Palaeolithic – Epipalaeolithic Seapeople of the Southern Iberian coast (Spain): an overview

  1. Avezuela Aristu, Bárbara 2
  2. Aura Tortosa, J. Emili 1
  3. Pérez Herrero, Clara Isabel
  4. Pérez Ripoll, Manuel 1
  5. Salazar García, Domingo Carlos 8
  6. Morales Pérez, Juan Vicente 1
  7. Alcover, Josep Antonio 4
  8. Rodrigo García, María José
  9. Marlasca Martín, Ricard
  10. Pardo Gordó, Salvador 15
  11. Jordá Pardo, Jesús F. 2
  12. Villalba Currás, María Paz 7
  13. Álvarez-Fernández, Esteban 3
  14. Maestro González, Adolfo 6
  15. Jardón Giner, Paula 1
  1. 1 Universitat de València

    Universitat de València

    Valencia, España


  2. 2 Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

    Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

    Madrid, España


  3. 3 Universidad de Salamanca

    Universidad de Salamanca

    Salamanca, España


  4. 4 Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados

    Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados

    Esporles, España


  5. 5 Universidad de La Laguna

    Universidad de La Laguna

    San Cristobal de La Laguna, España


  6. 6 Instituto Geológico y Minero de España

    Instituto Geológico y Minero de España

    Madrid, España


  7. 7 Dep. de Paleontología, Facultad de Geología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  8. 8 Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

    Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

    Jena, Alemania


Actes de la scéance de la Société Préhistorique Française (2014.Rennes)
  1. Catherine Dupont (dir.)
  2. Gregor Marchand (dir.)

Publisher: Société préhistorique française

Year of publication: 2016

Pages: 69-92

Type: Conference paper


The significance of coastal areas to human survival and expansion on the planet is undeniable. Their ecological diversity and their use as communication routes are some of their most distinctive qualities. However, the evidence of exploitation of these resources has had an uneven preservation, which is limited to certain regions and more recent events, mainly sites with deposits from the Upper Pleistocene and Holocene. This paper analyses the data available on the use of marine resources between MIS 6 and MIS 1 (c. 150 – 9 ka BP) in Southern Iberia, one of the first regions in Europe where marine faunal remains were discovered, in archaeological deposits from Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. Therefore their presence here has not been a criterion of separation between Neanderthals and Modern humans, but it may be relevant to analyze changes in the use of small preys or assess the economic diversification in regions where this came at an early date. One of the aims of this study was to evaluate the diachronic trends of the different palaeobiological marine remains recovered from coastal and inland archaeological sites. This preliminary extract indicates that the analysis of marine resource exploitation cannot be classed as a mere listing of palaeobiological remains. This information may be relevant in the initial stages, but it is insufficient in the evaluation of techno-economic and sociocultural transformations that can be linked to the use of marine resources. The distribution of palaeobiological marine remains differs over time and also according to the location of the sites with respect to the changing coastline throughout the period analysed. The known sites that preserve evidence of the use of marine resources as a food source are located mainly on the present coastline, or in a range of less than 10 km. Invertebrate remains have been identified in most, whereas fish, bird and mammal bones only in certain sites. Molluscs used as ornaments or pendants and containers are more widely distributed than other species used for food. Because these data must be contextualized, bone and stone tools linked to the exploitation of the marine environment have been added to the palaeobiological information, drawing inferences based on the analogy between both ethnologically and archaeologically documented tools. Symbolic expressions have also been studied, given the significant number of painted and engraved marine fauna depictions, specifically pisciforms and mammals, found in southern Iberia. Lastly, available molecular data has also been evaluated, from the results of isotope analysis on human remains. This combination of palaeobiological, techno-economic, graphic-symbolic and molecular data, allows a first assessment of the use of marine resources in the region.