Porto Maior reveals the largest concentration of large Acheulean tools in Europe

The CENIEH takes the lead in a study that has just been published in the journal “Scientific Reports” on this Middle Pleistocene site, whose ESR and Luminescence dating places it as the oldest site of human activity in Galicia.

The journal Scientific Reports has just published an article led by the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) on the primary geological, geochronological, and archaeological aspects of the Porto Maior (Pontevedra) archaeological site, which contains the largest recognized concentration of large Acheulean-type tools throughout the entire European continent.

The dating obtained using Electronic Spin Resonance (ESR) on optically bleached quartz grains and using Luminescence (pIR-IR) on sedimentary feldspar grains place the site at 300,000 to 200,000 years old, making it the oldest site with remains of human activity in Galicia.

This chronological range confirms the coexistence of two different technological traditions: the African-derived Acheulean tradition, of which Porto Maior is one of the greatest examples, and the early-middle Paleolithic industries in Europe at the end of the Middle Pleistocene period.

This type of finding was only seen in Africa and the Near East, and as such its presence in Europe is a true novelty; as the authors explain, the complex technological patterns could be consistent with the possible coexistence of different human species in southeastern Europe during the Middle Pleistocene.

International Team
The article, entitled First evidence of an extensive Acheulean large cutting tool accumulation in Europe from Porto Maior (Galicia, Spain), includes as contributors: Eduardo Méndez-Quintas, Manuel Santonja, Alfredo Pérez-González of CENIEH, Matheiu Duval of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Martina Demuro and Lee Arnold of Universidad de Adelaida.

The research studies on Porto Maior have been financed by the Consellería de Cultura, Educación y Ordenación Universitaria de la Xunta de Galicia, as well as through various projects by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (CGL2010-16821) and the Australian Research Council (FT150100215, DE160100743 y FT130100195)