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The Middle Paleolithic open air site with preservation of plant remains of Aranbaltza III and its implications in the understanding of neandertal settlement dynamics in the Northern Iberian Peninsula.
Joseba Ríos-Garaizar  1@  , Iluminada Ortega  2@  , Iñaki Libano  3@  , Eneko Iriarte  4@  , Carlos Pérez-Garrido  5@  , Oriol López-Bultó  6@  , Mª José Iriarte-Chiapusso  7@  , Lucía Bermejo  8, 9@  , Ana Isabel Ortega  10, 11, 12@  , Raquel Piqué I Huerta  13@  , Arantza Aranburu  14@  , Garate Diego  15@  , Laurence Bourguignon  16, 17@  
1 : Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de la Evolución Humana  (CENIEH)
CENIEH (Centro Nacional de Investigación de la Evolución Humana), Paseo de Atapuerca s/n, 09004 Burgos, Spain. -  Espagne
2 : Institut National de Recherches Archeologiques Preventives  (INRAP)  -  Site web
Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives
7, rue de Madrid75008 Paris -  France
3 : Edestiaurre Arkeologi Elkartea
Barrika (Spain) -  Espagne
4 : Laboratorio de Evolución Humana. Dept. Historia, Geografía y Comunicación, Edificio I+D+I, Universidad de Burgos  (LEH - UBU)
5 : Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de la Evolución Humana  (CENIEH)
CENIEH (Centro Nacional de Investigación de la Evolución Humana), Paseo de Atapuerca 3, 09002 Burgos, Spain. -  Espagne
6 : Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona [Barcelona]  (UAB)  -  Site web
UAB Campus 08193 Bellaterra Barcelona -  Espagne
7 : Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)  (UPV/EHU)
c/ Tomás y Valiente s/n, 1006 Vitoria-Gasteiz -  Espagne
8 : Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca, 3, 09002 Burgos, Spain.  -  Site web
9 : Doctorado Interuniversitario de Evolución Humana, C/ Don Juan de Austria, 1, 1ª planta, 09001 Burgos, Spain
10 : Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre Evolución Humana  (CENIEH)  -  Site web
Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca 3, 09002 Burgos -  Espagne
11 : Fundación Atapuerca  -  Site web
Carretera de Logroño, 44 - 09198 Ibeas de Juarros, Burgos -  Espagne
12 : Grupo Espeleológico Edelweiss  -  Site web
Excma. Diputación Provincial de Burgos, C/Paseo del Espolón s/n, 09071, Burgos -  Espagne
13 : Autonomous University of Barcenola.
Campus de la UAB, Plaça Cívica, s/n, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona -  Espagne
14 : Universidad del Pais Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea  (UPV/EHU)  -  Site web
Barrio Sarriena s/n, 48940 Leioa, Bizkaia -  Espagne
15 : Arkeologi Museoa
16 : Institut National de Recherches Archeologiques Preventives  (INRAP)  -  Site web
Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives : GSOCampagne
7, rue de Madrid75008 Paris -  France
17 : Archéologies et Sciences de lÁntiquité  (ArScAn AnTET)  -  Site web
Université Paris Nanterre, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique : UMR7041
Maison René Ginouvès Boîte 3 21, allée de lúniversité 92023 NANTERRE CEDEX -  France

The eastern part of the Cantabrian region is characterized by the presence of several Middle Paleolithic sites, most of them located in caves and rock-shelters (Axlor, Amalda, Arlanpe, Arrillor, Lezetxiki, El Cuco, Ventalapera). The chronology of these sites ranges from ca. MIS6 to MIS3. The ongonig research on some of these sites reveals a high degree of variability in lithic provisioning and subsistence strategies that can be tracked through time (Rios-Garaizar 2017, Rios-Garaizar and García-Moreno 2015). Nevertheless, this vision is biased by the practical absence of open-air sites of this age with good preservation of archaeological materials and spatial relationships (Arrizabalaga et al. 2015).

 

The open air site of Aranbaltza III (Barrika, Northern Iberian Peninsula) is located near Bilbao, close to the current shoreline, and it is one of the rare examples in the Cantabrian Region of well preserved archaeological record in open air. The site is located in a big archaeological complex where MIS3 Middle Paleolithic (Aranbaltza I), and Chatelperronian (Aranbaltza II) occupations have been also identified (Rios-Garaizar et al. 2012).

 

The site presents a ca. 4 m deep sequence with MIS3 Middle Paleolithic (Levallois) archaeological units on top, several sterile levels in between, and MIS5-4 archaeosedimentary units in the base. These units are characterized by an incredible good preservation of plant remains, including some wooden tools (Rios-Garaizar et al. under preparation), and many ecofacts. Such incredible preservation is unknown for sites of this age (ca. 90 kyr) below latitude 48. This poses a rare opportunity to obtain insights about coastal landscape exploitation and the use of plant materials by neandertals.

 

Also, the nature of the archaeological record is very different than the archaeological evidence from other Middle Paleolithic sites in the region, most of them located in caves or rock-shelters and situated far away from the coast. These differences are observed in raw material selection: almost exclusive use of local flint vs combination of local raw materials with imported flint; absence of ramified productions; or the low investment in tool configuration and curation. This opens new ways for investigate the links between technology, landscape, site type and site function.

 

References:

 

Arrizabalaga, A., Rios-Garaizar, J., & Alvarez-Alonso, D. (2014). The past is out there: Open-air Palaeolithic sites and new research strategies in the Cantabrian region (northern Iberia). Quaternary International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.07.051

 

Rios-Garaizar, J. (2017). A new chronological and technological synthesis for Late Middle Paleolithic of the Eastern Cantabrian Region. Quaternary International, 433. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.02.020

 

Ríos Garaizar, J., Libano Silvente, I., & Garate Maidagan, D. (2012). El yacimiento chatelperroniense al aire libre de Aranbaltza (Barrika, Euskadi). Munibe (Antropologia-Arkeologia), 63, 81–92.

 

Rios-Garaizar, J., & García-Moreno, A. (2015). Middle Paleolithic Mobility Patterns and Settlement System Variability in the Eastern Cantabrian Region (Iberian Peninsula): A GIS-Based Resource Patching Model. In N. J. Conard & A. Delagnes (Eds.), Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age Vol 4. (pp. 329–360). Tübingen: Kerns Verlag.


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