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Researchers find remains from seven individuals belonging to the first farmers of the Neolithic period in Cova Bonica

The study describes more than three hundred human remains which are about 7,400 years old.

The study describes more than three hundred human remains which are about 7,400 years old.

There are several ornaments among the different found objects.

There are several ornaments among the different found objects.

Among the findings are Cardium pottery, which, together with the impressed ware, are the first to be documented in the Iberian Peninsula

Among the findings are Cardium pottery, which, together with the impressed ware, are the first to be documented in the Iberian Peninsula

Excavations in Cova Bonica de Vallirana.

Excavations in Cova Bonica de Vallirana.

15/11/2018

Recerca

A study published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports describes the findings of more than three-hundred human remains about 7,400 years old corresponding to at least seven people, among which would be an adult and seven children aged between 13 and 3, found in the archaeological site of Cova Bonica de Vallirana (Barcelona). This is one of the few remain series in the Iberian Peninsula that belong to the first farmer populations of the Neolithic period, who arrived through the sea, coming from the Central Mediterranean.

The archaeologists of the University of Barcelona are working on the hypothesis that the human remains were not buried the same way they are now, but the ritual would consist on placing the skeletons in this cave in Vallirana in a kind of collective ossuary. Apart from human remains, they also found other archaeological material that could be part of the funerary trousseau. Among the found remains are several ornaments, such a red coral necklace piece, a unique piece which is not very common in prehistoric sites of this period, and sea snails from the Columbella genus. The article concludes that funerary practices and rituals from the Neolithic are hard to reconstruct since human bones are scattered and only a multidisciplinary study could evaluate the different activities.

The study also states the existence of other particular archaeological objects such as Cardium pottery, which, together with the impressed ware, are the first to be documented in the Iberian Peninsula and are associated with the arrival of the first farmer societies that cultivated cereal such as corn and oat, and their farming was based on goats and sheep. Researchers found other tools in Cova Bonica, such as spatulas and blades made of bones and other lithium tools of rock crystal, flint, and jasper. The presence of tools made with jasper, a stone found in the mountain of Montjuïc (Barcelona), as well as ornaments made with marine elements suggests that these people from Cova Bonica were farmer societies that moved around a wider area, ranging from the lower valley of the Llobregat River to the current city of Barcelona.

Moreover, the complete study of the site allowed researchers reporting farming tasks in Cova Bonica apart from funerary activities. It was actually used as a farmyard to keep livestock, when several structures were built.

Cova Bonica de Vallirana

The archaeological site of Cova Bonica is one of the most important sites for the knowledge of prehistory in the Iberian Peninsula and in particular the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. In fact, Cova Bonica is one of the sites with more human remains from this period, a total of 300 corresponding to at least seven individuals, and it is one of the oldest and key sites to understand the expansion of the Neolithic from the Near East to the Western Mediterranean.

Although this cave was partially destroyed by a calcite mine, it was found as a site and excavated for the first time in 1936. Since 2008, the SERP Quaternary Research Group of the University of Barcelona is conducting archaeological excavations in this site, and an article they published in 2017 described a first series of remains from the Neolithic, which are now complete and analyzed in the published article.

The excavation project in Cova Bonica de Valliranes is led by the UB researchers Joan Daura and Montserrat Sanz, from the SERP Quaternary Research Group (led by Josep Maria Fullola), and counts on the participation of the researchers Xavier Oms, Mireia Pedro and Pablo Martínez, also members of SERP. In addition, this study gave way to the article published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, in which several researchers of other universities in Spain have taken part. The excavations have been supported by the Service of Archaeology and Palaeontology of Generalitat de Catalunya and the town council of Vallirana.

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