Gignos - Encyclopedia of human Origins

Our goal is to catalog and map every prehistoric archaeology site over 10,000 years old on the planet.

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Vanguard Cave

Vanguard Cave is a natural sea cave in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar which is part of the Gorham's Cave complex. This complex of four caves has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2016. The cave complex is one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals, with a period of inhabitation from 55,000 to 28,000 years ago. It is located on the southeast face of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Vanguard Cave is a site of continuing archaeological interest. There was a long investigation in August 2012 that involved an international team brought to Gibraltar. The team spent three weeks excavating at Gorham's cave and three weeks at Vanguard.

In September 2021, archaeologists from the Gibraltar National Museum led by Prof Clive Finlayson announced the discovery of a 40,000 year-old Neanderthal cave chamber in the Gorham's Cave Complex, including a carving that may have been early Neanderthal artwork.

Gorham's Cave

Gorham's Cave (Spanish: Cueva de Gorham, pronounced [ɡoˈɾam]) is a sea-level cave in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Though not a sea cave, it is often mistaken for one. Considered to be one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals in Europe, the cave gives its name to the Gorham's Cave complex, which is a combination of four distinct caves of such importance that they are combined into a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in Gibraltar. The three other caves are Vanguard Cave, Hyaena Cave, and Bennett's Cave.

It is located at Governor's Beach on the southeastern face of the Rock of Gibraltar. When first inhabited some 55,000 years ago, it would have been approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) from the shore, but, due to changes in sea level, it is now only a few metres from the Mediterranean Sea.

Excavation of this site has resulted in the discovery of four layers of stratigraphy, one below the other:

  • Level I has produced evidence for eighth to third centuries BC use by Phoenicians.
  • Level II produced evidence for brief Neolithic use.
  • Level III has yielded at least 240 Upper Paleolithic artefacts of Magdalenian and Solutrean origin.
  • Level IV has produced 103 items, including spear points, knives, and scraping devices that are identified as Mousterian, and shows repeated use over thousands of years.

Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating gives dates for level IV of between 33 and 23 thousand years before the present (kyr BP)—the researchers felt that the uncertainties at this time depth made calibration impractical. They suggest occupation until at least 28 kyr BP and possibly 24 kyr BP.

No fossil remains have been found that would allow identification pointing to either Neanderthal or anatomically modern human inhabitants, nor associated with findings of a modern human in a site at nearby Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal of 24,500 years ago who may have featured Neanderthal genetic admixtures,[9] although Mousterian culture normally is identified with Neanderthals in Europe.

Devil's Tower

The Devil's Tower was an ancient watchtower in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar close to a rock shelter where fossil remains of a Neanderthal child were discovered, together with palaeolithic tools. The Tower and remains, however, were unrelated.

The Devil's Tower skull was that of a Neanderthal child. The remains were excavated by Dorothy Garrod in a Mousterian shelter on the site. There is evidence of an injury to the mouth, and the teeth show developmental disorders consistent with seasonal starvation. The classic Neanderthal large brain case is evident and the brow ridges have started to develop. The skull substantially reinforced the evidence of the Neanderthals of Gibraltar.

Most of the lower jaw has survived, along with the frontal bone, most of the right side of the face, and the left parietal bone.

Tsona Cave

Tsona Cave (Georgian: წონის მღვიმე) is an archaeological site at the head of the river Qvirila in proximity of village Tson (Georgian: წონა, Ossetian: Цъон) in the Java Municipality in Shida Kartli in Georgia. The site is close to the Bouba-Kakheri pass at south of the Caucasus range.