Environment and subsistence strategies at La Viña rock shelter and Llonin cave (Asturias, Spain) during MIS3

Marco de la Rasilla, Elsa Duarte, Alfred Sanchis, Yolanda Carrión, Juan Carlos Cañaveras, Ana B. Marín-Arroyo, Cristina Real, Carmen Núñez-Lahuerta, Sergio Sánchez-Moral, Igor Gutiérrez-Zugasti, Jennifer R. Jones, Solange Rigaud, Renata Martínez-Cuesta, Leire Torres, Lucía Agudo, Gabriel Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The sites of La Viña and Llonin have an important archaeological sequence corresponding to Marine Isotope Stage 3: Mousterian, Aurignacian and Gravettian periods. La Viña is a complex rock shelter with continuous occupations, being some (basically the Mousterian and the Aurignacian in contact levels) altered by post-depositional processes as a consequence of the irregular bedrock morphology and the type of processes involved. The cave of Llonin mainly consists of occasional human/carnivores occupations during the Mousterian and the Gravettian. The current multidisciplinary research has allowed us to obtain and match several preliminary data: site formation processes, fauna and stable isotopes, vegetation, radiocarbon dating, shell ornaments, lithic raw materials and technology, offering an interesting field of study of two relatively distant ecological niches: open river valley (La Viña) and mountainous (Llonin). During the Mousterian, the faunal composition of La Viña is scarce but dominated by red deer and followed by chamois, while large mammals are absent. At the Aurignacian, red deer and chamois are also represented within a larger assemblage, together with a low representation of other taxa such as horse, bovines, Spanish ibex and roe deer. Conversely, in Llonin chamois and Spanish ibex dominate during the Mousterian, followed by red deer. Carnivores are few in La Viña they are represented by bear, fox and wolf; while in Llonin they are larger and other species are included, mainly leopard and hyena with a main role in the formation of the faunal assemblages and alternating their occupation of the cave with the Neandertals. On the other hand, the ungulates from La Viña are anthropogenically modified not only during the Mousterian but also the Aurignacian and Gravettian in contrast to Llonin, were these modifications are lower than those generated by the carnivores. Firewood and micromammals analysis show an open landscape, dominated by heliophilous, pioneering species characteristic of the montane biogeographical belt. Sorbus, birch and Scots pine are especially important as well as a shurbland mainly dominated by leguminous. The environment seems to be more arid and open in Mousterian levels, more forested and humid during the Aurignacian and cold, namely climatic recrudescence, in the Gravettian. Shells are only present in the Aurignacian and the Gravettian of La Viña with other purposes than strictly bromatological. Local quartzite is the main raw material in both sites during MIS3. However, during the Aurignacian and the Gravettian, flint is broadly incorporated for blade and bladelet production. In this regard, local, semilocal and foreign flints are carried to the sites, mainly Piloña and Flysch flints. The preliminary assessment of inter-stratigraphical contamination between the Aurignacian and the Gravettian in the long sequence of La Viña shows no lithic refits, and therefore no interstratigraphic contamination, in agreement with the previous techno-typological studies. The radiocarbon dating fits into the current chronological framework of the Cantabrian region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102198
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Economy
  • Human/Carnivore occupations
  • Mobility
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Taphonomy


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