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Keywords:

  • Iberian Peninsula;
  • Maltravieso cave;
  • rabbits' procurement;
  • taphonomy;
  • Upper Palaeolithic

ABSTRACT

The role of small game in Upper Palaeolithic economies has been examined by several authors over the past few decades. Among the small fauna, rabbits seem to have been a widely exploited resource in certain geographic areas, making them one of the main sources for subsistence in hunter–gatherer groups of southwestern Europe. Examining aspects such as anatomic profiles, demographics and taphonomic modifications (including bone breakage) allows us to approach determining the origins of the accumulation of assemblages and establishing the role of hominids and other processes in their formation.

The faunal remains of level A of the Sala de las Chimeneas (Maltravieso Cave, Extremadura, Spain) show a clear predominance of rabbits. Results point to a complex taphonomic history. The assemblage of rabbit remains recovered at the site is of anthropic, exogenous and intrusive origin.

The results of anthropogenic modifications of the bones reveal a different pattern than what is usually found in assemblages of the same age. The differences that set this assemblage apart include the absence of burned bones and the scarcity of anthropic breakage of humeri, femora and tibiae. These features, in conjunction with the characteristics of the archaeological context, have allowed us to rule out the possibility that this location was used as a base camp or bivouac. Along with these data, the presence of Pleistocene age warrens in the deposit supports the hypothesis that the space was used by hominids as a resource procurement site. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.