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Patterns of human occupation during the early Holocene in the Central Ebro Basin (NE Spain) in response to the 8.2 ka climatic event

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

P. González-Sampériz*
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC, Avda. Montañana 1005, Apdo 202, 50080 Zaragoza, Spain
P. Utrilla
Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad (Prehistoria), Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
C. Mazo
Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad (Prehistoria), Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
B. Valero-Garcés
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC, Avda. Montañana 1005, Apdo 202, 50080 Zaragoza, Spain
MC. Sopena
Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad (Prehistoria), Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
M. Morellón
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC, Avda. Montañana 1005, Apdo 202, 50080 Zaragoza, Spain
M. Sebastián
Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad (Prehistoria), Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
A. Moreno
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC, Avda. Montañana 1005, Apdo 202, 50080 Zaragoza, Spain
M. Martínez-Bea
Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad (Prehistoria), Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Corresponding author. Email


The Central Ebro River Basin (NE Spain) is the most northern area of truly semi-arid Mediterranean climate in Europe and prehistoric human occupation there has been strongly influenced by this extreme environmental condition. Modern climate conditions single out this region due to the harsh environment, characterised by the highest absolute summer temperatures of the Ebro River Basin. The Bajo Aragón region (SE Ebro River Basin) was intensively populated during the Early Holocene (9400–8200 cal yr BP) but the settlements were abandoned abruptly at around 8200 cal yr BP. We propose that this “archaeological silence” was caused by the regional impact of the global abrupt 8.2 ka cold event. Available regional paleoclimate archives demonstrate the existence of an aridity crisis then that interrupted the humid Early Holocene. That environmental crisis would have forced hunter-gatherer groups from the Bajo Aragón to migrate to regions with more favourable conditions (i.e. more humid mountainous areas) and only return in the Neolithic. Coherently, archaeological sites persist during this crisis in the nearby Iberian Range (Maestrazgo) and the North Ebro River area (Pre-Pyrenean mountains and along the northwestern Ebro Basin).

Short paper
University of Washington

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