F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - Now It's Evidence In Spain From 6,200 Years Ago That Survived Creationism's Favourite Genocide

Saturday 17 February 2024

Creationism in Crisis - Now It's Evidence In Spain From 6,200 Years Ago That Survived Creationism's Favourite Genocide

Stratigraphic units (SU) from which P. lineatus shells analysed in this investigation were recovered: SU 1406 (C), SU 1704 (D), SU 705 (E) and SU 1516 (F)

Neolithic groups from the south of the Iberian Peninsula first settled in San Fernando (Cadiz) 6,200 years ago - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona - UAB Barcelona

Another terrible week for creationism is coming to an end with news that archaeologist from the Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona (UAB) and the University of Càdiz, together with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), Leipzig, Germany, have uncovered evidence that Neolithic groups from the south of the Iberian Peninsula first settled in San Fernando (Càdiz) 6,200 years ago and supplemented their diet with shellfish.

This news comes on top of the news that the remnants of a stone plaza in Peru and the body of the victim of a sacrificial bog burial in Denmark, that could not have survived creationism's mythical global genocidal flood if it had really happened as described in the Bible, had also been revealed by archaeologists.

The discovery, and details of how the date was calculated is the subject of an open access paper in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences and the subject of a UAB new release:
The first Neolithic farmers and shepherds in Andalusia settled permanently on the island of San Fernando, Cadiz, 6,200 years ago, where they continued to collect and consume shellfish throughout the year, preferably in winter. This is the conclusion of an archaeological study led by Asier García-Escárzaga, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) and the Department of Prehistory of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), which shows that these populations occupied the island throughout the year.

The research carried out in recent decades in the south of the Iberian Peninsula has revealed many aspects of the life of the first Neolithic groups in Andalusia. These populations were the first to base their subsistence mainly on agriculture and livestock, rather than hunting and gathering. However, there were still questions to be answered about the patterns of occupation of sites (annual or seasonal) and the exploitation of marine resources after the adoption of a new economic model.

In a new study, published in the prestigious international journal Archaeological and Anthropological Science, oxygen stable isotope analysis was applied to marine shells to address both questions. The shells analysed were recovered from the sites of Campo de Hockey (San Fernando, Cadiz).

The necropolis of Campo de Hockey, excavated in 2008, is located on the ancient island of San Fernando, just 150 metres from the ancient coastline. The excavations, directed by Eduardo Vijande from the University of Cadiz, allowed to document 53 graves (45 single, 7 double and 1 quadruple). Most of them were plain (simple graves in which the individual is buried), but what stood out the most was the existence of 4 graves of greater complexity and monumentality, made with medium and large stones considered to be proto-megalithic. The Campo de Hockey II site, annexed to the first site and whose excavation and research was conducted by María Sánchez and Eduardo Vijande in 2018, allowed for the identification of 28 archaeological structures (17 hearths, two shell heaps, four tombs and five stone structures).

The high presence of hearths and mollusk and fish remains in the middens suggests that the area was used for the processing and consumption of marine resources. Among the information that can be obtained from the analysis of stable oxygen isotopes in marine shells is the possibility of reconstructing the time of year when the mollusks died, and therefore when they were consumed by prehistoric populations in the past.

The results of this research indicate that the first farmers occupying the island of San Fernando collected shellfish all year round, but more in the colder months of autumn, winter, and early spring, that is, from November to April. This information allowed the scientific team to conclude that these populations occupied the island throughout the year. "The size of the necropolis already led us to believe that it was an annual habitat, but these studies confirm the existence of a permanent settlement 6,200 years ago," said Eduardo Vijande, researcher at the University of Cadiz and co-author of the study.

The greatest exploitation of shellfish during the coldest months of the year coincides with the annual period of maximum profitability of this food resource due to the formation of gametes. A seasonal pattern of shellfish consumption based on energetic cost-benefit principles which is similar to that developed by the last hunter-gatherer populations of the Iberian Peninsula. "That is to say, there is a greater exploitation of these topshells in the winter months, since this is the time when these animals present a greater quantity of meat," points out Asier García-Escárzaga. This suggests that, although these new Neolithic groups had changed their economic model, living from agriculture and livestock, in this settlement located in an insular environment, the exploitation of the marine environment continued to be of great importance.

The study forms part of four research projects coordinated from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (PID 2020-115715 GB-I00) and the University of Cadiz (FEDER-UCA18-106917 and CEIJ-015 [2018-2019]) in Spain, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

How can analysis of stable isotopes of Oxygen in their shells tell us what time of year the shellfish, in this case, Phorcus lineatus, were collected?
How can an analyses (δ18O) on Phorcus lineatus show the time of the year the shellfish was collected? δ18O analysis on Phorcus lineatus shells can provide information about the temperature and seasonality of the water in which the shellfish lived when the shell was formed. Here's how it works:
  1. Understanding δ18O: Oxygen comes in different isotopes, with varying numbers of neutrons. Oxygen-18 (18O) is one of these isotopes. The ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 (the most common form of oxygen) in a sample is expressed as δ18O. This ratio can be influenced by factors such as temperature, salinity, and the isotopic composition of precipitation.
  2. Temperature correlation: The δ18O value of a shell is influenced by the temperature of the water in which the shellfish lived. Generally, higher δ18O values correspond to warmer temperatures, while lower values correspond to cooler temperatures. This relationship is due to the preferential incorporation of lighter isotopes (like 16O) into the shell during times of warmer temperatures.
  3. Seasonal variation: In regions where water temperature varies seasonally, the δ18O values in shell material can reflect these changes. For example, if a shellfish lived in an area with warmer waters during the summer and cooler waters during the winter, the δ18O values in its shell would fluctuate accordingly.
  4. Interpretation: By analyzing the δ18O values along the growth increments of a Phorcus lineatus shell, researchers can potentially identify patterns that correspond to different seasons. This allows them to infer the time of year when each growth increment was formed. For example, higher δ18O values might indicate growth during warmer months, while lower values might indicate growth during cooler months.
  5. Validation: To use δ18O analysis effectively for seasonality determination, researchers often calibrate their findings with local environmental data, such as temperature and precipitation records, to ensure accurate interpretations.
In summary, δ18O analysis on Phorcus lineatus shells can provide insights into the seasonality of shell growth by revealing temperature variations throughout the year. This information can help researchers understand the ecological and environmental conditions in which the shellfish lived.
The research team give more technical details, including dating of the remains excavated, in the open access paper in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences:

In recent decades, investigations in the southern Iberian Peninsula have increased our understanding of the socio-economic impact of the spread of the Neolithic in southwestern Europe, including changes in marine resources exploitation. Nevertheless, considerable uncertainty still exists around the seasonality of such subsistence systems and the putative role of marine fish and shellfish to the evolving agro-pastoral economies. Earlier studies on the European Atlantic coast (including Iberia) have shown that the stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) values from the topshell Phorcus lineatus (da Costa, 1778) can be reliably used to derive seasonal sea surface temperatures (SST) during its lifespan. This information can be used by archaeologists to estimate the seasonality of mollusc collection in the past, and to shed light into settlement and subsistence patterns. This paper presents the results of a stable isotope study on archaeological shells of P. lineatus recovered from the Neolithic settlement of Campo de Hockey (Cádiz, Spain). We analysed shells from both funerary and residential contexts and found that P. lineatus was consumed year-round, but with a stronger preference during winter. Our results therefore contribute to advance our understanding of the role of coastal environments in early farming societies of southwestern Europe.


The Neolithic of the south of the Iberian Peninsula is divided into three periods: Early Neolithic (6000–4900 cal BC), Middle Neolithic (5000/4900–4300/4200 cal BC), and Late Neolithic (4300/4200–3400/3300 cal BC) (Molina-González et al. 2012). The settlement of Campo de Hockey straddles the late stages of the Middle Neolithic and the beginning of the Late Neolithic. This period witnessed significant transformations in terms of both subsistence strategies and settlement patterns, including the earliest permanent settlements, which are linked to the intensification of livestock and agricultural production. This led to the formalisation of land ownership and the construction of surplus storage facilities (silos, wells, etc.). The collective-based model of earlier periods, represented in the Bay of Cádiz by the site of El Retamar (Ramos-Muñoz and Lazarich-González 2002), came to an end in the late 5th millennium BC. Semi-sedentary groups whose way of life resembled that of the last hunter-gatherers (with the tentative addition of herding and agricultural practices) were replaced by the first stable settlements, in which animal husbandry and crop cultivation played a much more important economic role. These economic practices intensified during the 4th millennium BC, with the emergence of so-called “silo fields,” represented in the Bay of Cádiz by the sites of Cantarranas-Las Viñas (Ruiz-Gil and Ruiz-Mata 1999), La Esparragosa (Vijande-Vila et al. 2019), Set Parralejos (Villalpando and Montañés 2009), and El Trobal (Martínez-Romero 2022).

Several questions concerning the subsistence strategies of these groups remain to be answered, including which occupation model was adopted in the so-called “pit-settlements” or how marine resources were exploited. The permanent or seasonal nature of these settlements is a matter of debate (Márquez-Romero 2001; Lucena and Martínez 2004; Nocete 2014), and considering the heterogeneity of the settlements included in this category, each site should be analysed individually. On the other hand, according to some researchers, the adoption of typically neolithic economy led to a reduction in the intake of marine proteins (Cubas et al. 2019.1; Salazar-Garcia et al. 2017). However, other studies argued for continuity in mollusc exploitation practices (Cantillo-Duarte 2019.2; Pascual-Benito 2014.1). Although our knowledge about the relationship between humans and coastal resources in the southern Iberian Peninsula during the Neolithic has notably increased in recent decades, mainly regarding the species consumed and their collection areas (Cantillo-Duarte 2012.1, 2019.2), some aspects, with far-reaching implications to reconstruct the way of life of the earliest farmers remain unknown. Determining the seasonality of marine exploitation, for example, can expand our understanding of the diversity of subsistence and settlement strategies in this region (Andrus 2011; García-Escárzaga 2020; Leng and Lewis 2016; Thomas 2015).

Archaeological shell remains can provide valuable information on coastal exploitation patterns. The stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) values derived from shell calcium carbonate reflect seawater environmental conditions (mainly temperature) during the mollusc’s life span (Bailey et al. 1983; Gröcke and Gillikin 2008; Owen et al. 2008.1; Wanamaker et al. 2007). This approach has been extensively used to determine the season(s) when molluscs were collected by past human societies (Burchell et al. 2018; Branscombe et al. 2021; García-Escárzaga et al. 2019.3a; Leclerc et al. 2023; Prendergast et al. 2016.1). However, the methodology needs to be tested on modern populations before it can be applied to archaeological specimens, essentially to confirm that shell oxygen isotope composition reliably records the seawater temperature variations during the mollusc’s life and that shell growth stoppages (if any) are no longer than a season (i.e., three months).

Previous studies in northern Iberian Peninsula and southern Britain using modern specimens have shown that the stable oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of the shell of Phorcus lineatus (da Costa, 1778), a widely exploited species in prehistoric Europe, reflect the seawater temperatures during the shell formation (García-Escárzaga et al. 2019.4b; Gutiérrez-Zugasti et al. 2015.1; Mannino et al. 2003; Mannino and Thomas 2007.1). Although previous sclerochronological analysis conducted using modern specimens from northern Iberian Peninsula revealed older specimens of this species occasionally stopped their growth during a few weeks (García-Escárzaga et al. 2019.4b) and the seawater temperatures in Cádiz are ca. 2 ºC higher, longer summer growth stoppages are not expected. The stable isotopes of oxygen δ18O analyses undertaken on modern Phorcus turbinatus (Born, 1778) shells collected from different Mediterranean locations showed that growth patterns in this taxon do not significantly change despite the higher summer water temperatures (2 °C) in southern and warmer locations compared with those recorded in the northern Mediterranean coasts (Colonese et al. 2009.1; Mannino et al. 2008.2; Prendergast et al. 2013). This strongly suggests that Phorcus genus can adapt to local environmental conditions without changes in growth patterns, if temperature variations are not significant.

In this investigation, δ18O analyses on shells of P. lineatus recovered at the Neolithic site of Campo de Hockey (Andalusia, Spain) were carried out to determine seasonality in marine resources collection during the Neolithic in southwestern Europe. The results allow us to reconstruct the seasonal strategies employed by neolithic groups that occupied Campo de Hockey and to establish whether this island site was occupied all year round or seasonally. This study contributes to the longstanding debate on the role of marine resources during the spread and establishment of farming in southwestern Europe.

Campo de hockey site

The Neolithic settlement of Campo de Hockey (San Fernando, Cádiz) is situated in the Bay of Cádiz, at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. This site was on an island during the Middle Holocene (Arteaga et al. 2008.3; Alonso et al. 2009.2). The settlement was at 12–18 m.a.s.l. and approximately 150 m from the ancient coastline. Although the economy of the community largely relied on herding and agriculture, the exploitation of marine resources was also important, as suggested by the number and diversity of mollusc shell and fish bone remains found at the site (Vijande-Vila 2009.3; Cantillo-Duarte and Vijande-Vila 2014.2). To date, two excavation seasons have been undertaken. The first, in 2007–2008, was motivated by the construction of a hockey pitch (Campo de Hockey 1) (Fig. 1). The excavation affected 12,000 m2 and led to the discovery of domestic structures (sunken huts), storage facilities (well-silos), and an extensive necropolis with 53 tombs (Vijande-Vila et al. 2015.2, 2022.1). The second excavation season took place in 2018 (Campo de Hockey 2) and was triggered by the construction of a housing estate (Fig. 1). This excavation affected 1573 m2 to the west of Campo de Hockey 1, and 28 archaeological assemblages were attested, including seventeen hearths, two shell middens, four tombs, and five rock clusters. The large number of hearths and the middens suggest that the area was used to process and consume marine resources.
Fig. 1
Location of Campo de Hockey site in southern Iberian Peninsula. The red line above marks the estimated location of the coastline during the Neolithic. The yellow rectangle indicates the location of the first excavation (2007–2008) and the red rectangle indicates the second excavation (2018)
The two excavation seasons led to the recovery of 12,579 malacological remains, totalling a minimal number of individuals (MNI) of 2885. Shell remains were mostly represented by P. lineatus (832 MNI; 28.83%), followed by Ruditapes decussatus (Linnaeus, 1758) (724 MNI; 25.09%), Solen marginatus Pulteney, 1799 (684 MNI; 23.70%), and Hexaplex trunculus (Linnaeus, 1758) (184 MNI; 6.33%). All these species were likely collected for food, but some fragments of R. decussatus may have been also used as tools (Cuenca-Solana 2015.3; Cuenca-Solana et al. 2011.1) and other gastropods as personal adornments (Cantillo-Duarte 2019.2). A total of 341 fish remains, belonging to six taxa, were also identified.

Absolute dates from Campo de Hockey 1 suggest that the site was inhabited for around 300 years, with two overlapping phases, according to the Bayesian model applied to the nineteen radiocarbon dates available (Vijande-Vila et al. 2022.1). Phase I ranged from 4050–3960 to 3985–3900 cal BC (0–100-year span), and phase II from 3990–3755 to 3895–3620 cal BC (0–215-year span), indicating continuous occupation over 300 years and several generations. Tomb E3T15 is perhaps somewhat earlier, dating to 4335–4060 cal BC (Vijande-Vila et al. 2022.1). In addition, two new radiocarbon dates from the two shell middens (stratigraphic units 142 and 66) documented at the Campo de Hockey 2 site (Table 1) indicate that both contexts belong to phases I and II, respectively (Fig. 2).
Table 1 AMS radiocarbon dates for the two shell middens excavated in Campo de Hockey II. 14C ages were calibrated using the IntCal20 (Reimer et al. 2020.1) and Marine20 (Heaton et al. 2020.2) calibration curves and Oxcal 4.4 calibration program (Bronk Ramsey 2009.4a). The reservoir effect was corrected using a ΔR value of 32.63 ± 33.27, estimated by Vijande-Vila et al. (2022.1) from IsoMemoApp Database (Fernandes et al. 2020.3)
Fig. 2
Bayesian modelling of radiocarbon dates obtained from Campo de Hockey I and II (Vijande-Vila et al. 2022.1; Table 1) calibrated in OxCal v.4.4.2 (Bronk Ramsey 2009.4a, 2009.5b) using IntCal20 (Reimer et al. 2020.1) and Marine20 (Heaton et al. 2020.2) curves and the ΔR value previously estimated by Vijande-Vila et al. (2022.1) for this area from IsoMemoApp Database (Fernandes et al. 2020.3). The OxCal model code used herein was developed by Vijande-Vila et al. (2022.1). The red colour indicates an outlier detected by Vijande-Vila et al. (2022.1), and the blue colour is used to highlight the two radiocarbon dates obtained from the shell middens discovered at the Campo de Hockey 2

For creationists trying desperately to find an excuse to dispute the dating, here is a link to the software the research team used. The best strategy is probably to ignore it and just pretend to be more expert than the experts and hope you can fool people.

For normal people who appreciate truth and who value their intellectual integrity, the reason none of this evidence was obliterated or covered by the predictable layer of silt from a global flood, the evidence that the Bible is wrong should be self-evidence. That the Bible cannot be an inerrant source of truth and a reliable and accurate record of actual history, if it can be shown to be wrong, should also be self-evident, as should the conclusion from that evidence.

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