Neanderthal mobile toolkit in short-term occupations at Teixoneres Cave (Moia, Spain)


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Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

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Hunter–gatherers have a nomadic lifestyle and move frequently on the landscape based on the seasonal distribution of resources. During these displacements, carrying capacities are limited, and the composition of the transported gear is generally planned ahead of the activity to perform. During the Pleistocene, prehistoric hunter–gatherers faced similar difficulties in exploiting the territory and employed different strategies for coping with their subsistence needs and the possible shortage of stone tools. The understanding of how these behaviors developed diachronically is pivotal for the reconstruction of the human trajectories of land use in different environments, orographic settings, and climates. Thus far, the identification of the mobile toolkit has been related to blanks produced with allochthonous rocks, whereas the recognition of the transported artefacts knapped in local and semi-local raw materials encounters more difficulties because of the possible association with the lithic production conducted at the site. In this paper, we present the mobile toolkit of sub-unit IIIb and IIIa of Teixoneres Cave, a Middle Paleolithic site where a clear differentiation between in-situ knapping activities in local quartz and the import of stone tools in other raw materials is documented. The analysis of these latter assemblages reveals that the bulk of the toolkit is composed of knapping by-products and that the number of curated artefacts, Levallois flakes, and cores is significantly lower. Results show that the main strategy of transport at Teixoneres Cave was a combination of hunting and cutting tools aiming toward a generalized set of gears instead of narrowing the equipment to few specialized items. These new data highlight the plasticity of Neanderthals’ technological organization in the western Mediterranean.

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