Thousands of new remains found in the Abric Romani support the organizational capacity of the neanderthal communities

This year has been excavated a new rich level of fossil and with an antiquity over 58,000 years


58,000 years ago the neanderthal populations that lived in the Abric Romani in Capellades (Barcelona), a key site for the study of this species, left thousands of archaeological remains during their occupation. This has been found during the excavation campaign that has taken place this month and ends the 24th, directed by the archaeologist Eudald Carbonell, director of IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social). The results support the organizational skills that these prehistoric communities had.

The new fossils, localized, but which have not been removed or fully documented, have been obtained thanks to the work of a team of about 50 people, including researchers of IPHES, centers in other countries and also students from all around the world, who have been dedicated to discover the Q level of the Abric Romani, spending all efforts to reach the surface in an area of ​​about 140m2.

“It should be noted that only in the ceiling level, basically localized, but unexcavated until the depth, have been recovered thousands of lithic pieces and fauna remains. Moreover abundant hearths of rooms were detected next to the wall, as from other types also, biggers and in association with the abundant presence of burnt bones, which it seems that those hominids began to move through the central part of the site”, says Eudald Carbonell. “This distribution or space specialization is the clear evidence of the organizational capacity of the neanderthal populations, in the context of complex behavior that we have always defended,” he added.

One possible room

Eudald Carbonell has advanced: “The evidence available today seems to indicate that we are dealing with the remains of what was a neanderthal room, where different daily life activities were developed reiteratively, such as tools processing”.

It is also a referential site or a central camp where the remains of the hunted animals for the consumption of the whole group were transported. Both, the amount of faunal remains and the diversity of raw materials found indicate that the Abric Romani was more or less occupied for longer periods of time and repeatedly.

A new type of employment

This feature represents a new shift in the type of occupation of this rock shelter, because the level excavated during the last year’s campaign was the product of short occupations. However, we should expect the excavation of the next year to see if the new hypothesis is valid. At least, we can say that the Q level is included among the richest of those which have been intervened until now in the Abric Romani.

With regard to the lithic tools discovered this year, are produced on a wide range of raw materials, including chert, limestone and quartz, as the most exploited types of rocks. In this assemblage there have been a lot of denticulates  and other types of retouched pieces.

Both, these and the already recovered remains for more than thirty years of excavation at the Abric Romani, “clearly show that neanderthals were active hunters”, stated Eudald Carbonell. “The subsistence strategies at this site were intended for hunting large ungulates, mainly horses and deer”, he points out.

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