Unravelling Hominin Activities in the Zooarchaeological Assemblage of Barranco León (Orce, Granada, Spain)

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Little is known about the subsistence practices of the frst European settlers, mainly due to the shortage of archaeological sites in Europe older than a million years. This article contributes to the knowledge of the subsistence of the frst Europeans with new zooarchaeology and taphonomic data from the Palaeolithic site of Barranco León (Orce, Granada, Spain). We present the results of the analysis of the faunal assemblages retrieved in the context of new excavations undertaken between 2016 and 2020. We have followed a standard methodology for the identifcation and quantifcation of species, mortality profles, skeletal representation and taphonomic analysis. With regard to the taphonomic evidence, we have documented the extent of rounding, abrasion and other alterations. Finally, we examined traces from the activities of carnivores and hominins that led to the accumulation and alteration of the bone assemblages. Results indicate that the archaeo-paleontological deposits from Barranco León present a dual-patterned mixed taphonomic origin. The frst phase primarily involved waterborne processes (BL-D1), which led to the accumulation of lithic raw materials, a few archaeological stone tools, and some faunal remains with percussion and cutmarks. The second phase (BL-D2) contains several stone tools associated with faunal remains with more anthropogenic alterations, such as cutmarks and percussion marks. After analysing the Barranco León zooarchaeological assemblage, the present study concludes that hominins had access to the meat and within-bone nutrients of animals of diverse sizes. However, the specifc carcass acquisition mechanisms that hominins followed are less certain because the presence of tooth marks suggests that carnivores also played a role in the accumulation and modifcation of the Barranco León faunal assemblage.
CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2022)