SPECIAL ISSUE: The Iberian Pleistocene-Holocene Transition
Sarah B. McClure
KEY WORDS: Iberia, Mediterranean, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Pleistocene-Holocene transition, Upper Paleolithic
The transition from Pleistocene to Holocene remodeled the world in ways strikingly similar to those noted by the frameworks convention for the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. Hunter-gatherer and early agricultural economies balanced local variables with global environmental change. Iberia is a natural laboratory for understanding these processes. From demographic shifts in the Cantabrian refugium to relative constancy in the Mediterranean region, it is a crossroads where widespread European influences overlapped distinctive Iberian traditions. The introduction of agriculture further diversified the patchwork of subsistence strategies. Adaptation to the Holocene in Iberia forms a baseline for understanding the social and economic dynamics of local human response to global climate change.
Nuno Ferreira Bicho
KEY WORDS: Epipaleolithic, Mesolithic, Early Neolithic, the Algarve, Southwestern Iberia, Portugal
Little is known about the final Upper Paleolithic from west of Gibraltar and south of the Tagus Valley. In contrast, data from Boreal and Atlantic times are fairly common and suggest highly diverse cultural, economic, and technological systems. Thus, there is an important hiatus for the Tardiglacial phase of human occupation in southwestern Iberia. This paper will focus on two main aspects of the Early Holocene in Iberia: the settlement and subsistence dynamics during the Mesolithic and early Neolithic of southwestern Portugal, and explanatory models for the occupational hiatus and lack of sites in the Tardiglacial and early Holocene.
Surviving the Holocene: Human Ecological Responses to the Current Interglacial in Southern Valencia, Spain
Alexandra Miller and C. Michael Barton
Oreto García and Joan Bernabeu
KEY WORDS: Land use, Mediterranean, Paleolithic, Neolithic, Spain, Spatial analysis
For hunter-gatherer groups, the dramatic changes in climate at the end of the last glacial cycle necessitated rearrangement of land use, including shifts in mobility strategies, settlement location, and resource use. We examine these behavioral changes using lithic attribute data as well as spatial distributions of artifacts and features. Using data from intensive survey and excavation, we trace human ecological response through the onset of the current interglacial in central Mediterranean Spain, comparatively far from the margins of the north-temperate ice sheets.
El Tossal de la Roca and the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition in the Mediterranean Region of Eastern Spain
Carmen Cacho Quesada
Jesús F. Jordá Pardo
KEY WORDS: Upper Pleistocene, Holocene, Magdalenian, Epipaleolithic, Paleoenvironment, Lithic and bone technology, Iberian Peninsula
Oreto García Puchol
KEY WORDS: Epipaleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Paleoecology, Paleoeconomy, Material Culture, Interaction
This paper summarizes early Holocene cultural sequences, economic strategies, and social dynamics on the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Recent research in the central-southern regions of Valencia provides important diachronic information, particularly for discerning the nature of the shift from a hunter- gatherer lifestyle to agriculture. If biogeographic conditions played a leading role in determining exploitation strategies, then recognizing distinctive social responses is crucial for understanding the impact of the changes that occurred.
Human Behavioral Ecology and Climate Change during the Transition to Agriculture in Valencia, Eastern Spain
Sarah B. McClure
C. Michael Barton
Michael A. Jochim
KEY WORDS: Mediterranean Spain, Neolithic, Human behavioral ecology, Ideal free distribution, Human adaptations
Using the behavioral ecological model of ideal free distribution (IFD), McClure, Jochim, and Barton (2006) identified the tight linkage between agricultural subsistence strategies, herd management, and long-term dynamics of human land use. Missing from their discussion, however, was placing these changes into a broader environmental context. The IFD provides a useful heuristic device to illustrate cost-benefit decisions within a spatial context. This paper compares the previous interpretations of land use during the Neolithic with climatic data from the Holocene. Two main arid periods have been identified during the early and middle Holocene that correspond chronologically to Neolithic cultural horizons. Climate models recently generated for the area further suggest shifts in precipitation cycles may have exacerbated the impacts of broader climatic fluctuations on agricultural production.
Holocene Vegetation Dynamics in Mediterranean Iberia: Historical Contingency and Climate-Human Interactions
José S. Carrión
Sarah B. McClure
KEY WORDS: Iberia, Holocene, Paleoecology, Pollen, Climatic change, Historical contingency, Fire, Cultural collapse
In this paper we illustrate how different internal and external forcings conditioned postglacial vegetation in southern Mediterranean areas. By comparing seven Holocene sequences, we emphasize the role of glacial refugia as postglacial vegetation dispersal centers. We also identify the importance of the system’s inertia in the time lags observed for vegetation response to climate change and human pressure. Finally, we explore the cascade of effects triggered by the human-climate interface, specifically the vegetation and the environmental feedbacks implicated in the collapse of the Argaric culture that emerged in arid southeastern Spain about 4,000 years before the present.
Lawrence Guy Straus
KEY WORDS: Late Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Cantabrian Spain, Human adaptations
Although broad-spectrum subsistence began during the Solutrean (ca. 20,000 14C BP) in Cantabrian Spain, and there was much continuity in technology and settlement between the Magdalenian and Azilian, there were dramatic changes in human use of the postglacial landscapes of this Atlantic region after ca. 9,000 14C BP. Interrupting a Terminal Paleolithic trend toward increased utilization of the montane interior of the region, the Mesolithic was mainly a coastal phenomenon. Although the Magdalenian-Azilian transition did include disappearance of cave art, the marked adaptive break came after the traditional end of the Pleistocene, with concentration of Mesolithic sites along the Holocene shore and emphasis on marine resource exploitation. An exception was the interior Basque Country, where there was significant human occupation of the upper Ebro Basin. While Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of that Ebro region were quick to incorporate Neolithic cultigens, domesticated animals, and ceramics into their lifeways by at least 6,500 14C BP—their coastal Cantabrian neighbors continued to exist as fisher-gatherer-hunters until as recently as ca. 5,700 14C BP, when the interior was again much used by people.
KEY WORDS: Colonization; Neolithic; Europe; Agriculture; Decision-making
A notable feature of the Holocene in many regions, including Iberia, is the colonization of new areas by agricultural groups. Although there is an extensive literature on migration and colonization, little of this is specific to relatively simple subsistence agricultural groups. In order to understand the process of such colonization, and perhaps ultimately to model this process, ethnographic and archaeological cases will be examined. The focus will be on the spatial and temporal patterns of the process, the criteria used for selecting new settlement locations, and the means by which these criteria are managed in decision-making. A case study from central Europe will be used to explore this process in the archaeological record.
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