New archaeological findings change the map of Iberian Neanderthal cultures

Related Articles

Related Articles

Before the Neanderthals disappeared, about 30,000 years ago, the Chatelperronian culture was created, featured by the creation of knives and spear tips.

Chatelperrionian was the transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic, and coincided with the moment the Neanderthals were in contact with Homo sapiens sapiens, who were spreading around Europe from the Middle East. So far in the Iberian Peninsula, only remains from Chatelperronian cultures had been found in the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian coast. In fact, the Iberian area was considered to be a shelter for the Neanderthals, who lived there for thousands of years without any contact with the Homo sapiens sapiens, keeping the material traditions of the Middle Paleolithic. However, experts from the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the UB have found in Cova Foradada (Calafell, Spain) remains from about 40,000 and 41,000 years ago that are samples from Chatelperronian cultures –found in the southernmost area of Europe so far. In an article published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers note the relevance of these findings and how the cave becomes now an “important geographical and chronological reference to understand the disappearance of Neanderthals and expansion of the modern humans”.

“The findings mean there was a significant expansion towards the south of Europe regarding the Chatelperronian, beyond the area researchers had established”, says the first author of the article and supervisor of the excavation, Juan Ignacio Morales, researcher from the program Juan de la Cierva, adjunct to SERP. The article in PLOS ONE notes the cave is near the Ebro Depression, which some researchers regarded as a barrier of the population and cultural flows during the first expansion of Homo sapiens sapiens in the Peninsula. It also explains there were no other remains from transition cultures like the Chatelperronian beyond the Ebro. In short, Morales concludes that with these findings “we can expand the area where the change from Middle Paleolithic to the Upper Paleolithic occurred 40,000 years ago and probably the interaction between both human species, the Neanderthals and the Homo sapiens sapiens”. Morales highlights that “Cova Foradada was probably one of the last sites where the direct contact took place, or at least mutual influence between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens”.


The remains of Cova Foradada include eight layers of flint -typical from the Chatelperronian, known as Chatelperronian stone tools, which can be used as projectile points and as knives to cut too. In the site, they found stone and horn tools belonging to Homo sapiens sapiens from 38,000 years ago, corresponding to the early Aurignacian, and from 31,000 years ago, from the Gravettian period. The remains of the site show that the last Nanderthals and the first Homo sapiens sapiens used the Cova Foradada as a place for hunt-related activities. They made short stays in the cave and repaired the tools, and those they left there were useless already.

The excavations in Cova Foradada started in 1997. At the moment, the supervision of the excavation is conducted by Juan Ignacio Morales and Artur Cebrià. The archaeological study of the site is included in the SERP project funded by the Department of Culture of Generalitat de Catalunya and the subsidized project by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, headed by the UB professor and director of SERP Josep Maria Fullola.

Universidad de Barcelona

Header Image Credit – Didier Descouens

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic


Camulodunum – The First Capital of Britannia

Camulodunum was a Roman city and the first capital of the Roman province of Britannia, in what is now the present-day city of Colchester in Essex, England.

African Crocodiles Lived in Spain Six Million Years Ago

Millions of years ago, several species of crocodiles of different genera and characteristics inhabited Europe and sometimes even coexisted.

Bat-Winged Dinosaurs That Could Glide

Despite having bat-like wings, two small dinosaurs, Yi and Ambopteryx, struggled to fly, only managing to glide clumsily between the trees where they lived, according to a new study led by an international team of researchers, including McGill University Professor Hans Larsson.

Ancient Maya Built Sophisticated Water Filters

Ancient Maya in the once-bustling city of Tikal built sophisticated water filters using natural materials they imported from miles away, according to the University of Cincinnati.

New Clues Revealed About Clovis People

There is much debate surrounding the age of the Clovis - a prehistoric culture named for stone tools found near Clovis, New Mexico in the early 1930s - who once occupied North America during the end of the last Ice Age.

Cognitive Elements of Language Have Existed for 40 Million Years

Humans are not the only beings that can identify rules in complex language-like constructions - monkeys and great apes can do so, too, a study at the University of Zurich has shown.

Bronze Age Herders Were Less Mobile Than Previously Thought

Bronze Age pastoralists in what is now southern Russia apparently covered shorter distances than previously thought.

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

Popular stories

Legio IX Hispana – The Lost Roman Legion

One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.