This article presents the research on the palaeoenvironmental changes that took place at the end of the Tardiglacial, in the early and middle Holocene, observed in sites of anthropic origin in central-eastern Cantabria. Through the comparative analysis of the economy, the settlement pattern, and the industries of the Azilian and Mesolithic settlements, we try to infer the repercussions they could have had on the last hunter-gatherers, in order to adapt to the modification of the territory, the change in the available resources, and the socio-economic consequences they could have had on the settlement. The radiocarbon record of central-eastern Cantabria and the Cantabrian region (Northern Spain) between 9.5 and 7.9 ka cal BP is analysed in order to assess the impact of the cold events that occurred in 9.3 and 8.2 ka cal BP, identified in the palaeoenvironment.
The climate and environmental changes at the start of the Holocene affected the way of life of the last hunter-gatherers. In the Cantabrian region (N. Spain), these changes transformed the geomorphological characteristics of the territory and the modification of the Palaeoenvironment, generating changes in subsistence strategies, technology, and settlement pattern.
After the Younger Dryas, about 11.6 ka BP, at the start of the Holocene, the population in central-eastern Cantabria corresponded culturally with the late Azilian and the initial and middle Mesolithic. The Azilian started in the temperate Allerød period, in about 14.5 ka BP in the Cantabrian region (Álvarez-Alonso, 2008, p. 75), and continued until 10.9 ka cal BP in El Mirón (Straus & González Morales, 2003) where the Mesolithic cultural change is identified.
The Azilian was first systematised in Cantabrian region (N. Spain) by Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco (1980, 1995, 2004, 2006), who compiled the information available about a series of sites in Asturias and Cantabria (then known as Santander), characterised it, and established its cultural sequence. García Guinea (1985) published the Azilian in the Piélago Caves and identified a stratigraphy with the complete sequence of the Azilian. Further deposits were excavated in the 1980s and 1990s in the following regions: Cantabria at La Fragua and El Perro (González Morales, 2000; González Morales & Díaz Casado, 1992), La Pila (Bernaldo de Quirós et al., 2000), Valle (García-Gelabert, 2000), El Mirón (González Morales & Straus, 2000; Straus & González Morales, 2003), and El Carabión Rock-shelter (Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016).
Mesolithic research in Cantabrian Spain has a long history, see for example, Fano Martínez (2004–2017) and Gutiérrez-Zugasti (2009). Focused on the Mesolithic in central-eastern Cantabria, Pérez-Bartolomé (2019) documents 256 sites. Shell-middens had been identified since the first archaeological exploration in the nineteenth century by Calderón Arana and González Linares, who related them to the Nordic kjökkenmöddings, but without studying them further.
Research on the Mesolithic in the Cantabrian region (Spain) began in the second decade of the 20th century, in Asturias, by Vega del Sella (1914). In his excavations he identified the existence of enormous accumulations of shells and other archaeological artefacts, which he related to the Danish “kjokkenmmodinger”, and which formed what he called “shell-middens”, characterising this culture as “Asturian”. In the eastern part of the region, in Cantabria (Spain), Jesús Carballo (1924) investigated the shell middens of the Asón Estuary and attributed them culturally to the Mesolithic, differentiating them perfectly from earlier periods and from the Neolithic, due to the absence of pottery. Based on the characterisation of the Asturian from Vega del Sella, in principle all the shells from the Cantabrian region were ascribed to this culture and the research focused mainly on eastern Asturias.
Excavation projects in the east of Cantabria began in the 1990s: at El Perro (González Morales & Díaz Casado, 1992, 2000), La Fragua (González Morales, 2000; Marín-Arroyo, 2004, 2005), and a rescue excavation at La Trecha (González Morales, Díaz Casado, & Yudego Arce, 2002) as well as dating the shell-midden at La Chora (González Morales, 2000, pp. 150–151). Excavations began in La Garma Hill, in the Miera valley, directed by Arias Cabal and Ontañón Peredo. They found evidence of a Mesolithic shell-midden in La Garma A, Level Q, other remains in La Garma B, and dated human remains in El Truchiro within a long series of radiocarbon dates (Arias Cabal, González Sainz, Moure Romanillo, & Ontañón Peredo, 2000, pp. 271–277).
In the late 1990s, Ruiz Cobo and Smith documented a Mesolithic occupation of mountains in Cubío Redondo and Cueva Cofresnedo, both in the Asón valley (Ruiz Cobo & Smith, 2001, 2003).
In his dissertation, Muñoz Fernández (1997, unpublished) carried out a general study of Holocene shell-middens in Cantabria, from the Azilian to the Roman age. He attributed 40 sites in central-eastern Cantabria to the Mesolithic. The study of the lithic assemblage in part of the Mesolithic shell-midden in La Garma A, Level Q, was a major contribution.
In recent years, knowledge of the Mesolithic in this part of Cantabria has increased through the analysis of malacofauna in the shell-middens at La Pila, La Fragua, La Chora, La Trecha, and Arenillas (Gutiérrez-Zugasti, 2009); At La Garma A and Truchiro (Álvarez-Fernández, Aparicio, Armendariz, Ontañón, & Arias, 2013); the evolution of the landscape in the transition to the Holocene (García Moreno, 2010); and the strategies of human subsistence in the same period (Marín-Arroyo, 2013).
The ample archaeological record of shell-middens in central-eastern Cantabria is largely due to the systematic exploration of such groups as La Lastrilla (GELL) (Molinero Arroyabe, 2000) in Castro Urdiales and the Colectivo para la Ampliación de Estudios de Arqueología y Prehistoria documented in archaeological inventories (Muñoz Fernández, 1984; Muñoz Fernández et al., 2002).
Archaeological surveying in the valleys of Cantabria, directed by Ruiz Cobo and Muñoz, in which I have participated, has located more Holocene shell-middens attributed to the Mesolithic in the areas of the (Ruiz-Cobo et al., 2007, 2008, 2009) and Miera (2013).
The research carried out for my doctoral thesis “Mesolithic in Central-eastern Cantabria” included the following archaeological projects: The Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic population in the Upper Miera (2005); Recovery of materials in the Chora and Piélago II Caves (2014a); Archaeological excavation of El Carabión Rock-shelter (2014b); 14 C dated in the Asón and Agüera valleys (2016b); 14 C dates in the Miera valley and excavation of Sopeña Cave (2016c); and Archaeological survey in the Pas valley, archaeological test pit and 14C dating in the Las Salinas cave (2012). This project was completed in 2015 with 14C dating of materials recovered in Las Salinas (published in 2019, 2021).
The information provided by Mesolithic shell-middens in the area of study (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019, TII) and data from the excavations in six deposits, including palaeoenvironment, fauna, assemblages, and radiocarbon dates, are limited by the severe hydrological and anthropic erosion of the deposits. The results are compared with documentation from seven Azilian sites and related to climate change in the Holocene, especially the cold events in about 9.3 and 8.2 ka cal BP, identified in the pollen column and the abandonment of the occupation sites.
2 The Geographic Framework
The area of study ranges from the Suances Estuary in the west, the boundary with the Asturian Mesolithic culture, to the Ontón Estuary in the east, on the boundary with the modern Basque Country, and from the coast to the Cantabrian Mountains in the south. In this area, 256 sites with Holocene shell-middens have been documented and attributed culturally to the Mesolithic. The distance between the coastline and the mountain range varies from 30 to 50 km. This short distance is structured by rivers flowing from south to north, creating a series of steep valleys that characterise the region. The Mesolithic populations occupied the littoral platform and the middle and upper valleys (Figures 1 and 2).
3 Materials and Methods
3.1 The Archaeological Record
The evolution of the societies affected by palaeoenvironmental changes in the transition to the Holocene is studied through data on the palaeoenvironment, fauna, and industry in the Azilian and Mesolithic cultural periods. The minimum number of individuals (MNI) of ungulate species has been taken from studies of the fauna at La Fragua (Marín-Arroyo, 2004, 2005); Piélago II (López-Berges & Valle, 1985); Rascaño (Altuna, 1981); Pendo, Morín, El Perro, and Mirón (Marín-Arroyo, 2013); Cubío Redondo (Ruiz Cobo & Smith, 2001); Barcenilla (Muñoz Fernández et al., 2013); and Carabión (Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016). The malacofauna has been based on the MNI at La Pila, Chora, Perro, Fragua, and Trecha (Gutiérrez-Zugasti, 2009); Garma A and Truchiro (Álvarez-Fernández, 2011; Álvarez-Fernández, Chauvin, Cubas, Arias & Ontañón, 2011; Álvarez-Fernández, Aparicio Alonso, Cueto, Ontañón, & Armendáriz, 2012; Álvarez-Fernández et al., 2013), El Perro (Moreno Nuño, 1995); Barcenilla (Muñoz Fernández et al., 2013); Carabión (Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016), Las Salinas, and Sopeña (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019); and Valle (García-Gelabert and Talavera Costa, 2004) (Figure 3).
4 Palaeoenvironmental Evolution in the Early and Middle Holocene
The transition from the Late Ice Age to the Holocene was marked by a series of climate oscillations owing to the advances and withdrawals of the Arctic ice sheet and mountain glaciers, generated by deglaciation and the response of the thermohaline circulation (THC) (Broecker & Denton, 1989; Marshall et al., 2007; Wunsch, 2002). Cantabrian Spain was affected by the North Atlantic Oscillation and by the advection of oceanic hear in the North Atlantic due to variability in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Mary et al., 2017).
After the Younger Dryas in about 11.6 cal BP, as the ocean currents adopted their present functioning, the Holocene commenced. In the Greenlandian phase (11.7 to 8.2 ka BP), the most notable characteristic is the decreasing trend of the GAR-01 data from 3.84‰ at 11.7 ka BP to 4.99‰ at 8.2 ka BP. The greatest drop in this time was in a very short period in about 9.0 ka BP. This may reflect the effect of a pulse of cold water when the Baltic dyke collapsed, which weakened the THC and lowered temperatures by an average of 4°C in 100 years (Fleitmann et al., 2008; Marshall et al., 2007). The last abrupt change in the THC occurred between 8400 and 8000 cal BP, the 8.2 ka event, due to the entry of meltwater from the Laurentide ice sheet, which has been detected in Greenland and Europe (Barber et al., 1999; Clarke, Leverington, Teller, & Dyke, 2003; Wiersma & Renssen, 2006).
Magny, Bégeot, Guiot, and Peyron (2003) suppose that the cold pulse would coincide with dry conditions in the south and north of Europe, and a humid climate in middle European latitudes (north of Italy and the Iberian Peninsula, France, Central Europe, Netherlands, etc.) with the boundary between one situation and the other at about 38 or 40°N (in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula). For López Sáez, López-Merino, and Pérez Díaz (2008), it is more likely that the boundary would be at about 41–42°N, which would apply to the north of Iberia (north of Galicia, Cantabrian region (N Spain), Pyrenees), where the 8.2 ka BP event would give rise to humid conditions.
In Cantabria, in the area of study, both the 9.3 ka and the 8.2 ka events have been identified in research on anomalies in the growth of a stalagmite in Cueva de La Garma (Baldini et al., 2019), to determine the potential role of changes in the seasonality of rain and temperature in the ẟ18 O record. In the Greenlandian period, the expression of the 9.2 ka event in GAR-01 is similar in magnitude to the YD ẟ18O anomaly (Baldini et al., 2019) with ẟ18O values between 5.08 and 5.00‰, respectively. The anomaly observed in the stalagmite suggests that the summer precipitation was very scanty, and this is related to the displacement north of the Azores anti-cyclone, leading to extremely arid summers by sustained rain in winter (Baldini et al., 2019).
The 8.2 ka event is evident in the GAR-01 ẟ18O record at 8.16 ka BP as an anomaly of 0.7‰ (in relation to the mean of 4.37‰ in the Holocene), but it is relatively mild compared with the negative ẟ18O anomaly in GAR-01 at −9 ka BP. Winter temperatures reached a local minimum of 10°C (compared with 11.7°C in the early Holocene). This is the lowest modelled temperature for the Holocene, and winter precipitation was heavier than at present (Baldini et al., 2019).
Associated with these cold events, anthropic and chronological hiatuses have been observed at some sites in the area of study, while in other cases, erosion caused by run-off and water circulation has been seen at El Carabión (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2014b; Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016) and Cueva de Sopeña (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2016c and 2019), or the absence of archaeological evidence and dates (Carabión, ibidem), (Las Salinas, Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019 and 2021), among others listed in Section 8. This process has also been documented in the natural record in the Los Tornos peat bog (Soba, Cantabria) (Muñoz Sobrino, Ramil Rego, Gómez-Orellana, & Díaz Varela, 2005), where a sedimentary hiatus was identified, with the loss of about 3,000 years in the 3 cm-thick peat that separated the date at the base of 8596 cal BP from 5317 cal BP for Zone 6. This indicates irregularity in the deposit and/or above all its erosion.
4.1 Changes in the Territory: Variations in Sea Level and Its Impact on the Formation of New Landscapes
Climate change in the Holocene was the cause of variations in sea level and the position of the shore, which led to a reduction in the available territory along the coast and the formation of new landscapes, such as estuaries and sea marshes that modify the coastline formation of Cantabria: Pas Estuary, Santander Bay, Santoña Saltmarshes, Asón Estuary and Ontón Estuary, which offer new biotopes to be exploited. The relative rise in sea level on the Basque coast during the Holocene occurred in a first stage of a rapid rise (6.3 ± 0.8 mm/year from 9000 to 7000 cal BP). The formation of the estuaries on the northern Iberian coast has been dated to about 8500 cal BP (Cearreta & Murray, 1996, p. 297).
At the same time, the higher temperatures caused the mountain glaciers at the heads of the Miera and Asón valleys to melt. In the Asón valley, the glaciers had reached down to 300 m a.s.l. The last stage in the deglaciation in the area would have occurred between 14.5 and 10 ka BP in MIS2 (Frochoso, González Pellejero, Allende Álvarez, et al., 2013). These mountain areas were freed of ice, which would compensate for the loss of territory on the coast. The importance of both environments in the economic pattern of Mesolithic societies was considerable, as observed in the use of coastal resources and in the hunting of game in the upper valleys (Pérez-Bartolomé & Muñoz Fernández, 2015) (Table 1).
|Sites||Layers||Description||Archaeological features||cal BP 2 σ dates||Cult. periodo|
|Carabión||0||Calcareous crust with eboulis (4–15 cm)||Scattered shells and faunal remains|
|1a||Deposit of reddish silts and clays (15 cm)||Holocen shell-midden||6820–6580||Neolithic|
|1b||Deposit of reddish silts and clays including abundant organic matter (20 cm)||Holocen shell-midden archaeologically very rich||8690–8450||Mesolithic|
|2||Deposit mud flows. Includes a detachment slab. Very wet (20 cm)||Sterile|
|3||Deposit of yellowish silts and clays, and stony structure (25 cm)||Achaeologically very rich with fauna and industry||11990–12383||Azilian|
|4||Deposit of yellowish silts and clays (30 cm without reaching base)||Sterile|
|Salinas||0||Formed by powdery grey silt with a large organic matter content. 3 cm thick||Scattered shells and faunal remains.||7870–7630||Mesolithic|
|1||Calcareous crust with shells (10 cm)||Scattered shells||7810–7610||Mesolithic|
|2||Brownish-grey silt with some small eboulis and very rich in organic matter. It contains a large amount of shells, bones, and charcoal. The thickness is variable, averaging about (40 cm)||Shell-midden with abundant fauna and industry||10870–10510||Mesolithic|
|3||Yellowish clayey silt with some pebbles. Between 7 and 10 cm thick. It contains a smaller number of shells, only in the upper part. It is attributed to the late or final Magdalenian||Shell-midden scarce only in the upper part of the shell pit||14457||Magdalenian|
|4||Silt and sand with boulders and the intrusion of roots. 10 cm thick, it does not contain any shells||Shells not included|
|La Pila||III.3||Sandy silt deposit (25 cm)||Shell-midden with Littorina lithic, industry, bone, and charcoal||13423–13463||Azilian|
|I–II||Clays and light brown soil||Holocen shell-midden||Mesolithic?|
|Barcenilla||I/II/III||Shell levels in earthy silt sediment (55 cm)||Holocen shell-midden||Neolithic|
|IV||Dark brown silts (25 cm)|
|V||Grey-brown silts with remains of crust (20 cm)||Holocen shell-midden||Mesolithic|
|VI||Stalagmitic crust with shell (15 cm)||Holocen shell-midden||7440–7200|
|VII||Reddish-brown siltstones with some crusts forming (10 cm)|
|VIII||Stalagmitic crust with shell (5 cm)|
|IX||Yellowish to brownish siltstones (15 cm)||Conchero holocénico and some industry||7460–7260||Mesolithic|
|X||Stalagmitic crust (15 cm)|
|Garma A||Q/2||Shell in grey earth sediment, separated from the upper and lower levels by stalagmitic crust||Holocen shell-midden||9350–8950||Mesolithic|
|7985 ± 65|
|7710 ± 90|
|Truchiro||II||Cemented brown level (15 cm)||Shell-midden with human burial||9480–9120||Mesolithic|
|Sopeña||A I||It is formed by earth and very compact brownish-grey silt. It includes Cepaea nemoralis shells, bone fragments, and charcoal (10 cm)||Shell-midden Cepaea n||9620–9220||Mesolithic|
|A II||Yellowish-brown, highly cemented siltstones, separated from the previous one by a stalagmitic concretion (70 cm)||Shell-midden Cepaea n||Azilian|
|B III||It is formed by a single very compact level, representing the third level in the deposit. It contains abundant bone remains, shells. and a substrate of fine brownish-grey silt including small and medium-sized limestone pebbles (42–46 cm)||Contains abundant fauna and Cepaea n. shells||13810–13410||Azilian|
|Perro||1||Holocene shell-midden (30 cm)||Abundant shell middens, scarce in other archaeological remains||10730–10170||Mesolithic|
|2a/2b||Holocene shell-midden, very rich in organic matter (20–25 cm)||Holocene shell-middens, fauna, and industry||12270–11270||Azilian|
|Fragua||1.0||Shell surface with earthy matrix||7735–7315||Mesolithic|
|1.1||Shell with abundant ash||Holocene shell-middens and fauna||7833–7582|
|2||Yellowish compact sediment with eboulis||8446–8439|
|3||Snail pocket with abundant charcoal||Fauna scarce||10930||Azilian|
|La Trecha||Area 4||Conchero under fallen block||Loose shell-middens||7930–7715||Mesolithic|
|Cubío Redondo||1||Shallow shell level with sands and gravels, sealed in some parts by stalagmitic crust||Cepaea n. shell-midden||6720–6440||Neolithic?|
|2||Level of silts, sands, and clays with some blocks||Cepaea n. shell-midden, fauna, and charcoal||7610–7410||Mesolithic|
|Mirón||10.1||Occupation hiatus||Sporadic presence||9310||Mesolithic|
|Piélago II||1 (a,b,c)||Very fine greyish ochre loose soil with very crushed snail debris (30 cm)||Shell-midden of Cepaea n. abundant industry||10280 ± 230||Azilian III|
|2||Ochre loose soil, more black (50 cm)||Dense shell-midden of Cepaea n. abundant fauna and industry||10710 ± 100||Azilian II|
|3 (a,b)||Ochre and black earth, snail pockets||Abundant fauna and industry||Azilian I|
|4||Very loose black soil (3–40 cm)||Scarce in fauna|
|Rascaño||1||Divided into 3 sublevels. Very washed stratum with stalagmitic crust and brownish-blackish lenses||Abundant ungulate fauna. Limited Azilian lithic industry||10558 ± 244||Azilian|
|10486 ± 90|
|Pendo||I||Level 18–20 cm||Shell-midden with Littorina l.||10800 ± 200||Azilian|
|Faunal remains. Abundant industry|
|Morín||I||Arenoso limoso (2–20 cm)||Shell-midden with fauna||Azilian|
|Costra estalagmítica con conchero||Shell-midden||9000 ± 150||Mesolithic?|
|Valle||G1 Sup||Level above the Magdalenian level and sealed by a stalagmitic layer (50 cm)||Shell-midden with Cepaea n. on the surface. Abundant fauna and industry||10120 ± 280||Azilian|
|G1 C2||11130 ± 170|
|III.3||11050 ± 150|
|III.1||11040 ± 150|
Azilian and Mesolithic sites in central-eastern Cantabria analysed in this article, along with a description of stratigraphies, archaeological remains and radiocarbon dating. Calibration program: CalPal (Weninger et al., 2007) version.
The rise in temperatures in the Holocene was accompanied by an increase in humidity on the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, which led to a rapid expansion of broadleaf forest in northern Spain (Iriarte-Chiapusso & Hernández Beloqui, 2009). Table 2 lists the pollen, anthracology, and carpology data available from sites in the study area.
|Sites||Layers||Cult. period||cal BP||Taxones||References|
|Rascaño||1||Azilian||11992–12685||Quercus, Alnus, Corylus replace Pinus||Boyer Klein, 1981|
|Salitre||1||Azilian||Quercus, Alnus, Corylus replace Pinus||López García, 1981|
|Pendo||I||Azilian||13200–12280||Corylus, with Quercus, Fraxinus, and Fagus||Leroi-Gourhan, 1980|
|Post-Azilian||Arboreal diversity, dominance of Corylus, presence of Quercus, Fraxinus, Fagus|
|Morín||I||Azilian||Scarce arboreal layer, with presence of Corylus, Quercus, Alnus, and Betula||Leroi-Gourhan, 1971|
|Fragua||1||Azil/Mesolithic||11330–10530||Pinus sylvestris abundant, Quercus deciduous, Quercus p, Betula, Fraxinus, Alnus Castanea. Arbustos scarces, abundant herbáceous||Núñez de la Fuente, 2018|
|El Perro||2b||Azilian||11526–12052||Corylus Quercus, Alnus, and Betula. Pinus desappears||López García et al., 1996|
|1||Mesolithic||10730–10170||Abedul, Quercus, and Corylus.|
|Carabión||III||Azilian||11990–12383||Pinus, Corylus, and Quercus||Pérez-Bartolomé, 2016a,b,c|
|Ib||Mesolithic||8690–8450||Corylus, Quercus c, and Betula|
|El Perro||2b||Mesolithic||9260 ± 110; 10450||Betula, Pinus, Alnus||Uzquiano, 1992|
|Salinas||II||Mesolithic||7870–7630||Quercus c, Quercus ilex, Castanea, and Betula||Uzquiano, 2018|
|7810–7610||Thickets: Crataegus, Prunus, Sorbus|
|Carabión||III||11990–12383||Abundante Betula sp., Salix sp. y Alnus||Uzquiano, 2014, 2016, 2018|
|Ib||8690–8450||Decreasing amounts of Betula|
|whereas deciduous Quercus experienced a gradual increase as well|
|as Corylus, Querqus robur y Quercus ilex.|
|Sopeña||II||Mesolithic||9620–9220||Quercus and Corylus||Uzquiano, 2018|
|Barcenilla||V–X||Mesolithic||Quercus and Alnus||Muñoz Fernández et al., 2013|
|Carabión||III||Azilian||8690–8450||Corylus and Rosacea||López-Dóriga, 2016|
|Ib||Mesolithic||11990–12383||Corylus very rich and Rosacea|
|Cubío Redondo||2||Mesolithic||7610–7410||Corylus avellana and Quercus sp. (acorns)||Ruiz-Cobo and Smith, 2001|
|Salinas||II||Mesolithic||7870–7630||Corylus avellana and Quercus sp. (acorns)||Uzquiano, 2018|
Pollen studies conducted to study the transition to the Holocene, attributed culturally to the Azilian, at sites on the coastal strip (Pendo, El Perro, Fragua, and El Carabión Rock-shelter) reflect a quite dense and varied arboreal component represented by Pinus sylvestris and broad-leaf taxa Corylus and deciduous Quercus, with an increase in Betula. The shrub layer is less well represented while herbaceous plants are very abundant.
At sites in montane areas (Rascaño and Salitre), both in the Upper Miera in a humid environment, hazel dominates over pine, with the presence of Quercus and Alnus.
In the early Mesolithic, at coastal sites (Fragua, El Perro, and Las Salinas), palynological studies show the expansion of broad-leaf woodland with birch, oak, and hazel, together with typical taxa of open environments, like heather and, to a lesser extent, grasses. In the later Mesolithic level at Carabión, the pollen reflects a decline in the arboreal layer, with the limited presence of Corylus, deciduous Quercus, and Betula, within a clear dominance of herbaceous vegetation.
Anthracological studies at the Mesolithic sites of El Perro, Las Salinas, and Carabión have identified the same variety of taxa as found in the pollen record, with abundant deciduous and evergreen oak and birch. At Barcenilla, where pollen was not preserved in the Mesolithic levels, the fuel comprised oak and beech. In the montane area, at Sopeña (Miera), the remains of charred wood indicate a decline in Pinus and increase in Quercus and Corylus, although the latter may be more closely connected with the gathering and consumption of hazel nuts. In general, at all the sites, the main firewood was oak and beech.
In Level II at El Carabión, climate variations are observed in the hiatus (12.18–8.57 ka cal BP). It displays the lowest biological diversity, with no representative of the arboreal layer, but the occasional presence of water had eroded the sediment.
The expansion of woodland in the early Holocene in Cantabrian Spain would have increased the availability of plant resources to be foraged and of forest animals, which would compensate for the disappearance of the large herbivores owing to the environmental changes (Figure 4).
5 The Economic Pattern
The faunal records documented in Azilian and Mesolithic levels at the studied sites have been analysed to observe possible differences in the subsistence strategies derived from palaeoenvironmental change. The available data referring to ungulate remains are presented in Table 3 and Figure 5.
|Pendo I||1||5.8||1||5.8||11||64.7||1||5.8||1||5.8||1||5.8||1||5.8||17||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Morín 1||2||18.2||1||9||5||45.5||1||9||1||9||1||9||11||Altuna, 1981|
|Rascaño 1||1||2.5||9||22.5||1||2.5||26||65||3||7.5||40||Altuna, 1981|
|Mirón 11||4||36.4||3||27.3||1||9||2||18.2||1||9||11||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 11.1||2||25||1||12.5||4||50||1||12.5||8||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 11.2||2||40||1||20||1||20||1||20||5||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 305||1||14.2||2||28.5||1||14.2||1||14.2||2||28.5||7||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 306||1||6.25||1||6.25||5||31.25||3||18.8||1||6.25||3||18.8||2||12.5||16||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 102||5||25.8||3||7.2||1||7.2||3||21.5||2||15.4||14||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 102.1||2||25||2||25||1||12.5||2||25||1||12.5||8||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Mirón 102.2||3||50||1||16.7||1||16.7||1||16.7||6||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|El Perro 2 A/2B||5||24||3||14.3||6||28.6||1||4.8||1||4.8||5||24||21||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|La Fragua 3||1||16.7||2||33.7||2||33.7||1||16.7||6||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Carabión III||1||11||5||55||1||11||2||22||9||Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016|
|Barcenilla 5–10||1||2||1||4||Muñoz Fernández et al., 2013|
|Fragua I||2||14.2||2||14.2||3||21.5||4||28.4||3||21.5||14||Marín-Arroyo, 2004|
|El Perro I||1||1||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Carabión NIb||1||4.8||13||62||3||14.3||2||9.5||1||4.8||1||4.8||21||Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016|
|Mirón 101||2||40||2||40||1||20||5||Marín-Arroyo, 2013|
|Cubío Redondo||4||33.3||2||16.6||3||25||1||8.3||2||16.6||12||Ruiz Cobo & Smith, 2001|
BOS: Bos primigenius/Bison sp.; EQUUS: Equus sp.; CEL: Cervus elaphus; CPCP: Capreolus capreolus; SUSC: Sus scrofa; CPH: Capra hispánica; RURU: Rupicapra rupicapra.
The data are only provisional as there is no information about the volume of sediment excavated at each site. In some cases, the different criteria for the quantification of osseous remain, as also the lack of a study of the fauna in some sites.
The Azilian economy continued the trend in the late-final Magdalenian, based on the hunting of ungulates. Remains of red deer and ibex predominate, depending on the location of the sites and the transformation of the terrain owing to the expansion of woodland. Ibex is the most abundant species in montane areas: Rascaño and Piélago II (65%), followed by chamois in Miron (28.5%) and Piélago II (24%). Red deer is more abundant at sites in valleys: Pendo 64.7%, Carabión 55%, Morín 45%, and Mirón 40%. Roe deer, wild boar, and red deer attest the amelioration in the climate and reforestation. Important species in previous periods, like bovines and horses, gradually disappear.
In Mesolithic levels, hunting concentrated on three species: red deer, roe deer and wild boar. Red deer is the most abundant at all the sites, except at La Fragua. At El Carabión it reached 62%, (where it supplied 92% of the meat), 40% at El Mirón and 33% at Cubío Redondo. At La Fragua, wild boar (28.4%) and roe deer (21.5%) increase, as species that are well adapted to broad-leaf forests. Chamois appears in Cubío Redondo (16.6%), a site in a mountain environment, but an individual was detected at El Carabión (4.8%), which may indicate mobility towards the mountain. Pressure on ungulate has been observed because of the frequent presence of females and juveniles (38.4% in El Carabion), which indicates that specialisation in species that live in herds, especially females and young, which is not sustainable. It is also possible that hunting strategies changed and may have involved the use of traps.
The use of marine resources intensified in the Mesolithic, resulting in the creation of accumulations of waste, known as “shell-middens.” This is the resource that has provided most data in recent years. Table 4 presents the available data (Figure 6).
|Site||Level||Marine bivalves||Marine gastropodos||Crustacns/Echinod||Rerrestril gastropod||Total|
|Cubío Red.||Shell m||5||1||482||99||487|
The comparison of the composition of the malacofauna in the Azilian and Mesolithic levels reveals a greater accumulation and diversity of taxa in the Mesolithic levels. In Azilian levels near the coast, marine gastropods predominate. La Pila (99.7%) and El Perro (42.7%) are represented by Patella vulgata and Littorina littorea, which are cold-water species. Marine bivalves, like Mytilus, are scarcer. The case of La Fragua is exceptional, as the remains consist mainly of the continental snail Cepaea nemoralis (93.94%).
The absence of molluscs in the Azilian level at El Carabión may be related to the distance from the sea during that period, when the sea level was 60 m lower than at present. The few marine molluscs at Piélago II may have played a utilitarian role; in contrast, the deposit includes a thick shell-midden formed by the terrestrial snail Cepaea nemoralis (Vega de la Torre, 1985). Marine molluscs have not been identified at Rascaño, but Cepaea nemoralis shells are cemented to the cave wall. At Sopeña, a montane site 28 km from the coast, the malacofauna consists almost exclusively of Cepaea nemoralis (96.7%), with a small presence of Mytilus sp. (3.3%).
In the Mesolithic, the use of marine gastropods continued to be intense, with frequencies that vary between 45, 60, and 90%, depending on the distance of the sites from the shore. Greatest diversity is seen near estuaries and salt marshes, with frequencies of marine bivalves higher than 50% at La Chora, Carabión, and El Perro. The foraging of echinoderms (Paracentrotus lividus) and crustaceans (Pollicipes pollicipes, Brachyura sp.) has been detected in smaller proportions.
At sites over 20 km from the shore and which are not different from the Azilian, the consumption of molluscs focused on the land snail Cepaea nemoralis with the scarce presence of Mytilus and, in some cases, Ostrea.
The species change in accordance with their climate adaptations. In the Patella genus, in Mesolithic shell-middens Patella depressa and Patella ulyssiponensis are most frequent. L. littorea is substituted by Phorcus lineatus. The contents of the shell-middens show that very small individuals were gathered. Recent studies confirm that a drop of 2°C in sea temperature in the 8.2 ka event did not influence the size of the molluscs because of their tolerance to temperature changes, and therefore this cannot have been responsible for the reduction in their size (García-Escarza et al., 2022) and this was more likely to have been caused by anthropic pressure on this resource (Álvarez-Fernández, 2007, pp. 43–58; Gutiérrez-Zugasti, 2009; García-Escarza et al., 2015, 2022).
Few ichthyological remains are found among the fauna retrieved from the archaeological deposits, probably because of the poor state of conservation of the deposits. In the Azilian, finds of the typical flat harpoon show that fish were an important resource. Remains of fluvial species like salmon and trout have been found (Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, 2006, p. 173).
Wet sieving with 4 and 2 mm meshes enabled the recovery of fish vertebrae at El Carabión (Roselló y Morales in Pérez-Bartolomé et al., 2016) and Las Salinas (Roselló and Morales in Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019).
A large diversity of fish species was identified in the Mesolithic level at Las Salinas: 6 taxa in a sample of 27 number of records. The presence of Dentex and Lithognathus mormyrus (Herrera) show that fishing took place in an estuary with warm water, corresponding to the chronology of the level. At El Carabión, the most important taxa are the mugilids (66%), which are the only fish detected in the Azilian level. Greater diversity is observed in the Mesolithic, with Anguilla, Liza, and Chelon labrosus, amphidromous estuary species. The ichthyofauna at these sites are indicative of fishing near the sites. The proportional abundance of mugilids at El Carabión can be explained by the regime of tides in the Asón estuary, where they may have been higher in the Mesolithic period. The absence of fishing utensils like harpoons and hooks, in these sites, may be a consequence of changes in technique as nets or traps may have been used.
5.4 Plant Gathering
The carpological study at El Carabión (López Dóriga, 2016) has documented in the Azilian level a fragment of charred hazel pericarp and a small fruit, possibly of Rosacea. More Rosacea and hazelnut shells were identified in the Mesolithic level, where the latter was most abundant.
The presence of hazel fragments is common at the sites. They have also been documented in Sopeña Cave and Las Salinas (Uzquiano in Pérez-Bartolomé, 2016c, 2019). It is the most common plant species in proximate Mesolithic shell-middens, like La Peña del Perro (López García, López Sáez, & Uzquiano, 1996), La Fragua (Núñez de la Fuente, 2018), and El Cubío Redondo (Ruiz Cobo & Smith, 2001). Acorns have also occasionally been identified (at Las Salinas and Cubío Redondo). At El Carabión, it was noted that plants with an economic interest, but not cultivated, became more abundant in the late Mesolithic and Neolithic.
6.1 Tool Typology in the Azilian and Mesolithic
With the available data from the Azilian levels in Piélago II (N1 and N3) (Caloca, 1985; García Guinea, 1985), Morín (N1), El Pendo (N1) (Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, 1980), El Perro N2 (González Morales & Díaz Casado, 1992), and Carabión (N3) (Ibidem), and the Mesolithic levels in La Garma A (Nivel Q/2) (Muñoz, 1997, Unpublished), Barcenilla (N5-10) (Muñoz Fernández et al., 2013), Las Salinas (N.2) (Ibidem), and Carabión (N1b) (Ibidem), a higher frequency of retouched implements and greater typological diversity are observed in the former levels (Tables 5 and 6).
|Typology||PIÉLG II||PIÉLG II||RASCAÑO||PENDO||MORÍN||PILA||PERRO||PERRO||CARABION|
Backed bladelets are very common in Azilian assemblages and reach a proportion of 38.6% in La Pila III.3. Endscrapers, with certain diversity, predominate over burins. Geometric microliths reach 9.7% in Level I at Piélago II. Points are also quite diverse, including short and thick Azilian points at Piélago II (15%) while microgravettes predominate at Morín (28%).
The decrease in the number of lithic remains, both waste and tools, is significant in Mesolithic levels. The proportion of endscrapers remains high at La Garma A (24%), Carabión (18.8%), and Salinas (9%). Denticulates and notches are common at Garma A (20%), Salinas (6%), and Carabión (6.25%). They may have been used for woodworking. La Garma A has yielded the largest lithic assemblage among the sites being studied here, including geometric microliths (1.3%). At the other sites, with small assemblages, the proportion of microliths is higher: Las Salinas (9%) and Barcenilla Levels V–X (22%). Abrupt retouching predominates in the Azilian while laminar products are quite high in Mesolithic levels (unretouched blades and bladelets): Salinas Level 2 (28.57%), Carabión Level Ib (T10 24%, T5 16.2%), and Barcenilla Level 8 (36.36%). In general terms, little diversity is seen in the lithic typology in the Mesolithic.
6.2 Raw Materials
The most common raw material in Azilian assemblages is flint. High-quality flint predominates, including different exogenous varieties. Quartzite and quartz are very scarce and are found in pebbles used as percussors or smoothers. In Carabión Level 3, the flint varieties include Upper Cretaceous Flysch types and local Aptian flint. The flint types are similar to those studied from Piélago II, deposited in the museum of prehistory and archaeology of Cantabria: Flysch flint from the Basque coast, the Aptian type from the Miera valley, and Lower Cretaceous Urgonian flint from the marine platform at El Bocal and Rostrío (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2005 (unpublished), 2014a).
In the Mesolithic, flint from local sources predominates over 90%. Many of the pieces from Aptian outcrops are black or beige. Other types are coastal opaline and chalcedonitic flint (Lower Cretaceous Urgonian). Quartzite and sandstone were used for heavy duty tools, like hammerstones and anvils.
6.3 Osseous Industry
In the Azilian, the characteristic osseous implements are the flat harpoons, together with straight fish hooks, awls, and spear points. In the Mesolithic, osseous industry practically disappears in this part of northern Iberia; some splinters and pointed bones have been found but no fish hook has been identified.
7 Settlement Pattern
The Azilian population in the area of study, represented by 11 sites, follows the pattern of the late-final Magdalenian and extends from the coast (La Pila, Salinas, Fragua, El Perro) towards the interior valleys (Valle) and mountains (Piélago, Rascaño, Salitre, Sopeña). All the deposits are located in caves. The Mesolithic population, documented at 256 sites, was generally located along the coastline, with clusters around the rias and estuaries, related to the use of littoral resources. However, the upper valleys were also occupied, following the river courses that divide up the territory and in places on a limestone substrate. Secondary valleys were equally used to exploit the new biotopes that were created with the climate improvement (Pérez-Bartolomé & Muñoz Fernández, 2015).
With the current coastline as the point of reference, the Mesolithic population in central-eastern Cantabria inhabited mainly the areas less than 1 km away (30.46%) or between 1 and 5 km (27%) and between 5 and 10 km (9%). In the interior valleys, between 10 and 20 km from the coast, the inhabitation reaches 11.71%, and in the upper valleys 20–36 km away, it is 21%. Consequently over 50% of the sites are less than 5 km from the modern coast (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019, 2021).
At some sites, a continuity of population is seen from the late Magdalenian to the Azilian and Mesolithic (El Perro, La Fragua, La Garma A, El Mirón, Las Salinas, Sopeña, and El Carabión), and even to the Neolithic at the last four cases. However, the large caves in the interior valleys, like El Valle, the caves of Monte Castillo, Piélago and Rascaño, were abandoned.
7.1 Demography and Resilience of the Population
The population is studied taking as a reference the number of sites and the radiocarbon dates in the area of study and in Cantabrian region of Spain, in order to infer possible changes in the demography, owing to the cold pulses and the overall variations in the population (Table 7, Figure 7).
|Lab. Number||14C-Age||STD||CalAge p(95%)||CalAge p(95%)|
|[cal BC/AD]||[cal BP(0=AD1950)]|
|UGAM-9081||8490 ± 40||7610 — 7490 cal BC||9560–9440 cal BP|
|Beta-197042||8470 ± 50||7620 — 7460 cal BC||9570 — 9410 cal BP|
|GrN-28387||8470 ± 100||7680 — 7280 cal BC||9630 — 9230 cal BP|
|GrA-25776||8470 ± 50||7620 — 7460 cal BC||9570 — 9410 cal BP|
|Poz-45937||8460 ± 100||7670 — 7270 cal BC||9620 — 9220 cal BP|
|UGAMS-5405||8400 ± 30||7590 — 7350 cal BC||9540 — 9300 cal BP|
|UBAR-781||8360 ± 70||7590 — 7230 cal BC||9540 — 9180 cal BP|
|GrA-23733||8300 ± 50||7540 — 7140 cal BC||9490 — 9090 cal BP|
|OxA-6887||8300 ± 50||7540 — 7140 cal BC||9490 — 9090 cal BP|
|OxA-23190||8296 ± 31||7530 — 7170 cal BC||9480 — 9120 cal BP|
|UBAR-655||8295 ± 65||7570 — 7090 cal BC||9520 — 9040 cal BP|
|OxA-6888||8280 ± 55||7540 — 7100 cal BC||9490 — 9050 cal BP|
|OxA-29080||8249 ± 37||7430 — 7110 cal BC||9380 — 9060 cal BP|
|OxA-24799||8240 ± 40||7420 — 7100 cal BC||9370 — 9050 cal BP|
|OxA-27904||8222 ± 36||7390 — 7070 cal BC||9340 — 9020 cal BP|
|OxA-7149||8195 ± 60||7410 — 7010 cal BC||9360 — 8960 cal BP|
|GrN-27984||8190 ± 100||7500 — 6940 cal BC||9450 — 8890 cal BP|
|UBAR-657||8175 ± 65||7400 — 7000 cal BC||9350 — 8950 cal BP|
|UBAR-656||8165 ± 65||7390 — 6990 cal BC||9340 — 8940 cal BP|
|OxA-28686||8138 ± 37||7230 — 7030 cal BC||9180 — 8980 cal BP|
|OxA-27155||8133 ± 39||7220 — 7020 cal BC||9170 — 8970 cal BP|
|OxA-35221||8088 ± 39||7200 — 6960 cal BC||9150 — 8910 cal BP|
|OxA-7160||8025 ± 80||7180 — 6660 cal BC||9130 — 8610 cal BP|
|OxA-28411||8022 ± 39||7110 — 6750 cal BC||9060 — 8700 cal BP|
|OxA-31055||8004 ± 39||7100 — 6740 cal BC||9050 — 8690 cal BP|
|OxA-31054||8000 ± 40||7090 — 6730 cal BC||9040 — 8680 cal BP|
|OxA-27969||7990 ± 38||7110 — 6710 cal BC||9060 — 8660 cal BP|
|UBAR-658||7985 ± 65||7120 — 6640 cal BC||9070 — 8590 cal BP|
|OxA-29116||7979 ± 38||7100 — 6700 cal BC||9050 — 8650 cal BP|
|OxA-29115||7979 ± 38||7100 — 6700 cal BC||9050 — 8650 cal BP|
|OxA-28396||7935 ± 35||7100 — 6620 cal BC||9050 — 8570 cal BP|
|UBAR-780||7890 ± 80||7110 — 6510 cal BC||9060 — 8460 cal BP|
|OxA-18237||7840 ± 40||6800 — 6560 cal BC||8750 — 8510 cal BP|
|Poz-32691||7800 ± 50||6740 — 6500 cal BC||8690 — 8450 cal BP|
|OxA-28620||7787 ± 39||6700 — 6500 cal BC||8650 — 8450 cal BP|
|GrA-257774||7770 ± 50||6700 — 6460 cal BC||8650 — 8410 cal BP|
|OxA-29081||7761 ± 37||6700 — 6460 cal BC||8650 — 8410 cal BP|
|OxA-26953||7755 ± 38||6690 — 6450 cal BC||8640 — 8400 cal BP|
|OxA-30850||7724 ± 38||6650 — 6450 cal BC||8600 — 8400 cal BP|
|OxA-28394||7717 ± 37||6640 — 6440 cal BC||8590 — 8390 cal BP|
|OxA-29082||7714 ± 34||6640 — 6440 cal BC||8590 — 8390 cal BP|
|OxA-7495||7710 ± 90||6710 — 6390 cal BC||8660 — 8340 cal BP|
|UBAR-795||7705 ± 50||6660 — 6420 cal BC||8610 — 8370 cal BP|
|UGAM-9081||7700 ± 30||6630 — 6430 cal BC||8580 — 8380 cal BP|
|OxA-7284||7685 ± 65||6650 — 6410 cal BC||8600 — 8360 cal BP|
|UBAR-776||7680 ± 50||6640 — 6400 cal BC||8590 — 8350 cal BP|
|GaK-2908||7680 ± 50||6640 — 6400 cal BC||8590 — 8350 cal BP|
|Beta-569422||7670 ± 30||6610 — 6410 cal BC||8560 — 8360 cal BP|
|UGAMS-5408||7640 ± 30||6560 — 6400 cal BC||8510 — 8350 cal BP|
|OxA-30976||7625 ± 45||6580 — 6380 cal BC||8530 — 8330 cal BP|
|OxA-28408||7618 ± 37||6520 — 6400 cal BC||8470 — 8350 cal BP|
|OxA-30977||7595 ± 40||6500 — 6380 cal BC||8450 — 8330 cal BP|
|UBAR-774||7580 ± 60||6530 — 6330 cal BC||8480 — 8280 cal BP|
|Beta-240899||7580 ± 50||6510 — 6350 cal BC||8460 — 8300 cal BP|
|OxA-28404||7565 ± 34||6490 — 6370 cal BC||8440 — 8320 cal BP|
|UBAR-773||7540 ± 100||6570 — 6170 cal BC||8520 — 8120 cal BP|
|GrN-20965||7530 ± 70||6520 — 6200 cal BC||8470 — 8150 cal BP|
|GrN-24782||7510 ± 100||6530 — 6170 cal BC||8480 — 8120 cal BP|
|URU-0038||7500 ± 70||6500 — 6180 cal BC||8450 — 8130 cal BP|
|ICA-17S/0435||7500 ± 40||6480 — 6200 cal BC||8430 — 8150 cal BP|
|OxA-33173||7480 ± 40||6450 — 6210 cal BC||8400 — 8160 cal BP|
|OxA-34394||7460 ± 40||6440 — 6200 cal BC||8390 — 8150 cal BP|
|OxA-28405||7412 ± 36||6420 — 6180 cal BC||8370 — 8130 cal BP|
|Poz-18258||7390 ± 40||6430 — 6110 cal BC||8380 — 8060 cal BP|
|OxA-30535||7380 ± 55||6440 — 6040 cal BC||8390 — 7990 cal BP|
|OxA-27154||7374 ± 63||6450 — 6010 cal BC||8400 — 7960 cal BP|
|OxA-X-23999-||7365 ± 36||6420 — 6020 cal BC||8370 — 7970 cal BP|
|OxA-34395||7362 ± 38||6420 — 6020 cal BC||8370 — 7970 cal BP|
|OxA-28390||7357 ± 34||6360 — 6040 cal BC||8310 — 7990 cal BP|
|OxA-29083||7342 ± 32||6290 — 6050 cal BC||8240 — 8000 cal BP|
|ICA-17S/0436||7320 ± 40||6280 — 6040 cal BC||8230 — 7990 cal BP|
|KIA-33193||7315 ± 35||6260 — 6060 cal BC||8210 — 8010 cal BP|
|OxA-30806||7310 ± 40||6280 — 6040 cal BC||8230 — 7990 cal BP|
|OxA-28401||7294 ± 37||6250 — 6050 cal BC||8200 — 8000 cal BP|
|OxA-28389||7230 ± 36||6250 — 5970 cal BC||8200 — 7920 cal BP|
|AA-45575||7225 ± 44||6240 — 5960 cal BC||8190 — 7910 cal BP|
|OxA-28403||7212 ± 35||6170 — 5970 cal BC||8120 — 7920 cal BP|
|OxA-28882||7205 ± 37||6140 — 5980 cal BC||8090 — 7930 cal BP|
|OxA-28391||7204 ± 35||6110 — 5990 cal BC||8060 — 7940 cal BP|
|Poz-97869||7180 ± 50||6120 — 5960 cal BC||8070 — 7910 cal BP|
|OxA-38663||7164 ± 23||6090 — 5970 cal BC||8040 — 7920 cal BP|
|OxA-X-2488-4||7143 ± 36||6070 — 5950 cal BC||8020 — 7900 cal BP|
|OxA-28973||7138 ± 35||6090 — 5930 cal BC||8040 — 7880 cal BP|
Circa 9.5–8 ky calibrated 2σ (cal BP/cal BC 95%), using CalPal (Weninger et al., 2007) version 2021.7. Calibration curve: INTCAL2020.
A larger number of sites does not prove that the population increased, but that the sites were used intermittently, on a rotary or seasonal basis, following the subsistence strategy of the intensive use of different biotopes. Similarly, the radiocarbon dates might be concentrated in a particular group of sites because of the intensity of research in those sites or areas, as occurs in Cantabrian Spain (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019).
The chronological analysis was made with a total of 152 radiocarbon dates for 100 sites, which are dated from 11720 BP at El Mirón to 5880 BP at Carabión (13890–6820 cal BP). They were obtained from the literature and my own research (21 dates). They have been calibrated with the CalPal programme (Weninger, Jöris, & Danzeglocke, 2007), version 2021.7 and the Intcal 2020 curve. Only results with a standard deviation less than 100 have been considered; so not all the available dates have been included.
The Azilian population in the area of study first increased in 13.6–11.6 ka cal BP, in relation to the climate amelioration of the Bolling–Allerod interstadial, and was followed by a stabilisation phase with small fluctuations. In about 11.6 ka cal BP, an abrupt fall in the population is recorded in central-eastern Cantabria and the Cantabrian region (N Spain) with only two dates from El Perro (12270–11270 cal BP) and Valle (12780–10860 cal BP). This may be due to the absence of research or dates, but the same fall is observed in the Cantabrian region and is attributed to the effect of the Younger Dryas between 10.5 and 9.8 ka cal BP, the first part of the early Holocene to the start of the Mesolithic. Sustained growth is then seen from 9.8 to 9.5 ka cal BP, with three dates for three sites in central-eastern Cantabria and five dates from four sites in Cantabrian region (N Spain).
The Mesolithic population clearly increases between 9.5 and 9.3 ka cal BP, with 10 sites and 14 dates in Cantabria region (N Spain). After that time, it declines with a very marked fall in 8.7 ka cal BP, with three sites and three dates in Cantabrian region (N Spain). This may be a consequence of the lower temperatures in the 9.3 ka event. After that time, the number of sites and dates increases. From 8.5 to 8.1 ka cal BP, the numbers fall significantly in central-eastern Cantabria and the Cantabrian region (N Spain), especially between 8.3 and 8.1 ka cal BP. The decrease is framed by the 8.2 ka event. After that time, the population rises once more (Figure 8).
7.2 Hiatuses in the Population Observed at Sites Connected with the 9.3 and 8.2 ka Events
Eleven sites with occupation chronologies in the early and middle Holocene have been analysed in this study. In five of them, hiatuses are observed, with an absence of archaeological evidence of occupation and an absence of dating (El Mirón, Truchiro and La Fragua), and/or erosive processes that have eroded the sites and deposited, in some cases, allochthonous sediments (El Carabión N2), or formed layers of calcareous concretion (La Garma A: 7170 and 6448 Median cal BC) which, due to their chronology, can be related to the cold events produced c. 9.3 and 8.2. Taking references from the archaeological dating available in sites with dating series, hiatuses can be noted in the following sites:
Salinas: (10870–10510) – (7870–7630) cal BP
Garma A: (9340–8940) – (8660–8360) – (7880–7640) cal BP
Truchiro. (9340–8940) – (7970–7730) – (7490–7250) cal BP
La Fragua: (10290–9850) – (8446–8439) – (7930–7715) cal BP
Carabión: (12570–11770) – (8690–8450) – (6820–6580) cal BP
Mirón 11180–10620) – (9790–9510) – (6825–6399) cal BP
In the first place, there is an absence of dates around the time of the 9.3 ka event. The first gap at La Garma (9.3–8.6 ka cal BP) may be the consequence of that event, which has been detected in a stalagmite in the cave. The hiato (8.6–7.8 ka cal BP) may reflect the 8.2 ka climate oscillation, which seems to have had a wider irregular frame. The gap at Truchiro, at the base of La Garma Hill (9.4–7.9/7.4 ka cal BP), is around the 9.3 and 8.2 events. At La Fragua, these occupational hiatuses are related to the two events around 9.3 (10.2–8.4 ka cal BP) and around 8.2 (8.4–7.8 ka cal BP). The gap at El Mirón is wider (9.7–6.6 ka cal BP), and the occupations are discontinuous in the Mesolithic and of less significance. The researchers of the site explain this by an alternate use to the occupations of the coastal sites of La Fragua and El Perro (González Morales et al., 2004). At El Carabión, the hiatus between 12.7 and 8.6 ka cal BP might respond to the influence of the Younger Dryas and the 9.3 ka event; between 8.6 and 6.8 ka cal BP, the discontinuous occupation might be related to the 8.2 ka event. At Las Salinas, a site that was occupied at least from the Magdalenian, a large gap (10.8–7.8 ka cal BP) is perceived, with a later continuous occupation. The occupational gap is located in the chronology of both events.
8 Discussion and Conclusions
8.1 Palaeoenvironmental Changes
At about 11600 BP, the rapid increase in temperature led to changes in the morphology of the territory and in the vegetation. Sea level rise transformed the coastline as the river valleys were flooded, creating estuaries and salt marshes. At the same time, as the mountain glaciers in the upper Asón and Miera valleys melted in 14.5 to 10 ka BP (Frochoso et al., 2013), new land surfaces were reforested which provided plant and animal resources.
In the early Holocene, the rise in temperature and humidity allowed an expansion in the percentages of arboreal pollen, as identified at Azilian sites on the coast (Salinas, Fragua and El Perro) as the steppe vegetation and pine forests were replaced by mesophile broad-leaf woodland. The pollen remains from the Azilian levels of sites located in the high inland valleys, Salitre (López García, 1981) and Rascaño (Boyer-Klein, 1981), show an increase in the taxa of oak and hazelnut trees, which are replacing the pine forests.
Mixed deciduous forest was fully established in the littoral area by 8.6 ka BP. Depending on the location of the sites, deciduous oak was dominant over other mesophile trees at Mesolithic sites, together with holm oak, ash, beech, and the shrub and herbaceous layers (Carabión, Las Salinas). The evolution of the vegetation in interior and montane areas was similar. Quercus and mesophile trees, especially Corylus and Fraxinus, were the most characteristic taxa in the middle Holocene.
At El Carabión, about 8.5 ka BP, the arboreal layer began to decline and herbaceous layer clearly dominated. This might be related to the abrupt climate events in about 8.6–8.5 ka cited earlier. The same decrease in forest mass has been identified on the western coast of the Cantabria region, at El Mazo (Asturias). At this site, which covers the chronological period around the 8.2 ka event, arboreal pollen decreases apart from Pinus and Betula, indicating cooler temperatures in (8176–8021 cal BP). This is attributed to greater aridity at that time. The arboreal layer expands again in 8004–7792 cal BP, with a dominance of Corylus, Quercus, and Betula (Núñez de la Fuente, 2018, pp. 88–89).
8.2 Changes in the Economic Pattern
The Azilian economy is based on hunting ungulates and gathering terrestrial vegetables and molluscs. In the Minimum number of individuals of hunting provided by 7 Azilian sites in the study area, it can be seen that deer is the most frequent taxon in the sites on the coast and coastal plain: El Pendo I (64.7%), Morín (45.5%), El Perro 2 A/2B (28.6%) and El Carabión III (55%). In the settlements located in inland valleys and mountain areas, goat hunting predominates: in Rascaño and Piélago II it contributes 65%, followed by deer and chamois (24%). El Mirón provided variable frequencies of goat in the different levels, from 50% in level 11 to 16.7% in level 102.2 (Table 3). Bovids and equids gradually disappear and wooland species like roe deer and wil boar increase.
Little information is available about hunting in the Mesolithic. Red deer is the most frequent prey in almost all the sites investigated: Carabión (62%), Barcenilla (25%), and Cubío Redondo (33.3%). Wild boar is more frequent in La Fragua (28.4%) and also roe deer and goat (both 21.5%). Reforestation favoured the species to adapt to broad-leaf forest, like roe deer and wild boar. Hunting of roe deer and smaller species such as carnivores has also been documented.
Pressure on the prey has been determined in the Mesolithic, through the abundant remains of females, neonates, and juveniles (the latter reach 38.5% at El Carabión). The decline in the number of ungulates has been attributed to the demographic increase (Estévez, 2005; Marín-Arroyo & González-Morales, 2009).
Molluscs were an important complement in the diet. In the early Holocene, in the Azilian, the consumption of molluscs at sites on the coast included cold-water species like Patella vulgata and L. littorea. La Fragua is an exception because the terrestrial snail was gathered most (Gutiérrez-Zugasti, 2009, p. 240).
In the inland valleys and mountain areas, marine molluscs were consumed less in the diet, which was complemented by the terrestrial gastropod Cepaea nemoralis, very abundant in Level 2 of Piélago II (Vega de la Torre 1985: 123–126). Numerous shells of land snails concreted in the upper Azilian level are found at Rascaño, and at the Salitre site in the same Miera valley (Pérez-Bartolomé 2005 unpublished). In Sopeña, located 28 km from the coastline, the malacofauna is composed almost exclusively of Cepaea nemoralis (99%) together with Mytilus sp. (1%). In the Azilian, these sites were located further from the sea, as the coastline was at ‒65 m (Gutiérrez-Zugasti, 2009: p. 78).
The consumption of molluscs increases in the Mesolithic, when marine gastropods were exploited intensely, particularly near the coast. Owing to the formation of estuaries and salt marshes, the number of bivalves and the diversity of molluscs increase: this is the case of the Mogro Estuary, Bay of Santander, and the Asón Estuary. Further from the shore, the consumption of molluscs continued to focus on Cepaea nemoralis, with some Mytilus and occasionally Ostrea.
The rise in sea water temperature is perceived in the replacement of L. littorea by P. lineatus. In the Patella genus, P. vulgata decreases and P. depressa and P. ulyssiponensis increase in representation.
The impact of the 9.3 ka BP event has been detected in the gathering of molluscs in the west, at El Mazo, in SU 108 (c. 9 ka BP), whereas more temperate conditions reigned in units 114 and 115 (c. 8.8 ka cal BP). The 8.2 ka event was identified in SU 105 (c. 8.4 ka cal BP) immediately before this cold pulse (García-Escarza, 2022). The reduction in the size of shells at that time observed at El Mazo (García-Escarza et al., 2022) does not seem to be related to natural processes. Therefore, although the TSM influenced the diversity of species, the main cause for the decrease in shell size appears to have been anthropic pressure. Conversely, the ecological knowledge of the last hunter-gatherers allowed them to apply sustainable management strategies in which the reduction in the size did not go beyond limits regarded as acceptable.
Fishing is well documented in the Azilian by the frequency of flat harpoons and bi-pointed hooks, even though ichthyological remains are not abundant. Freshwater fish like salmon and trout have been documented (Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, 2006). Only two remains of Mugilidae were identified at El Carabión, with greater diversity in the Mesolithic level, which indicates intensification in this resource. At Las Salinas, nearer to the coast, there is a greater diversity of marine species caught in the littoral zone of the estuary, in warm wáter: Dentex and Lithognathus mormyrus (Herrera). This indicates intensification in the use of aquatic resources.
Plant gathering has been documented very little owing to the poor preservation of plants and perhaps because of the excavation methodologies. The consumption of hazelnuts, Rosaceae, and acorns has been attested in Mesolithic deposits.
In the Holocene, a broad spectrum diet included a wide array of resources available in the new biotopes. This may have been due to demographic pressure, partly because of the change towards sedentism, partly because of the change in the vegetation, and perhaps also because of competition in the procurement of resources, like prey, which are limited in the territory. Regarding the relative role of terrestrial and marine resources in the diet of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, a recent study (Portero, Cueto, Fernández-Gómez, & Álvarez-Fernández, 2022) at sites in the Cantabria region, particularly La Fragua and El Carabión, verifies that in general terms, ungulates would have provided a greater amount of meat and fats, amounting to 84.5% of the total calories consumed, and molluscs 5.4% of the calories.
8.3 Changes in Industry
The classic Azilian assemblages are characterised by a very marked increase in backed bladelets, endscrapers, and geometric microliths, which are predominant in the whole Cantabrian region and amount to over 50% (Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, 2006). In the Azilian levels studied here, backed bladelets dominate with percentages over 38% in El Perro and La Pila III.3. Endscrapers are generally common, between 13.6% in Morín and 40% in El Perro Level 2b. At Piélago II (Azilian 3), points appear in a high proportion (24.55%). At these sites, geometric microliths are less abundant than what is generally found in the region. The highest percentage is found in Piélago II, Level I (9.68%). The decrease in the frequency of blades and increase in bladelets mean that the typology of Azilian assemblages is smaller.
In Mesolithic levels, the indices of endscrapers, denticulates, and notches remain high. The index of geometric microliths at La Garma A is 1.3%. In the rest of the sites with few lithic assemblages and a reduced number of microliths, the indices seem to be high: Las Salinas (9%) and Barcenilla (levels V–X) 22%. No geometrics were found in the Mesolithic level at El Carabión. The high frequency of flakes in the Mesolithic levels may indicate the use of composite points for hunting tools. In general, the diversity of lithic typology in the Mesolithic is low.
Comparing the typology indices of both Azilian and Mesolithic levels, the indices of burin, dorsal, and points are higher in the Azilian levels. Within the typological groups, there is greater variability in the Azilian in the types of scrapers, burins, and points.
Flint is the most usual raw material at Azilian and Mesolithic sites, with a predominance of high-quality distant varieties in the former period and local types at the end of the sequence. In the Mesolithic, Lower Cretaceous Urgonian flint was acquired on the coast at distances of less than 5 km. Quartzite and sandstone were used for large implements like percussors and anvils.
In osseous assemblages, flat harpoons, bi-pointed hooks, awls, and spatulas are abundant in the Azilian. In the Mesolithic, the osseous industry practically disappears, except for bi-pointed hooks, which have not been found at the sites studied here. Pierced batons have been documented in the west of the region at Fonfría, Tres Calabres, and Los Canes (Asturias) and in the Basque Country at Logalán, Santimamiñe, and Herrico Barra.
In accordance with the simplified technology, a change in hunting and fishing strategies can be perceived, and perhaps traps and palisades were used, as indicated by the hunting of female and neonate animals and smaller fish.
8.4 Demography and Resilience of the Population
The study of the dates and sites has been made with deposits that have been investigated and/or dated. The archaeological record of sites with a Holocene shell-midden, documented by surveying, is much larger with 256 sites known in central-eastern Cantabria (Pérez-Bartolomé, 2019). In the western side of the Cantabrian region (Asturias and west Cantabria), a large number of shell-middens are known: 100 sites in west Cantabria (Pérez-Bartolomé & Muñoz Fernández, 2013) and 167 sites in Asturias (Fano Martínez, 1998). Recent surveying projects in Asturias have catalogued new shell-middens, increasing the register to 293 (Pérez-Bartolomé, Muñoz Fernández, & Fanjul Peraza, 2018a,b).
The databases with 14C results may reflect a partial view of the archaeological reality, which is limited by diverse circumstances: the erosion that has removed a large part of many deposits, the differential conservation of remains, or variable intensity of research. While a very large number of deposits is known, others in the open air may have disappeared or not been detected. However, we can deduce a sociocultural reality that was surely rich and diverse in solutions, able to make use of all the resources in their surroundings, and overcome the difficulties that climate variations caused, which would have been challenging considering how much the hunter-gather groups depended on the environment.
The oscillations perceived in the radiocarbon dates reflect the decrease in the Azilian population c. 11.6 ka, which might have been caused by the Younger Dryas. The 9.3 and 8.2 ka events, identified in stalagmites and sea water, with lower temperatures, affected mollusc species and allowed an increase in cold-water species like P. vulgata while warmer-water species (P. depressa, P. ulyssiponensis and P. lineatus) decreased in number, as detected in the shell-midden of El Mazo (Asturias). This does not seem to have influenced the occupation of the site as a large number of dates cover the time span of 9009–8004 cal BP (García-Escarza et al., 2015, 2021). The drop in temperature in about 8.4 ka in SU 105 would be before the 8.2 ka event, which seems to confirm the variation or length of the event, as stated previously. These oscillations perceived in the population are coherent with the phases in the population dynamic proposed from Cantabrian Spain (Fernández-López de Pablo et al., 2019).
The decrease in the pollen identified at sites in about the 8.2 ka event reflects the consequences for the vegetation and fauna, and therefore in the gathering of plants by the human groups, as seen in the consumption of species of little economic interest. This may have influenced the demographic reduction. At El Carabión, the arboreal mass decreased at the end of the sequence, but this may be related to the encouragement of plants with an economic interest by the human groups.
The population overcame the environmental changes which, according to researchers, may not have been too extreme in the Cantabrian region because of the ameliorating influence of the ocean on the coastal area. Cantabrian Spain has often been considered a refugium for the population during the coldest periods in the Palaeolithic; also, in the Holocene groups may have emigrated towards the north and brought the geometric microliths that became more abundant after the 8.2 ka event.
Recent DNA studies have found evidence of genetic flow from outside at the end of the Ice Age. The Villabruna group has been identified at El Mirón in about 14 ka, and this flow may have advanced in the Younger Dryas and early Holocene. It became the dominant group in the later and final Mesolithic in Cantabrian Spain, and has been detected at Los Canes (Arangas, Asturias) c. 7.1 ka (Fu et al., 2016).
Although the 9.3 and 8.2 ka cold events have been identified in the palaeoenvironmental record and in the reduction on the number of radiocarbon dates around the time of the events, they do not seem to have affected the population too greatly. The gradual overall growth in the population through the Azilian and Mesolithic shows the great resilience and capacity for socioeconomic and technological adaptation of the inhabitants of the region, who diversified and exploited fully the different resources available in their immediate surroundings. Nor did they need to migrate, but remained in the territory, probably with temporary internal movements as they advanced towards a process of sedentism.
The Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte of Cantabria financed the radiocarbon dating and other studies within the framework of the projects in the region. The Altamira Research Centre and Museum for providing the laboratory. E. Roselló and A. Morales carried out the ichthyofauna studies and Paloma Uzquiano the anthracological analysis. We would like to thank Pedro Rasines for his collaboration in the radiocarbon calibration. Finally, we would like to thank two anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript.
Author contributions: The author has accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.
Conflict of interest: The author states no conflict of interest.
Data availability statement: The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author.
Álvarez-Alonso, D. (2008). La cronología del tránsito Magdaleniense/Aziliense en la región cantábrica. Complutum, 19(1), 67–78.Search in Google Scholar
Álvarez-Fernández, E. (2007). La explotación de los moluscos marinos en la Cornisa Cantábrica durante el Gravetiense: Primeros datos de los niveles E y F de La Garma A (Omoño, Cantabria). Zephyrus, LX, 43–58.Search in Google Scholar
Álvarez-Fernández, E. (2011). Humans and marine resource interaction reappraised: archaeofauna remains during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene in Cantabrian Spain. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 30(3), 327343.10.1016/j.jaa.2011.05.005Search in Google Scholar
Álvarez-Fernández, E., Chauvin, A., Cubas, M., Arias, P., & Ontañón, R. (2011). Mollusc shell sizes in archaeological contexts in northern Spain (13,200 to 2600 cal BC): New data from la Garma A and Los Gitanos (Cantabria). Archaeometry, 53(5), 963–985.10.1111/j.1475-4754.2011.00589.xSearch in Google Scholar
Álvarez-Fernández, E., Aparicio Alonso, M. T., Cueto, M., Ontañón, R., & Armendáriz, A. (2012). Análisis arqueomalacológico del depósito mesolítico de la Cueva de El Truchiro (Omoño, Cantabria). http://hdl.handle.net/10261/81560.Search in Google Scholar
Álvarez-Fernández, E., Aparicio, M. T., Armendariz, A., Ontañón, R. & Arias, P. (2013). Etude archeomalacologique du gisement Mesolithique de El Truchiro (Omoño, Ribamontán al Monte, Cantabrie). Anthropozoologica 48(1), 153–170.10.5252/az2013n1a9Search in Google Scholar
Altuna, J. (1981). Restos óseos del yacimiento prehistórico del Rascaño. In J. González Echegaray & I. Barandiarán (Eds.), El Paleolítico Superior de la Cueva del Rascaño (Santander) (pp. 221–269). Monografías del Centro de Investigaciones y Museo de Altamira, 3.Search in Google Scholar
Arias Cabal, P., González Sainz, C., Moure Romanillo, J. A., & Ontañón Peredo, R. (2000). Estudio integral del Complejo Arqueológico de La Garma (Omoño, Ribamontán al Monte). In R. En Ontañón (Ed.), Actuaciones arqueológicas en Cantabria 1984-1999 (pp. 270–277). Santander: Gobierno de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Baldini, L. M., Baldini, J., McDermott, F., Arias, P., Cueto, M., Ian, J., … Müller, W. (2019). North Iberian temperature and rainfall seasonality over the Younger Dryas and Holocene. Quaternary Sciencie Revievs, 226, 2–23.10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105998Search in Google Scholar
Barber, D. C., Dyke, A., Hillaire-Marcel, C., Jennings, A. E., Andrews, J. T., Kerwin, M. W., … Gagnon, J. M. (1999). Forcing of the cold event of 8,200 years ago by catastrophic drainage of Laurentide lakes. Nature, 400, 344–348.10.1038/22504Search in Google Scholar
Bernaldo de Quirós, F., Gutiérrez Sáez, C., de las Heras, C., Lagüera, M. A., Pelayo, M., Pumajero, P., & Uzquiano, P. (1992). Nouvelles donnes sur la transition magdalénien supérieur-azilien: la grotte de La Pila (Cantabria, Espagne). In J. P. Rigaud, H. Lavill, & B. Vandermeersch (Eds.), Le peuplement magdalénien. Paléogéographie physique et humaine (pp. 259–269). Paris: Éditions du CTHS.Search in Google Scholar
Bernaldo de Quirós, F., Gutiérrez, C., de las Heras, C, Lagüera, M. A., Pumarejo Gómez, P., & Uzquiano Ollero, P. (2000). Excavación arqueológica en la cueva de La Pila (Cuchía, Miengo). In R. Ontañón Peredo (Ed.), Actuaciones arqueológicas en Cantabria 1984–1999 (pp. 53–56).Search in Google Scholar
Boyer-Klein, A. (1981). Análisis palinológico del Rascaño. In J. González Echegaray & I. Barandiarán (Eds.), El Paleolítico Superior de la cueva del Rascaño (Santander) (pp. 215–220). Monografías del Centro de Investigaciones y Museo de Altamira, 3.Search in Google Scholar
Broecker, W., & Denton, G. (1989). The role of ocean-atmosphere reorganizations in glacial cycles. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 53(10), 2451–2501. doi: 10.1016/0016-7037(89)90123-3.Search in Google Scholar
Caloca, P. (1985). Estudio estadístico y cuadros acumulativos de las cuevas azilienses de Piélago II y I. Las cuevas azilienses de El Piélago (Mirones, Cantabria) y sus excavaciones 1967–1969. Sautuola, IV, 101–110.Search in Google Scholar
Carballo, J. (1924). Prehistoria Universal y Especial de España. Imp. De la Viuda de L. del Horno (Vol. 29, pp. 125–150). Madrid.Search in Google Scholar
Cearreta, A., & Murray, J. (1996). Holocene paleoenvironmental and relative sea-level changes in the Santoña Estuary, Spain. Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 26(4), 289–299.10.2113/gsjfr.26.4.289Search in Google Scholar
Clarke, G. K. C., Leverington, D. W., Teller, J. T., & Dyke, A. S. (2003). Superlakes, megafloods, and abrupt climate change. Science, 301, 922–923.10.1126/science.1085921Search in Google Scholar
Estévez, J. (2005). Catástrofes en Prehistoria. Barcelona: Editorial Bellaterra.Search in Google Scholar
Fano Martínez, M. A. (1998). El Hábitat Mesolítico en el Cantábrico Occidental. Transformaciones Ambientales y Medio Físico durante el Holoceno Antiguo. Oxford: BAR Publishing.10.30861/9780860549673Search in Google Scholar
Fano Martínez, M. A. (2004). Un nuevo tiempo: El Mesolítico en la Región Cantábrica. Kobie, Anejo, 8, 337–402.Search in Google Scholar
Fernández-López de Pablo, J., Gutiérrez-Roig, M., Gómez-Puche, M., McLaughlin, R., Silva, F., & Lozano, S. (2019). Palaeodemographic modelling supports a population bottleneck during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Iberia. Nature Comunications, 10, 1–13. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09833-3.Search in Google Scholar
Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, J. A. (1980). El Aziliense de las provincias de Asturias y Santander. Santander: Ministerio de cultura.Search in Google Scholar
Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, J. A. (1995). El Aziliense de la región cantábrica. In A. Moure & C. González Sainz (Eds.), El final del Paleolítico cantábrico. (pp. 199–224). Santander: Editorial Universidad de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, J. A. (2004). El final de Paleolítico en los espacios cantábricos: El Aziliense. KOBIE (Serie Anejos) N, 8, 309–336.Search in Google Scholar
Fernández-Tresguerres Velasco, J. A. (2006). El Aziliense de la región cantábrica. Zefirus, 59, 163–179.Search in Google Scholar
Fleitmann, D., Mudelsee, M., Burns, S. J., Bradley, R. S., Kramers, J., & Matter, A. (2008). Evidence for a widespread climatic anomaly at around 9.2 ka before present. Paleoceanography, 23, 1–6. doi: 10.1029/2007PA001519.Search in Google Scholar
Frochoso Sánchez, M., González Pellejero, R., & Allende Álvarez, F. (2013). Pleistocene glacial morphology and timing of Last Glacial Cycle in Cantabrian Mountains (Northern Spain): New chronological data from the Asón Area. Central European Journal of Geoscience, 5(1), 12–27. doi: 10.2478/s13533-012-0117-8.Search in Google Scholar
Fu, Q., Posth, C., Hajdinjak, M., Petr, M., Mallick, S., Fernandes, D., … Reich, D. (2016). The genetic history of Ice Age Europe. Nature, 534, 200–205. doi: 10.1038/NATURE17993.Search in Google Scholar
García-Escárzaga, A., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, I., & González-Morales, M.R. (2015). Análisis arqueomalacológico de la unidad estratigráfica 108 del conchero mesolítico de El Mazo (Llanes, Asturias): conclusiones socio-económicas y metodológicas. In I. Gutiérrez-Zugasti, D. Cuenca-Solana, & M. R. González-Morales (Eds.), La Investigación Arqueomalacológica en la Península Ibérica: Nuevas Aportaciones (pp. 77–89). Santander: Nadir Ediciones.Search in Google Scholar
García‑Escárzaga, A., Gutiérrez‑Zugasti, I., Marín‑Arroyo, A. B., Fernandes, R., Núñez de la Fuente, S., Cuenca‑Solana, D., … Roberts, P. (2022). Human forager response to abrupt climate change at 8.2 ka on the Atlantic coast of Europe. Scientific Reports, 12, 64–81.10.1038/s41598-022-10135-wSearch in Google Scholar
García-Gelabert, M. P. (2000). Excavación de la cueva del Valle, Rasines. In R. Ontañón (Ed.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria 1984-1999 (pp. 315–318). Santander: Gobierno de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
García-Gelabert, M. P., & Talavera Costa, J. (2004). La cueva del Valle, Rasines, Cantabria, España. Oxford: BAR Publishing.Search in Google Scholar
García Guinea, M. A. (1985). Las cuevas azilienses de El Piélago (Mirones, Cantabria) y sus excavaciones de 1967–1969. Sautuola, IV, 13–154.Search in Google Scholar
García Moreno, A. (2010). Evidencias paleopolínicas en el sector centro-oriental de la Cornisa Cantábrica durante el Tardiglaciar y el Holoceno inicial. Una visión de síntesis. Munibe Antropologia-Arkeologia, 69, 103–128.Search in Google Scholar
González Morales, M. R., & Díaz Casado, Y. (1992). Excavaciones en los abrigos de la Peña del Perro (Santoña, Cantabria). Estratigrafía, cronología y comentario preliminar de sus industrias. Veleia, 8–9, 43–64.Search in Google Scholar
González Morales, M. R., Díaz Casado, Y., & Yudego Arce, C. (2002). Excavaciones en la Cueva de la Trecha de la Fuente La Corredora (Islares, Castro Urdiales). In R. Ontañón Peredo (Ed.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria 1987–1999 Arqueología de Gestión (pp. 49–53). Santander: Gobierno de Cantabria, Consejería de Cultura Turismo y Deporte Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
González Morales, M. R., & Straus, L. G. (2000). La prehistoria del Valle del Asón: La Cueva del Mirón (Ramales de la Victoria). Excavaciones 1996–1999. In R. Ontañón Peredo (Ed.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria, 1984–1999 (pp. 93–96). Santander: Gobierno de Cantabria. Consejería de Cultura.10.3989/tp.2000.v57.i1.264Search in Google Scholar
González Morales, M. R., Straus, L. G., Díez Castillo, A., & Ruiz Cobo, J. (2004). Postglacial Coast & Inland: the Epipaleolithic -Mesolithic - Neolithic transitions in the Vasco-Cantabrian Region. Munibe, 56, 61–78.Search in Google Scholar
Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F. I. (2009). La explotación de moluscos y otros recursos litorales en la región cantábrica durante el Pleistoceno Final y Holoceno Inicial (pp. 564). Santander: Ediciones Universidad de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Iriarte-Chiapusso, M., & Hernández Beloqui, B. (2009). Evolucion del bosque durante el Pleistoceno superior y Holoceno en Bizkaia: Un estado de la cuestion provisional. KOBIE (Serie Paleoantropología), Bilbao, XXVIII, 9–24.Search in Google Scholar
Leroi-Gourhan, A. (1971). Análisis polínico de Cueva Morín. In Echegaray, G. J. & Freeman, L. G. (Eds.), Cueva Morín: Excavaciones 1966–1968 (pp. 359–365). Santander: Publicaciones del Patronato de las cuevas de la Provincia de Santander.Search in Google Scholar
Leroi-Gourhan, A. (1980). Análisis polínico de El Pendo. In González Echegaray, J. (Ed.), El yacimiento de la cueva de El Pendo (Excavaciones 1953–57) (pp. 263–266). Madrid: Instituto Español de Prehistoria, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.Search in Google Scholar
López-Berges, M. A., & Valle, M. (1985). Estudio osteológico de la cueva de Piélago II. Las cuevas azilienses de El Piélago (Mirones, Cantabria) y sus excavaciones de 1967–1969. Sautuola, IV, 113–121.Search in Google Scholar
López-Dóriga, I. (2016). La utilización de los recursos vegetales durante el Mesolítico y Neolítico en la costa atlántica de la península ibérica. (PhD Thesis). Universidad de Cantabria, Santander.Search in Google Scholar
López García, P. (1981). Los pólenes de la Cueva de El Salitre. Trabajos de Prehistoria, 38(1), 93–96.Search in Google Scholar
López García, P., López Sáez, J. A., & Uzquiano, P. (1996). Paleoambiente y hábitat en las Marismas de Cantabria en los inicios del Holoceno: El caso del Abrigo de la Peña del Perro. In Ramil-Rego, P., Fernández Rodríguez, C. & Rodríguez Guitián, M. (Eds.), Biogeografía Pleistocena Holocena de la Península Ibérica (pp. 333–348). Santiago de Compostela: Xunta de Galicia.Search in Google Scholar
López Sáez, J. A., López-Merino, L., & Pérez Díaz, S. (2008). Crisis climáticas en la Prehistoria de la Península Ibérica: el evento 8200 cal. BP como modelo. In L. Rovira, et al. (Eds.), VII Congresos Ibérícos de Arqueometría (pp. 77–86). Madrid: CSIC.Search in Google Scholar
Magny, M., Bégeot, C., Guiot, J., & Peyron, O. (2003). Contrasting patterns of hydrological changes in Europe in response to Holocene climate cooling phases. Quaternary Science Reviews, 22, 1589–1596.10.1016/S0277-3791(03)00131-8Search in Google Scholar
Marín-Arroyo, A. B. (2004). Análisis arquezoológico, tafonómico y de distribución espacial de la fauna de mamíferos de la Cueva de la Fragua (Santoña, Cantabria). Munibe Antropologia-Arkeologia, 56, 19–44Search in Google Scholar
Marín-Arroyo, A. B. (2005). Aplicación de un sistema de información geográfica (SIG) al estudio arqueozoológico-tafonómico de la Cueva de La Fragua (Santoña, Cantabria). Complutum, 16, 73–87.Search in Google Scholar
Marín-Arroyo, A. B. (2013). Human response to Holocene warming on the Cantabrian Coast (northern Spain): An unexpected outcome. Quaternary Science Reviews, 81, 8–11.10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.09.006Search in Google Scholar
Marín-Arroyo, A. B., & González Morales, M. R. (2009). Comportamiento económico de los últimos cazadores-recolectores y primeras evidencias de domesticación en el occidente de Asturias. La Cueva de Mazaculos II. Trabajos de Prehistoria, 66(1), 47–74. doi: 10.3989/tp.2009.09012.Search in Google Scholar
Marshall, G. W., Michaels, C. E., & Mulki, J. P. (2007). Workplace isolation: Exploring the construct and its measrement. Psicology & Market, 24, 195–223.10.1002/mar.20158Search in Google Scholar
Mary, Y., Eynaud, F., Colin, C., Rossignol, L., Brocheray, S., Mojtahid, M., … Cremer, M. (2017). Changes in Holocene meridional circulation and poleward Atlantic flow: The Bay of Biscay as a nodal point. Climate of the Past, 13, 201–216. doi: 10.5194/cp-13-201-2017.Search in Google Scholar
Molinero Arroyabe, J. T. (2000). Carta Arqueológica de Castro-Urdiales (Cantabria). Paleolítico-Edad del Hierro. Bilbao: Ayuntamiento de Castro Urdiales.Search in Google Scholar
Moreno Nuño, R. (1995). Arqueomalacofaunas de la Península Ibérica: Un ensayo de síntesis. Complutum, 6, 353–382.Search in Google Scholar
Muñoz Fernández, E. (1984). El Asturiense y las culturas post-asturienses. Boletín Cántabro de Espeleología 4 (Las culturas prehistóricas en las cuevas de Cantabria), 4, 93–102.Search in Google Scholar
Muñoz Fernández, E. (1997). Los concheros Holocénicos en Cantabria. (Trabajo de investigación de Tercer Ciclo). Dirección Arias Cabal, P. Universidad de Cantabria, Inédita.Search in Google Scholar
Muñoz Fernández, E., Gómez, J., Malpelo, B., San Miguel Llamosas, C., González Luque, C., Bermejo, A., … Perlacia, D. (2002). Catálogo de cavidades del municipio de Camargo. Actuaciones Espeleológicas 1986–2002. In V. Crespo (Ed.), Ayuntamiento de Camargo (p. 160). Santander: Parlamento de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Muñoz Fernández, E., Morlote Espósito, J. M., Santamaría Santamaría, S., Castaños Ugarte, P., Ruiz Zapata, B., Gil García, M. J., & Uzquiano Ollero, P. (2013). Sondeo arqueológico en el Abrigo de Barcenilla (T.M. de Piélagos, Cantabria). Kobie Serie Paleoantropología, 32, 79–112.Search in Google Scholar
Muñoz Sobrino, C., Ramil Rego, P., Gómez-Orellana, L., & Díaz Varela, R. (2005). Palynological data on major Holocene climatic events in NW Iberia. Boreas, 34(3), 1–20. doi: 10.1080/03009480510013006.Search in Google Scholar
Núñez de la Fuente, S. (2018). Dinámicas socio-ecológicas, resiliencia y vulnerabilidad en un paisaje atlántico montañoso: La región Cantábrica durante el Holoceno. (PhD Thesis). Universidad de Cantabria, Santander.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2005). El poblamiento Aziliense y Mesolítico en el Alto Miera. Trabajo de Investigación de Tercer Ciclo de acceso al DEA inédito. Madrid: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2010). El Carabión Rock-Shelter in the Context of the Mesolithic in the Asón Valley (Cantabria, Spain). Proceedings of 8th International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe. Santander.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2014a). Subsanación de las alteraciones detectadas en las cuevas de La Chora, Piélago II y Cudón. In R. Ontañón Peredo & G. Sanz Palomera (Eds.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria. Arqueología de Gestión 2004–2011 (Vol. 2014, pp. 45–50). Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2014b). El Abrigo del Carabión: Recuperación de materiales, consolidación y conservación de la estratigrafía (San Mamés de Aras–Voto). In R. Ontañón Peredo & G. Sanz Palomera (Eds.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria. Arqueología de Gestión 2004–2011 (Vol. 2014, pp. 373–380). Santander: Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2016a). Documentación gráfica y reconocimiento de estratigrafías en cavidades del alto Miera. In R. Ontañón Peredo & G. Sanz Palomera (Eds.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria. Arqueología de Investigación 2004–2011 (pp. 113–120). Santander: Consejería de educación, Cultura y Deporte de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2016b). Proyecto de dataciones C14 AMS en los valles del Asón y Agüera (2006). In R. Ontañón Peredo & G. Sanz Palomera (Eds.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria. Arqueología de Investigación 2004–2011 (pp. 121–126). Santander: Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2016c). Proyecto de dataciones C14 AMS en el valle del Miera (2011). In R. Ontañón Peredo & G. Sanz Palomera (Eds.), Actuaciones Arqueológicas en Cantabria. Arqueología de Investigación 2004–2011 (pp. 127–114). Santander: Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deporte de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2019). El Mesolítico en Cantabria centro-oriental. (PhD Thesis). Archaeopress Publishing LTD., UNED: Madrid.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M. (2021). Mesolithic Settlement Patterns and Occupation of the Territory in central and eastern Cantabria (Spain). In D. Borić, D. Antonović, & B. Mihailović (Eds.), Actas the Ninth International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe MESO 2015 (pp. 281–288). Serbian Archaeological Society.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., Castaños, P., Etxeberria, F., Morales Muñiz, A., Roselló Izquierdo, E., Gil García, M. J., … Uzquiano, P. (2016). El Abrigo del Carabión (San Mamés de Aras-Cantabria, España) en el contexto mesolítico del Estuario del Asón y Marismas de Santoña. Un depósito arqueológico con una secuencia de ocupación en el Holoceno inicial y medio en el oriente de la región cantábrica. MUNIBE Antropología-Arkeología, 67, 5–34.10.21630/maa.2016.67.09Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., & Muñoz Fernández, E. (2013). The Asturian in Cantabria: The current state of research. Comunicación Congreso 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Mesolithic Shellmiddens Comemoração dos 150 anos da descoberta dos concheiros mesolíticos Muge 150 th March 2013, Portugal.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., & Muñoz Fernández, E. (2015). Colonization of the Upper Miera and Asón Valleys (Cantabria, Spain) in the Late Glacial Period and the Holocene. Comunicación XVII Mundial Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciencies 2014 held in Burgos, from September 1st to 7th, 2014. Burgos.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., & Muñoz Fernández, E. (2015). Colonization of the Upper Miera and Asón Valleys (Cantabria, Spain) in the Late Glacial Period and the Holocene. EXPRESSIÓN No 7. Quaterly E-Journal of Atelier in cooperation whit UISPP-CISNET (Vol. 7, pp. 45–57). International Scientific Commission on the intellectual and spiritual expressions of non-literate peoples. Marzo 2015.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., Muñoz Fernández, E., & Fanjul Peraza, A. (2018a). Prospecciones arqueológicas en el concejo de Ribadesella (2015). Excavaciones arqueológicas en Asturias 2013–2016 (pp. 529–536). Gobierno de Asturias.Search in Google Scholar
Pérez-Bartolomé, M., Muñoz Fernández, E., & Fanjul Peraza, A. (2018b). Prospecciones arqueológicas en el concejo de Llanes (2016). Excavaciones arqueológicas en Asturias 2013–2016 (pp. 537–544). Gobierno de Asturias.Search in Google Scholar
Portero, R., Cueto, M., Fernández-Gómez, J., & Álvarez-Fernández, E. (2022). Surf and turf. Animal resources in the human diet in Cantabrian Spain during the Mesolithic (11.5–7.5 Ky cal. BP). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 45, 103635.10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103635Search in Google Scholar
Ruiz Cobo, J., Muñoz Fernández, E., Bermejo Castrillo, A., García Gómez. P., Pérez-Bartolomé M., & Smith P. (2008). Entre La Marina y La Montaña. Arqueología del Medio Asón (Cantabria. España). Oxford: BAR Publishing.Search in Google Scholar
Ruiz Cobo, J., Muñoz Fernández, E., Bermejo Castrillo, A., García Gómez. P., Pérez-Bartolomé, M., & Smith, P. (2009). La Prehistoria del Bajo Asón. Registro arqueológico e interpretación cultural (Cantabria, España). Oxford: BAR Publishing.Search in Google Scholar
Ruiz Cobo, J., Muñoz Fernández, E., García Gómez, P., Crespo, V., Moñino Sáez, M., & Smith, P. (2007). Paisaje y arqueología en el Alto Asón (Cantabria, España). Resultados de prospección arqueológica del Alto Asón. Oxford: BAR Publishing.10.30861/9781407300566Search in Google Scholar
Ruiz Cobo, J., & Smith, P. (2001). El yacimiento del Cubío Redondo (Matienzo, Ruesga): Una estación mesolítica de montaña en Cantabria. Munibe, 53, 31–55.Search in Google Scholar
Ruiz-Cobo, J., & Smith, P. (2003). La cueva de Cofresnedo en el valle de Matienzo. Actuaciones arqueológicas 1996-2001. In J. Ruiz Cobo & P. Smith (Eds.), Monografías Arqueológicas de Cantabria. Santander: Gobierno de Cantabria.Search in Google Scholar
Straus, L. G., & González Morales, M. (2003). El Mirñn Cave and the 14C Chronology of Cantabrian Spain. Radiocarbon, 45(1), 41–58. doi: 10.1017/S0033822200032380.Search in Google Scholar
Uzquiano, P. (1992). Recherches anthracologiques dans le secteur Pyréneo-cantabrique (Pays Basque, Cantabria et Asturias): Environnements et relations homme-milieu au Pléistocène supérieur et début de l'Holocène. (PhD Thesis). Montpellier.Search in Google Scholar
Uzquiano, P. (2014). Wood resource exploitaition by Cantabrian later Upper Palaeolithic groups (N Spain) regarding MIS 2 vegetation dinamycs. Quaternary International, 337, 154–162.10.1016/j.quaint.2013.02.022Search in Google Scholar
Uzquiano, P. (2018). Vegetation, firewood exploitation and human settlement in northern Spain in relation to Holocene climate and cultural dynamics. Quaternary International, 463, 414–424.10.1016/j.quaint.2016.10.034Search in Google Scholar
Vega de la Torre, J. J. (1985). Estudio malacológico de las cuevas de El Piélago I y II. Las cuevas azilienses de El Piélago (Mirones, Cantabria) y sus excavaciones de 1967–1969. Sautuola, IV, 123–126.Search in Google Scholar
Vega Del Sella, C. D. L. (1914). La cueva del Penicial (Asturias). Trabajos de la Comisión de investigaciones Paleontológicas y prehistoricas, No 4. Madrid: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales.Search in Google Scholar
Weninger, B., Jöris, O., & Danzeglocke, U. (2007). Glacial radiocarbon age conversion. Cologne radiocarbon calibration and palaeoclimate research package < CALPAL > User manual. Universität zu Köln. Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Köln.Search in Google Scholar
Wiersma, A. P., & Renssen, H. (2006). Model–data comparison for the 8.2 ka BP event: confirmation of a forcing mechanism by catastrophic drainage of Laurentide Lakes. Quaternary Sciencie Revievs, 25, 63–88.10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.07.009Search in Google Scholar
Wunsch, C. (2002). What is the thermohaline circulation? Science, 298, 1179–1181. doi: 10.1126/science.1079329.Search in Google Scholar
© 2023 the author(s), published by De Gruyter
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.