The emergence of mesolithic cemeteries in SW Europe: insights from the El Collado (Oliva, Valencia, Spain) radiocarbon record.

PLoS ONE. 2015;10(1):e0115505 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0115505


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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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Juan F Gibaja

M Eulàlia Subirà

Xavier Terradas

F Javier Santos

Lidia Agulló

Isabel Gómez-Martínez

Florence Allièse

Javier Fernández-López de Pablo


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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Located on the Iberian Mediterranean coast, El Collado is an open-air site where a rescue excavation was conducted over two seasons in 1987 and 1988. The archaeological work excavated a surface area of 143 m2 where 14 burials were discovered, providing skeletal remains from 15 individuals. We have obtained AMS dates for 10 of the 15 individuals by means of the direct dating of human bones. The ranges of the probability distribution of the calibrated dates suggest that the cemetery was used during a long period of time (781-1020 years at a probability of 95.4%). The new dates consequently set back the chrono-cultural attribution of the cemetery from the initial proposal of Late Mesolithic to an older date in the Early Mesolithic. Therefore, El Collado becomes the oldest known cemetery in the Iberian Peninsula, earlier than the numerous Mesolithic funerary contexts documented on the Atlantic façade such as the Portuguese shell-middens in the Muge and Sado Estuaries or the funerary sites on the northern Iberian coast.