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Site formation and chronology of the New Paleolithic Site Sima de Las Palomas de Teba, Southern Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Martin Kehl*
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
Christoph Burow
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
Pedro Cantalejo
Investigador Doctor, Grupo PAI-HUM-440, Spain
Salvador Domínguez-Bella
Área de Cristalografía y Mineralogía, Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Río San Pedro, Puerto Real, Cádiz, Spain
Juan José Durán
Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), C/ Ríos Rosas, 23, 28003 Madrid, Spain
Felix Henselowsky
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
Nicole Klasen
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
Jörg Linstädter
Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
Javier Medianero
Investigador Doctor, Grupo PAI-HUM-440, Spain
Andreas Pastoors
Stiftung Neanderthal Museum, Talstrasse 300, 40822 Mettmann, Germany
José Ramos
Área de Prehistoria, Departamento de Historia, Geografía y Filosofía, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Cádiz, Avda Gómez Ulla, s/n, 11003 Cádiz, Spain
Klaus Reicherter
Neotectonics and Natural Hazards, RWTH Aachen University, Lochnerstrasse 4-20, 52056 Aachen, Germany
Christoph Schmidt
Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus Magnus Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany Chair of Geomorphology, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
Gerd-Christian Weniger
Stiftung Neanderthal Museum, Talstrasse 300, 40822 Mettmann, Germany
Corresponding author. E-mail (M. Kehl), (C. Burow), (P. Cantalejo), (S. Domínguez-Bella), (J.J. Durán), (F. Henselowsky), (N. Klasen), (J. Linstädter), (J. Medianero), (A. Pastoors), (J. Ramos), (K. Reicherter), (C. Schmidt), (G.-C.Weniger).


The newly identified Paleolithic site Sima de Las Palomas de Teba hosts an almost seven-m-thick sediment profile investigated here to elucidate the rock shelter's chronostratigraphy and formation processes. At its base, the sediment sequence contains rich archeological deposits recording intensive occupation by Neanderthals. Luminescence provides a terminus ante quem of 39.4 ± 2.6 ka or 44.9 ± 4.1 ka (OSL) and 51.4 ± 8.4 ka (TL). This occupation ended with a rockfall event followed by accumulation of archeologically sterile sediments. These were covered by sediments containing few Middle Paleolithic artifacts, which either indicate ephemeral occupation by Neanderthals or reworking as suggested by micromorphological features. Above this unit, scattered lithic artifacts of undiagnostic character may represent undefined Paleolithic occupations. Sediment burial ages between about 23.0 ± 1.5 ka (OSL) and 40.5 ± 3.4 ka (pIRIR) provide an Upper Paleolithic chronology for sediments deposited above the rockfall. Finally, a dung-bearing Holocene layer in the uppermost part of the sequence contains a fragment of a human mandible dated to 4032 ± 39 14C yr BP. Overall, the sequence represents an important new site for studying the end of Neanderthal occupation in southern Spain.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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