Current issues in late Middle Palaeolithic chronology: New assessments from Northern Iberia

Vaquero, Manuel
Arrizabalaga, Álvaro
Baena, Javier
Baquedano, Enrique
Jordá, Jesús
Julià, Ramon
Montes, Ramón
Plicht, Johannes van der‏
Rasines, Pedro
Wood, Rachel
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The Iberian Peninsula plays a central role in the current debates on the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition and the Neanderthal extinction. This is largely due to the chronological data which some authors have suggested show a clear divide between Northern Iberia, where the Upper Palaeolithic appeared as early as 36.5 ka 14C BP, and Southern Iberia, where the Middle Palaeolithic survived until ca. 32-30 ka 14C BP or later. The best example of this view is the Ebro Frontier hypothesis. However, there are chronological data in both Northern and Southern Iberia that do not fit this pattern, and some of the evidence supporting the Ebro Frontier hypothesis has been questioned in recent years. This paper focuses on the chronology of the final Middle Palaeolithic of Northern Iberia, where several assemblages have been found to post-date the first Upper Palaeolithic in the region, and be of a similar age to the final Neanderthal occupations of the south. In order to improve the chronological framework of the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic boundary in the Northern Iberian Peninsula, a radiocarbon dating program is focused on sites from both the Cantabrian and Mediterranean regions. The first results of this program are presented in this paper. New radiocarbon dates have been measured by two laboratories using a range of pre-treatment methodologies. These do not support a late Middle Palaeolithic in Northern Iberia ​
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