Peña Cabra

Created at 2.12.2016


Peña Cabra is a northwest-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 a multi-layered fluvial deposit sealed by a roof collapse, containing Mousterian lithic and faunal assemblages. Peña Cabra Middle Paleolithic deposit is known since 1996, when a reduced excavation was conducted at the site by J. Alcolea-González and colleagues. Research at this site 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. Research at Peña Cabra was focused on deciphering site formation processes, chronology of the Middle Palaeolithic occupations, and relations between ecological changes and Neanderthals techno-economic behaviors. Fieldwork comprised the excavation and the cleaning of a large stratigraphic profile corresponding to the 1996 excavation. These works produced an important assemblage of lithic and faunal remains, as well as samples for chronometric dating (sediment for OSL and charcoal/bones for 14C), micromorphology, anthracology and pollen analyses. Lab works have been developed in different research centers of Germany and Spain during 2015 and 2016, showing relevant results in most cases. Only partial results have been published so far, but comprehensive papers on this research are expected during 2017. These papers will discuss relevant scientific problems such as the purported late survival of Neandertals in interior Iberia, or the development of complex techno-economic behaviors during the Middle Palaeolithic.

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