Subspheroids in the lithic assemblage of Barranco León (Spain): Recognizing the late Oldowan in Europe
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AuthorTitton, Stefania; Barsky, Deborah; Bargalló, Amèlia; Serrano-Ramos, Alexia; Vergès, Josep Maria; Toro-Moyano, Isidro; Sala-Ramos, Robert; García Solano, José Antonio; Jiménez Arenas, Juan Manuel
Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Titton S, Barsky D, Bargalló A, Serrano- Ramos A, Vergès JM, Toro-Moyano I, et al. (2020) Subspheroids in the lithic assemblage of Barranco León (Spain): Recognizing the late Oldowan in Europe. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0228290. [https://doi. org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228290]
SponsorshipThis research has been funded by the Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte: Orce Research Project “Primeras ocupaciones humanas y contexto paleoecológico a partir de los depósitos pliopleistocenos de la cuenca Guadix-Baza: zona arqueolo´gica de la Cuenca de Orce (Granada, España), 2017–2020”; "Presencia humana y contexto paleoecológico en la cuenca continental de Guadix-Baza. Estudio e interpretacio´n a partir de los depósitos Plio-Pleistocénicos de Orce. Granada. España" B120489SV18BC, 2012-16; "Primeras ocupaciones humanas del Pleistoceno inferior de la cuenca de Guadix-Baza (Granada, España)" B090678SVI8BC, 2009-11; MICINN (no feder) "Estudio de las dispersiones faunísticas y humanas durante el Pleistoceno inferior en la cuenca mediterránea.", CGL2016-80975-P, 2017- 19; the Spanish government Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (MICINN-FEDER) code CGL2016-80975-P, and the Generalitat de Catalunya Research Group 2017SGR 859. “Comportamiento ecosocial de los homínidos de la Sierra de Atapuerca durante el Cuaternario V”, MICINN-FEDER PGC2018-093925-B-C32 and the Generalitat de Catalunya, AGAUR agency, SGR 859 and SGR 1040. Gerda Henkel Foundation (AZ 32/V/ 19, Lower Paleolithic Spheroids Project (LPSP) is assuring continuity in this line of research. ST is beneficiary of the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano (Italy) post-master scholarship. AB has been funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action grant agreement PREKARN nº702584. The research of DB, JMV, & RSR is funded by CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya. JMJA belongs to the Research Group HUM-607.
The lithic assemblage of Barranco León (BL), attributed to the Oldowan techno-complex, contributes valuable information to reconstruct behavioral patterning of the first hominins to disperse into Western Europe. This archaic stone tool assemblage comprises two, very different groups of tools, made from distinct raw materials. On the one hand, a small-sized toolkit knapped from Jurassic flint, comprising intensively exploited cores and small-sized flakes and fragments and, on the other hand, a large-sized limestone toolkit that is mainly linked to percussive activities. In recent years, the limestone macro-tools have been the center of particular attention, leading to a re-evaluation of their role in the assemblage. Main results bring to light strict hominin selective processes, mainly concerning the quality of the limestone and the morphology of the cobbles, in relation to their use-patterning. In addition to the variety of traces of percussion identified on the limestone tools, recurrences have recently been documented in their positioning and in the morphology of the active surfaces. Coupled with experimental work, this data has contributed to formulating hypothesis about the range of uses for these tools, beyond stone knapping and butchery, for activities such as: wood-working or tendon and meat tenderizing. The abundance of hammerstones, as well as the presence of heavy-duty scrapers, are special features recognized for the limestone component of the Barranco Leo´n assemblage. This paper presents, for the first time, another characteristic of the assemblage: the presence of polyhedral and, especially, subspheroid morphologies, virtually unknown in the European context for this timeframe. We present an analysis of these tools, combining qualitative evaluation of the raw materials, diacritical study, 3D geometric morphometric analysis of facet angles and an evaluation of the type and position of percussive traces; opening up the discussion of the late Oldowan beyond the African context.