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The Vale do Forno archaeological sites (Alpiarça, central Portugal) document the earliest human occupation in the Lower Tejo River, well established in geomorphological and environmental terms, within the Middle Pleistocene. In a staircase of six fluvial terraces, the Palaeolithic sites were found on the T4 terrace (+24 m, above river bed) which is made of a basal Lower Gravels unit (LG) and an overlying Upper Sands unit (US). Geomorphological mapping, coupled with lithostratigraphy, sedimentology and luminescence dating (quartz-OSL and K-feldspar post-IRIR290) were used in this study. The oldest artefacts found in the LG unit show crude bifacial forms that can be attributed to the Acheulian. In contrast, the US unit has archaeological sites stratigraphically documenting successive phases of an evolved Acheulian. Luminescence dating and correlation with the Marine Isotopic Stages suggest that the LG unit has a probable age of ca. 335 to 325 ka and the US unit an age of ca. 325 to 155 ka. This is in contrast to previous interpretations ascribing this terrace (and lithic industries) to the Last Interglacial and early phases of the Last Glacial. The VF3 site (Milharós), containing Micoquian (Final Acheulian) industries (with fine and elaborated bifaces), found in a stratigraphic level located between the T4 terrace deposits and a colluvium associated with Late Pleistocene aeolian sands, is younger than 155 ka but much older than 32 ka.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Pages (from-to)204-226
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2017
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Acheulean, Fluvial terraces, Geomorphology, Iberia, Luminescence dating, Middle Pleistocene, Palaeolithic, River Tejo

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