© K. Douka,  T. Higham, E. Mastora

Zafarraya sampling



The “Boquete de Zafarraya cave” is located in the Alcaucín municipality (Málaga Province, Spain). This prehistoric site was discovered by Cecilio Barroso in 1979. The archaeological excavation revealed levels containing Mousterian industry, a rich and varied quaternary wildlife and Neanderthal fossils. This site is one of Iberia’s most important for Homo neanderthalensis fossils. There are at least 9 individuals (2 children, aged 14 months to 12 years and 7 adults, four almost 20 years old and two aged 25 and 30, and one undetermined). A rich stone tool industry has been collected from all seven distinct archeostratigraphical units attributed to the Mousterian. The assemblage comprises 813 items; mostly knapped in flint as well as some quartzose-sandstone (Barrosso Ruiz et al., 2014).


As part of the Palaeochron project, Marine and Thibaut went to the site this August to collect bone samples for radiocarbon dating and sediment samples for OSL dating. Because of the poor preservation of collagen in this cave, the dating of the entire sequence is challenging. Previous work by both Michel and Wood estimated the age of the Mousterian levels at Zafarraya between 38.7 ky and 49.3 ky BP (Michel et al., 2013; Wood et al., 2013). We will re-date the entire archaeological sequence using the latest methods developed at the Research Lab for Archaeology.



Left: Marine, Thibaut, with other members of the Zafaraya team, including Miguel Caparros and Marco Bernal. 

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