Field School for Quaternary Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory of Murcia, S.E. Spain – 28th Anniversary Field Season 2017
Excavation has been ongoing for 28 years at these two sites. Cueva Negra has definite signs of fire, a final Early (i.e. Lower) Pleistocene fauna and Acheulian and Levalloiso-Mousterian Palaeolithic artefacts in a sedimentary deposit from a time somewhere between 780,000 and 990,000 years ago according to both biostratigraphy and now palaeomagnetism. Sima de las Palomas has >300 skeletal parts (teeth, bones) of 9 or 10 Neanderthal individuals, including 3 articulated skeletons one of which is 85% complete from between 55,000 and 50,000 years ago, an early Late (i.e. Upper) Pleistocene fauna and Mousterian Palaeolithic artefacts, dated by 14C, U-ser, OSL nd ESR.
Helpers are invited for the 2017 summer field season. All applications are considered sympathetically. You need not have archaeological experience. 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 and issues your Certificate of Attendance (we also sign any required forms you bring from your university).
While at Cueva Negra we stay at the residential Ascruz school (which has its own kitchen staff) at Caravaca de la Cruz. While at Sima de las Palomas we put bunks in the school in Dolores de Pacheco and take our meals in the restaurant of the village civic centre. 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, bring it and help us with driving.
Ryanair flies daily to Murcia-San Javier Airport from London (Luton and Stansted). Easyjet flies (maybe only some days a week) from Gatwick, Bristol and Newcastle. Other budget airlines also fly here from the UK and other European countries. A new Murcia Airport has been builtbut is not yet open, though if flights land there in 2017 you will be met there, so don’t worry. Provided we have their flight details in advance we ferry our helpers (free of charge) between Murcia Airport and our field headquarters who arrive on Friday June 30th or who arrive or depart on Friday July 21st, or leave on Friday August 11th. Caravaca is 100 km from the airport, but Dolores de Pacheco is only 6 km from it. We run from Fridays to Fridays as we often have USA helpers flying into Madrid who need to get connecting weekday flights to Murcia (because weekend flights to Murcia often are cancelled without notice). Travellers by train on June 30th or July 21st can probably be also met by us. For Cueva Negra, train-travellers should arrive at Calasparra railway station (Madrid-Cartagena line) on June 30th and leave on July 21st For Sima de las Palomas, train travellers should arrive at Balsicas-Mar Menor railway station (Madrid-Cartagena or Barcelona-Cartagena lines) on July 21st and leave on August 11th. Other travellers must make their own arrangements to get to our headquarters at Caravaca or Dolores de Pacheco. We do not meet people at Alicante International Airport, whence travellers can take a “Costa Cálida” bus to Murcia, and then buses from Murcia bus station, either to Caravaca (for Cueva Negra), or to San Javier or Los Alcázares which are 5 km from Dolores de Pacheco (for Sima de las Palomas).
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 2017, 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);
2016 (in press, publication expected in 2016) 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
2016 (forthcoming, accepted for publication) 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