MESSAGE TO ENQUIRING PROSPECTIVE FIELD SCHOOL HELPERS

Michael J. Walker
Emeritus Professor of Physical Anthropology
Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física,Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia,
Campus Universitario de Espinardo (Edificio 20), 30100 Murcia, SPAIN
email: PREFERED <mjwalke@gmail.com> [other possibilities: “Michael Walker” <mupantquat@gmail.com>; info@mupantquat.com>;<walker@um.es>]
tel.:PREFERED: (34)-620-267104 cell phone  [other possibilities: (34)-968-265608, home; 966-769367, home; (34)-868-884997, office; fax: 34-868-883963]

December first, 2015

Dear Enquirer,

I want to welcome you to take part in our Field School which celebrates its 27th Field Season in 2016. I’m sure you’ll have an interesting time, especially if you’re interested in human evolution and our hominin ancestors. It is not too late to sign up. There is no application form: just send an email to mjwalke@gmail.com and you MUST attach a 1-page (brief) c.v. which MUST include (1) your full name, (2) date of birth, (3) nationality and passport number, (4) permanent home address, (5) address for correspondence, (6) contact phone number(s) and email address(es). If that information is not sent, you probably will not get a reply from us.

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. In 2011 we began to find calcined animal bones and burnt chert 4.5 metres down in the sediment, which give us the oldest evidence for fire in Europe found to date (in Africa there is evidence from before 1,000,000 years ago). The 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 field seasons have found more evidence still of this astounding discovery.

If you go to http://www.mupantquat.com you will find, and should open, study, and save, a long document entitled BRIEFING YOU which 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. I hope the updated version of BRIEFING YOU will be on our mupantquat web-site during January 2016 but until then 2015 version will be left on it and the information, except for the dates, is fundamentally what the 2016 version will include.

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: SESSION 1: June 30th (Thurs.) – July 21st (Thurs.) 2016 at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar SESSION 2: July 21st (Thurs.) – August 11th (Thurs.) 2016 at Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo.

We start and finish on Thursdays because from London there are both Ryanair flights (from Luton and Stansted) and Easyjet (from Gatwick) 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 find and read BRIEFING YOU very carefully, and then make up your mind. If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to write to me.

 Very important! If you are coming, 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 2016, Yours truly


Michael J. Walker 

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 2015, MUPANTQUAT ACTIVITIES, SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS, VISITORS, FIELD SCHOOL AND RESEARCH PROSPECTS FOR 2016 AT CUEVA NEGRA DEL ESTRECHO DEL RÍO QUÍPAR AND SIMA DE LAS PALOMAS DEL CABEZO GORDO

 
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