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The University of Barcelona digs in the prehistoric sites of the caves of Montserrat

General view of the excavation in Cova Gran in Montserrat (Collbató).

General view of the excavation in Cova Gran in Montserrat (Collbató).

View of the entrance to the internal hall in Cova Freda de Montserrat during the excavation, where the stratigraphy with stabling levels was found.

View of the entrance to the internal hall in Cova Freda de Montserrat during the excavation, where the stratigraphy with stabling levels was found.

04/07/2018

Recerca

Researchers from the Seminar on Prehistoric Studies and Research of the University of Barcelona (SERP) of the University of Barcelona have conducted, during this last month of June, archaeological excavations at the known prehistoric caves of Montserrat, one of the most emblematic items for the study of the Mediterranean Neolithic. This is the first scientific intervention to take place in these sites after being studied almost a century ago, in a research trip of the Institute for Catalan Studies in 1922. These excavations were led by the UB professors Josep M. Fullola, Xavier Oms and Juan Ignacio Morales, and the researcher Artur Cebrià. The campaign, which has the economic support and institutional collaboration of Patronat de la Muntanya de Montserrat and the City Council of Collbató, took place in Cova Gran and Cova Freda in Collbató, sites where the montserratí ceramic decoration style was named for the first time.

The excavation in Cova Freda enabled researchers to document the cave was used as a pen cave by the first farmers, who stabled their first flocks. Researchers also found in Cova Gran other signs of Neolithic occupations (from about 7,500 and 7,000 years ago), and recovered fragments of the famous ceramics from Montserrat. This style, known after the fifties as cardium pottery, is typical of the ceramics of the first farmers that spread around the Mediterranean from the Near Est.

One of the main findings was the confirmation that Cova Gran served as shelter for hunter gatherers in the late Upper Palaeolithic, something researchers did not know about so far. The main findings of this period, about 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, were mainly tools made with flint and remains of the fauna humans ate, such as cainotherium. Researchers believe they will be able to document other levels with even older human occupations when excavations continue.

Since the results of the UB campaign are still preliminary, researchers could verify the big potential of both caves, and therefore, the important chances they offer to conduct a continuous research in this site in the mountains of Montserrat. SERP aims to work in these lines over the coming years. The obtained results in these two sites, apart from helping contextualizing the rich ceramic, bone, and lithic material published in 1925 by Josep Colomines and preserved in the Montserrat monastery, provide relevant data on prehistory in this Catalan mountain chain. Regarding the Palaeolithic occupations, these fill a void of knowledge on this period in the entire area.

 

 

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