Category Archives: energy resources

Abundant molds of wooden remains were found in the Abric Romaní site evidences from 60,000 years old Neanderthal communities

They were discovered during the excavation, conducted since August 5th and will end next Wednesday

This fieldwork season celebrate the 110 years of the discovery of prehistoric remains, in this site. Since then, 36 annual campaigns have been held

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Abric Romaní preserves traces of some plants remains, including wood, thanks to the precipitation of carbonates over them. After the decay of the wood or vegetal materials, only its footprints remain as negatives. Author: Palmira saladié/IPHES

From the 5th of August to the 28th, the annual archaeological excavation is being carried out at the Abric Romaní site in Capellades (Barcelona, Spain). A group of 35 people have been collaborating in the excavation tasks under the coordination of Dr. M. Gema Chacón, Dr. Josep Vallverdú and the Dra. Palmira Saladié, three researchers from the IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution). The other doctors and participating students come from this research center, from the URV (Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona, including the Erasmus Mundus Master in Quaternary and Human Evolution Archeology) and other Spanish and international institutions.

The continuation of the level R excavation will allow the analysis of the whole archaeological assemblage and especially the hearths preserved on the surface of the shelter. Author: Palmira Saladié

Abric Romaní is an important site with archaeological remains, evidence of Neanderthal life. Sixteen archaeological levels have been fully excavated until nowadays, in an area of 300 m2. We have documented different types of occupations, suggesting societies with high mobility and with complex social structures. The mainly hunted species are reed deer, horse, aurochs and rhinoceros. The tools associated were mostly made of flint and limestone, and probably on wood.

Reed deer (Cervus elaphus), one of the mainly hunted species – Palmira Saladié/IPHES

This season is the 110 anniversary of the discovery of prehistoric remains in this site and since then 36 annual campaigns have been held. This year, the works were focused on the excavation of level R dated to 60,000 years old. Although it is the beginning of the level excavation, and the remains of fauna and the stone tools have not already been studied, we can document a very important amount of wood negatives or molds. Abric Romaní preserves traces of some plants remains, including wood, thanks to the precipitation of carbonates over them. After the decay of the wood or vegetal materials, only its footprints remain as negatives.

If the presence of some wood tool can be attested, the knowledge of wooden tools productions during the Middle Paleolithic could by implemented, given the perishable nature of wood. The continuation of the level R excavation will allow the analysis of the whole archaeological assemblage and especially the hearths preserved on the surface of the shelter. All this data will permit a better knowledge about the Neanderthal lifestyle.

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Edited an international publication on the analyses of fuel from the Paleolithic to the roman period

This publication confirms that since the firsts steps of humanity bio-fuels had an outstanding roll, specially wood. 

This is an special volume published in the journal Quaternary International and one of the persons in charge of the publication is Ethel Allué a researcher from IPHES. 

the publication includes a paper based on the evidences from Abric Romaní, a worldwide model site for the study of Neanderthal communities

Since prehistory humans have carried out a selective exploitation of ecological resources, which implies an optimal control of their quality.

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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.

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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. PHOTO: IPHES

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.

Bibliographic reference

Quaternary International

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

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10406182/431/supp/PA

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.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.12.046