Peña Capón

Created at 2.12.2016


Peña Capón is a north-west oriented limestone rock shelter located in the Sorbe River Valley (Upper Tagus River basin), close to the southeastern foothills of the Central System Range (Guadalajara, Central Spain). It hosts an important Upper Paleolithic sequence which is known since 1970, when an unsystematic excavation was carried out at the site. Unfortunately, that excavation was never published, and therefore our knowledge of Peña Capón has been always problematic. Moreover, access to the site presents significant difficulties, since it is affected by the Beleña dam and therefore it is often underwater. After a long wait, in the autumn of 2015 climatic, scientific and institutional conditions were all favorable enough to allow a long-desired intensive excavation at this site. The sequence of Peña Capón has no parallel in the interior lands of the Iberian Peninsula, where most of the sites are Magdalenian. On the contrary, Peña Capón presents a sequence composed on several Solutrean, Proto-Solutrean and probably Gravettian occupations. These sequence, together with the good preservation of an archaeological deposit consisting of abundant lithic, faunal and charcoal remains, makes Peña Capón a key site for investigating human-environment interactions and population dynamics during the Late Pleniglacial of interior Iberia. Research at Peña Capón is currently developed in the framework of a Marie Curie (FP7-IEF) Project coordinated at the Neanderthal Museum by Dr. Manuel Alcaraz-Castaño and Prof. Dr. Gerd-Christian Weniger. This project is entitled ‘Testing Population Hiatuses in the Late Pleistocene of Central Iberia: a Geoarchaeological Approach’ and is aimed at investigating human-environment interactions and population dynamics in the interior lands of the Iberian Peninsula during the Late Pleistocene. It is associated to the C1 Project of the CRC 806, and it counts with the collaboration of Dr. Martin Kehl (University of Cologne) and other researchers from Spain and Germany. The objectives at Peña Capón were centered in gathering data that were missing so far for this site, such as chronometric, palaeoecological and modern geomorphological information. Thus, their investigations were focused on deciphering site formation processes, chronology of the different humans occupations registered in the deposit, and relations between ecological changes and human techno-economic behaviors. In order to do that, the team opened up an excavation area and collected a large inventory of archaeological objects and samples for micromorpholgy, sedimentology, radiocarbon dating, anthracology, micromammals and pollen analysis. All these analyses are being processed during 2016 and 2017 in different labs of Germany and Spain, and their results will be of great interest for studying population dynamics during Marine Isotopic Stage 2 in interior Iberia.

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