A uniquely broad spectrum diet during the Middle Pleistocene at Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain)


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Publication Date

January 2012


The exploitation strategies of faunal resources have figured prominently in discussions of the timing and nature of the beginning of modern human behaviour. These strategies have focused on ability to make intensive use of seasonal resources, ability to hunt large or dangerous animals and capacity to exploit small prey, specifically fast-running and flying animals. On this basis, the systematic use of small animals for food at the pre-Upper Palaeolithic moments has been an important debate topic in recent decades. Occasional anthropogenic evidences concerning these animals dates back to the Plio-Pleistocene chronologies in Africa. Nevertheless, several authors state that the small animals began to be important in the human diet from at least the early Middle Palaeolithic in the Mediterranean Basin. From this perspective, this paper discusses the human use of small prey (rabbits, birds and tortoises) in the stratigraphical sequence of Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain). This site contains a sedimentary deposit composed of seventeen stratigraphical levels ranging from MIS 9 to MIS 5e (c. 350–100 ka). The evidence of anthropogenic processing of small prey is documented from the earliest moments of the site occupation (level XVII) in form of cutmarks, intentional breakage, human toothmarks, and burning patterns, depending on the archaeological level. The use of small animals, attached to the large game identified in the site, indicate generalist human behaviour based on a broad spectrum diet. In general, the aim of this study is to provide data on the subsistence strategies of the Middle Pleistocene hominids from Bolomor Cave and to contribute to the discussion topic related to the human consumption of small prey in early moments.




Quaternary International, Vol. 352 (2012).