By the same authors

San Adrian: un nuevo yacimiento de la Edad del Bronce en el Norte de la Peninsula Iberica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Jesús Tapia
  • Miriam Cubas Morera
  • Manuel Ceberio
  • Alfredo Moraza
  • Juantxo Agirre-Mauleón
  • Euken Alonso
  • Esteban Álvarez-Fernández
  • Pablo Areso
  • Angel Armendariz
  • Pedro Castanos
  • Jone Castaños
  • Francisco Etxeberria
  • Joseba Garmendia
  • Lourdes Herrasti
  • Maria Jose Iriarte
  • Daniel Pérez
  • Ana Uriz
  • L. Zapata


Publication details

JournalMunibe (Antropologia-Arkeologia)
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2016
DatePublished (current) - 30 Jun 2016
Original languageSpanish


Bronze Age studies carried out in the Cantabrian Region have traditionally focused on prestige goods and funerary contexts. As a result of
this, the lack of information about daily activities, subsistence strategies, and human settlement on a regional scale is evident in the state of art.
However, current research has achieved new discoveries in recent years, allowing a reconstruction of some aspects of the economic structure,
settlements, material culture and the palaeoenvironment during the Bronze Age. Indeed, besides the funerary practices discovered in 1983 in
San Adrian (Parztuergo Nagusia, Gipuzkoa), research has now revealed the presence of Upper Palaeolithic and Early Bronze Age occupations.
This paper presents a first characterization of the retrieved evidence and a preliminary evaluation of the archaeological site and its environment.
San Adrian is a tunnel-shaped cave located at 1,000 meters a.s.l. in the Aizkorri mountain range, opening a passage beneath the
Atlantic-Mediterranean watershed in northern Iberia. The strategic character of this mountain site is demonstrated by the presence of Upper Palaeolithic and Bronze Age occupations, and by the construction of a road passing through it and the fortification of both its entrances in the
Middle Ages.
The aim of the archaeological survey started in 2008 was to identify, describe and evaluate the heritage potential of the cave, because
previous fieldwork had only managed to make surface finds in the side galleries, including a medieval hoard and Bronze Age human remains.
The work carried out by our research group at San Adrian includes a series of test pits and the excavation of an area nine square metres
in size following stratigraphic criteria. In the current state, we identified at least two contexts corresponding to Late Upper Palaeolithic and
Bronze Age occupations in the cave. Fieldwork included the sieving and flotation of sediment and the collection of samples for different types of
analysis: palynology, carpology, sedimentology, and radiocarbon dating. The evidence is being studied by a multidisciplinary team according
to expertise requirements for each topic: palaeobotany and environment, archaeozoology, sedimentology, geology, physical anthropology,
prehistoric industries (lithics, pottery and bone) and archaeological and historical documentation.
Because of its recent discovery, Upper Palaeolithic evidence remains still under study, but first results on Bronze Age layers can be presented.
The ongoing archaeobotanical and archaeozoological studies reveal the exploitation of domestic plants and fauna complemented by
hunting and foraging of wild species. At the same time, the archaeological artefacts and their production sequences show the exploitation of
nearby resources on both sides of the mountain range, while prestige goods are absent. This evidence is also used to estimate the regularity
of cave occupations and to propose a model of seasonal exploitation of the mountain environment.
The results obtained reveal the exploitation of resources from both the Mediterranean and Atlantic basins, and contribute towards an understanding
of the daily activities of Bronze Age societies. In addition, the evidence shows the exchange and circulation of quotidian products
between the Cantabrian region and inland Iberia in other networks than those of prestige goods.

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