Category Archives: SPAIN

Huge Megalithic 7,000-Year-Old Site Dolmen Of Guadalperal Emerges From Dry Lake In Spain

Huge Megalithic 7,000-Year-Old Site Dolmen Of Guadalperal Emerges From Dry Lake In Spain

This summer’s hot weather has been extremely troublesome in many European countries. Spain suffered the worst drought in decades. An unexpected side-effect of the warm weather has been discovering unknown archaeological sites.

One of them is a mysterious megalithic monument that emerged from the parched lake bed of the Valdecañas reservoir in western Spain.

Nicknamed the Spanish Stonehenge, the site is officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal.

Huge Megalithic 7,000-Year-Old Site Dolmen Of Guadalperal Emerges From Dry Lake In Spain
Dolmen of Guadalperal.

Constructed around 5,000 B.C., the circular monument was likely enclosed. Consisting of a large domed boulder supported by hundreds of vertically-placed rocks, known as menhir, the site offers valuable knowledge into the history of Spain’s megalithic builders.

German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier first discovered Dolmen of Guadalperal in 1926, but the area was flooded in 1963 in a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Since then, it has only become fully visible four times. “It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28% of capacity,” Reuters reported.

“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to be able to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo from Madrid’s Complutense University, one of the experts racing to study the circle before it gets submerged again.

Although there are many dolmens in Europe, historians and archaeologists still struggle to learn more about the monuments’ builders.

As reported by AncientPages.com just a few days ago, scientists in Spain came across a huge megalithic complex of 500 stones.  Archaeologists say the prehistoric site could be one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

The remarkable ancient site is located in the Huelva province in Southern Spain on the border with Portugal, near the Guadiana River.

Spanning some 600 hectares (1,500 acres), the land had been earmarked for an avocado plantation. Who built the Huelva megalithic complex remains undetermined at the moment.

Another intriguing megalithic site in Spain is Dolmen de Soto, a unique millennia-old underground structure that remains a puzzling enigma.

The recent megalithic site will be secured remains an open question, but it’s possible the Guadalperal stones may be moved to a museum or elsewhere on dry land.

As reported by Reuters, “their presence is also good news for Ruben Argentas, who owns a small boat tours business. “The dolmen emerges, and the dolmen tourism begins,” he told Reuters after a busy day spent shuttling tourists to the site and back.

But there is no silver lining for local farmers.

“There hasn’t been enough rain since the spring… There is no water for the livestock and we have to transport it in,” said Jose Manuel Comendador. Another, Rufino Guinea, said his sweet pepper crop had been ravaged.

Climate change has left the Iberian peninsula at its driest in 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to diminish further, a study published by the Nature Geoscience journal showed.”

Massive Roman Phallus Relief Carving Uncovered in Spain

Massive Roman Phallus Relief Carving Uncovered in Spain

A large Roman-era relief carving of a phallus was uncovered by archaeologists excavating in Nueva Carteya, Córdoba, Spain, earlier this month, according to an announcement by the area’s local history museum.

Massive Roman Phallus Relief Carving Uncovered in Spain
Ancient Roman phallus relief carving found in Nueva Carteya, Córdoba, Spain, 2022.

At more than one-and-a-half feet long, it could be the largest preserved Roman phallus carving, according to archaeologists.

The phallic carving was found at the base of a building within a fortified enclosure at the archaeological site El Higuerón. The site was originally an Iberian settlement occupied in the 4th century BCE until 206 BCE, when the Romans conquered the region.

El Higuerón was initially excavated in 1966 and again in 1968 and is considered one of the benchmarks of Iberian culture in the Córdoba province. Current excavations are overseen by the Museo Histórico Local de Nueva Carteya, which announced the finding of the phallic relief.

In ancient Roman culture, the fascinus was a depiction of the divine phallus used to invoke masculine generative power. Ancient Romans believed that it provided good fortune and protection.

Phallic depictions can be found among Roman sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, and pendants. The ancient Roman city Pompeii, for example, is loaded with graffiti and carvings of phallic imagery.

One of the largest concentrations of phallic symbols, however, is at Hadrian’s Wall in England. There, along the wall corridor and at military installations, are 59 identified penis etchings.

Additionally, during this season the team discovered the base of an Iberian-era wall in the western part of the site. It contained a Roman limestone floor and structural remains from the Roman and medieval periods.

Massive Prehistoric Complex, with More than 500 Standing Stones, Found in Southern Spain

Massive Prehistoric Complex, with More than 500 Standing Stones, Found in Southern Spain

Side view of a menhir and stone platform at La Torre-La Janera megalithic site near Huelva.

A massive megalithic complex of more than 500 standing stones has been discovered in southern Spain that could be one of the largest in Europe, archaeologists have said.

The stones were discovered on a plot of land in Huelva, a province flanking the southernmost part of Spain’s border with Portugal, near the Guadiana River.

Spanning about 600 hectares (1,500 acres), the land had been earmarked for an avocado plantation. Before granting the permit the regional authorities requested a survey in light of the site’s possible archaeological significance. The survey revealed the presence of the stones.

“This is the biggest and most diverse collection of standing stones grouped together in the Iberian peninsula,” said José Antonio Linares, a researcher at Huelva University and one of the project’s three directors.

It was probable that the oldest standing stones at the La Torre-La Janera site were erected during the second half of the sixth or fifth millennium BC, he said. “It is a major megalithic site in Europe.”

At the site, they found a large number of various types of megaliths, including standing stones, dolmens, mounds, coffin-like stone boxes called cists, and enclosures.

“Standing stones were the most common finding, with 526 of them still standing or lying on the ground,” said the researchers in an article published in Trabajos de Prehistoria, a prehistoric archaeology journal. The height of the stones was between one and three metres.

At the Carnac megalithic site in northwest France, there are about 3,000 standing stones.

Massive Prehistoric Complex, with More than 500 Standing Stones, Found in Southern Spain
Alignments of Menhirs of Menec in Carnac, western France.

One of the most striking things was finding such diverse megalithic elements grouped together in one location and discovering how well preserved they were, said Primitiva Bueno, co-director of the project and a prehistory professor at Alcalá University, near Madrid.

“Finding alignments and dolmens on one site is not very common. Here you find everything all together – alignments, cromlechs and dolmens – and that is very striking,” she said, hailing the site’s “excellent conservation”.

An alignment is a linear arrangement of upright standing stones along a common axis, while a cromlech is a stone circle, and a dolmen is a type of megalithic tomb usually made of two or more standing stones with a large flat capstone on top.

Most of the menhirs were grouped into 26 alignments and two cromlechs, both located on hilltops with a clear view to the east for viewing the sunrise during the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, the researchers said.

Many of the stones are buried deep in the earth. They will need to be carefully excavated.

The work is scheduled to run until 2026, but “between this year’s campaign and the start of next year’s, there will be a part of the site that can be visited”, Bueno said.

Evidence of Third-Century A.D. Tsunami Uncovered in Spain

Evidence of Third-Century A.D. Tsunami Uncovered in Spain

The Seville Cathedral, as seen from Patio de Banderas Plaza.

In the 1970s, two Roman inscriptions — dated from 245 to 253 AD — were discovered in Écija (known in ancient Roman times as Astigi), a city in Spain’s southern province of Seville. The writings on the tablets suggest that the emperor at the time had exempted the Roman province of Baetica (roughly the equivalent of modern-day Andalusia, a region of southern Spain) from taxes. But the inscriptions failed to explain why, and the reason has remained a mystery for decades.

In a new study published in Natural Science in Archaeology, a team of European and U.S. scientists and researchers say they have finally found an explanation. The article, A Third Century AD Extreme Wave Event Identified in a Collapse Facies of a Public Building in the Roman City of Hispalis (Seville, Spain), provides a surprising answer: A gigantic tsunami that began in the Bay of Cadiz crashed into the land, causing numerous coastal settlements to be abandoned and engulfing everything its path, including the city of Seville, located 45 miles inland from the sea.

The discovery was made following the excavation and study of a public building from the Roman era, destroyed during what researchers now believe was a massive tidal wave event. The building once stood in what is now the Patio de Banderas public square in Seville, adjacent to the capital city’s main cathedral.

The report, authored by experts from universities in Spain, France, Germany, and the U.S. describes how, in 400 BC, the Atlantic Ocean had created a large lagoon, known in antiquity as Lacus Ligustinus, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River.

The lake was fed by three river corridors, one of which led directly to Hispalis. The river was large enough that medium-sized ships could use it to transport minerals, oil, wine, and other goods as far inland as Alcalá del Río, roughly 10 miles past Seville. It is estimated that the Port of Seville was quite large, even at that time, stretching over a kilometer in length and moving some 18,000 tons of merchandise per year.

Between 2009 and 2014, a team of archaeologists excavated the Patio de Banderas site. “Impressive urban stratigraphy dated between the ninth century BC and the thirteenth century AD,” the report reads. “From all these findings, a very well-preserved Roman public building […] stands out. The building [was] constructed in opus africanum [a form of Roman brick masonry] during the Late Republic (60 to 30 BC).” It was organized around a central courtyard, with a gallery of columns at its southern end. Experts identified the site as a commercial and administrative space associated with the Hispalis river port.

Analyzing the ruins at the Patio de Banderas, the first team of archaeologists to study the site concluded that the ancient building had been repaired several times under the Flavian Dynasty (late 1st century AD), but especially between the years 200 and 225 AD, when there was “widespread collapse of the architectural remains [and] most of the southern walls appear to have been displaced from their original position [by an external force], always in the same direction, toward the northwest.” At the time, the archaeologists ruled out a tsunami for two main reasons: because the site is 22 feet above sea level, and because the distance between Híspalis and the Lacus Ligustinus was almost 25 miles in Roman times (now it’s more than 45 miles). In other words, for a tsunami to destroy the building, it would have had to be bigger than any on record — the mother of all tsunamis.

Remains of an ancient Roman building destroyed by a tsunami in the 3rd century AD were found inside an excavated public building in Seville, Spain.

The authors of the new report ―Mario Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, José N. Pérez-Asensio, Francisco José Martín Peinado, Enrique García Vargas, Miguel Ángel Tabales, Antonio Rodríguez Ramírez, Eduardo Mayoral Alfaro and Paul Goldberg ― were not satisfied with the first team’s findings. They believed that an opinion based on a visual analysis of the site “was not enough,” so they undertook a multidisciplinary study that combined macro- and microscale methods and techniques.

They used carbon-14 dating, micromorphology, mineralogy, geochemistry, micropaleontology, ultraviolet fluorescence microscopy, accelerator mass spectrometry, radiocarbon calibration, and ceramic and materials science, among other techniques, to re-examine the site and search for new answers.

The team of researchers began to analyze “a microlaminated deposit, alternating sandy and silty beds, and with abundant fresh-fragmented shell,” as well as brick columns, several calcarenite ashlars, plaster and paint, a fluted column, fragmented marble from different Mediterranean quarries, an inscription, and a complete marble votive relief, typical of the Cult of Isis. What was especially striking about the site, the team discovered, was that “the materials [did] not belong to the building excavated at the Patio de Banderas, since it was constructed with different materials (mainly limestone and brick) and different techniques.” Rather, these exogenous architectural elements had been chemically transformed by a “highly energetic event,” which transported them to the Patio de Banderas, where they were trapped inside the building due to flooding from the tsunami.

The report calculates that the flooding occurred between the years 197 and 225.

The courtyard of the public building was destroyed by the tsunami in Hispalis.

Among the objects excavated at the site was an inscription reading “IIAVRHERACLAE / PATETFILFBAR AVR HERACLAE/ PAT ET FIL / F BAR.” The artefact was originally fabricated in a ceramics workshop owned by Roman emperors Septimius Severus, Antonino Caracalla, and Geta, which once stood on the banks of the Guadalquivir River.

The inscription references Aurelii Heraclae, the family of freedmen who managed the workshop between 197 and 207 AD — the same period from which the other artefacts found on the site date.

On the left, are fragments of paintings and marble; in the centre, a votive plaque dedicated to the goddess Isis; on the right, a close-up of a piece of marble.

The study thus concludes that “the Patio de Banderas deposit was generated during an extreme wave event,” and that the building acted as a trap for the artefacts transported inland by the tsunami. “With the data, we actually have, and considering the distance at this point from the coast in Roman times [about 25 miles], and also taking into account the distance from this point to the coast in Roman times [about 40 kilometres], we affirm that the most probable origin of the deposit identified is the combined action of an energetic storm, which might have produced waves and currents in the Lacus Ligustinus energetic enough to transport estuary and marine fauna, together with extreme rainfall and flooding from the Guadalquivir River.”

These new findings suggest an answer to the mystery posed by the inscriptions found in Écija that indicate Baetica’s status as prouincia immunis — a province exempt from taxes. As the authors of the Patio de Banderas study note, this status was most commonly granted in the aftermath of natural disasters. Like, as an example, a tsunami.

Archaeologists have found a previously unknown Roman city with buildings of monumental proportions in Spain’s Aragon Region

Archaeologists have found a previously unknown Roman city with buildings of monumental proportions in Spain’s Aragon Region

Archaeologists from the University of Zaragoza in Spain have discovered a previously unknown Roman city with buildings of monumental proportions.

Archaeologists have found a previously unknown Roman city with buildings of monumental proportions in Spain’s Aragon Region

The urban complex, which existed between the first and second centuries, had “buildings of immense sizes” as well as public facilities including baths, water supply, streets, and sewers.

Researchers thought the 10-acre site, also located at Artieda, in the Aragon region of northeastern Spain, was home to several separate archaeological sites, including San Pedro and the Rein Hermitage.

In 2018, Artieda City Council asked the University of Zaragoza’s Department of Archeology for help in examining some of the remains found around the San Pedro hermitage, known variously as El Forau de la Tuta, Campo de la Virgen, or Campo del Royo.

And after 3 years of research, experts have confirmed that these sites form one large single archaeological complex. El Forau de la Tuta is the name for everything now, since the team realized they’re all one interconnected city. Until the real name of the city is revealed, of course!

A Corinthian capital and fluted drum with a shaft located in Artieda’s San Pedro hermitage.

The team published the results of their 3 years of work in a report, El Forau de la Tuta: A Hitherto Unknown Roman Imperial City on the Southern Slopes of the Pyrenees.

The team detected two phases of occupation on the surface of the site: one during the Roman imperial period (the 1st to 5th centuries) and another during the early-medieval Christian era (the 9th to 13th centuries).

The researchers discovered two streets, the whispers of sidewalks, four rudimentary cement sewer outlets, one life-sized marble hand of a presumed public monument, and even the reception room of a thermal bath—complete with mosaics preserved by the collapsed sandstone ceiling.

They did this by combining remote sensing techniques like georadar and aerial images with conventional methods.

This magnificent find features two cupids riding seahorses and is decorated with shell and scallop designs.

A detail of the black and white mosaic was found at the Forau de la Tuta site in 2021.

The report states that the settlement was “of urban character—the city’s name is currently unknown—and it developed during the [Roman] imperial period”.

The researchers also learned that the settlement had another life as a rural habitat during the Visigoth and early Andalusian periods. A medieval peasant village sat atop the Roman ruins from the ninth to 13th centuries.

The El Forau de la Tuta location lies 1.5 kilometres from Artieda’s city centre, in the lush Aragón River plain.

It is located within a 390-meter long and 140-meter broad agricultural area.

It is four hectares in size, but it’s likely that the site is significantly bigger and that it encompasses other, as-yet-undiscovered agricultural areas.

Oldest European human fossil found in Spain

Oldest European human fossil found in Spain

A jawbone fragment discovered in northern Spain last month could be the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor found to date in Europe, Spanish palaeontologists said on Friday. The researchers said the fossil found at an archaeological site on 30 June in the Atapuerca mountain range was about 1.4m years old.

Elena Moreno, a member of the Atapuerca research team, works on the jawbone of a hominid in the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution in Burgos.

Until now, the oldest hominid fossil found in Europe was a jawbone found at the same site in 2007 that was determined to be 1.2m years old.

Atapuerca holds one of the richest records of prehistoric human occupation in Europe.

Researchers will now have to complete their first estimate for the age of the jawbone fragment using dating techniques, palaeoanthropologist José María Berúmudez de Castro, the co-director of the Atapuerca research project, said during a news conference.

Since the jawbone fragment was found some 2 metres below the layer of earth of the 2007 find “it is logical and reasonable to think it is older”, he said.

The dating of the jawbone fragment will be carried out at the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution in Burgos, a city located about six miles from Atapuerca.

The process should take six to eight months to complete, Bermúdez de Castro said.

The analysis could help identify which hominid species the jawbone fragment belongs to and better understand how human beings evolved on the European continent.

Scientists have so far been unable to determine with certainty the species of the jawbone discovered in 2007. The fossil could correspond to Homo antecessor, discovered in the 1990s.

The Atapuerca Foundation, which runs the archaeological site, said it was very likely the jawbone fragment “belongs to one of the first populations that colonised Europe”.

In 2000 the archaeological site of Atapuerca was included on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites, giving it access to UN conservation funding.

It contains thousands of hominid fossils and tools including a flint discovered in 2013 that is 1.4m years old.

Timber From 17th-Century Spanish Shipwreck Discovered In Caves Off Oregon’s Coast

Timber From 17th-Century Spanish Shipwreck Discovered In Caves Off Oregon’s Coast

View of Nehalem Beach, where the ship was wrecked, with Neahkahnie Mountain in the distance Maritime Archaeological Society

In 1693, the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Manila galleon loaded with silk, porcelain and beeswax, set sail from the Philippines on a trading expedition to Mexico. But the ship—and its valuable cargo—never reached its destination. Instead, the vessel ended up shipwrecked off the coast of Oregon, becoming one of roughly 3,000 ships lost in the region to date.

Over the next two centuries or so, explorers, merchants, Indigenous peoples, scholars and curious locals alike traded stories about the fabled wreck, which was “occasionally visible” along the Oregon shoreline, according to the Oregon Encyclopedia’s Cameron La Follette. In 1813 or 1814, fur trader Alexander Henry detailed how members of the Clatsop tribe frequently exchanged “lumps of beeswax, fresh out of the sand, which they collect on the coast … where the Spanish ship was cast away some years ago.” The fate of the ship’s crew is unclear, but Indigenous oral histories suggest that some survived the disaster.

Despite widespread interest in the 17th-century ship, tangible evidence of the so-called “Beeswax Wreck” remained elusive until recently.

Last week, reports Kristin Romey for National Geographic, a team spearheaded by the Maritime Archaeological Society (MAS) successfully recovered a dozen timbers from the Santo Cristo de Burgos’ wooden hull.

The find makes the vessel one of only three Manila galleons identified on the North American West Coast, as well as one of just three in the world with surviving wood pieces, per the Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

An amateur has found a new piece of timber from the Spanish galleon known as the Beeswax wreck. To date, many artifact fragments have been found on this rough coastline area, including pieces of Chinese porcelain. This image shows an unnamed wooden shipwreck have buried in a sand beach.

Fisherman Craig Andes brought the hull fragments to society’s attention in early 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic. He’d first noticed the pieces of wood while exploring sea caves near the beach town of Manzanita in 2013 but only decided to bring in experts after realizing that the smaller fragments were on the verge of being swept away.

Initially, the MAS team was sceptical of Andes’ discovery.

“I was convinced it was driftwood,” the society’s president, Scott Williams, tells National Geographic. “To think that 300-year-old ship timbers could survive the Oregon coast was just crazy.”

Then, however, testing revealed that the timbers came from an Asian tropical hardwood felled in the mid- to late-17th century—a result that prompted Williams and his colleagues to take a closer look at the caves. They confirmed Andes’ suspicions that summer but were unable to retrieve the pieces, as the caves are only accessible via water or a dangerous rock scramble.

Beeswax with a Spanish shipping mark from a lost Spanish galleon that washed up on the coast near Manzanita, Oregon. Courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Thanks to weather- and Covid-related delays, the official recovery mission—funded in part by the National Geographic Society—didn’t take place until June 13. MAS archaeologists, staff from cultural resource management firm SEARCH Inc., and representatives of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and local sheriff’s offices secured the timbers in just 90 minutes, wrapping up the expedition before high tide.

“The last few timbers, I ended up staying behind to get those bundled up so I had to swim out to the jet ski because I got trapped where I couldn’t get out any other way,” archaeologist Stacy Scott tells KPTV Fox 12 Oregon.

According to a separate Oregon Coast Beach Connection report, the Santo Cristo de Burgos likely ran aground in shallow water, which rarely preserves shipwrecks. But storms and a massive tsunami in 1700 scattered pieces of the wreck, perhaps depositing the newly recovered timbers into the sea caves. Other possible explanations for the fragments’ improbable survival include the cold, less salty conditions of Oregon’s North Coast and shifting sands that buried and shielded the timbers, writes the Astorian’s Katie Frankowicz.

These Kangxi period Chinese porcelain fragments were part of the precious cargo carried by the unlucky Spanish galleon that sank off the Oregon coast nearly 300 years ago.

In the decades following the shipwreck, objects from the vessel washed ashore, fueling rumours of the enigmatic wreck’s existence. Per a timeline compiled by MAS, the flow of beeswax tapered off in the late 1860s, with an 85-pound chunk discovered in 1894 deemed “the largest piece found in 20 years.” Though locals at one point disagreed whether the wax was natural or came from a shipwreck, by 1920, most appeared to accept the latter scenario.

During the 20th century, the Beeswax Wreck became the stuff of local legend, spawning stories of buried treasure and perhaps even inspiring Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film The Goonies. Continued interest in the ship led to the launch of the Beeswax Wreck Project in 2006 and MAS’ formation in 2015.

Though the wooden pieces are a significant find, Williams tells the Astorian that archaeologists “haven’t found what we would call ‘The Wreck.’ We don’t know if something like ‘The Wreck’ exists.” Pieces of the galleon’s lower hull could still be hidden nearby; the team hopes to recover additional hull fragments from other caves in the near future.

“Will this answer big questions? Probably not,” says marine archaeologist James Delgado to the Astorian. “But it’s another step in a process that could potentially lead to further discovery.”

Ancient humans used Spanish caves for rock art for more than 50,000 years

Ancient humans used Spanish caves for rock art for more than 50,000 years

Cueva de Ardales in Málaga, Spain, is a famous site containing more than 1,000 prehistoric cave paintings and engravings. It also includes artefacts and human remains. But since its discovery in 1821, after an earthquake unearthed the entrance, the way ancient humans used the cave has been a mystery.

Ancient humans used Spanish caves for rock art for more than 50,000 years
Excavation area in Cueva de Ardales with evidence from the Middle Palaeolithic period.

New research, published in PLoS ONE, on items from the first excavation has shed light on prehistoric Iberia’s human inhabitants. Archaeologists from Spain, Germany and Denmark collaborated to analyse the paintings, relics and human bones from the cave.

Combining radiometric dating – measuring the presence of radioactive elements such as carbon-14 to determine the age of remains – with other analyses of artefacts from the site, the researchers have determined the first occupants of Cueva de Ardales, arriving more than 65,000 years ago, were likely Neanderthals.

Lithics from the Middle Paleolithic layers of zone 3. A: Quartzite core or heavy-duty tool, B: Blade, C: Levallois flake, D: Sidescraper.

Modern humans came to use the cave around 30,000 years later. This timeframe coincides with the disappearance of Homo neanderthalensis some 40,000 years ago. 

Homo sapiens used the cave sporadically until as recently as the beginning of the Copper Age, around 7,000 years ago.

Rock art is believed to be an indication of humankind’s first attempts to understand, rationalise and abstract the external world.

Our ability to imagine and communicate through language, writing, science, art and abstractions are likely consequences of such leaps in ancient human culture.

The authors write: “Our research presents a well-stratified series of more than 50 radiometric dates in Cueva de Ardales that confirm the antiquity of Palaeolithic art from over 58,000 years ago. It also confirms that the cave was a place of special activities linked to art, as numerous fragments of ochre were discovered in the Middle Palaeolithic levels.”

The oldest examples of cave art in the Málaga site include abstract signs such as dots, fingertips and hand stencils created with red pigment. Later artwork involves more complex paintings and figures such as animals.

Human remains indicate the use of the cave as a burial place in the Holocene – the period of geological time since the end of the last major glacial epoch, or “ice age”, around 12,000 years ago.

There is limited evidence of domestic activities at Cueva de Ardales, suggesting humans were not residing in the cave.

The team’s findings confirm that Cueva de Ardales is a site of immense symbolic value.

The Iberian Peninsula holds more than 30 other caves with similar rock art, making the region a key locality for investigating the history and culture of ancient humans in Europe.