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Neanderthal Diets in Portugal: Small and Large Prey Consumption during the Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS-5)

Nabais, Mariana Vilas Boas de Castro; (2021) Neanderthal Diets in Portugal: Small and Large Prey Consumption during the Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS-5). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Gruta da Figueira Brava and Gruta da Oliveira are two key-sites within the Middle Palaeolithic research in the Iberian Peninsula. They are located in Central Portugal, the former occupying a coastal position, whereas the latter is about 60 km inland. They were occupied during the MIS-5 and the retrieval of two important faunal collections are now vital to the reconstruction of the palaeoeconomic activities of the Last Interglacial Neanderthals, as well as to understanding their mobility patterns within the landscape. Both caves were within resource-rich landscapes with permanent water sources nearby. Gruta da Figueira Brava also profited from its proximity to the coast with access to an ecotonal environment. This results in the formation of faunal assemblages proliferous in ungulate remains, leporids, birds, tortoises, molluscs and crabs. After detailed taphonomical analyses, it was possible to ascertain that all faunal remains resulted from human activities with some contributions from other agents of accumulation. Neanderthals brought in complete carcasses of small prey, deer and ibex, whereas only the nutrient-rich parts of larger animals were brought home for further processing and consumption. All prey sizes were being evenly targeted, with systematic use of shellfish resources that led to the formation of deposits in Gruta da Figueira Brava comparable to those from nearby Mesolithic sites. Biometric analyses of limpets and tortoises hint at the systematic use and overexploitation of such resources. Quick moving small prey were targeted, with leporids and birds being used for food and maybe for pelts and feathers. The wide range of species exploited demonstrates that Neanderthals had consistent broad spectrum diets, which had implications on the type of site use, with a tendency for year-round occupations, which could have promoted the development of larger Neanderthal groups, and the consequent formation of more complex, more stratified and more organised social structures.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Neanderthal Diets in Portugal: Small and Large Prey Consumption during the Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS-5)
Event: University College London
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Neanderthal, Middle Palaeolithic, Zooarchaeology, Portugal
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129428
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