Saturday, December 03, 2022

Excavations at Roca de los Buez reveal new remains of Neanderthal occupations that passed 60,000 years ago

The new excavation expedition at Roca dels Boas in Sant Lorenque de Montaigne (Noguera) focuses on the oldest occupations of this Middle Palaeolithic site. The work focuses on houses occupied by Neanderthals who passed through 60,000 years ago. The preserved ashes provide information for researchers to know about the vegetation of that time, the fuel they used or the reasons why they light the bonfire. This research is carried out by the Center for the Study of the Archaeological Heritage of Prehistory of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CEPArq-UAB). In this edition, a dozen students from various universities in the state and other countries such as France or Australia participate.

The Roca dels Boas site, located in the region of the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees, belongs to the Middle Palaeolithic. It is located in Sant’Lorenque de Montaigne, in the municipality of Camarsa (Noguera), and is an important site for archaeological research to learn about the lifestyle and activities carried out by Neanderthals passing through the region. Between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago, those hominids stayed in this shelter, during their journey between the Pyrenees and the Lleida Plain. The special geological processes taking place in the rock have made it possible to preserve many traces of these Neanderthal journeys.

This excavation campaign at Roca dels Boas, which began in early August and will continue throughout the month, focuses on the dismantling of the archaeological unit N14, which is the highest, and also on the lower units. In addition to the UAB team, a dozen students from various universities in the state and other countries participate. This year, there are many students from the University of Canberra (Australia).

remains of houses

The most outstanding finds, both this year and last, are the remains of hearths. “We are dealing with Neanderthals and the general point is that the houses are not preserved, but they have a thermal effect on the sediments,” explains Rafael Mora, professor of prehistory at UAB. “La Roca dels Boas, however, has special conservation status due to its location and even the reefs are preserved,” he explains. In Roca dels Boas, “the ashes of the houses appear, the first thing that disappears as the wind blows them away, and also the thermal effect appears, and then the houses, some of which are all filled with material has been used for combustion,” remarked the researcher.

This fact allows archaeologists to know aspects such as the vegetation of the time or the type of fuel used by those Neanderthals. In addition, it provides information regarding the use of houses made by them such as “if they were merely thermal places to shelter from the cold at night or if they were places to replace food, i.e. daily activities,” Mora telling.

There is no stable business in Roca dels Boas but “they are very specific events”. “Neanderthals migrated in the direction of the Lleida Plain, towards the central depression below the Segre River, and they may have lived for a month, a week, or a few days”, explains the UAB researchers. Rafael Mora says, “We found remnants of businesses that have remained from those short times” and for this reason, “families overlap each other and indicate different moments of occupation”. However, this overlap complicates the task of archaeologists.

study of neanderthal lifestyle

The main objective of the research project carried out by CEPARK-UAB at Roca dels Boas, a Site of Cultural Property of National Interest (BCIN) declared, is to study population and lifestyle dynamics at the end of the Palaeolithic, as well as the development of Neanderthal populations. Increase knowledge about Excavations carried out since 2001 have made it possible to identify Neanderthal archaeological material, in particular quartzite products and utensils characteristic of the Mousterian period.

The excavations are part of a wider project in which CEPARK-UAB is working to learn about settlement during the early Holocene in the Pleistocene and Catalan Pre-Pyrenees, with which they attempt to reconstruct the ways of life of Neanderthals in the region. We do. It is centered between Noguera Pallaresa and Noguera Ribagorcana and, in addition to Roca dels Boas, other sites are studied, such as Cova Gran in Santa Linya (Noguera), and Ebrique Pizarro in Aiger (Noguera). In which they are also digging these days.

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