An interesting opportunity for those with an interest in archaeology is on offer on Sunday 12th August, when the Sima de las Palomas excavations in the Cabezo Gordo, Dolores de Pacheco, hold their annual open day for the public to visit.
This special site has valuable human remains which date back to the Neanderthal period, 40-60,000 years ago, but has also yielded remains dating back to the inter-glacial period of 120,000-130,000 years BC, which it is believed may belong to the Pre-neanderthal forebears, the Homo heidelbergensis. Over 150 individual fossilized human remains have been discovered, which belong to 8 or 9 individuals, and some extremely important remains have been discovered which seem to belong to individuals who may have been buried during a rock fall whilst inside the caves.
There are also bones from lions, panthers, hippopotamus, hyenas, rhinos, horses, tortoises rabbits and birds, all of which lived in this area and many tools which would have been used by our distant ancestors in the course of their daily lives for hunting, fishing, and processing their prey.
The Cabezo Gordoitself is a mountain of marble, which towers above the plains and was mined extensively for both stone and minerals until 1917.
Excavations have been in operation at the site for 20 years, and each summer groups of students come from all over the world for the summer field camp under the direction of Professor Michael Walker from MurciaUniversity.
For just one day a year the site is opened to enable members of the public to visit the excavations and see the work currently in progress.
The format is basically;
It's about a 10 minute walk up a fairly steep hillside to get to the entrance of the excavations, so don't come unless you can make the walk and wear strong, sensible shoes, as the path is finished with a loose stone surface.
Once at the top, we had to queue for a while as groups of only 10-15 people at a time were going in.( So take a sunhat)
Once inside an ante-chamber an archaeologist explained to us what was happening on the excavation site which is about 3 metres up, so we couldn't actually see the excavations.
Then we walked down and were given a free sandwich and a drink.
Fortunately, the archaeologists spoke English, so there was no problem finding out about the site, and we found the Professor reading a newspaper at the bottom, so had a good chat with him, but the truth is, we didn't see an awful lot. There were some display boards up and workshops were in progress for the children at the bottom.
We were perfectly happy and enjoyed going out for the morning, but you won't see piles of bones so don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed!
The site is open all morning, which means basically from 9amish up to about 1.30pm.
From Torre Pacheco, take the F-22 towards Balsicas, then the F-26 towards Los Alcazares, and then the camino SIVt1, which is signposted for the Sima de las Palomas. Basically, you're heading for the foot of the huge rocky outcrop which dominates the orange plains.
Click for map, Cabezo gordo
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