Igor Gutiérrez Zugasti
Newton International Fellow



I obtained my BA in History (specialization in Prehistory) at the University of Cantabria (Spain) in 2002. After that, I was working as an archaeologist until 2004. Then, I completed my PhD at the University of Cantabria in 2008 and my thesis focused on the exploitation of molluscs and other littoral resources in northern Spain during the Late Pleistocene and the Early Holocene. After that, I had a postdoc position at the University of Cantabria, analyzing shell assemblages from Upper Palaeolithic sites in northern Spain and conducting excavations at the Mesolithic shell midden sites of El Toral III and El Mazo (which is still in progress). In 2011 I joined to the Department of Archaeology, BioArch as a Postdoctoral Research fellow funded by the Newton International Fellowship scheme.


Selected publications

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F. I., in press. Coastal resource intensification across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Northern Spain: evidence from shell size and age distributions of marine gastropods. Quaternary International.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F. I., 2011. Early Holocene land snail exploitation in northern Spain: the case of La Fragua cave (Cantabria, Spain). Environmental Archaeology 16 (1), 36-48.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F. I., 2011. Shell fragmentation as tool for quantification and identification of taphonomic processes in archaeomalacological analysis: the case of the Cantabrian region (Northern Spain). Archaeometry 53, 614-630.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F. I., 2011. The use of echinoids and crustaceans as food during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Northern Spain: methodological contribution and dietary assessment. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 6, 115-133.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., Andersen, S., Araújo, A.C., Dupont, C., Milner, N., Soares, A.M.M., 2011. Shell middens research in Atlantic Europe: state of the art, research problems and perspectives for the future. Quaternary International 239, 70-85.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2009. La explotación de moluscos y otros recursos litorales en la región cantábrica durante el Pleistoceno final y el Holoceno inicial. PUbliCan, Ediciones de la Universidad de Cantabria, Santander.

Full publications list

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Shellfish gathering strategies during the Mesolithic in Northern Spain. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Santander, 2010.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Los moluscos alimenticios de la cueva de Santimamiñe (Kortezubi, Bizkaia): campañas 2004-2006, in: López Quintana, J.C. (Ed.), Excavaciones en la cueva de Santimamiñe. Campañas 2004-2006. Gobierno Vasco.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., Cuenca-Solana, D., in press. Biostratigraphy of shells and climate changes in the Cantabrian region (Northern Spain) during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, In: Dupont, C.; Szabo, K; Serrand, N. (Eds.) Proceedings of the Archaeomalacology Session, ICAZ Paris 2010.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., Cuenca-Solana, D., Clemente-Conte, I., González-Sainz, C., López-Quintana, J.C., in press. Instrumentos de trabajo y elementos de adorno en conchas de molusco de la cueva de Santimamiñe (Kortezubi, Bizkaia), in: López Quintana, J.C. (Ed.), Excavaciones en la cueva de Santimamiñe. Campañas 2004-2006. Gobierno Vasco.

Clemente-Conte, I., Cuenca-Solana, D., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., González-Morales, M.R., in press. The use of lithic tools for Mesolithic coastal hunter-gatherers from northern Spain: experimental program for functional analysis on “Asturian Picks” from Mazaculos II (Asturias, Spain). In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Santander, 2010.

Cuenca-Solana, D., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Shell tools in an early Neolithic coastal site in the Cantabrian region (Northern Spain): experimental program for use-wear analysis at Santimamiñe cave., in: Dupont, C., Szabo, K., Serrand, N. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Archaeomalacology Session, 11th ICAZ Conference, Paris 2010.

García-Moreno, A., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Cambios climáticos al final del Tardiglaciar: una aproximación multidisciplinar a las evidencias paleoclimáticas del valle del Asón (Cantabria). In: Corchón, M.S., Rodríguez Asensio, A., Menéndez, M. (Eds.), 1ª Mesa redonda sobre el Paleolítico superior Cantábrico: San Román de Candamo, Asturias. Gestión del Territorio y movilidad de los grupos de cazadores-recolectores durante el Tardiglaciar.

Fano-Martínez, M.A., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., Álvarez-Fernández, A., Fernández-García, R., in press. The exploitation of the Bay of Biscay (North of Spain) by Late Glacial and Postglacial societies. In: Shell Energy: Prehistoric Coastal Resources Strategies, Dakar (Senegal), 2008.

Rasines del Río, P., Muñoz-Fernández, E., Santamaría- Santamaría, S., Morlote-Expósito, J.M., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Aproximación paleoambiental al nivel XIII (Aurinaciense) del abrigo de “El Cuco” (Castro-Urdiales, Cantabria). Kobie.

Rasines del Río, P., Muñoz-Fernández, E., Santamaría- Santamaría, S., Morlote-Expósito, J.M., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., in press. Paleoambiente en el nivel III (Gravetiense) del abrigo de “El Cuco” (Castro-Urdiales, Cantabria). Sautuola.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2011. Changes in molluscan exploitation patterns during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in eastern Cantabria (Northern Spain), in: Bicho, N.F., Hawks, J., Davis, L.G.  (Eds.), Trekking the shore: Changing Coastline and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement. Springer, pp. 179-201.

Cuenca-Solana, D., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., Clemente-Conte, I., 2011. The use of molluscs as tools by coastal human groups: contribution of the ethnographical studies to research on Mesolithic and early Neolithic technologies in Northern Spain. Journal of Anthropological Research 67, 77-102.

Cuenca-Solana, D., Clemente-Conte, I., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, I., 2010. Utilización de instrumentos de concha durante el  Mesolítico y Neolítico inicial en contextos litorales de la región cantábrica: programa experimental para el análisis de huellas de uso en materiales malacológicos. Trabajos de Prehistoria 67, 211-225.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2010. La biometría al servicio de la arqueomalacología: estrategias de recolección de moluscos en la región cantábrica entre el final del Paleolítico y los inicios del Neolítico. Férvedes 6, 65-72.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., González-Morales, M.R., 2010. New data on Asturian shell midden sites: the cave of Mazaculos II (Asturias, Northern Spain), in: Álvarez-Fernández, E., Carvajal-Contreras, D.R. (Eds.), Not only Food: Marine, Terrestrial and Freshwater Molluscs in Archaeological Sites: Proceedings of the 2nd Meeting of the ICAZ Archaeomalacology Working Group (Santander, February 19th-22th 2008) Aranzadi Zientzia Elkartea, Donostia, pp. 110-118.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2009. An examination of Mesolithic shellfishing activities in the lower Asón river basin (Cantabria, Spain), in: McCartan, S., Schulting, R.J., Warren, G., Woodman, P. (Eds.), Mesolithic Horizons. Proceedings of the VII International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe. Oxbow Books, Belfast, pp. 161-166.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2009. La explotación de moluscos en la Prehistoria cantábrica: historia de las investigaciones y enfoques teóricos. Revista Atlántico-Mediterránea de Prehistoria y Arqueología Social 11, 39-81.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2009. Explotación de recursos costeros durante el Neolítico en el área de la Reserva de Urdaibai: los moluscos de la cueva de Kobaederra  (Kortezubi, Bizkaia). Munibe 60, 175-186.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2009. Análisis tafonómico en arqueomalacología: el ejemplo de los concheros de la región cantábrica. KREI 10, 53-74.

Ortíz , J.E., Torres, T., González-Morales, M.R., Abad, J., Arribas, I., Fortea, F.J., García-Belenguer, F., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, I., 2009. The aminochronology of man-induced shell midden in caves in northern Spain. Archaeometry 51, 123-139.

Tapia-Sagarna, J., Álvarez-Fernández, E., Cubas-Morera, M., Cueto-Rapado, M., Etxeberría-Gabilondo, F., Gutiérrez-Zugasti, I., Herraste-Erlogorri, L., Ruiz-Alonso, M., 2008. La cueva de Linatzeta (Lastur, Deba, Gipuzkoa). Un nuevo contexto para el estudio del Mesolítico en Gipuzkoa. Munibe 59, 119-131.

Gutiérrez-Zugasti, F.I., 2006. Análisis Arqueomalacológico de la Cueva de La Fragua (Santoña, Cantabria, España), in: Bicho, N.F. (Ed.), Animais na Pré-história e Arqueología da Península Ibérica. Universidade do Algarve, Faro, pp. 197-210.



My research interest is focused in the exploitation of coastal resources, mainly molluscs, by hunter-gatherers across the Upper Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic. In my previous research I studied the archaemalacological material from several shell midden sites in northern Spain, focusing in species representation, taphonomy, gathering areas, biometrics, and seasonality. My current research project aims to determine the climate changes that have occurred over a period of 30,000 years in the Prehistory of northern Spain, from the Aurignacian to the early Neolithic, through the analysis of the oxygen stable isotopes contained in modern and archaeological limpet specimens. The same analyses can also be used to determine the season of collection of the limpets, obtaining information about the exploitation pattern of these resources and the changes they underwent over time. Following the debates existing in the literature about these two aspects, the project will attempt to resolve:

(1) the characteristics of the subsistence strategies and settlement patterns of the hunter-gatherers, since an ongoing debate has questioned whether the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic human occupations took place throughout the year, or instead were seasonal in character. It will also be possible to establish whether the gathering patterns remained stable over time or not, and

(2) the evolution of sea surface palaeotemperatures from before the Last Glacial Maximum to the mid-Holocene (35,000-5000 BP) and determine whether the climate changes have influenced the subsistence strategies related with the exploitation of coastal resources by human groups over time.

In addition, I’m conducting excavation fieldwork at the Mesolithic shell-midden in Cueva de El Mazo, in Asturias (Northern Spain) and I’m collaborating on a project to date shells by amino-acid racemization, with a team at the Biomolecular Stratigraphy Laboratory at the ETSI Minas, in Madrid (Spain).


- Climate change and coastal settlement during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Northern Spain

- La respuesta humana al cambio climático global en una zona litoral: el caso del tránsito al Holoceno en la costa cantábrica (10000-5000 cal BC). Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (HAR2010-22115-C02-01).

- Excavations at the Mesolithic shell midden site of El Mazo (Asturias, northern Spain)

- La Prehistoria del Valle del Asón: excavaciones en la Cueva de El Mirón (Ramales) y Cuevas del Monte Pando



First year

Second year

Third year

External activities


Member of the Archaeomalacology Working Group (International Council for Archaeozoology)


Contact details

Dr F. Igor Gutierrez Zugasti,
Newton International Fellow,
University of York
BioArCh, Environment Building
Wentworth Way
YO10 5DD