This project, which is led by Ana B. Marín-Arroyo, is carried out in collaboration with leading European scientists. It has been developed in several phases, starting in 2010 and it is planned to be finished in 2017. EUROREFUGIA is focused on the study of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe and aims to contribute to the ongoing debate about the causes of the rapid replacement of Neanderthals by modern human populations, and the survival of Neanderthals in certain refugia areas until their final extinction. To do so, the project is based, on the one hand, in an archaeozoological analysis of the final Mousterian and early Upper Palaeolithic levels from several key archaeological sites located on the Cantabrian Region such as La Viña and El Mirón Cave and Salitrena Pecina, located in Central Serbia, among others.
The Balkans was the “gateway” to Europe of Homo sapiens from the Near East through the Danube corridor and consequently, the mountain area situated in central Serbia could have received initial Neanderthal migration, later becoming a refugium area, evidenced by the late dates in the Mousterian levels of several sites. The Cantabrian region, however, is the westernmost area of the first expansion of modern humans on the continent. Both areas are different ecological niches, with a more continental climate in the Balkans and an oceanic one in the Bay of Biscay, which also makes an interesting comparative analysis.
On the other hand, the role of climate on the strategy of subsistence is being evaluated by analyzing the stable isotopes (C, N and O) on macromammals consumed by both human species and found in those Spanish and Serbian sites with Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitions levels. Therefore, the climatic variations will be correlated with palaeoeconomic strategies.