The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Iberia

Miguel Cortés Sánchez, Francisco J. Jiménez Espejo, María D. Simón Vallejo, Juan F. Gibaja Bao, António Faustino Carvalho, Francisca Martinez-Ruiz, Marta Rodrigo Gamiz, José Abel Flores, Adina Paytan, José A. López Sáez, Leonor Peña-Chocarro, José S. Carrión, Arturo Morales Muñiz, Eufrasia Roselló Izquierdo, José A. Riquelme Cantal, Rebecca M. Dean, Emília Salgueiro, Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez, Juan J. De la Rubia de Gracia, María C. Lozano FranciscoJosé L. Vera Peláez, Laura Llorente Rodríguez, Nuno F. Bicho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


New data and a review of historiographic information from Neolithic sites of the Malaga and Algarve coasts (southern Iberian Peninsula) and from the Maghreb (North Africa) reveal the existence of a Neolithic settlement at least from 7.5. cal. ka BP. The agricultural and pastoralist food producing economy of that population rapidly replaced the coastal economies of the Mesolithic populations. The timing of this population and economic turnover coincided with major changes in the continental and marine ecosystems, including upwelling intensity, sea-level changes and increased aridity in the Sahara and along the Iberian coast. These changes likely impacted the subsistence strategies of the Mesolithic populations along the Iberian seascapes and resulted in abandonments manifested as sedimentary hiatuses in some areas during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. The rapid expansion and area of dispersal of the early Neolithic traits suggest the use of marine technology. Different evidences for a Maghrebian origin for the first colonists have been summarized. The recognition of an early North-African Neolithic influence in Southern Iberia and the Maghreb is vital for understanding the appearance and development of the Neolithic in Western Europe. Our review suggests links between climate change, resource allocation, and population turnover.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The results presented in this paper derive from research carried out under the sponsorship of the following projects: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal) and the European Science Foundation (III Community Support Framework), PTDC/HAH/64548/2006 , A.F.C. & J.F.G., funded by the European Union and the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnología ; HAR 2008-1920 ( Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain ) and European Research Council 2008-AdG 230561 . Archeological sites management by M.C.S. & M.D.S.V. with permits from the Junta de Andalucía (Spain). This work also benefited from funding from the following projects: CGL2009-07603 , CTM2009-07715 , CSD2006-00041 and HAR2008-06477-C03-03/HIST , all from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain; 200800050084447 (MARM), Project RNM 05212 and Research Group 0179 (Junta de Andalucía, Spain). E.S. received financial support of the FCT (grant: SFRH/BPD/26525/2006 ). F.J. Jiménez Espejo acknowledges the CSIC “JAE-Doc” postdoctoral program for funding.


  • Abrupt climate change
  • Holocene
  • Hunter-fisher-gatherers
  • Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
  • Migration
  • Paleoceanography
  • South Iberia


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