Field School

Field School for Quaternary Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory of Murcia, S.E. Spain – 31st Field Season 2020

Field School Poster 2020 (PDF)
BRIEFING YOU 2020

Excavation has been ongoing for 30 years at both sites. Cueva Negra has abundant evidence of fire, a final Early (i.e. Lower) Pleistocene fauna, an “Acheulian” hand-axe, numerous flake-tools, and extinct fauna in sediments laid down between 772,000 and 990,000 years ago (probably during the interglacial period from 868,000 to 814,000 years ago), according to biostratigraphy, palaeomagnetism, and geophysical dating. Sima de las Palomas has >300 skeletal parts (teeth, bones) of 15 Neanderthal individuals, including 3 articulated skeletons one of which is 85% complete 55,000-50,000 years ago, an early Late (i.e. Upper) Pleistocene fauna, and Mousterian Palaeolithic artifacts, dated by 14C, U-ser, OSL and ESR, with new finds of Neanderthals teeth and mandible, fauna, and Mousterian artifacts in deep layers dated to 130,000-90,000 years ago.

We invite applicants to take part in our 2020 summer field season. All applicants are considered sympathetically; prior archaeological experience is less important than keenness. To apply, just send an email with brief cv after going to our MUPANTQUAT web-page, clicking there on FIELD SCHOOL and then on “BRIEFING YOU” (there’s no application form to fill in as we keep paperwork to a minimum). The Murcian Association for the Study of Palaeoanthropology and the Quaternary (MUPANTQUAT) coordinates the Field School and excavations, issues your Certificate of Attendance, and makes you a member for the current year (we also sign forms you bring from your university).

poster_2013_2While at Cueva Negra (Session 1)we stay at the residential Ascruz school (which has its own kitchen staff) at Caravaca de la Cruz. While at Sima de las Palomas (Session 2) we put bunks in the public school at Dolores de Pacheco and take our meals in the restaurant of the village civic centre nearby. Both schools have showers, cleaning staff, and concierges. We organise laundry at both places. Both schools give us some access (often erratic, alas) to wifi and internet. We can use the municipal public swimming pools at Caravaca and Dolores (which is also near the beach). At both places, you must bring sheets, pillow-slip, towel, soap and shower-gel. Summer is hot in Murcia: you’ll get a chance to swim. Bring light work clothes and flat-soled light footwear for Cueva Negra but bring work boots for Sima de las Palomas. Bring sun-hats, sun-glasses, sun-cream, swimmers. If you’ve a driver’s licence, please bring it. Your contribution includes all meals and laundry.

We cannot meet or set down helpers on any other dates than the start and finish dates of each session. On those, we meet our helpers at Región de Murcia International Airport on the first day of each session and set them down on the last. Budget airlines fly to it from the UK and other countries. For Sima de las Palomas we can meet helpers at the Balsicas-Mar Menor railway station where all trains stop that go to Cartagena from Madrid or Barcelona. It is less easy for us to meet helpers for Cueva Negra who want to arrive by train; we prefer to meet at Cieza railway station those who board at Madrid (not all trains from Madrid to Murcia and Cartagena do stop at Cieza, so helpers should check which ones do). Trains from Madrid and Barcelona stop at Murcia city where, however, we are extremely reluctant to try to meet helpers because passengers flooding off the trains can result in missed encounters, for which reason also we refuse to meet helpers at Alicante International Airport (where, moreover, flights are often delayed), so helpers for Session 1 arriving at those destinations should take buses to Murcia city bus station and there take another bus to Caravaca bus station where we can meet them, provided they phone us to tell us when they expect to arrive there. If helpers for Session 2 choose to land at Alicante International Airport they should try either to take a bus directly to San Javier (there is one from Alicante bus station to Cartagena, though that means first getting to the bus station from the airport), or the bus from Alicante Airport to Murcia city bus station and then the bus service from there to San Javier or the different service to Torre Pacheco; we may be able to meet them at either town provided that they phone us to tell us when they expect to arrive there. Tickets are sold at Alicante Airport for the direct coach service from it to Murcia city bus station. In 2019 there was a coach from Madrid Barajas Airport to Cartagena that stopped at Torre Pacheco, of possible interest for Session 2 should it run again in 2020 (anyone taking it should phone us advising us when they will arrive at Torre Pacheco bus station so we can meet them). There are NO buses from Madrid or Barcelona to Caravaca, so bus travellers from those cities for Session 1 will have to take buses first to Murcia city bus station, and there take another bus to Caravaca bus station (it leaves every hour from 06.10 h to 21.20 h on weekdays) where we could meet them provided that they phone to say when they expect to arrive there.

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Your contribution of 50€ (euros) per day for a complete 21-day session (1,050€ altogether) includes board, meals, instruction, local travel from pick-up point and back, daily travel between our base and site, official excursions, and your registration as a MUPANTQUAT member for the year 2020. If you come for two complete sessions your contribution is reduced to 45€ per day (1,890€ altogether). If you come for less than a complete session your contribution is 60€ per day. All former participants contribute at 45€ per day for whatever length of stay. On a case-by-case basis, and provided it does not produce numerical imbalance of helpers within a session, consideration may be given to allowing youngsters, who can justify impecunious circumstances and are first-time participants, to take part for 45€ per day (450€ altogether) during a 10-day period corresponding either to the first or the second half of either session 1 or session 2 (though such participation implies they will miss half of the 20-day programme of the session). All participants must pay for their own air/rail/coach fares to our pick–up/set-down points and for their personal expenses.

Daily routine: we rise at 7 a.m. and after a light breakfast we excavate from 8 a.m. till 2 p.m. with a mid-morning sandwich. A cooked lunch at 3 p.m. is followed by a nap. We sort finds from 5 p.m. till 9 p.m. when we have a hot dinner. In each 3-week period, there are talks and seminars about our work and human evolution, and we also visit local places of interest. The programme is thus based on a 3-week Session (if you stay for a shorter time you’ll miss part of the programme). The normal contribution from helpers staying for a full Session corresponds to €50 euros (€50) a day; covering instruction, board, lodging, and local transportation, or €45 a day when both full sessions are attended (first-time participants staying for less than one full session should contribute €60 a day). To guarantee a place you must send a non-returnable deposit, preferably by May 1st 2020, of €250 (euros) per each 7 days of intended stay. You pay the balance on arrival. You must arrange your own health and personal accident insurance cover beforehand, holiday/travel insurance if desired, and sign an indemnity form on arrival. EU residents should bring the EU card from their country entitling them to public health care in other EU Member States.

Some recent work in English about our sites (pdfs are available on request);

In press: M.J.Walker, “Nuevas perspectivas paleoantropológicas en la Región de Murcia: La Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar en Caravaca de la Cruz y la Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo en Torre Pacheco”. In: Ramos, J., Bernal, M.A., Santiago, A., Eds., De los primeros pobladores al ocaso neandertal en la Península Ibérica (“Actas de las Jornadas de Prehistoria, Jerez 5 y 6 de octubre de 2018”), special issue of Bajo Guadalquivir y Mundos Atlánticos (Universidad Pablo Olavide and Asociación Jerezana de Amigosdel Archivo; ISSN: 2605-0560).
Accepted for publication: M.J.Walker, M.Haber Uriarte, M.López Martínez, A.López Jiménez, J.Ortega Rodrigáñez, T.Rodríguez Estrella, J.García Torres, I.Martín Lerma, A.Avilés Fernández, A.T.Buitrago López, N.Fernández Ruiz, C.I.Caravaca Guerrero, H.Cano Fernández, P.Lucas Salcedo, G.Linares Matás, J.S.Carrión, S.Fernández Jiménez, J.L.Polo Camacho, “La Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar en La Encarnción de Caravaca de la Cruz”, in: Brotons, F. (Ed.), Arqueología de Caravaca (Caravaca de la Cruz, Ayuntamiento de Caravaca de la Cruz).
Submitted for publication to: Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology (ISSN: 2520-0217): M.J.Walker, M.Duval, R.Grün, M.Haber-Uriarte, A.López-Jiménez, M.López-Martínez, J. van der Made. “Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar: A dated Early Pleistocene Palaeolithic site in southeastern Spain”.
Submitted for publication to: Scientific Reports (ISSN: 2045-2322): Linares-Matás, G.J., Fernández Ruiz,N., Haber Uriarte, M., López Martínez, M., Walker, M.J., “Sharing shelter: hyaenas and early humans in Complex 2 of the late Early Pleistocene site of Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Murcia, Spain).”
2019: J.S.Carrión, M.J.Walker,“Background to Neanderthal presence in Western Mediterranean Europe.” Quaternary Science Reviews 217: 7-44 (ISSN: 0277-3791).
2019: M.J.Walker, M.Duval, R.Grün, M.Haber-Uriarte, A.López-Jiménez, M.López-Martínez, “New chronological constraints for the Lower Palaeolithic site of Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar, Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, Spain: Preliminary ESR dating of the late Early Pleistocene fauna.” (9th Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution ESHE Liège, Belgium, 18-23 September 2019) Proceedings of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution 8 (PESHE 8) p. 197 (ISSN 21950776).
2019: M.J.Walker. Invited review of Cognitive Models in Palaeolithic Archaeology (T.Wynn & Frederick L.Coolidge, Eds, Oxford University Press, 2017). Journal of the. Royal Anthropological Insititute 25: 398-399 (ISSN: 1467-9655).
2019: J.S.Carrion, S.Fernandez, J.M.Jimenez-Arenas, M.Munuera, J.Ochando, G.Amorós, M.Ponce de León, C.Zollikofer, I.Martín-Lerma, I.Toro-Moyano, I.Hajdas, M.J.Walker, The sequence at Carihuela Cave and its potential for research into Neanderthal ecology and the Mousterian in southern Spain. Quaternary Science Reviews 217, 194-216 (ISSN: 0277-3791).
2018 A.López Jiménez, M. Haber Uriarte, M. López Martínez, M.J.Walker, “Small-mammal indicators of biochronology at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, SE Spain)”. Historical Biology doi: 10.1080/08912963.2018.1462804 (ISSN: 08912963). (This is the advance on-line edition; the print version will appear in 2019).
2018 in press. M.J.Walker. Invited short review of Cognitive Models in Palaeolithic Archaeology (edited by T. Wynn and F.L.Coolidge, Oxford University Press, December 2016). Journal of the. Royal Anthropological Insititute (ISSN: 1467-9655).
2018 R.C.Power, D.C.Salazar-García, D.C., M.Rubini, A.Darlas, K.Harvati, M.Walker, J-J.Hublin, A.G.Henry, “Dental calculus indicates widespread plant use within the stable Neanderthal dietary niche.” Journal of Human Evolution 119, 27-41 (ISSN 0047-2484).
2018 M.J. Walker, M. Haber Uriarte, M. López Martínez, J. Ortega Rodrigáñez, A. López Jiménez, A. Avilés Fernández, C. Martínez Caravaca, G. Linares Matás, H.Cano Fernández, N. Fernández Ruiz, J. García Torres, Á. López Buitrago, “Neanderthal activities between ~130 ka and ~40 ka at Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo (Torre Pacheco, Murcia, Spain)”. (60th Annual Meeting, Tarragona, 3rd-7th of April, 2018, Hugo Obermaier Society for Quaternary Research and Archaeology of the Stone Age, Hugo Obermaier-Gesellschaft für Erforschung des Eiszeitalters und der Steinzeit e.V.). In A. Maier, ed, Neanderthal Behaviour and Ecology in the Mediterranean Area April 3-April 7, 2018, in Tarragona, Hugo Obermaier-Gesellschaft für Erforschung des Eiszeitalters und der Steinzeit e.V., Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, pp. 58-60 (ISBN 9783946387121).
2017 E.Trinkaus, M.J.Walker, Eds., The People of Palomas. The Neandertals from the Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Southeastern Spain. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, USA
2017 M.J.Walker, Palaeolithic Pioneers, Behaviour, Abilities, and Activity of Early Homo in European Landscapes around the Western Mediterranean Basin ~1.3-0.05 Ma. (Archaeopress, Oxford; ISBN 9781784916206. e-book ISBN 9781784916213).
2017 H.M.Manrique, M.J.Walker, Early Evolution of Human Memory: Great Apes, Tool-Making and Cognition (Palgrave-Macmillan/Springer-Nature, New York, ISBN 9783319644462, ebookISBN 9783319644479).Forthcoming, submitted for publication to Historical Biology: A.López Jiménez, M. Haber Uriarte, M. López Martínez, M.J.Walker, “Small-mammal indicators of biochronology at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, SE Spain)” (ISSN 15635236).Forthcoming, invited review submitted for publication to Quaternary Science Reviews: M.J.Walker, J.S.Carrión, “Background to Neanderthal presence in Western Mediterranean Europe” (ISSN: 0277-3791)
2016 M.J.Walker, D. Anesin,  D.E. Angelucci, A.Avilés-Fernández, F.Berna, A.T.Buitrago-López,Y.Fernández-Jalvo, M.Haber-Uriarte, A.López-Jiménez, M.López-Martínez, I.Martín-Lerma, J.Ortega-Rodrigáñez, J.L.Polo-Camacho, S.E.Rhodes, D.Richter, T.Rodríguez-Estrella, J-LSchwenninger, A.R. Skinner, “Findings, context, and significance of combustion at the late Early Pleistocene Palaeolithic site of Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, Spain),” Antiquity.
2016 (forthcoming, currently being edited by the  publisher Oxbow Books in preparation for going to press in 2016). M.J.Walker (coordinator),  How the Earliest Cave-Folk of South-East Spain were Dug Up:  A journey full of archaeological and anthropological surprises. A book put together by the team excavating under the direction of Michael J. Walker at the sites of Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (the Black Cave of the River Quípar gorge) near Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, Spain, and Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo (Dove Hole on Cabezo Gordo hill) near Torre Pacheco, Murcia, Spain.Oxbow Books, Oxford.
2014 M.J.Walker, M.López Martínez, M.Haber Uriarte, “The Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar: a 0.8 Ma site with human and Palaeolithic remains in SE Spain,” Popular Archaeology 15 06052014   July 2014 (e-journal).
2014 M.J.Walker, M.López Martínez, M.Haber Uriarte, “The Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo: Neanderthal burials from 50,000 years ago in SE Spain,” Popular Archaeology 15 06052014   July 2014 (e-journal).
2014 M.J.Walker, M. López Martínez, M. Haber Uriarte: “Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, Spain),” pp. 372-379 in R. Sala Ramos, Ed., with coordinators E. Carbonell, J.M.Bermúdez de Castro and J.L.Arsuaga) Pleistocene and Holocene Hunter-Gatherers in Iberia and the Gibraltar Strait: The Current Archaeological Record. (Universidad de Burgos and Fundación Atapuerca, Burgos.ISBN 9788492681, available as e-book 9788492681884).
2014 M.J.Walker, M. López Martínez, M. Haber Uriarte: “Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo (Torre Pacheco, Murcia, Spain)”,  pp. 410-413 in R. Sala Ramos, Ed., with coordinators E. Carbonell, J.M.Bermúdez de Castro and J.L.Arsuaga) Pleistocene and Holocene Hunter-Gatherers in Iberia and the Gibraltar Strait: The Current Archaeological Record. (Universidad de Burgos and Fundación Atapuerca, Burgos.ISBN 9788492681, available as e-book 9788492681884).
2013 M.J.Walker, M.V.López-Martínez, J.S.Carrión-García, T.Rodríguez-Estrella, M.San-Nicolás-del-Toro,J-L.Schwenninger, A.López-Jiménez, J.Ortega-Rodrigáñez, M.Haber-Uriarte,J-L.Polo-Camacho, J.García-Torres, M.Campillo-Boj,A.Avilés-Fernández: “Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Murcia, Spain): A late Early Pleistocenehominin site with an “Acheulo-Levalloiso-Mousteroid” Palaeolithic assemblage” Quaternary International 294: 135-159.
2013 D.Angelucci, D.Anesin, M.López-Martínez, M.Haber-Uriarte, T.Rodríguez-Estrella, M.J.Walker: Rethinking stratigraphy and site formation of the Pleistocene deposit at Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain). Quaternary Science Reviews 80: 195-199.
2013 W.Zack, A.Andronikov, T.Rodríguez-Estrella, M.López-Martínez, M.Haber-Uriarte, V.Holliday, D.Lauretta, M.J.Walker: “Stone procurement and transport at the late Early Pleistocene site of Cueva Negra del Estrecho del Río Quípar (Murcia, SE Spain)” Quartär, International Yearbook for Ice Age and Stone Age Research vol. 60
2013 D.C.Salazar-García, R.C.Power, A.Sanchis Serra, V.Villaverde, .M.J.Walker, A.G.Henry: “Neanderthal diets in central and southeastern Mediterranean Iberia” Quaternary International 318: 3-18.
2012 M.J.Walker, M.V.López-Martínez, J.Ortega-Rodrigáñez, M.Haber-Uriarte, A.López-Jiménez, A.Avilés-Fernández, J.L-Polo Camacho, M.Campillo-Boj, J.García-Torres, J.S,Carrión-García, M.San Nicolas-del Toro, T.Rodríguez-Estrella: “The excavation of the buried articulated Neanderthal skeletons at Sima de las Palomas (Murcia, SE Spain).” Quaternary International 259: 7-21.
2011 M.J.Walker, J.Ortega, K.Parmová, M.V.López, E. Trinkaus: “Morphology, body proportions, and postcranial hypertrophy of a female Neandertal from the Sima de las Palomas, southeastern Spain” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108 (25) 10087-10091.
2011 M.J.Walker, J.Zapata, A.V.Lombardi, E.Trinkaus, “New evidence of dental pathology in 40,000 year old Neandertals” Journal of Dental Research 90: 428-432.
2011 M.J. Walker, J.Ortega Rodrigáñez, M.V.López Martínez, K.Parmová, E.Trinkaus: “Neandertal postcranial remains from the Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia,southeastern Spain.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144: 505-515.
2010 M.J.Walker, A.V.Lombardi, J.Zapata, E.Trinkaus: “Neandertal mandibles from the Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia, southeastern Spain.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 142: 261-272.
2009 M.J.Walker: “Long–term memory and Middle Pleistocene `Mysterians ́.” Pp.75-84 in S.A.de Beaune, F.L.Coolidge, T.Wynn, eds,Cognitive Archaeology And Human Evolution, New York,Cambridge University Press.
2009 G.R.Scott, L.Gibert: “The oldest hand-axes in Europe.” Nature 461: 82-85.
2008 M.J.Walker, J.Gibert, M.V.López, A.V.Lombardi, A.Pérez-Pérez, J Zapata, J.Ortega, T.Higham, A.Pike, J-L.Schwenninger, J.Zilhão, E.Trinkaus: “Late Neandertals in Southeastern Iberia: Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia, Spain .” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105 (52): 20631-20636

Field School Poster 2020 PDF
Briefing You 2020 PDF

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