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Rapid climate change and variability of settlement patterns in Iberia during the Late Pleistocene.

Abstract

Due to its diverse geographic and climatic conditions, the Iberian Peninsula is well suited for studies into the relationship between climate, environment and hunter-gatherer adaptation. With focus on the archaeological record, this paper examines to what extent diachronic variations in site density on the Iberian Peninsula are related to climate variability and cultural change. Studies are based on a comprehensive record of technocomplexes that date from the late Middle Palaeolithic, early Upper Palaeolithic, Gravettian and Solutrean. The record comprises altogether 152 archaeological cave sites and rock shelters. Analysis reveals strong regional differences between Northern and Southern Iberia, both in isochronic and in diachronic perspective. This is expressed by the strongly different patterns of human presence in these regions. In particular, within both regions major cultural changes coincide with the environmental impact of North Atlantic Heinrich Events (HE). From previous studies, it is known that the human population on the Iberian Peninsula (IP) must have suffered strongly under the extremely variable climate conditions during the Late Pleistocene. Based on extensive site-mapping, the hypothesis is that during HE a major disintegration of habitats must have occurred, with various but strongly isolated patchy refugia remaining. Further, during HE, Southern Iberia could not uphold its previous function in providing a reliable refuge for humans. Not only does climatic deterioration during the different HE repeatedly lead to a near-complete breakdown of settlement patterns, but following each HE there is a major reorganization in settlement patterns on the IP.

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Bibliography

Schmidt, I., Bradtmöller, M., Kehl, M., Pastoors, A., Tafelmaier, Y., Weninger, B., Weniger, G. (2012): Rapid climate change and variability of settlement patterns in Iberia during the Late Pleistocene.. – In: Quaternary International, Vol. 274, p: 179-204

Authors Schmidt, Isabell and Bradtmöller, Marcel and Kehl, Martin and Pastoors, Andreas and Tafelmaier, Yvonne and Weninger, Bernhard and Weniger, Gerd-Christian
Type article
Title Rapid climate change and variability of settlement patterns in Iberia during the Late Pleistocene.
Journal Quaternary International
Year 2012
Volume 274
Pages 179-204
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