Unravelling Hominin Activities in the Zooarchaeological Assemblage of Barranco León (Orce, Granada, Spain)
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AuthorYravedra, José; Serrano Ramos, Alexia; Luzón, Carmen; Cámara, José; Montilla, Eva; Toro Moyano, Isidro; Jiménez Arenas, Juan Manuel
Early PleistoceneTaphonomyFirst settlement of EuropeCutmarksHominin-carnivore interactionsBone surface modifications
Yravedra, J... [et al.]. Unravelling Hominin Activities in the Zooarchaeological Assemblage of Barranco León (Orce, Granada, Spain). J Paleo Arch 5, 6 (2022). [https://doi.org/10.1007/s41982-022-00111-1]
SponsorshipCRUE-CSIC agreement Springer Nature; Junta de Andalucia, Consejeria de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte: Orce Research Project `Primeras ocupaciones humanas y contexto paleoecologico a partir de los depositos pliopleistocenos de la cuenca Guadix-Baza: zona arqueologica de la Cuenca de Orce (Grana BC.03.032/17; Spanish Government PRE2019-089411 RTI2018-099850-B-I00; University of Salamanca; Arts and Humanities Research Council through a Baillie Gifford AHRC Scholarship (OOC-DTP program) at the University of Oxford AH/R012709/1; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia PRE2020-094482; European Union-NextGenerationEU 2021URV-MS-03; Ministry of Universities and Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan; Generalitat de Catalunya 2017SGR-859 2017SGR-1666; Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the `Maria de Maeztu' program for Units of Excellence CEX2019-000945-M; Spanish Government CEX2019-000945-M-20-1
Little is known about the subsistence practices of the first European settlers, mainly due to the shortage of archaeological sites in Europe older than a million years. This article contributes to the knowledge of the subsistence of the first Europeans with new zooarchaeology and taphonomic data from the Palaeolithic site of Barranco León (Orce, Granada, Spain). We present the results of the analysis of the faunal assemblages retrieved in the context of new excavations undertaken between 2016 and 2020. We have followed a standard methodology for the identification and quantification of species, mortality profiles, skeletal representation and taphonomic analysis. With regard to the taphonomic evidence, we have documented the extent of rounding, abrasion and other alterations. Finally, we examined traces from the activities of carnivores and hominins that led to the accumulation and alteration of the bone assemblages. Results indicate that the archaeo-paleontological deposits from Barranco León present a dual-patterned mixed taphonomic origin. The first phase primarily involved waterborne processes (BL-D1), which led to the accumulation of lithic raw materials, a few archaeological stone tools, and some faunal remains with percussion and cutmarks. The second phase (BL-D2) contains several stone tools associated with faunal remains with more anthropogenic alterations, such as cutmarks and percussion marks. After analysing the Barranco León zooarchaeological assemblage, the present study concludes that hominins had access to the meat and within-bone nutrients of animals of diverse sizes. However, the specific carcass acquisition mechanisms that hominins followed are less certain because the presence of tooth marks suggests that carnivores also played a role in the accumulation and modification of the Barranco León faunal assemblage.