Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid
Portugal, Spain

Project Description.

The Iberian Peninsula is a privileged region to study the behavior of Neanderthal populations because of the quantity and quality of preserved sites located mainly in coastal areas. Pinilla del Valle sites are located in central Iberian Guadarrama mountain range (Madrid, Spain) and has a Neanderthal occupation that so far provided more than 20.000 Mousterian lithics of a high variety of raw materials. The study of their sources of exploitation will allow to understand the use and the impact available resources from their ecological niche have on the technology used. There are a variety of factors that can influence the technology used such as resource availability, physical properties of the rocks, knappers skill and cognitive abilities, and tradition. We aim to understand why Pinilla del Valle Neanderthals preferred some lithic raw materials over others. To accomplish this objective there is the need to do geological surveys of different radius from the site to collect rock samples in primary (i.e. rock outcrop) and secondary positions (i.e. fluvial or slope deposits). The samples will be used to construct a collection of the available resources to compare in the near future with lithic tools collected on the archaeological excavations through archaeometric techniques.

The analysis of small prey remains will deliver information regarding different questions. First, it will find out the distinction of accumulations of anthropogenic origin from those from carnivores in the studied archaeological sites. Secondly, it will provide a general perspective about small prey consumption over time, identifying continuities and discontinuities in their exploitation and possible causes. Third, it will study how did ecological diversity impact the availability of certain animals in the past and the influence it could have had on human populations.

This project is developed in four main phases, including the selection of the samples, their analysis, the inter-and intra-sites comparison, and the dissemination process. The results of these analyses will enable a greater understanding of the variability and capacity of adaptation of human groups depending on the conditions they are subjected to and of human and small prey relations throughout Prehistory.