July 17, 2014

Early Neandertal disappearance in Iberia

Journal of Human Evolution DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.002

New evidence of early Neanderthal disappearance in the Iberian Peninsula

Bertila Galván et al.

The timing of the end of the Middle Palaeolithic and the disappearance of Neanderthals continue to be strongly debated. Current chronometric evidence from different European sites pushes the end of the Middle Palaeolithic throughout the continent back to around 42 thousand years ago (ka). This has called into question some of the dates from the Iberian Peninsula, previously considered as one of the last refuge zones of the Neanderthals. Evidence of Neanderthal occupation in Iberia after 42 ka is now very scarce and open to debate on chronological and technological grounds. Here we report thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates from El Salt, a Middle Palaeolithic site in Alicante, Spain, the archaeological sequence of which shows a transition from recurrent to sporadic human occupation culminating in the abandonment of the site. The new dates place this sequence within MIS 3, between ca. 60 and 45 ka. An abrupt sedimentary change towards the top of the sequence suggests a strong aridification episode coinciding with the last Neanderthal occupation of the site. These results are in agreement with current chronometric data from other sites in the Iberian Peninsula and point towards possible breakdown and disappearance of the Neanderthal local population around the time of the Heinrich 5 event. Iberian sites with recent dates (less than 40 ka) attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic should be revised in the light of these data.

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5 comments:

Dr. Clyde Winters said...

Iberia could not have been the last refuge for Neanderthal, because the Aurignacian culture began in Iberia and does not spread into the Levant until 32kya. This means that the presence of Neanderthal in Iberia 42kya is consistent with the entrance of the Aurignacians across the Straits of Gibraltar from Africa around this time.

andrew said...

The Aurignacian culture is associate with modern humans, but was certainly not the first modern human culture.

You are correct, however, that Iberia was not the last refuge for the Neanderthal. The youngest evidence of Neanderthals is in Vindija Cave in Croatia.

J. Lyon Layden said...

They find one site that's 45,000 years old and so were supposed to automatically change the date of the 21,000 k neanderthals on gibalter, too? Should we change the ibero-maurusians from across the chanel from 12,000 to 40,000 or so, too? Someone might remember that they have neanderthal features....

J. Lyon Layden said...

Also I have never heard of aurignacion very far south into iberia, or of it being older in north iberia than in france. It came to the levant later because the ancestors of aurignacion entered europe from central asia. Gravettian may have even been a neasnderthal culture, after all.

J. Lyon Layden said...

Sorry I meant Chatelperonian might be neanderthal, but Gravettian shows influence from it and aurignacion does not.