The large scientific production of posters by the IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) members that are presented in worldwide conferences is very relevant, and moreover some of them have won prizes thanks to the didactic and attractive displayed designs. A very accurate work that often is stored back at the research centre without any other visibility. With the idea of changing this situation, and making them public more permanently and bring them closer to the scientific community and the general public, an exhibition was firstly started at IPHES, showing two posters during a month, but finally a leap was taken to the internet creating a blog.
The initiative was launched by the IPHES researcher Ethel Allué, that doing this has promoted also the virtual archive of this open access contents. Since its creation on 2015 there have been 22 posts, each of which belongs to a poster and from each one there is an image and the information of the issues and the authorship, as well as the link to the congress in which they were presented. They are classified into categories and they can be also found chronologically according to the date of the post. The periodicity, between October and May, is of two per month and they are also exhibited physically at the resting hall at IPHES, located at the campus Sescelades of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, at Tarragona.
The poster issues that have already been blogged are diverse and they mainly refer to the research results carried out in this research centre, such as the study of tooth wear to acknowledge the hominid diet habits, that focused the two new posts this year. These belong to two posters presented by Marina Lozano (IPHES, researcher) to the Association of Physical Anthropology during the annual meeting held at New Orleans on April 2017.
Tarragona host the V International Congress of Experimental Archaeology, organized by three Catalan Research Centers (IPHES, ICAC and ICRPC), together with the EXPERIMENTA association, and with the collaboration of the Port of Tarragona and the University Rovira i Virgili (URV).
The Congress will gather researchers who use the experimental archaeology for solving problems derived from the study of ancient cultures. Within this forum, they will present their last results regarding didactics, dissemination and value-added of heritage.
There will be also a practical day where the specialist will make reproductions of prehistoric hafting, ropes or basketry, between others. The afternoon session will be open to the general public.
In the last decades, the archaeology has produced a higher interest in the experimental methodology used to validate hypothesis about the archaeological formation processes, the technology and the ways of living of past communities. Thus, the main specialists use the experimental reproduction as the way to reconstruct the environmental conditions and the behavioural patterns of the past human groups.
Within this context, Tarragona will host the V International Congress of Experimental Archaeology, between the 25th and 27th of October. This is co-organized by three Catalan Research Centres, IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), ICAC (Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica), ICRPC (Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural) and the EXPERIMENTA association. These conferences count also with the collaboration of the Port of Tarragona and the University Rovira i Virgili (URV).
The Congress will attend two days to theoretical presentations, both oral and poster communications, and discussion (25th and 26th October) and a day for the presentation of experiments, demonstrations and workshops (27th October). The theoretical sessions will be held in the Aula Magna of Facultade Lletres of the University Rovira i Virgili (Av. Catalunya, 35. 43002 Tarragona). The practical day will take place in the facilities of the Port of Tarragona, Refugi 4 and in the Port of Tarragona Museum (Moll de Costa, s/n).
The theoretical sessions will be organized by large thematic blocks: From hunter-gatherers to producer societies; from the beginning of complex societies to the present; and didactics, dissemination and value-added of heritage.
The practical day will be divided into two parts. The morning will be devoted to the live experiments, workshops and demonstrations to generate a proactive discussion within the participants to the congress. Some of these activities will be related with the action of tying, from the first hunter-gatherers to nowadays. So, the specialists will reproduce prehistoric hafting, ropes and basketry, looms, fishing nets, etc… During the afternoon, these activities will be open to the general public in an attempt to bring experimental archaeology to the society.
When faunal remains are discovered in an archeological site it is not always clear to which species they belong and providing a correct determination is often complex work. Finding a referent in the scientific literature is complicated and sometimes one simply does not exist. In this sense, describing osteologically endemic species from the Iberian Peninsula in order to facilitate their identification in archeological sites or in the diet of other species (pellets) is an essential task that constitutes one of the lines of research of the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES).
While it is a species that had been previously identified, all the parts of the skeleton of the Pyrenean frog (Rana pyrenaica) were never described. It is catalogued as an endangered species in the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The fragility of the environments where this frog lives, characterized by pure waters and virgin streams, is the cause of this situation.
The Rana pyrenaica (genus and subgenus Rana), is the smallest European brown frog, belonging to the Rana temporaria group, with adults reaching a maximum size of 5.5 cm and a robust morphology. Its ancestor was certainly more terrestrial, related to the common frog (Rana temporaria). However, the species described here became more aquatic, occupying high mountain streams. In its adaptation to this new environment the species developed longer legs and feet (in particular the third digit), some cranial bones (nasal and fronto-parietal) became longer and thinner and the articulation between the atlas and the skull tends to be more flexible. At the same time, the Pyrenean frog retained from its more terrestrial ancestor its generally robust skeletal morphology (despite its small size), the skull proportions, the overall morphology of the maxilla and the sphenetmoid, the degree of fusion between the fronto-parietals, and the lower dorsal crest on the ilium, attachment area of muscles important for locomotion.
The Rana pyrenaica is endemic to the Pyrenean mountain range where it is usually found in cool, well-oxygenated mountain streams with fast-running water, especially during snowmelt in late spring. The R. pyrenaica lives at altitudes ranging from 780 m to 2100 m, being more abundant between 1200 and 1800 m. Its distribution is mainly restricted to the central and western parts of the southern Pyrenean slopes (Aragón and Navarra), from the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park in the east, to the Irati area in the west. Some populations have been found as low as 780 m in the Irati forest area, where they also enter into French territory along small ravines belonging to the Ebro watershed.
Despite being described in 1993, the skeleton of R. pyrenaica was never been fully investigated. The recent publication by Blain & Arribas thus represents the first description of the osteology of this spring-dwelling Pyrenean small brown frog. In addition to increasing knowledge about R. pyrenaica, this study also aims to render easier the correct diagnosis of the species in fossil assemblages and its osteological identification in the diet of other vertebrates in trophic studies.
Long jumps to enter water and swimming
Brown frogs have several modes of life: some, such as R. temporaria and R. dalmatina, are very terrestrial and only enter still waters for reproduction, but R. pyrenaicaonly lives on the shores of running waters, and its escape behavior consists of long jumps to enter water and then swim. This mode of life involves swimming against fast-flowing waters, fitting into narrow crevices and anchoring itself among stones to avoid being dragged along by the currents.
Blain H.-A. & Arribas O. (2017). A description of the skeletal morphology of Rana pyrenaica (Anura: Ranidae), with comments on functional morphology, ecological adaptation and relationships with other Iberian ranids. Zootaxa, 4319 (3): 510-530.
Neanderthal groups occupied the Abric Romaní Q level (Capellades, Barcelona) over 60,000 years and left there important demonstrations of their daily activities. This is showed by the remains found during the excavation that IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution) has developed since August 8th. This field campaign was the 35th at the site and was directed by Dr Eudald Carbonell, Dr Palmira Saladié and Dr Gema Chacón. These years in the Q level, on an area of 250 square meters, more than 12,000 archaeological remains have been found including fauna and stone tools, and more than thirty hearths. .
“We have excavated the remains of a human occupation about 60,000 years ago”, points out Dr Palmira Saladié, “It was probably a campsite used by Neanderthals”. The count of the archaeological remains yielded in this season, as well as the vestiges found in the last two years during investigation in level Q, is of about 5,000 stone tools and 7,000 faunal remains. Stone tools were produced in different materials such as flint, quartz and limestone. “This year many artefacts related to different domestic activities carried out by the Neanderthals in the campsite have been identified,” comments Dr Gema Chacón.”The fauna recovered results from Neanderthal hunting tactics regarding its subsistence and is made up of bones of horses, deer and goats”, says Dr Palmira Saladié.
Abric Romaní is a site that stands out due to the presence of well-preserved hearths throughout its sequence. “More than 30 hearths have been excavated this season. They will allow us to reconstruct the domestic space of the Neanderthal group that lived here”, says Dr Gema Chacón. The inner part of the rockshelter located close to the wall was used as a sleeping area as showed by many small fireplaces. In the central part of the site we found large domestic areas were Neanderthals developed different activities, such as the tools production and food cooking. Finally, the external part of the campsite was used as waste dump. There abundant fauna, stone tools and charcoals remains have been recovered.
The excavation of these domestic spaces presents excellent conditions of preservation. “In the coming years it will allow us to carry out studies on the technology, the hunting, the social organisation and, finally be able to understand the lifestyle of these human groups of Middle Palaeolithic”, says Dr Palmira Saladié. The scientific aim of researches at Abric Romaní site is the palaeoethnographic reconstruction, from a social perspective, of the Middle Palaeolithic hunter societies. During next year’s campaign the next layer R will be excavated. It is expected to be dated at approximately 62,000 years old.
The excavations at Abric Romaní are part of the research project under the name Abric Romani – Cinglera de Capelló archaeologial site funded by the Department of Culture of Generalitat de Catalunya (Ref. 2014/100576).
This has been confirmed by fieldwork conducted at Arenal de la Virgen and Casa Corona archaeological sites. These actions are framed in the development of the ERC project PALEODEM, aimed at investigate the relationship between population dynamics and climate change and conducted by Javier Fernández López de Pablo from IPHES
A team of 15 archaeologists and 20 volunteers has worked at the Arenal de la Virgen and Casa Corona archaeological sites in Villena (Alicante, Spain). This fieldwork campaign represents a first excavation phase and have provided relevant data for the research that is being carried out in the scope of the European research project PALEODEM, on climatic and demographic changes developed from the IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecología Humana i Evolució Social). At both sites, the excavation has yielded evidences of human occupations during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago.
This first excavation phase included in this project began on 1 March and ended on 30 June, taken place during 4 months of uninterrupted fiekdwork on these sites.
Hearths, small stone-pavings and post-holes have been documented among the habitat structures. In the Arenal de la Virgen, abundant remains of lithic industry, land snails and some ornaments, have been recovered. In Casa Corona, besides lithic and malacological remains, numerous Neolithic sherds have been found. In addition, large numbers of sediment samples have been collected for paleobotanical, geoarchaeological and micromorphological analyzes in both sites. This information will allow the reconstruction of the landscape and their dynamic variations in which the last hunter-gatherer populations and the first farmers lived at this zone of the Mediterranean façade.
“Altogether, the ensemble of evidences obtained in this excavation will contribute in a very significant way to enhance our understandingof the demographic and socio-economic dynamics that took place during Mesolithic and Neolithic times, in its paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental context, “commented Javier Fernández López de Pablo, archaeologist and director of the PALEODEM project (ERC Co-Grant No. 683018), funded by the European Research Council under the Horizon 2020 program.
Villena City Council, within the framework of the collaboration agreement signed in 2016 with IPHES, has provided logistical support by providing technical resources and municipal infrastructures.
Archaeobotany is a field of knowledge from archaeology that permits to understand past vegetation and climate as well as the use and management of plants such as human and animal food, firewood, building material or technology. This knowledge is acquired throughout different disciplines such as palynology that studies pollen; anthracology, charcoals; phytoliths studies, and carbonized seeds and fruits studies.
Since a few years ago, there has been an increase of the interest among students and researchers to use theses disciplines due to the good results that provide for the study of past societies and the environments in which they lived. That is the reason why, the Archaeobotany Unit of IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) carries out along 2017 the I Archaeobotany Seminar. It has been organized by Aitor Burguet-Coca, Fundación Atapuerca Fellow at IPHES, and Ethel Allué, researcher from this research center.
This seminar has the aim to share and debate the main archaeobotany issues and challenges, as well as to become a meeting spot for IPHES members working on this field. The organizers outline: “During the last year there’s been an increase of the interest in the different archaeobotany disciplines by students and researchers. This has led to have a critical mass at IPHES that at present is carrying out studies on archaeobotanical records, undertaking outstanding contributions based on these records”.
The seminar sessions are organized throughout the comment and debate of publications, excursions to places with a botanical interest and presentation of case studies. The two theoretical sessions were dedicated to the macro and microremains sampling and the quantification of archaeobotanical remains. The third session consisted on a botanical excursion to the Bosc de la Marquesa (Platja Llarga, Tarragona), that permitted to acknowledge the littoral forest communities, through the explanation by Francesc Burjachs ICREA researcher at IPHES. The last two sessions will take place in the fall and will be focused on the interpretation of archaeobotanical remains and the presentation of case studies.
At present energy resources that we use as fuel (petrol, gas o wood) are part of our daily live. From all of them, wood is still the most worthwhile in most of the world, due to its use to produce energy for heating, transform food and other materials, light, etc. Today, the most important question related to energy resources, and especially wood, is focused on the intensity of the exploitation and demand. The study of the past permits to acknowledge that humans used different organic fuels that at present would be called bio-fuels, as could be dung, wood or agriculture by-products.
From this we can deduce that from prehistory to historical times, humans have carried out a selective and optimal exploitation of the ecological resources, which implies an optimal control of their quality. A special volume on this issue has been recently published , “An archaeology of fuels: Social and environmental factors in behavioral strategies of multi-resource management”, in the international journal Quaternary International that puts together the main contribution of the session held in the frame of the UISPP Congress (Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques) in September 2014, at Burgos, with the support of REPSOL, Fundación Atapuerca sponsor. The editors are Ethel Allué, researcher at IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Llorenç Picornell-Gelabert, postdoctoral researcher at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) at Paris, and Marie-Agnès Courty from the center Procédés, matériaux et énergie solaire (UPR 8521PROMES) at Perpignan.
In the publication there are 11 paper that analyses fuel from different disciplines such as anthracology, phytolith analyses or dendrology. Moreover, this volume includes theoretical and methodological approaches. All in all, in a chronological frame that covers from the Paleolithic to the roman period with the aim of publishing, both from a transversal and multidisciplinary perspective, the relevance of the energy consumption from the social and economical organization of human groups along history and from their relationship with the natural environment.
One of the papers published by Ethel Allué, Alex Solé and Aitor Burguet-Coca (Fundación Atapuerca Grantee) is focused on the use of fuel among Neanderthal communities that lived at the Abric Romaní (Capellades) between 40.000 and 60.000 years before present. In this site anthracological data (charcoal remains from the use of firewood used as fuel) shows that Neanderthals systematically selected Scots pine branches, an abundant species growing in the near area of the rock-shelter and that its wood is a good fuel to keep up hearths for different uses.
Volume 431, Part A, Pages 1-144 (28 February 2017)
An archaeology of fuels: Social and environmental factors in behavioural strategies of multi-resource management
Edited by Llorenç Picornell-Gelabert, Ethel Allué and Marie Agnès Courty
Allué, E., Solé, A., Burguet-Coca, A., 2017. Fuel exploitation among Neanderthals based on the anthracological record from Abric Romaní (Capellades, NE Spain). Quaternary International 431, Part A, 6-15.