End of second excavation campaign at El Sotillo in Ciudad Real

Recently, the second excavation campaign concluded at El Sotillo (Ciudad Real), codirected by Manuel Santonja, of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Alfredo Pérez Gonzalez (Asociación Nacional “El Hombre y El Medio”), and Javier Baena, of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), and in which more than five thousand Mousterian stone tools were recovered.

The previous campaign had yielded basic knowledge of the stratigraphy of the site and the position of the levels with industry, and allowed the process of dating for the site to be begun. This year, the work undertaken has enabled advances in awareness of the features of the archaeological complexes represented at the site and their chronology, as well as the stratigraphy and the processes of formation of the levels with stone tools.

The sequence at El Sotillo is made up of three archaeological levels. The oldest, dating from around 300,000 years ago, is Acheulean and is characterized by the presence of large flakes transformed into cutting tools, as well as numerous handaxes.

The most recent complex, with an age of about 60,000 years, belongs to the Mousterian, a technology centered on the production of tools of small size, of which over 5000 were recorded in the campaign that has just finished. Between the two lies an intermediate level, also with stone tools of Acheulean type, excavation of which will start next year.

First chronological reference

The importance of El Sotillo lies precisely in the sequence of archaeological levels presented, unusual in open-air sites, which usually have just one level. Moreover, this site contains the only dated Paleolithic complexes in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. 

“The date obtained for the Middle Paleolithic is particularly important, given that innumerable sites ascribed to this archaeological horizon are known in the province of Ciudad Real, and El Sotillo furnishes the first chronological reference for them”, says Manuel Santonja.

Authorized and subsidized by the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, during this campaign the teams from the CENIEH and the UAM were able to avail of the collaboration of researchers from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the University of Adelaide (Australia).