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Title: The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in an Iberian refugium : a comparative study of the subsistence strategies and ecology of Neanderthal and modern human populations at Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, in the wider context of Iberia
Author: Brown, K.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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Recent research has associated differences in foraging behaviours between Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Humans to differences in cognitive abilities. In South Africa Middle Stone Age populations are considered unspecialised hunters, favouring to hunt medium-sized and abundant prey, in favour of large, dangerous animals, which were regularly exploited by the Late Stone Age populations. In Europe, the Neanderthals are described primarily as big game hunters, with a correspondingly narrow diet, which in places included sessile or slow-moving small animals, such as molluscs and tortoises. It is claimed that it was only during the Upper Palaeolithic with the arrival of Anatomically Modern Humans that large-scale exploitation of fast-moving small game is observed. Upon review, most of the European research was conducted in areas of poor resource diversity. This made it difficult to establish whether the observed discrepancies in foraging behaviours were due to differing cognitive abilities between human populations, or adaptations to living in resource-poor environments. This thesis undertook to reconstruct the foraging behaviour of Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Humans in the diverse, resource-rich landscapes of Gibraltar, and establish whether any significant differences could be observed between them. Results showed no significant differences could be observed between the foraging behaviours of Neanderthals and Modern Humans at Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, other than in the style of processing the prey. Evidence suggested the diet of both populations was varied; it included the exploitation of rabbits, birds and coastal resources. Combining these results with evidence from other Eurasian sites, this thesis proposes that a broad diet in Palaeolithic humans was associated with the local availability of resources, more than it was with the cognitive abilities of the people inhabiting the landscape.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available