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Finlayson et al - Late Survival

Finlayson et al - Late Survival - Vol 443 | 19 October 2006...

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LETTERS Late survival of Neanderthals at the southernmost extreme of Europe Clive Finlayson 1,2 , Francisco Giles Pacheco 3 , Joaquı´n Rodrı´guez-Vidal 4 , Darren A. Fa 1 , Jose ´ Marı´a Gutierrez Lo ´pez 5 , AntonioSantiagoPe ´rez 3 ,GeraldineFinlayson 1 ,EthelAllue 6 ,JavierBaenaPreysler 7 ,IsabelCa ´ceres 6 ,Jose ´ S.Carrio ´n 8 , Yolanda Ferna ´ndez Jalvo 9 , Christopher P. Gleed-Owen 10 , Francisco J. Jimenez Espejo 11 , Pilar Lo ´pez 12 , Jose ´ Antonio Lo ´pez Sa ´ez 13 , Jose ´ Antonio Riquelme Cantal 14 , Antonio Sa ´nchez Marco 9 , Francisco Giles Guzman 15 , Kimberly Brown 16 , Noemı´Fuentes 8 , Claire A. Valarino 1 , Antonio Villalpando 15 , Christopher B. Stringer 17 , Francisca Martinez Ruiz 11 & Tatsuhiko Sakamoto 18 The late survival of archaic hominin populations and their long contemporaneity with modern humans is now clear for southeast Asia 1 . In Europe the extinction of the Neanderthals, firmly asso- ciated with Mousterian technology, has received much attention, and evidence of their survival after 35 kyr BP has recently been put in doubt 2 . Here we present data, based on a high-resolution record of human occupation from Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, that estab- lish the survival of a population of Neanderthals to 28 kyr BP . These Neanderthals survived in the southernmost point of Europe, within a particular physiographic context, and are the last cur- rently recorded anywhere. Our results show that the Neander- thals survived in isolated refuges well after the arrival of modern humans in Europe. The association between Neanderthals and Gibraltar dates to 1848 when a Neanderthal cranium was discovered at Forbes’s Quarry 3 . The excavation of the Devil’s Tower rock shelter in 1925–26 by Dorothy Garrod produced a second Neanderthal cranium with asso- ciated Mousterian industry 4 . It has since been established beyond doubt that the Neanderthals were the makers of the Mousterian in western Europe 5 . In Gibraltar there are currently eight Neanderthal occupation sites on the 6-km-long 426-m-high rock. The presence of Mousterian technology in Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, was estab- lished during excavations made between 1948 and 1954 (ref. 6). The site was revisited from 1995 with a view to establishing the timing of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. A date of 32.28 6 0.42 kyr BP (OxA-7857) was obtained for the uppermost Mousterian levels 7 . Before 1997 all excavations and soundings had been made in the external part of the cave. Problems of contamina- tion of radiocarbon samples from wet, unprotected, exterior, parts of caves have recently been brought to light 2 . Here we describe the results of a series of excavations deep within Gorham’s Cave between 1999 and 2005. Excavations have been made of 29 m 2 of cave floor. The stra- tigraphy is composed of four levels (Fig. 1). Level I corresponds to Phoenician and Carthaginian (eighth to third century BC ) horizons; level II corresponds to a brief occupation during the Neolithic. The two levels of interest in this paper are levels III and IV. The technology
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