Briefing you about our Field School for Quaternary Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory of Murcia

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BRIEFING YOU

about our

Field School for Quaternary Palaeoanthropology and

Prehistory of Murcia,

S.E. Spain
Michael J. Walker

Subdepartment of Physical Anthropology,

Dept. of Zoology and Physical Anthropology,

Biology Faculty

Murcia University,

30100, MURCIA (SPAIN)

emails: walker@um.es or mjwalke@gmail.com

fax: 34-868-883963
Dates:
July 3rd (Tues.) – July 24th (Tues.) 2012 at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar
July 24th (Tues.) –August 14th (Tues.) 2012 at Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo

ABSTRACT

The main objective of the research project is to increase the finds of Pleistocene hominin fossils, along with stone tools and prehistoric animals, by excavation at two sites, Cueva Negra (Black Cave) del Estrecho del Río Quípar de La Encarnación and Sima de las Palomas (Dove Hole) del Cabezo Gordo de Dolores de Pacheco, in the Spanish province of Murcia. A secondary objective is to compare and contrast how Neanderthal folk and their H. heidelbergensis forebears used natural resources near to the sites, which are in very different local environments. The results will be of importance in developing research into fossil man of the ice age in Mediterranean Spain. Fieldwork since the early 1990’s has very significantly increased the numbers of Pleistocene hominin remains from both sites, as well as the Middle Palaeolithic stone tools and Middle-early Late Pleistocene faunal remains. The results are greatly helping to extend our knowledge about H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis, their origins and their lifeways.


Professor Michael J. Walker

Área de Antropología Física

Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física

Facultad de Biología

Universidad de Murcia

30100 Murcia

Spain

web site: (click on the Union Jack for the English version, as it is in E nglish and Spanish)

email: or

fax: 34-868-883963; tel.: (34)-868-884997 (work)

tel.: (34)-968-265608 (home); tel.: (34)-620-267104 (cell phone)
Dear Field Helper,
I want to welcome you to take part in our Field School. I'm sure you'll have an interesting time, especially if you're interested in human evolution and our hominin ancestors.

You may very well be as lucky as some recent participants who have helped to excavate hominin bones and teeth during the course of their stay with us. The most recently found are Neanderthal bones, still in their original state of anatomical articulation of the chest, shoulder girdle and upper limb, and of the pelvic girdle, leg and foot, which belong to maybe three individuals, perhaps crushed by a rock-fall or perhaps intentionally arranged and covered with rocks, which we have been uncovering at Sima de las Palomas since 2005 and which date to between 55,000 and 40,000 years ago. Some of them our helpers it was the most exciting thing they had ever done. Several of them knew very little about human evolution or how we excavate at prehistoric sites when they arrived, and went away thrilled and having picked up a great deal of both knowledge, not to mention Neanderthal human remains! There is also great excitement at Cueva Negra which lately has been recognized as a very much older site than we had thought it was. In its sedimentary fill we have recovered numerous teeth of fossil rodent species known from several sites in Spain after 1,000,000 years ago that became completely extinct long before 500,000 years ago. We have also excavated an Acheulian hand-axe associated with flakes struck by the so-called Levallois technique and stone tools with abrupt Mousterian-like retouch. Palaeomagnetic research undertaken by the Berkeley Geochronology Center shows that the sedimentary fill is older than 780,000 years ago. Palaeontological and palaeopalynological research suggest an age of 800-900,000 years ago. This early date means that Cueva Negra’s six early Neanderthal-size teeth are best seen as belonging to the Neanderthal precursor in Europe called Homo heidelbergensis. In 2011 we discovered calcined animal bones and burnt chert 4.5 metres down in the sediment, which are the oldest evidence for fire in Europe found to date (in Africa there is evidence from 1,700,000 years ago).

The BRIEFING YOU which follows tells you how the Project got started and where we're at right now. As you'll see, since the Project began in the early 1990’s we have found a large number of remains of hominin and animal bones, and the stone tools of Pleistocene hominins. Read the draft of a soon-to-be-published chapter about our sites at the end of the BRIEFING. Go to our web site for plenty of colour pictures of our sites .

The Project is carrying out excavations at two sites in Murcia province, S.E. Spain which date from between 900,000 and 40,000 years ago, and are called:



Cueva Negra (Black Cave) del Estrecho del Río Quípar de La Encarnación, and

Sima de las Palomas (Dove Hole) del Cabezo Gordo de Dolores de Pacheco.

The dates when we shall be at each site are as follows:



July 3rd (Tues.) – July 24th (Tues.) 2012 at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar

July 24th (Tues.) – August 14th (Tues.) 2012 at Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo.

We start and finish on Thursdays because there are both Ryanair flights from London (Luton and Stansted) on weekdays – as well as many other low budget flights by other airlines (see FIELD LOGISTICS), and also connecting Iberia-Air Nostrum flights from Madrid and Barcelona on weekdays - but not at weekends - for intercontinental travellers arriving in Spain (e.g. from U.S.A.).


I think the best thing you can do now is to read the BRIEFING very carefully, and then make up your mind. If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to write to me.
Very important! Please send me, as soon as you can, details about your route, place, date, and time of arrival so that we know you are definitely arriving so as to put you on our list of people to be picked up at Murcia-San Javier Airport (or at Calasparra railway station for Cueva Negra) – or else so that we know you are NOT to going to be picked up by us if you are coming under your own steam or on other days. This is very important for you and for me!

I look forward to seeing you in Spain in the Summer of 2012,

Yours truly

Michael J. Walker
Professor Michael J. Walker

Área de Antropología Física

Deptº. de Zoología y Antropología Física

Facultad de Biología

Universidad de Murcia

Campus Universitario de Espinardo

30100 Murcia (Spain) January tenth 2012

Email: walker@um.es or mjwalke@gmail.com; tel. 34-620-267104, 34-868-884997, fax 34-868-883963 http://www.um.es/antropfisica


Dear 2011Helpers and intending Helpers in 2012 ,
Mariano, María, Antonio, Jon, Azucena and Matías all join me in thanking you for coming last Summer or offering to come next Summer. Your help is contributing to our success. Our web-site is being brought upto date and with luck will be ready for you soon. It will have some new photos which are unpublished and which you may view by entering the password SILEX, but in order to protect our copyright with a view to their future publication you are asked not to copy them please nor send them to other people.

Alas, I cannot enter into correspondence with all of you individually, even when you write to me with specific enquiries about the progress of our research. Hundreds of people have attended our Field School over the past two decades, and because I have no secretary I cannot answer scores of letters separately. So that is why I am sending you this round-robin letter. One size will just have to fit all, I am sorry to have to say. The snippets offered below will have to suffice, together with what will be put up on the website (especially in “Briefing You”), even if they only serve to whet your appetite for more! You will appreciate, I feel sure, that it is one thing for me to correspond about ongoing unpublished research with the handful of established scientists who collaborate with our project, but it would be an unethical and improper thing for me (or them) to do if we were to enter into correspondence about unpublished new business people who are not directly involved in the scientific development and elaboration of those particular research matters. Their eventual publication must be awaited with your patience - even though it may have to last for a few years.

All the same, I do try to go out of my way to answer enquiries from those graduate helpers who are now doctoral candidates at universities around the world, when from time to time they write to me enquiring about highly specific scientific matters concerning their own research which have occurred to them in relation to knowledge they acquired when working at our sites.
Also, when undergraduate students want to come as helpers, and enquire about how to use their experience to gain credit from their own colleges or universities, because we ourselves have no structure for giving them such credit, I do want you to know that if your own college professors are willing to give you college credit for a paper or report you present to them on your return, then I will collaborate with your college professors who write directly to me to ask about appropriate topics for papers or reports you might present to them, and I will offer you advice during your stay here (but not afterwards); you may use photographs you have taken and, indeed, we always encourage you to take photographs provided that you let us have copies for our use. You should inform your faculty that each one of our Field School’s three-week sessions involves 180 hours of training, divided into about ninety of supervised excavation and retrieval of finds both by your own manual excavation and by wet-sieving (wet-screening) of excavated Pleistocene sediment, about seventy hours of supervised preliminary sorting of finds in our field-lab, about ten of talks and seminars and another ten for a visit to places of archaeological relevance and historical interest.

For those universities who require certificates of attendance as requisites for completion of undergrad degrees (especially in Archaeology, in the UK and Commonwealth countries, and a few others), I will sign their forms provided you bring them with you (I won’t guarantee to do so if you forget to bring them and try to send them to me afterwards) and I always issue our own Field School certificates of attendance to every helper – whereas some universities only accept their own completed forms (e.g. London), others find ours to be an acceptable substitute should you forget to bring their own forms (e.g. Oxford).

I’m often asked to write in support of helpers who apply for graduate study. It is time-consuming and because I am extremely busy with other paperwork every December and January, I will write such support only provided that I have received the forms I have to fill in for you before October thirty-first, thereby giving me November to fill them in and send them off; usually graduate-study applications have to be in by the following February. Moreover, I will only fill in paper forms which can be returned by airmail (whether to you or the institution you are applying to, depending on its requirements) – whether for graduate-study or any other applications or requests on your behalf. I can fill paper forms in by hand after my university office hours while watching television at home in the evening.

Alas, I do not guarantee to help where an institution gives me no other option than to fill out an “on-line” form. I avoid like the plague having to go “on-line” to institutions and fill in forms “on-line”by computer, for several reasons. First, it can be very slow and take up far too much time in my office hours at the university. Secondly, “on-line” forms are constraining and often do not let me say all those things I might want to say but which I can easily add or annex to a paper form. Thirdly, institutional administrative or secretarial assistants (I have none) ought to be capable of transcribing documents into “IT” documentary formats (though some nowadays seem almost unable to read or write, let alone spell or punctuate with accuracy), but they are not trained either to do anthropological research or to give university lectures to students – both of which comprise what I am paid to do according to my employment contract, whereas I am not contracted to do secretarial work (for which in any case I have never been trained) and I refuse to do it “on-line” so that at the expense of my working time and labour some institutions can cut costs by employing fewer administrative or secretarial assistants to work for them than they might otherwise do; there is a fundamental matter involved here involving principles of natural justice, employees’ rights and duties, and fair-play by employers in the work-place.
We rarely get financial help from the public authorities here, alas. We did receive some in 2007 and 2009, but there was none in 2008, 2010, or 2011 and there will be none in 2012 owing to economy measures brought in because of Spain’s dire financial crisis. Anyway, much of the money we did receive was earmarked for costly infrastructure (e.g. our 4x4 field vehicle, our “Topcon” total GPS station for surveying; heavy safes to guard our finds; etc.) or for dating and other analyses at international centres. We rely on our helpers to keep the fieldwork going. Our charge is 50 euros per night (including bed, light breakfast, mid-morning sandwich, cooked lunch and cooked supper). The deposit is the UK sterling equivalent of two-hundred-and-fifty euros per each seven-day period or part thereof. So for three weeks you deposit seven-hundred-and-fifty euros, but for ten days you deposit is five-hundred. You pay us the out-standing balance in euros on your arrival (300 euros for 3 weeks, whereas for ten days you owe us nothing more). You might want to take out holiday insurance in case of last-minute inability to come, because the deposit is non-returnable. It is non-returnable because we are in a holiday-resort area with flights that are heavily booked well in advance of the July-August high summer season. So even if we have someone on a waiting-list when you drop out, that person might not be able to book a flight only a few weeks before the session.This means we might well have to use your deposited money in order to try to tempt one of our local undergrads to take your place instead of taking a well-paid vacation job in a bar or restaurant beside the packed beaches or at a golf resort, because, in order to have adequate help on site at all times so that we can carry out our excavations efficiently we need always to have on site a basic minimum number of people, below which we cannot work smoothly.

A lot is happening! Excavations at Cueva Negra and Sima de las Palomas have given us evermore startling finds in the past few years. At Sima de las Palomas we have uncovered articulated skeletal remains in anatomical connexion of two Neanderthal adults with a child, covered by rocks in the cave 55-45,000 years ago (the last articulated adult Neanderthal to be excavated was way back in 1976, at St.Césaire in France). Researching for his PhD, Jon Ortega is doing brilliant work in our lab, cleaning and identifying the bones in the cemented breccia masses we have excavated. In 2011 we acquired vibroscalpels (so-called “air-scribe” tools) powered by a small compressor to facilitate the cleaning. We now also use Murcia University Veterinary Hospital’s new scanner to visualize human bone remains in the breccia masses and to record the digitalized images for analysis and virtual reconstruction. We are grateful to Professor Christoph Zollikofer and Dr. Marcia Ponce de León who came over from Zürich University to show us how they carry out such research there and who also most kindly invited Jon and me to visit their Zürich laboratories in 2011.

To help us study the skeletons, in January 2011 the eminent Anthropology Professor Erik Trinkaus came over here from Washington University at St.Louis. Thanks to his invaluable collaboration we have now published a second paper on Sima de las Palomas Neanderthal remains in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, two papers (with another in press) in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and a third in Journal of Dental Research, and we have also just published a long paper in Quaternary International about how we excavated the Neanderthal skeletons.
To house our spectacular Neanderthal skeletons a museum is now under construction below Sima de las Palomas (in September 2010 the Chairman of our Regional Government in Murcia laid its foundation stone). It is costing ten million euros which, luckily for us, had been set aside for the purpose three years ago in a locked fund, thereby escaping the severe budgetary cuts that curtailed many aspects of public expenditure in Spain in recent months owing to its economic problems.
In September 2010 during its 16th Annual Meeting at The Hague, I and my good friend and collaborator Dr Tom Higham of Oxford University organized a special session on “Re-thinking Palaeolithic Chronologies in Europe and the circum-Mediterranean Region”, in which I presented a paper on Cueva Negra. Tom and I have been invited to be guest editors of a thematic issue of Quaternary International for the papers offered for the session. It will probably be published in 2012 and will contain the paper on Cueva Negra.

Cueva Negra was the subject of our long article in the 2006 issue of the Harvard-edited journal Eurasian Prehistory, which finally was distrubuted in 2007. Alas, it is already out of date, because it said the site was “only” 400-500,000 years old. This was based on an attempt to square Dr. Jean-Luc Schwenninger´s initial optically stimulated luminescence-dating at Oxford University using multiple-grain analysis of sediment samples from our site, with its very ancient extinct rodent species, most of which hade gone extinct well before 500,000 years ago as is now being demonstrated by our Antonio López’s PhD research into them. Jean-Luc returned in 2007 and 2011 took more samples at Cueva Negra for OSL dating at his Oxford lab, using the more laborious time-consuming analysis of single-grains to improve accuracy and avoid the ever-present risk of contamination by recent grains in multiple-grain samples. We await his findings eagerly because plaeomagnetic research demonstrates a very great antiquity of around 800-900,000 years old according to Berkeley’s Professor Gary Scott and Dr Lluis Gibert (now at Barcelona University; son of my ex-codirector at Sima de las Palomas the late Josep Gibert), and this immense antiquity is most appropriate for the extinct fossil rodent species; Gary and Lluis took samples at Cueva Negra in 2008 and in 2009 published their findings in Nature. In 2011 the French CNRS geophysicist Dr. Régis Braucher took samples at Cueva Negra for cosmogenic nuclide dating, and his findings are awaited keenly.

At depth of 4.5 metres down in the sedimentary fill of the cave, the 2011 excavation discovered calcined bone and burnt chert. Dr. Francesco Berna at Boston University’s Archaeology Department informs me that the bone had been heated at 500-800ºC, according to Fourier-transform infared spectrometry, a technique developed there by the distinguished geoarchaeologist Professor Paul Goldberg. In Germany, Dr. Daniel Richter of Bayreuth University’s Geography Department is attempting to date the burnt chert using thermoluminescence, a technique in which he is a well-known expert. Micromorphological analysis of the Cueva Negra sediments is being carried out by geoarchaeologist Dr. Diego Angelucci of the Italian University of Trento, and granulometrical analysis is being conducted by geomorphologist Dr. Yanni Gunnell of the Geography Department at Lyons University-2 in France.
The astonishing antiquity of Cueva Negra has greatly excited Anthropology Professor Tom Wynn of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is a world authority on what Acheulian and Levallois knapping techniques can tell us about the evolution of cognition in hominins. Two of his students helped in our 2011 excavations. Until now nobody had ever imagined that the Levallois reduction technique in Wurope could be as old as we are finding it to be at Cueva Negra, and to have both Acheulian and Levallois techniques at our site is intriguing. Tom is one of three editors of a 2009 Cambridge University Press book on the evolution of human cognition, Cognitive Archaeology And Human Evolution which has a chapter by me about the significance of the Cueva Negra lithic assemblage.

We are now beginning to deteremine the natural chert sources exploited by the Cueva Negra hominins, thanks to collaboration at Arizona University, where its recent anthropology graduate Winston Zack, who spent three field seasons here, submitted many samples he took, from both the site itself and chert outcrops in its vicinity, to Dr. Alex Andronikov at AU’s Lunar and Planetary Sciences Laboratory who has conducted spectroscopic analysis of rare-earth trace elements in the cherts. We hope to publish the findings in 2012. Winston has started on a doctoral programme at North Texas University.

I was in England again in June 2011, to spend time with our Oxford research colleagues Tom Higham and Jean-Luc Schwenninger, as well as in the libraries there, and I expect to return in 2012. I also visited Leiden University in 2011 and convinced Professor Wil Roebroeks that our new evidence for fire at Cueva Negra is the oldest so far found in Europe, and I shall visit Leiden again in 2012 and he hopes to visit Cueva Negra soon. I also have an invitation to give another talk at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig in 2012.

Yours truly

Michael Walker
YOU CAN CONTACT ANY OF US:

Michael J. Walker

email: or


Mariano López Martínez

email: or



María Haber-Uriarte

Email:


Antonio López Jiménez

email: or



Jon Ortega Rodrigáñez

email: or



Azucena Avilés Fernández

email:


Matías Campillo Boj



BRIEFING YOU

CONTENTS

RESEARCH PLAN

THE PROJECT AND ITS RESEARCH GOALS

BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROJECT
RESEARCH GOALS AND HOW WE ACHIEVE THEM
APPLICATION OF RESULTS

WHO BENEFITS FROM OUR FINDINGS AND HOW?

TRAVELLING EUROPEAN UNION PUBLIC EXHIBITION about our sites and research at them:

Archaic Europeans and Neanderthals. Project HOMO:



Hominins, Technology and Environment in the Middle and early Late Pleistocene”

OUR FINDINGS HELP TO FORMULATE PUBLIC POLICY

OUR PROJECT BENEFITS THE EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY

OUR PROJECT CAN BENEFIT THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND TOURIST INDUSTRY

PUBLICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF OUR FINDINGS
FIELD TRAINING
ASSIGNMENTS
STAFF
FIELD LOGISTICS

RESEARCH AREA

YOUR SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES

DAILY SCHEDULE


GROUP DEVELOPMENT

VISAS AND RECONFIRMING YOUR TICKETS

RENDEZ-VOUS

TRAVEL OPTIONS BY RAIL OR COACH

EARLY AND LATE ARRIVALS, AND STAYING ON IN SPAIN AFTERWARDS
FUNDING OUR FIELD RESEARCH

CHARGES

INSURANCE

WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES TO

WHY DEPOSITS ARE NON-RETURNABLE

OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME



LOOKING AFTER YOU

ACCOMODATION

FOOD

PHYSICAL CONDITIONING/MEDICAL ADVICE

FIELD COMMUNICATIONS

FIELD SUPPLIES
READING SUGGESTIONS

NON-FICTIONnon-fiction

FICTION

NEANDERTHAL VIDEO
YOUR PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AS SEEN BY HIMSELF: A short c.v.

RESEARCH PLAN


THE PROJECT AND ITS RESEARCH GOALS
The Project aims at achieving careful recovery, by scientific excavation, of skeletal remains of Neanderthal folk and their Middle Palaeolithic stone tools and extinct animal remains, from between about 900,000 and 40,000 years ago, at the 2 southeastern Spanish sites in the province of Murcia of

CUEVA NEGRA ("Black Cave") in the River Quípar gorge at La Encarnación near Caravaca de la Cruz (0.9-0.8 m.yr), and

SIMA DE LAS PALOMAS ("Hole of the Doves") on Cabezo Gordo hill at Dolores de Pacheco near Torre Pacheco (60-40 k.yr.).

The Project is allowing full recovery of these materials to be used to draw comparisons and contrasts between findings at the site near the coast of Sima de las Palomas and those at the site in the inland hill-country of Cueva Negra. This throws much-needed light on the exploitation of natural resources by Neanderthal folk (H. neanderthalensis) and their even more archaic fore-runners (H. heidelbergensis) in two very different local environments 100 kilometres apart.

Sima de las Palomas overlooks the coastal plain behind a large coastal lagoon known as the Mar Menor ("Lesser Sea") from about 125 metres above sea level. It is therefore in a mild environment, where people could have lived throughout the year during the ice age. By contrast, Cueva Negra is at 740 metres above sea-level where the River Quípar emerges from a rocky gorge (“Estrecho del Río Quípar”) overlooked by mountains rising to 1,500 metres above sea-level; it is only 30 kilometres from peaks which tower to over 2,000 metres. In ice-age times its environment was uninhabitable by man for much of the year.
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROJECT
I was keen to extend knowledge about Neanderthal presence in southeastern Spain following my appointment there as Professor of Physical Anthropology at Murcia University in 1988. I had came to it from Sydney University in Australia, from where I had already carried out research into the southeastern Spanish Quaternary (e.g. Cuenca & Walker 1986 and refs.; Cuenca, Pomery & Walker, 1986, and refs.) and hominins (Cuenca & Walker 1980; Habgood & Walker 1986), and supervised Phil Habgood's excellent Ph.D. thesis A Morphometric Investigation into the Origin(s) of Anatomically Modern Humans which has just been published in the BAR (British Archaeological Reports International Series, Oxford) in December 2003. (For other references, see Reading Suggestiosns.)
CUEVA NEGRA DEL ESTRECHO DEL RÍO QUÍPAR

I therefore lost no time in accepting an offer to visit Cueva Negra made by my friend Miguel San Nicolás, a Spanish prehistorian, who had dug a 2 metre-deep test pit there in 1981 and found possible “Mousterian” stone tools, and extinct animals such as rhinoceros (Martínez et al., 1989). Apart from that test pit, no further work had as yet been done there.

No sooner did I see the test pit, than I at once recognized something that the young archaeologist had not, but which my previous research in southeastern Spain had taught me to recognize easily - namely, that it was dug through a sediment laid down by the nearby river when it reached the cave from time to time, sediment which also included minerals derived from the rock of the cave walls and roof, and even a small amount of very fine wind-blown soil (known as loess) which must have been blown onto long-vanished swamps in front of the cave, on the River Quípar flood-plain, by fierce winds which whipped up enormous amounts of dust from barren tundra which both surrounded the ice-age glaciers of the Sierra Nevada 200 kilometres to the south and sporadically may even have extended northwards at altitudes of over 1,000 metres above sea level near to the cave. The sedimentary fill of Cueva Negra (5 metres deep at the back of the cave, perhaps 8 at the front) was deposited when the River Quípar (a tributary of the River Segura) and swamps and lakes watered by it, sporadically reached the cave at a time when the Quípar flood-plain stood close to the level of the cave.

Earlier research, backed up by radiocarbon dating, had shown that the 3 river terraces of the Segura river basin may have been formed somewhat more recently than was once thought to be the case. The lowest terrace began accumulating only 30,000 years ago when the third major cold stage of the last ice-age began, and after the middle terrace had stopped accumulating by some 40,000 years ago at the end of the middle stage of the last ice-age. The early and middle cold stages of the last ice age were when Neanderthal folk and "Mousterian" stone tools were especially widespread in Europe. My new excavations at Cueva Negra held out great promise of confirming the typology of its stone tools.

As we shall see, things have now turned out to be very different indeed, and far more surprising –amazing!- than I had ever imagined, and certainly very exciting for our understanding of early Palaeolithic archaeology in Eurasia. We know now that the sediments in the cave were laid down long, long before the last ice age, and that its Palaeolithic “Levalloisian” chert flakes some of which have edges modified by “Mousterian” retouch are among the oldest of this kind not only in Europe but even in Africa, and are accompanied by an “Acheulian” hand-axe on a limestone cobble. In short, the sediment had been laid down in the cave long, long before nearby river terraces came into existence, and was protected for posterity by tectonic uplift of the hillside in which Cueva Negra lies. More of all that later on!
But let us start now at the beginning. My project got under way when I started to excavate Cueva Negra in 1990. Since then I have excavated there during three weeks every year. This field research has provided six adult teeth of Neanderthal-like (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis or H. neanderthalensis) or early (or pre-) Neanderthal folk (Homo heidelbergensis). The large Neanderthal-like teeth show severe attrition (wear); indeed, the crowns of both a canine and an incisor tooth were so worn down that the pulp cavity ("nerve") became exposed: such extreme wear is a well-known characteristic of Neanderthal adult teeth.

Here are some English-lnaguage publications you might care to look for at your nearest major university or city library (some more recent ones are available from us as pdf) and I include two to be published in the near future. Go to our web-site: htttp://www.um.es/antropfisica:

2012 (forthcoming) M.J.Walker, M.V.López-Martínez, J.S.Carrión-García, T.Rodríguez-Estrella, M.San-Nicolás-del-Toro, J-L.Schwenninger, A.López-Jiménez, J.Ortega-Rodrigáñez, M.Haber-Uriarte, J-L.Polo-Camacho, J.García-Torres, M.Campillo-Boj, A.Avilés-Fernández: “Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Murcia, Spain): A late Early Pleistocene hominin site with an “Acheulo-Levalloiso-Mousteroid” Palaeolithic assemblage” Quaternary International (ISSN 1040-6182).

2012 (in press) R. C. Power, M. J. Walker, Salazar García, D. C., Henry, A.: “Neandertal plant food consumption and environmental use at Sima de las Palomas, southeastern Spain.” PaleoAnthropology (ISSN 1545-0031).

2011 M.J.Walker, J.Ortega, K.Parmová, M.V.López, E.Trinkaus: “Morphology, body proportions, and postcranial hypertrophy of a female Neandertal from the Sima de las Palomas, southeastern Spain” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108 (25) 10087-10091 (ISSN 1091-6490).

2011 (early edition published on-line April 5, 2011. D.O.I.: 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.03.034) M.J.Walker, M.V.López-Martínez, J.Ortega-Rodrigáñez, M.Haber-Uriarte, A.López-Jiménez, A.Avilés-Fernández, J.L-Polo Camacho, M.Campillo-Boj, J.García-Torres, J.S,Carrión-García, M.San Nicolas-del Toro, T.Rodríguez-Estrella: “The excavation of the buried articulated Neanderthal skeletons at Sima de las Palomas (Murcia, SE Spain).” Quaternary International (ISSN: 1040-6182).

2011 M.J.Walker, J.Ortega Rodrigáñez, M. V. López Martínez, K. Parmová, E. Trikaus: “Neandertal postcranial remains from the Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia, southeastern Spain.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144: 505-515 (ISSN 0002-9483).

2011 M.J.Walker, J.Zapata, A.V.Lombardi, E.Trinkaus, “New evidence of dental pathology in 40,000 year old Neandertals” Journal of Dental Research 90: 428-432 (ISSN 0022-0345).



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