The excavation of buried articulated Neanderthal skeletons at Sima de las Palomas (Murcia, SE Spain)


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date



At Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo (Murcia, Spain) remains of several Neanderthals have been excavated recently. From about 50,000 years ago articulated parts of 3 adult skeletons (including skulls with mandibles, vertebral column, rib cages, shoulder blades, hip bones, upper and lower limbs, hands and feet, often in anatomical connexion) were excavated from the lower part of a cemented accumulation of scree and large stones (éboulis) sloping downwards and inwards into the cavity, along with burnt bones of large mammals and Mousterian implements. The excavation of the skeletons is the subject of this paper (palaeoanthropological skeletal descriptions are soon to be published elsewhere). Behind the cemented scree there accumulated a layer of finer sediment containing burnt animal bones, followed by more fine sediment that filled the cavity up to the overhanging rock roof and contained isolated teeth and unburnt bone fragments of Neanderthals, including 3 mandibles, as well as Mousterian implements and faunal remains, all dating from before 40,000 years ago. Altogether, at least 9 Neanderthals are represented by finds from the site (including 3 unstratified mandibles), ranging from babies to adults. Dating methods include radiocarbon, uranium-series, and optical luminescence. Pollen analysis implies conditions less severe than those of the Heinrich 4 cold oscillation at 40,000 years ago.


Neanderthals, Excavations (Archaeology), Europe, Spain, Murcia

Geographic Subject

Europe; Spain; Murcia

Document Type



Volume 259 15 p.