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Industria Lítica - Trinchera Galería

Gran lasca de sílex neógeno del yacimiento de Galería (Sierra de Atapuerca) The stone tool production techniques at the site of Trinchera Galería relate the assemblage with the Acheulean culture (also known as Mode 2: see the section “Stone Tool Technology-Gran Dolina”) which, as we have seen, first appeared in Africa around 1,700,000 years ago but did not arrive to Europe until some 500,000 years ago. The tool types and the production technique are similar to those found at other European sites of the same time period.

Mode 2

The systems which characterize this technical mode were first discovered at Saint Acheul (France) and are also known as Acheulean, although the oldest sites with Mode 2 are found in Africa. To date, the earliest evidence for a Mode 2 technology goes back to around 1.5 million years ago. While Mode 2 disappears in Africa around 400,000 years ago, in Eurasia it survived until as late as 150,000 years ago. It is characterized by long reduction sequences which produce large Positive Bases whose shape gives rise to a wide array of tools that didn’t exist in Mode 1. Tools like the hand axe (biface), which is retouched on both sides, picks, retouched on either one or both sides, and cleavers are the most representative forms. With the appearance of Mode 2, the diversity of the reduction sequences of the Natural Bases also increases. In addition to volumetric exploitation, unifacial and bifacial centripetal and recurrent unipolar and bipolar techniques are also used.

Bifaz procedente del yacimiento de Galería (Pleistoceno medio), perteneciente al Modo 2 o Achelense. Muy probablente fue la herramienta de algún 'H. heidelbergensis' The oldest site with a Mode 2 technology in Africa is Konso Gardula (Ethiopia). The oldest site outside Africa with Mode 2 stone tools is Ubeidiya (Israel), with an age of 1.4 million years ago. In Europe, the sites of Arago and Notarchirico have a Mode 2 technology dating to around 600,000 years ago. As with Mode 1, Mode 2 developed in Europe some 800,000-1,000,000 years after it first emerged in Africa.

Mode 2 at the Gran Dolina is found at the base of level TD10 and dates to 300,000-400,000 years ago. Toward the upper part of this level, this technology begins to resemble Mode 3 and this may represent a transitional level between Modes 2 and 3. In contrast to the site of Galería, the materials at the Gran Dolina appear to have been fashioned “in situ” within the site.

Mode 2 at Galería: Mode 2 technology has been documented at the site of Galería in the Trinchera, with an age of between 250,000-400,000 years ago. The quartzite hand axe found in the Sima de los Huesos is, according to the most recent dating of the site, around 400,000 years old. The raw materials used by 'Homo heidelbergensis' included Neogene flint, which was highly abundant, quartzite, Cretaceous flint and sandstone. Quartz is only occasionally present.

Atapuerca foto Javier Trueba. Triedro de cuarcíta encotrado en el yacimiento de la Galería At the Galería site, the stone tools recovered were apparently brought there and used by hominids after having been fashioned elsewhere, in contrast to the situation in TD6. This would explain why very few 1st Generation Negative Bases, the nuclei, were found at the site. Both of these considerations lead us to believe that the various occupations of Galería, as well as the associated site Covacha de los Zarpazos, were short-term in nature.

The Mode 2 technology at Galería is characterized by the presence of large-sized Positive Bases which have been shaped. The medium- and large-sized cleavers and hand axes are clearly shaped and are more abundant than the picks, which only occur occasionally. Some of these pieces have been fashioned using soft-hammer techniques, such as by wood or antler. The study of the production sequence of these large stone tools, especially the bifaces, has demonstrated that the hominids who made them were right-handed.

Regarding the 2nd Generation Negative Bases, the presence of points, scrapers and denticulates stands out in some levels. The supports tend to be fashioned by recurrent centripetal, unipolar and bipolar techniques.

The use-wear analysis performed on the stone tools from this site indicates a low intensity of use, typical of tools found in short-term occupation contexts, and the few cases identified show a predominant use on animal flesh, possibly in the course of quartering and defleshing prey species.

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