In the site La Boella, different species that have not appeared before were recently found: turtle, saber-tooth cat and abundant hyena coprolites

This year the excavation was focused on the area known as La Mina, where it is expected that in future campaigns more than a million years fossils may appear

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The excavation works have been carried out during October in the gully of La Boella in La Canonja (Tarragona), under the IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) direction, which succeeded increasing the list of new species found at the site, as is the case of the skeletal elements of turtle, saber-tooth cat and the abundant hyena coprolites. Also the remains of lithic industry, with an age over a million years have been found, are of great importance to explain the origin of the earliest human populations in Eurasia. These findings have taken place in La Mina, the nearly 25 square meters area where this year an excavation has focused.

The documental field work at the site of La Mina offers the opportunity to characterize the paleoecology of analogous streambeds of the Francoli basin, a nearby million years environments. “Until now, the most systematic knowledge came from the archaeological excavations in the Cala 1 of El Forn, located about 200 meters below La Mina, this year we started a systematic study in this site, where we have allready caved a test pit years before”.

Differences

“Despite is the least explored -specified Josep Vallverdú, the excavations Director-, its analysis is very important because of the significant geological, paleontological and archaeological differences from other sites of the Boella, as the Forn and the Cala 1. It has the most significant faunal list. The 10 identified taxa conforms the largest list of all of those obtained in other areas of the ravine La Boella where we have intervened”.

The same archaeologist said: “The intervention in La Mina is preliminary in the sense that it is not yet known its potential, therefore, we can still find oldest archaeological levels. The site is affected by the moisture of the stream and the paleontological remains are difficult to recover. Thanks to La Canonja council this problem is about to be solved, as it is intended to do everything possible to protect all the intervention areas”.

Lithic industry

In respect to the lithic industry, “this year we have found a few remains of flint flakes, which increase the set of stone tools that we already had. However, are of great interest, as there are very few sites in Europe with about a million years with well-preserved lithic sets”,  says Josep Vallverdú.

The archaeological work was carried out by a research team from the IPHES, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (MNCN – CSIC), History students and from the Master in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution degree, both taught at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona (URV). Also some students from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) participated. In the latter case they are from Anthropology and Human Evolution degree, taught along with the URV and that has the IPHES researchers as teachers.

Vallverdú noted that the objective of the IPHES is “to continue the survey started in La Mina to find deeper layers, where paleontological and prehistoric industry could be the oldest in the gully of La Boella, over a million years”.

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