Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 631–645 | Cite as

Lithic use-wear analysis of the Early Gravettian of Vale Boi (Cape St. Vicente, southern Portugal): insights into human technology and settlement in southwestern Iberia

  • João MarreirosEmail author
  • Juan Gibaja
  • Nuno Bicho
Original Paper


During the Upper Paleolithic, lithic variability is one of the most important keys to recognize hunter-gatherer behavior, technology, ecology, and social dynamics. The origin and expansion of Gravettian populations in Eurasia has been seen as one of the most critical episodes in human evolution, argued to be the first clear evidence of the so-called polymorphism among modern human populations. In the case of southern Iberian Peninsula, recent data have shown a new regional and diachronic organization for the Gravettian occupation in this region. Therefore, the interpretation of such variability is one of the most important questions, and functional analysis is a fundamental proxy to recognize human technological, settlement and ecological adaptations as major factors for this polymorphism. This study focused on lithic use-wear analysis of the Early Gravettian of Vale Boi (southern Portugal), in order to understand lithic technological organization and variability within and between occupations at the site. Results show similar patterns between assemblages, showing that different materials were worked at the site, although showing reduced time of work, low variability and percentage of pieces used. Unlike other Gravettian contexts in southern Iberia, the Early Gravettian from Vale Boi is characterized by some variability of backed points, marked by the predominance of bipointed double-backed bladelets. Functional analysis of the Early Gravettian lithic industries of Vale Boi provide a new insight to interpret human technology and settlement strategy during the onset of Upper Paleolithic industries in western Eurasia.


Iberia peninsula Gravettian Lithic variability Backed technology 



The authors acknowledge the FCT (Technological and Scientific Foundation, Portugal) for supporting the individual Ph.D. (PTDC/HIS-ARQ/117540/2010) and Post-Doc grant (SFRH/BPD/94668/2013) (J.M.) and funding for Vale Boi research project (PTDC/HIS-ARQ/117540/2010) to NB.

We also would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the original paper.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICArEHB. Faculdade das Ciências Humanas e SociaisUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.IMF-CSIC. Institución Milá i Fontanals, Groups AgrestBarcelonaSpain

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