The Prado Vargas excavation campaign finds 600 new remains 46,000 years old

Study of the new fossils and tools found at level 4 of this site in Burgos will allow the technological complexity and structuring of the domestic space attained by the Neanderthals who occupied this cavity to be understood

The new excavation campaign at the Prado Vargas Cave (Burgos, Spain), codirected by Alfonso Benito, a researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Marta Navazo, of the Universidad de Burgos (UBU) and Rodrigo Alonso, of the Museo de la Evolución Humana (MEH), has recovered more than 600 remains, highlights among which are several deer, fox and wolf mandibles, and a cave bear incisor.

This year, the work has centered on a zone of the cave not looked at previously, called the “sector hornacina" and in total 22 new square meters of level 4 have been excavated, dated to 46,000 years ago.

Together with the fossil remains, several quartzite and flint cores were documented, as well as laminae, and a perforator of this second material along with other tools. One of the most characteristic pieces found is a flint point of “Levallois” type. The production of this type of point by Neanderthals defines the technological complexity reached by these human groups.

In addition, numerous pieces of carbon and remains of burnt materials were found, evidencing control over fire by these populations who occupied the Iberian Peninsula between 180,000 and 27,000 years ago.

The results obtained in this excavation campaign are in addition to more than 8000 remains already recovered in earlier campaigns, which serve to underline the uniqueness of this site for understanding how the last Neanderthals in the north of the Peninsula lived.

Project financing

This site is in the locality of Cornejo (Merindad de Sotoscueva) and forms part of the Ojo Guareña Cultural Asset and Natural Monument. Since it started, the research project at Prado Vargas Cave has enjoyed financial and material support from the Consejería de Cultura of the Junta de Castilla y León, the Diputación Provincial de Burgos, the Ayuntamiento de Merindad de Sotoscueva, the localities of Cornejo and Quisicedo, the Fundación Palarq and the Ojo Guareña Natural Monument Interpretation Center.