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The chatelperronian supposed the transition from the middle to the upper Paleolithic, and coincided with the time when Neanderthals came into contact with Homo sapiens sapiens, which were spreading across Europe from the Middle East.
In the Iberian Peninsula, until now only Chatelperronian remains in the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian coast.
In fact, it is considered that the peninsular territory remained as a refuge for the Neanderthals, who lived there for a few thousand years without contact with Homo sapiens sapiens, preserving the material traditions of the Middle Paleolithic.
Now, however, experts from the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the University of Barcelona have discovered in the cave Foradada (Calafell) remains of between 40,000 and 41,000 years old that are the samples of Chatelperronian culture found further south in Europe Until now.
In an article published in the magazine PLoS ONE, the researchers explain the relevance of the finding and how the Foradada cave It thus becomes "an important geographical and chronological reference to understand the disappearance of Neanderthals and the expansion of modern humans."
«The finding implies a very significant southward expansion of Chatelperronian in Europe, beyond the area traditionally established by researchers, ”explains the first author of the article and director of the excavation, Juan Ignacio Morales, a researcher for the Juan de la Cierva program attached to the SERP.
The article points out that the Foradada cave is located near the Ebro depression, which several researchers have described population and cultural flows as a barrier during the first expansion of Homo sapiens sapiens through the Peninsula.
It is also explained that no remains of transitional cultures such as the Chatelperronian further south of the Ebro have been found.
Ultimately, Morales concludes that with the discovery “the territory in which the change from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic occurred 40,000 years ago is extended to the Ebro depression and possibly the interaction between the two species of humans, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens'.
As Morales points out, «the Foradada cave was probably one of the last sites where direct contact, or at least mutual influence, took place between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens. '
What has been found in the Foradada cave?
The remains of the Foradada cave They include eight blades of flint characteristic of the Chatelperronian, which are technically known as Châtelperron points, and which can be used as points (probably spear points) but also as cutting knives.
Stone and horn tools belonging to Homo sapiens sapiens dating from about 38,000 years ago, corresponding to the initial Aurignacian, and 31,000 years ago, from the Gravettian period have been found at the site.
The remains of the site indicate that both the last Neanderthals and the first Homo sapiens sapiens They used the Foradada cave for activities related to hunting. In it, very short stays were made and tools were repaired, while those that were already useless were left.
The excavations in the Foradada cave began in 1997. At present, the excavation direction is in charge of Juan Ignacio Morales and Artur Cebrià.
The archaeological study of this site is included in both the SERP project, financed by the Department of Culture of the Generalitat and subsidized by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, both headed by the UB professor and director of the SERP Josep M.ª Fullola.
Morales, J. I .; Cebrià, A .; Burguet-Coca, A .; Fernández-Marchena, J. L .; García-Argudo, G .; Rodríguez-Hidalgo, A. et al. «The Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition occupations from Cova Foradada (Calafell, NE Iberia)«. PLoS ONE, 14 (5), May 2019.