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Evidence of paleoecological changes and Mousterian occupations at the Galería de las Estatuas site, Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Iberian plateau, Spain

  • Juan Luis Arsuaga (a1) (a2), Asier Gómez-Olivencia (a2) (a3) (a4) (a5), Nohemi Sala (a2) (a6), Virginia Martínez-Pillado (a7) (a8), Adrián Pablos (a2) (a6) (a9), Alejandro Bonmatí (a1) (a2), Ana Pantoja-Pérez (a2), Jaime Lira-Garrido (a1) (a2), Almudena Alcázar de Velasco (a2), Ana Isabel Ortega (a9), Gloria Cuenca-Bescós (a10), Nuria García (a1) (a2), Arantza Aranburu (a7) (a8), Blanca Ruiz-Zapata (a11), María José Gil-García (a11), Xosé Pedro Rodríguez-Álvarez (a12) (a13), Andreu Ollé (a12) (a13) and Marina Mosquera (a12) (a13)...


Here we present a new site in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain): Galería de las Estatuas (GE), which provides new information about Mousterian occupations in the Iberian Plateau. The GE was an ancient entrance to the cave system, which is currently closed and sealed by a stalagmitic crust, below which a detritic sedimentary sequence of more than 2 m is found. This has been divided into five litostratigraphic units with a rich assemblage of faunal and lithic remains of clear Mousterian affinity. Radiocarbon dates provide minimum ages and suggest occupations older than 45 14C ka BP. The palynological analysis detected a landscape change to increased tree coverage, which suggests that the sequence recorded a warming episode. The macromammal assemblage is composed of both ungulates (mainly red deer and equids) and carnivores. Taphonomic analysis reveals both anthropic, and to a lesser extent, carnivore activities. The GE was occupied by Neanderthals and also sporadically by carnivores. This new site broadens the information available regarding different human occupations at the Sierra de Atapuerca, which emphasizes the importance of this site-complex for understanding human evolution in Western Europe.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Departamento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencia y Tecnología, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, UPV-EHU, Apdo. 644, 48080 Bilbao, Spain. E-mail address: (A. Gómez-Olivencia).


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