Middle Pleistocene human occupation in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula during cold climate conditions: Zooarchaeology and taphonomy of ETB-H02 site in the Manzanares valley (Madrid, Spain)

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Evidence suggesting human occupation in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula during cold periods of the Middle Pleistocene is scarce. The Estanque de Tormentas (ETB-H02) site (Manzanares Valley, Madrid) matches with a MIS 6 or MIS 7 cold event, which allows us to tackle the study of the human occupation of the highlands of the Spanish Meseta during a cold climate event. ETB-H02 is one of the few Middle Pleistocene open air sites of the Iberian Peninsula where lithic industry associated with faunal remains has been preserved. The bone remains have been recovered from several different stratigraphic levels excavated in an area 1029m2. It can be inferred from the taphonomic and zooarcheological analyses of those remains that occasional human occupations occurred at this site, during which lithic tools were used for processing individuals of aurochs, horses, wild donkeys and deer. In addition, carcasses of animals that probably died due to natural causes have been preserved. Some were modified by carnivores although not intensively, judging by the scarce number of tooth marks. In conclusion, ETB-H02 supports the hypothesis that the continental climate and the height of the highlands of the Iberian Peninsula were not an obstacle to occupation in the Middle Pleistocene cold times. Besides, unlike other sites of the interior of the Iberian Peninsula that show occasional occupations, in ETB-H02 the human occupation happened recurrently, as human-processed faunal remains have been recovered from different levels and sub-levels, implying repeated visits to this environment, which would offer specific advantages regarding the exploitation of animal resources.
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