. and Arous, E.B., 2019. Fire and brief human occupations in Iberia during MIS 4: Evidence from Abric del Pastor (Alcoy, Spain). Scientific reports, 9(1), pp.1-11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-54305-9

Vidal-Matutano, P., Hernández, C.M., Galván, B. and Mallol, C., 2015. Neanderthal firewood management: evidence from stratigraphic unit IV of Abric Del Pastor (eastern Iberia). Quaternary Science Reviews, 111, pp.81-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.010

Machado, J., Hernández, C.M., Mallol, C. and Galván, B., 2013. Lithic production, site formation and Middle Palaeolithic palimpsest analysis: in search of human occupation episodes at Abric del Pastor Stratigraphic Unit IV (Alicante, Spain). Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(5), pp.2254-2273. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.01.002

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