Two sides of the same coin—rocks, bones and site function of Picareiro Cave, central Portugal


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Publication Date

January 2006


The issue of site function rarely has been a main focus in the study of Portuguese Upper Paleolithic. This fact may be related to a lack of interest in this research area. More likely, however, it is due to the fact that there are relatively few Paleolithic sites with data that allow a serious study of site function. At Picareiro Cave, central Portugal, there are various data sets from level F/G dated to the latter Magdalenian that are adequate for this type of research. These are habitat structures, lithic artifacts, macro- and mesofauna, as well as 3D location of all artifacts and fauna larger than 1 cm. Based on the interpretation of the analytical results of each data set, it is possible to reconstruct site function of this particular level of Picareiro Cave. The morphology of one of the hearths, being very large in size, with the base prepared and a pavement surrounding it, as well as the condition and diversity of fauna, indicates that it was used for processing the meat of rabbits, red deer, and wild boar, probably through smoking and grilling. All of the evidence from the different types of data (lithic artifacts, habitat structures, use of space, and fauna) indicate that Layers F/G of Picareiro Cave are the result of a specific task, that of processing animal carcasses of rabbits, red deer, and wild boar.


Site Function, Upper Paleolithic, Portugal, Magdalenian

Document Type



Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 25, no. 4 (2006).