Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM
LAPA DO PICAREIRO: A 50,000-YEAR RECORD OF HUMAN OCCUPATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE IN CENTRAL PORTUGAL
Macro-scale records from deep-sea and ice cores provide fine-grained evidence for paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental change during the Late Pleistocene of western Iberia but only coarse-scale spatial evidence for reconstructing local and regional paleoenvironments in which prehistoric humans lived. In central Portugal, terrestrial records for this period are restricted to a few localities, primarily caves, due to intense landscape modification by humans since the introduction of agriculture. As sediment traps, limestone caves may provide valuable sources of information about human ecodynamics and paleoenvironments over long time scales. However, discontinuous sedimentation and bioturbation has limited the diachronic quality of cave records in Portugal. One cave, Lapa do Picareiro, has yielded a continuous, stratified sedimentary sequence with faunal remains that allows for MIS 3 and MIS 2 environmental reconstructions and a context for human occupation. We present data from ungulate, rabbit, micromammal, bird and amphibian remains to understand the taphonomic formation of the assemblages from Picareiro. We then link the archaeofaunal data sets with macro-scale paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental records to understand human responses to long-term environmental change in central Portugal.
Preliminary analyses of the faunal assemblage suggest inputs by Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, the Iberian lynx and raptorial and scavenging birds. Humans and lynx were likely responsible for most of the large mammal and rabbit bones. The two represented owls, Asio flammeus and Athene noctua, prey on rodents, especially voles, birds and amphibians. Although neither inhabits caves, the two owls may be responsible for much of the microfaunal input. Vultures and carrion crows are present and likely contributed many mammal remains. The fauna therefore derive from multiple sources and provide a balanced paleoenvironmental signature.