Evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism found in Spanish cave

Archaeologists conducting excavations in the Coves del Toll de Moià have uncovered evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism from more than 52,000-years-ago.

The Coves del Toll de Moià is a cave system in between the municipalities of Moià and Tona in the province of Barcelona, Spain. Situated in the Torrent Mal Valley, the cave was formed by dissolving Neogene limestone that created a 2km system.

- Advertisement -

Previous studies have found several faunal remains from the Late and Middle Pleistocene, including cave bears (Ursus spelaeus), hyenas (Crocuta crocuta spelaea), as well as remains of horses (Equus ferus), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and aurochs (Bos primigenius).

During the Middle Palaeolithic, the cave was inhabited by groups of Neanderthals, evidenced by previous discoveries of three Neanderthal children and stone tools.

In a recent study by archaeologists from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), and the CERCA Institute, the researchers have found fragments from the skull of a Neanderthal juvenile and a collarbone.

The remains have several cut marks, indicating that they were processed by other Neanderthals, and were possibly eaten by their relatives in activities related to cannibalism. Other identified remains are fragmented, possibly in order to access the marrow and other nutrients contained in the bones.

- Advertisement -

The finds have been dated to just before 52,000-years-ago, which were scattered over the surface at the entrance of the cave and mixed with the bones and teeth of other animals hunted by the Neanderthals inhabitants.

According to the researchers: “This is not the first documented case of cannibalism among Neanderthals, but it is the first identified in Southern Catalonia. Although anthropophagy does not seem to have been a common occurrence among these early humans, there are some sites in Europe that suggest similar practices.”

IPHES

Header Image Credit : IPHES

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Archaeologists reveal hundreds of ancient monuments using LiDAR

A new study published in the journal Antiquity has revealed hundreds of previously unrecorded monuments at Baltinglass in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Archaeologists use revolutionary GPR robot to explore Viking Age site

Archaeologist from NIKU are using a revolutionary new GPR robot to explore a Viking Age site in Norway’s Sandefjord municipality.

Highway construction delayed following Bronze Age discoveries

Excavations in preparation for the S1 Expressway have delayed road construction following the discovery of two Bronze Age settlements.

Archaeologists uncover possible phallus carving at Roman Vindolanda

Excavations at the Roman fort of Vindolanda have uncovered a possible phallus carving near Hadrian’s Wall.

Carbonised Herculaneum papyrus reveals burial place of Plato

An analysis of carbonised papyrus from the Roman town of Herculaneum has revealed the burial place of Plato.

Sealed 18th century glass bottles discovered at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

As part of a $40 million Mansion Revitalisation Project, archaeologists have discovered two sealed 18th century glass bottles at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Study suggests human occupation in Patagonia prior to the Younger Dryas period

Archaeologists have conducted a study of lithic material from the Pilauco and Los Notros sites in north-western Patagonia, revealing evidence of human occupation in the region prior to the Younger Dryas period.

Fort excavation uncovers Roman sculpture

Archaeologists excavating Stuttgart’s Roman fort have uncovered a statue depicting a Roman god.