Cultural Cannibalism as a Paleoeconomic System in the European Lower Pleistocene The Case of Level TD6 of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)
Human cannibalism is currently recorded in abundant archaeological assemblages of different chronologies. The TD6 level of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos), at more than 800 ka, is the oldest case known at present. The analysis of cranial and postcranial remains of Homo antecessor has established the presence of various alterations of anthropic origin (cut marks and bone breakage) related with exploitation of carcasses. The human remains do not show a specific distribution, and they appeared mixed with lithic tools and bones of other taxa. Both nonhuman and human remains show similar evidence of butchering processes. The stratigraphic evidence and the new increment of the collection of remains of Homo antecessor have led us to identify a succession of cannibalism events in a dilated temporal sequence. These data suggest that hunting strategies and human meat consumption were frequent and habitual actions. The numerous evidences of cannibalism, the number of individuals, their age profile, and the archaeostratigraphic distribution suggest that cannibalism in TD6 was nutritional. This practice, accepted and included in their social system, is more ancient cultural cannibalism than has been known until now.