Falguères, C., Bahain, J.J., Bischoff, J.L., Pérez-González, A., Ortega, A.I., Ollé, A., Quiles, A., Ghaleb, B., Moreno, D., Dolo, J.M., Shao, Q., Vallverdú, J., Carbonell, E., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M. & Arsuaga, J.L.
Journal of Human Evolution, 65, 168 – 184

The Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Spain, is known from many prehistoric and palaeontological sites documenting human prehistory in Europe. Three major sites, Gran Dolina, Galería and Sima del Elefante, range in age from the oldest hominin of Western Europe dated to 1.1 to 1.3 Ma (millions of years ago) at Sima del Elefante to c.a. 0.2 Ma on the top of the Galería archaeological sequence. Recently, a chronology based on luminescence methods Thermoluminescence [TL] and Infrared Stimulated Luminescence [IRSL]) applied to cave sediments was published for the Gran Dolina and Galería sites. The authors proposed for Galería an age of 450 ka (thousands of years ago) for the units lower GIII and GII, suggesting that the human occupation there is younger than the hominid remains of Sima de los Huesos (>530 ka) around 1 km away. In this paper, we present new results obtained by combined Electron Spin Resonance/Uranium- series (ESR/U-series) dating on 20 herbivorous teeth from different levels at the Galería site. They are in agreement with the TL results for the upper part of the stratigraphic sequence (GIV and GIIIb), in the range of between 200 and 250 ka. But for the GIIIa to GIIb levels, the TL ages become abruptly older by 200 ka while ESR ages remain relatively constant. Finally, the TL and ESR data agree in the lowest part of the section (GIIa); both fall in the range of around 350e450 ka. Our results suggest a different interpretation for the GII, GIII and GIV units of Galería and the upper part of Gran Dolina (TD10 and TD11) than obtained by TL. The ESR/U-series results are supported by a Bayesian analysis, which allows a better integration between stratigraphic information and radiometric data.

Moncel, M.H., Despriée, J., Voinchet, P., Tissoux, H., Moreno, D., Bahain, J.J., Courcimault, G. & Falguères, C.
PlosONE, 8 – 11, 1 – 22

The human settlement of Europe during Pleistocene times was sporadic and several stages have been recognized, both from paleaoanthropological and archaeological records. If the first phase of hominin occupation (as early as 1.4 Ma) seems mainly restricted to the southern part of the continent, the second phase, characterized by specific lithic tools (handaxes), is linked to Acheulean settlements and to the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis, the ancestor of Neanderthals. This phase reached northwestern Europe and is documented in numerous sites in Germany, Great Britain and northern France, generally after 600 ka. At la Noira (Brinay, Central France), the Middle Pleistocene alluvial formation of the Cher River covers an archaeological level associated with a slope deposit (diamicton). The lithic assemblage from this level includes Large Cutting Tools (LCTs), flakes and cores, associated with numerous millstone slabs. The lithic series is classified as Acheulean on the basis of both technological and typological analyses. Cryoturbation features indicate that the slope deposits and associated archaeological level were strongly frozen and disturbed after hominin occupation and before fluvial deposition. Eight sediment samples were dated by the electron spin resonance (ESR) method and the weighted average age obtained for the fluvial sands overlying the slope deposits is 665±55 ka. This age is older than previous chronological data placing the first European Acheulean assemblages north of 45th parallel north at around 500 ka and modifies our current vision of the initial peopling of northern Europe. Acheulean settlements are older than previously assumed and the oldest evidences are not only located in southern Europe. La Noira is the oldest evidence of Acheulean presence in north-western Europe and attests to the possibility of pioneering phases of Acheulean settlement which would have taken place on a Mode 1-type substratum as early as 700 ka. The lithic assemblage from la Noira thus provides behavioral and technological data on early Acheulean occupation in Europe and contributes to our understanding of the diffusion of this tradition.

Moreno, D., Falguères, C., Pérez-González, A., Duval, M., Voinchet, P., Benito-Calvo, A., Ortega, A.I., Bahain, J.J., Sala, R & Carbonell, E.
Quaternary Geochronology, 10, 418 – 423

The Sierra de Atapuerca (Northern Spain) is characterized by a well-developed karst system where several major archaeological sites have been discovered, attesting an almost continuous hominin occupation of the area during the whole Pleistocene period. Previous geomorphological studies showed a connection between genesis of the karst system and the evolution of the nearby Arlanzón river Valley. However, numerical dating results were missing to refine the chronostratigraphical framework of the Arlanzón valley’s fluvial incision. To address this, we applied the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) dating method to sedimentary optically bleached quartz grains from several fluvial terraces. Nine samples were collected from five of the 14 identified terraces. The ESR age results are stratigraphically coherent and in general agreement with both previous geomorphological observations and available palaeomagnetic data. Consequently, an ESR chronology of the geological evolution of the Arlanzón valley is proposed, which can be then correlated to the sedimentary sequence of the palaeoanthropological site of Atapuerca Gran Dolina. Our results provide important information about the chronology of hominid occupation in this area during Early and Middle Pleistocene.

D. Moreno
Ancient TL, 30 (2), 1 – 2.

The Sierra de Atapuerca, located in the north-east of the Duero Basin (Northern Spain), is a Mesozoic eroded hill characterized by a well-developed karst system. After the construction of a railway trench “Trinchera Atapuerca” by a British mining company at the end of the XIX century, an almost continuous hominid occupation has been documented since ~1.2 Ma, through the discovery of a series of major archaeological cave sites, such as Sima del Elefante, Gran Dolina, Sima de los Huesos or Galería, among others. Previous investigations combining geomorphological evolution analysis of the Sierra de Atapuerca landscape and the study of the karst system revealed a connection between the karst formation and the regional fluvial network, particularly on the nearby Arlanzón, Arlanza and Pico rivers… Read more

Tissoux, H., Voinchet, P., Lacquement, F., Prognon, F., Moreno, D., Falguères, C., Bahain, J.J. & Toyoda, S.
Radiation Measurements, 47, 894 – 899.

Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) can be used as a method to estimate the age of sediment deposition using the paramagnetic centre related to aluminium impurities in quartz. This so-called Al-centre can be partially optically bleached and its signal intensity decreases in relation to time exposure to solar light, until it reaches a plateau value corresponding to a residual signal. This signal can be attributed to “Deep Aluminium Traps” (DAT) which cannot be reset by an exposure to sunlight. In this study, we have investigated the behaviour of the DAT signal in samples from different origins and ages. The intensity of the DAT signal has been isolated from the total aluminium signal by the exposure of different quartz samples to simulated solar light. We observed that the DAT intensities were sample dependant and therefore it should be determined for each sample. Moreover, DAT intensities of Pleistocene volcanic quartz increase with gamma laboratory irradiation, whereas DAT intensities of sedimentary quartz do not vary with added artificial doses. This suggests that DAT in quartz extracted from sediments must be inherited from the primary source of the quartz, and were saturated at the time of sedimentation. We thereby validate the ESR dating of quartz sediment protocol used so far

Duval, M., Moreno, D.,  Shao, Q., Voinchet, P., Falguères, C., Bahain, J.J., García, T., García, J. & Martínez, M.
Trabajos de Prehistoria, 68 (1), 7 – 24.

Excavated between 2005 and 2007, the site of Vallparadís (Terrassa, Spain) has given an abundant and diversified fauna associated with a rich Mode 1 industry. In order to complete the chronostratigraphic framework, we performed ESR and combined US-ESR dating applied to quartz grains extracted from sediments and fossil teeth, respectively. The results obtained are very significant, giving a weighted mean ESR age of 0.83 ± 0.13 Ma (2σ) for the reference archaeological level of the site (level 10) and another of 0.79 ± 0.23 Ma (2σ) for the archaeological level 12 of the Vallparadís sequence. These ESR results are in total agreement with the ones derived from biochronology and paleomagnetism. This whole dataset allows the elaboration of a reliable and consistent chronostratigraphic framework which chronologically places Vallparadís site in the late Early Pleistocene period, i.e. within a time range comprised between Jaramillo and Brunhes geomagnetic events. Consequently, as well as Gran Dolina-TD6 and Sima del Elefante- TE9 sites, in Atapuerca, Burgos, Vallparadís can be therefore considered as a key site for the study of early hominid settlements in Europe.

García Catalán, S., Vaquero Rodríguez, M., Pérez Goñi, I., Menéndez Iglesias, B., Peña García, L., Blasco López, R., Mancha Flores, E., Moreno García, D. & Muñoz Encinar, L.
Trabajos de Prehistoria, 66 (2), 7 – 22

This paper presents the technological and typological study of the lithic assemblage recovered at Picamoixons during the field season carried out in 1993. Its technotypological features, the differential conservation of the assemblage, the spatial distribution of lithic remains and the radiometric dates allow us to divide the assemblage into two different sets and suggest that they
belong to different chronological and cultural periods. The items included in the first one (CP) show a strong patina and should be included in the macrolithic Mesolithic, while the second one’s items (CNP) are not patinated and belong to the final part of upper Palaeolithic