Gorham's Cave

Wikipedia logoThis page is sourced from Wikipedia

Wikipedia data hasn't been reviewed for accuracy by the Gignos Research Team

Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site
36.12, -5.34
Homo neanderthalensis
Gorham's Cave

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.