Researchers in Spain have applied new remote sensing and aerial imaging to the Phoenician colony of Cabezo Pequeño del Estany of Guardamar under the project “Cultural Transfers in the Ancient Mediterranean” to begin a new round of archaeological works on the site.
The settlement was first discovered by chance in the late 1980s when it was partially destroyed by an illegal cement quarry and subsequently excavated in several seasons of rescue archaeology under the direction of Antonio García Menárguez, director of the Archaeological Museum of Guardamar.
The current joint work between the University and the Museum has raised interest in this spectacular site after recent consolidation work was photographed from the air showing the preserved sections of an impressive 2 metre high defensive wall, with projecting bastion and towers. Read more.
Spain’s National Archaeological Museum reopens to the public on Tuesday after a massive six-year overhaul that aims to offer a state-of-the-art space for its collection of ancient artefacts.
The redesign of one of Madrid’s largest museums, housing items from prehistoric times until the 19th century, began in 2008 and cost 65.2 million euros (89.8 million).
It has incorporated new audiovisual displays, maps and graphic panels to give greater context to the objects on display, which include Greek vases, Roman mosaics and ancient sacred artefacts.
The collection is spread around two interior courtyards now bathed in natural light thanks to new larger windows. Read more.
Archaeologists rejoin! The amazing prehistoric Altamira cave has re-opened for limited public viewing after being closed for over a decade.
The cave is located in northern Spain and contains jaw-dropping, well-preserved polychrome prehistoric cave paintings. The cave was discovered in 1868 by a hunter and contains abstract shapes and animal depictions painted some 13,000-to-35,000 years ago by cave dwellers. Altamira is located in Cantabria, Spain and is a World Heritage site managed by UNESCO.
In 2002, when experts determined that the quality of the cave paintings deteriorated due to large amounts of carbon dioxide expelled by human breath, the cave closed. UNESCO has now determined that groups of five people a week visiting for eight minutes will be allowed for a limited time. Read more.
La Braña 1, name used to baptize a 7,000 years old individual from the Mesolithic Period, whose remains were recovered at La Braña-Arintero site in Valdelugueros (León, Spain) had blue eyes and dark skin. These details are the result of a study conducted by Carles Lalueza-Fox, researcher from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Centre for GeoGenetics (Denmark). La Braña 1 represents the first recovered genome of an European hunter-gatherer. The research is published in Nature.
The Mesolithic, a period that lasted from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago (between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic), ends with the advent of agriculture and livestock farming, coming from the Middle-East. The arrival of the Neolithic, with a carbohydrate-based diet and new pathogens transmitted by domesticated animals, entailed metabolic and immunological challenges that were reflected in genetic adaptations of post-Mesolithic populations. Among these is the ability to digest lactose, which La Braña individual could not do. Read more.
A rock shelter site located above the river Segre in the Pyrenees foothills of northeastern Spain is yielding evidence of Neanderthal occupation that could post-date 40,000 years BP, according to researchers. This would place the ancient occupiers among the last Neanderthals to inhabit the area of present-day Europe, and finds at the site could provide clues to how the Neanderthals adapted to changing environmental circumstances and whether or not they coexisted with the emerging modern human populations in the region.
Called La Roca dels Bous, the rock shelter has been the subject of intense excavation and study by archaeologists and student volunteers under the joint direction of Dr. Rafael Mora Torcal of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Ma. Xavier Roda Gilabert of the Ministry of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government, and Adrià Millán Gil of archaeoBarcelona. Read more.
Using novel techniques to extract and study ancient DNA researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have determined an almost complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a 400,000-year-old representative of the genus Homo from Sima de los Huesos, a unique cave site in Northern Spain, and found that it is related to the mitochondrial genome of Denisovans, extinct relatives of Neandertals in Asia. DNA this old has until recently been retrieved only from the permafrost.
Sima de los Huesos (SH), the “bone pit”, is a cave site in Northern Spain that has yielded the world’s largest assembly of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils, consisting of at least 28 skeletons, which have been excavated and pieced together over the course of more than two decades by a Spanish team of paleontologists led by Juan-Luis Arsuaga. The fossils are classified as Homo heidelbergensis but also carry traits typical of Neandertals. Until now it had not been possible to study the DNA of these unique hominins. Read more.
An international team of researchers have announced the discovery of the oldest hominin (early or archaic human) fossil ever found in Western Europe, pushing back the clock on when early humans first colonized Western Europe after their exodus from Africa.
The find, a fossil tooth (molar) uncovered through excavations at the site of Barranco León in the Orce region of southeastern Spain, was dated to about 1.4 million years ago using several combined dating techniques, including Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) in combination with paleomagnetic and biochronological data.
"While the range of dates obtained from these various methods overlaps with those published for the Sima del Elefante hominin locality (1.2 Ma), the overwhelming majority of evidence points to an older age," reports study author Dr. Isidro-Moyano and colleagues. Read more.
Atapuerca: Excavation work at an archaeological complex in northwestern Spain has unearthed a small flint knife that was made 1.4 million years ago and is the oldest evidence of the presence of hominids at the site.
A small, three-cm stone fragment with a very defined edge lends weight to the hypothesis that hominids have maintained a permanent presence in Europe for nearly 1.5 million years, Eudald Carbonell, one of the three excavation directors, said.
That would contradict the generally accepted theory that Europe was populated in waves and was devoid of hominids for long periods of time, he added. Read more.