» Home > In the News

Spying on the Magdalenians

13 September 2023
Ancient history, Archaeology

The hearths of Palaeolithic hunter gatherers have been used to look at the environment in which they lived. Changing vegetation at the end of the Late Glacial Maximum – see https://phys.org/news/2023-09-paleolithic-hunter-gatherer-hearths-reveal-vegetation.html

Magdalenians living in the Cova del Parco, a cave in the Iberian Pre-Pyrenees, during the late Pleistocene era, prior to the Younger Dryas event, have been spied on. At a time of deglaciation, in a warming climate, coinciding with the Bolling-Allereod period, researchers have been investigating their hearths, and extricating little bits of charcoal and other material such as pollen grains. Cova del Parco is a rock shelter – a single cavity chamber 10.5m by 4.5m. A test pit was cored from the hearth  and charcoal remains were studied and carbon dated. In doing so they were able to track changes in forest composition. Mountain pines dominated – over 70 per cent of identified fragments. However, juniper was common around the cave entrance, it is thought, as juniper became, over time, the main ingredient of cave fires. Juniper is tolerant of drought and extremes in tempeature. For a long period there was a dry and semi-open landscape, and later, steppe conditions = grassland. More information at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2023.108276

Skip to content