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Toro-Moyano I.,Museo Arqueologico de Granada | Martinez-Navarro B.,Rovira i Virgili University | Agusti J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Souday C.,Center for the Study of Human Origins | And 18 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

The Orce region has one of the best late Pliocene and early Pleistocene continental paleobiological records of Europe. It is situated in the northeastern sector of the intramontane Guadix-Baza Basin (Granada, Andalusia, southern Spain). Here we describe a new fossil hominin tooth from the site of Barranco León, dated between 1.02 and 1.73Ma (millions of years ago) by Electron Spin Resonance (ESR), which, in combination with paleomagnetic and biochronologic data, is estimated to be close to 1.4Ma. While the range of dates obtained from these various methods overlaps with those published for the Sima del Elefante hominin locality (1.2Ma), the overwhelming majority of evidence points to an older age. Thus, at the moment, the Barranco León hominin is the oldest from Western Europe. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Duval M.,National Research Center sobre la evolucion humana | Duval M.,French Natural History Museum | Falgueres C.,French Natural History Museum | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum | And 8 more authors.
Quaternary Research | Year: 2012

The combined U-series/electron spin resonance (ESR) dating method was applied to nine teeth from two Early Pleistocene archaeological sites located in the Orce area (Guadix-Baza Basin, Southern Spain): Fuente Nueva-3 (FN-3) and Barranco León (BL). The combination of biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy places both sites between the Olduvai and Jaramillo subchrons (1.78-1.07. Ma).Our results highlight the difficulty of dating such old sites and point out the limits of the combined U-series/ESR dating method based on the US model. We identified several sources of uncertainties that may lead to inaccurate age estimates. Seven samples could not be dated because the dental tissues had ( 230Th/ 234U) activity ratios higher than equilibrium, indicating that uranium had probably leached from these tissues. It was however possible to calculate numerical estimates for two of the teeth, both from FN-3. One yielded a Middle Pleistocene age that seems to be strongly underestimated; the other provided an age of 1.19±0.21Ma, in agreement with data obtained from independent methods. The latter result gives encouragement that there are samples that can be used for routine dating of old sites. © 2012 University of Washington.


Blain H.-A.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Blain H.-A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Lozano-Fernandez I.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Lozano-Fernandez I.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 16 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2016

The Early Pleistocene sites of Barranco León and Fuente Nueva-3 (Guadix-Baza Basin, SE Spain) have yielded thousands of Mode 1 or Oldowan lithic artifacts (both sites) and one tooth (in layer D, formerly 5 of Barranco León), today considered to be some of the earliest evidence of humans in western Europe at ca. 1.2-1.5 Ma. Previous quantitative paleoclimatic reconstructions based on herpetile assemblages indicated that, during the formation of these two sites, the mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation were higher than they are now in the southeastern Iberian Peninsula, with lower continentality. Here, we propose new climatic reconstructions where the mean monthly temperature and precipitation and the difference between the four driest months and the four rainiest months are estimated. Climatograms are built in order to specify the distribution and variation of temperature and precipitation during the year, and the Aridity Indices of Gaussen, Lautensach-Mayer, Dantin-Revenga and De Martonne are used to characterize ombroclimatic differences. According to these new climatic parameters, rainfall distribution through the year shows considerably higher precipitation in every season except summer and early autumn, which remain drier and thus consistent with a Mediterranean climate pattern. No change is observed in the duration of the aridity period, which remains four months long. However, the value of the Aridity Index of De Martonne is higher than 20 (subhumid climate) in Barranco León and Fuente Nueva-3, whereas today it is lower than 20 (semi-arid climate), suggesting major changes in the ombroclimatic type. These results yield a more precise scenario for the paleoclimatic conditions that prevailed during the late Early Pleistocene in the Guadix-Baza Basin and permit us to contrast the ages obtained from numerical dating and biochronology. The very warm and humid climate reconstructed for both Barranco León and Fuente Nueva-3 suggests that, in accordance with the numerical dating, these two sites are contemporaneous with the particularly warm interglacial peaks of Marine Isotope Stages 43-49 (i.e. between 1.35 and 1.47 Ma). The similarity between reconstructed climates, the high overlap between their estimated precipitation and between the difference of the driest from the rainiest season suggest that these sites may correspond to the same part of a climatic glacial/interglacial cycle, but because the evolutionary degree of the rodent Mimomys savini shows a slightly more derived state for Fuente Nueva-3 than for Barranco León (i.e a short chronological difference between the two sites), they may correspond to two consecutive warm interglacial peaks. © 2016.


Barsky D.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Barsky D.,Rovira i Virgili University | Verges J.-M.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Verges J.-M.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 4 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

In recent years, there is growing interest in the study of percussion scars and breakage patterns on hammerstones, cores and tools from Oldowan African and Eurasian lithic assemblages. Oldowan stone toolkits generally contain abundant small-sized flakes and their corresponding cores, and are characterized by their structural dichotomy of heavy- and light-duty tools. This paper explores the significance of the lesser known heavy-duty tool component, providing data from the late Lower Pleistocene sites of Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 (Orce, Spain), dated 1.4–1.2 Myr. Using quantitative and qualitative data from the large-sized limestone industries from these two major sites, we present a new methodology highlighting their morpho-technological features. In the light of the results, we discuss the shortfalls of extant classificatory methods for interpreting the role of percussive technology in early toolkits. This work is rooted in an experimental program designed to reproduce the wide range of percussion marks observed on the limestone artefacts from these two sites. Avisual and descriptive reference is provided as an interpretative aid for future comparative research. Further experiments using a variety of materials and gestures are still needed before the elusive traces yield the secrets of the kinds of percussive activities carried out by hominins at these, and other, Oldowan sites. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Barsky D.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Barsky D.,Rovira i Virgili University | Garcia J.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Garcia J.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 10 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2013

Early and Early-Middle Pleistocene archeological sites provide data about human dispersals into Europe from at least 1.2Ma. Up to now, the fragmentary archeological record indicated only sporadic hominin presence, with punctated migration "waves" not necessarily leading to colonization. We consider an alternative demographical picture in which hominin presence in Europe could have been sustained from this time. This paper explores the possibility that early hominin groups confronted different landscapes by adapting their technology to changing ecosystems. Innovative technological achievements were developed into new forms out of potential existing within the variability of early stone industries, leading to the production of a more diversified toolkit. Among these innovations, the increased secondary knapping of flakes points to conceptually more complex production sequences. This paper proposes a comparative view of secondary knapped flakes from some key Early-Middle Pleistocene sites in order to explore the hypothesis of demographical stability in Western Europe from this time. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Barsky D.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Barsky D.,Rovira i Virgili University | Sala R.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Sala R.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The presence of some flaked flakes at the Mode 1 site of Fuente Nueva 3 (1.2Ma) poses the problem of the use and re-use of flakes as cores for obtaining smaller cutting tools. The industry is characterized by small flint flakes and cores, as well as by numerous limestone heavy-duty tools. Both of the raw materials were collected from local alluvial and colluvial sources. The assemblage presents a significant dimensional dichotomy with, on the one hand, large-sized limestone percussion tools and, on the other hand, small-sized flint debitage. Flint plates, blocks or nodules were obtained from local secondary deposits. There are very few flint cores and the average flake size is only 3cm. Some of the flakes display opposite ventral surfaces indicating that they were obtained from larger flakes used as cores. In addition, a few intensively exploited flint cores conserve convex surfaces corresponding to their original flake matrices. No appreciably large-sized flint flakes have so far been found at the site suggesting that some phases of the knapping sequences were carried out further away. However, a few flakes could have been expediently re-knapped in situ. What can this behavioural choice tell us about early hominin behaviour at Fuente Nueva 3? The re-use of flint flakes as makeshift cores implies a two-step operative scheme involving the choice of a suitable blank that was further reduced on-site. This raises questions about raw material transport during the earliest periods of European Mode 1. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


PubMed | Rovira i Virgili University, Museo Arqueologico de Granada and Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social
Type: Historical Article | Journal: Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2015

In recent years, there is growing interest in the study of percussion scars and breakage patterns on hammerstones, cores and tools from Oldowan African and Eurasian lithic assemblages. Oldowan stone toolkits generally contain abundant small-sized flakes and their corresponding cores, and are characterized by their structural dichotomy of heavy- and light-duty tools. This paper explores the significance of the lesser known heavy-duty tool component, providing data from the late Lower Pleistocene sites of Barranco Len and Fuente Nueva 3 (Orce, Spain), dated 1.4-1.2 Myr. Using quantitative and qualitative data from the large-sized limestone industries from these two major sites, we present a new methodology highlighting their morpho-technological features. In the light of the results, we discuss the shortfalls of extant classificatory methods for interpreting the role of percussive technology in early toolkits. This work is rooted in an experimental program designed to reproduce the wide range of percussion marks observed on the limestone artefacts from these two sites. A visual and descriptive reference is provided as an interpretative aid for future comparative research. Further experiments using a variety of materials and gestures are still needed before the elusive traces yield the secrets of the kinds of percussive activities carried out by hominins at these, and other, Oldowan sites.


Espigares M.P.,Museo de Prehistoria y Paleontologia | Martinez-Navarro B.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies | Martinez-Navarro B.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Iphes | Martinez-Navarro B.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 8 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2013

Homo and Pachycrocuta were the two major agents responsible for modifying and accumulating bones during early Pleistocene times in Europe. However, although an intense competition between hominins and hyenas in the access to scavengeable resources has long been proposed, currently there is no conclusive evidence for corroborating or ruling out this hypothesis. This paper presents indirect evidence of competitive behavior between both species, recovered from the Upper Archaeological Level of Fuente Nueva-3 (Orce, Guadix-Baza Basin, southeastern Spain). It consists of a number of coprolites and tools that surround an incomplete elephant carcass, which suggests that humans and hyenas may have competed for the consumption of this megaherbivore. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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