Dr. Marcel Bradtmöller


Dissertation Title

Muster jungpaläolithischer Höhlennutzung am Beispiel des Gravettien Nordspaniens

Supervirsor: Prof. Dr. Gerd-Christian Weniger
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Thorsten Uthmeier


Caves and rock shelters are still in many regions and periods the most important group of sites for archaeologists. This is true for the amount of documented remains, as well as our understanding of human behaviour on the bigger scale. Dealing with this, the thesis investigates different aspects of human cave use and their internal relationship on the base of the Gravettian technocomplex in Northern Spain, where information from open air sites are rarely missing. Of special interest are thereby the reconstruction of patterns of occupation duration, site functions and different modes of group mobility, which are connecting the site with the landscape.

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Furthermore, the possible influence of (changing) environmental conditions on this human settlement system is investigated, referring in a broader framework also to the Repeated Replacement model (Bradtmöller et al. 2012). But therefore a broader diachronic understanding of regional environmental conditions and the internal variability of the Gravettian technocomplex is essential. Therefore a main goal of this study is to enhance our knowledge on the base of new primary data. While lithics are (from the quantitative and qualitative viewpoint) the most homogenous preserved artefact category, six assemblages from four archaeological sites are chosen as case studies for a detailed analysis of their chaine operatoire; these are level G and H of Cueto de la Mina (Asturias), level 4 and V of Morin (Cantabria), Level F of Cueva Bolinkoba (Basque Country) and Level V of Cueva Amalda (Basque Country).

Bradtmöller_chaine operatoir Cueva Morín Level 4

Chain Operator Cueva Morín Level 4

The case studies show that with the introduced methodology even a heterogeneous set of archaeological level can be analysed for pattern of occupation duration and site function. Thereby different modes of occupation duration can be distinguished. While on the one hand Morin (4) and Bolinkoba (F) can be interpreted as residential base camps, Amalda (V), Morin (Va) and Cueto de la Mina (G & H) are pointing towards a short-term occupation. While the classification of these patterns contains many attributes, the introduced method of investigating tool biography, using the modification sequences, is directly reflecting these results. Furthermore the conducted PCA is also showing a regional differentiation on the x-axis, which is mainly based on the different burin types. This will be important for future investigations, because it shows the potential of this method for analysing the composition of lithic inventories under different research questions. Interestingly, these different activity/occupation patterns are showing a heterogeneous picture concerning the site function. While the percentage of projectiles is varying between Morin 4 (24,5%) and Bolinkoba F (9,1%), this bandwidth is even higher with the short-term occupations (11,1%-36,1%). This might reflect the problem of palimpsest, but also the high diversity of different types of campsites (cf. Le Brun-Ricalens 1993, Uthmeier 2004). The observed diachronic changes of human occupation pattern seems to correlate for the case study with shifts in local environmental conditions and contradicts also a possible direct relationship between anthropogenic use and cave morphology.



Since 2009: Ph.D. student at Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne.

2007: M.A. in Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne

M.A. thesis:Fedderingen Wurth LA 51: Ein Fundplatz der Ertebøllekultur an der Nordseeküste”



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