Lower Magdalenian Secondary Human Burial in El Miron Cave, Cantabria, Spain

By Straus, Lawrence Guy; Morales, Manuel R. Gonzalez et al. | Antiquity, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Lower Magdalenian Secondary Human Burial in El Miron Cave, Cantabria, Spain


Straus, Lawrence Guy, Morales, Manuel R. Gonzalez, Carretero, Jose Miguel, Antiquity


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Introduction

One century ago, in 1911, Hugo Obermaier discovered in El Castillo Cave (Cantabria, Spain) two human frontal bones that had been "fashioned into bowls" (Obermaier 1925: 288; see also Breuil & Obermaier 1912; Vallois & Delmas 1976; Cabrera 1984: 61, 298, 356). Associated with three small fragments of parietal that may have pertained to the same skull as one of the frontals, these remains were apparently found at the top of the 2m-thick and multi-hearth layered Lower Magdalenian (sensu lato) Beta horizon. There is only one 14C date from this immense stratum, done on a decorated antler sagaie: 16 850 [+ or -] 220 BP (Barandiaran1988), which should represent the base of the horizon. A few isolated human remains have been found in other Magdalenian deposits, mainly in Cantabrian Spain--but remarkably, given the very large numbers of excavations of Iberian Magdalenian layers since the 1870s, no evidence of burials or even substantial parts of human skeletons--until now. Here we report the find of a mandible (plus loose teeth) and post-cranial bones of a young adult found in a highly ritualised Lower Magdalenian context during the fourteenth year of research (2010) at El Miron Cave, 40km and three river valleys east of El Castillo (Figure 1).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The Magdalenian of El Miron Cave

El Miron Cave, located in the western cliffside of l000m Monte Pando, is oriented directly at the pyramidal face of another 1000m peak, San Vicente, which strikingly resembles Monte Castillo in which El Castillo Cave is located. Like Monte Castillo, Monte Pando contains numerous Upper Palaeolithic art and residential sites and dominates a major river valley, the Ason. In both El Castillo and El Miron, some of the thickest, culturally richest deposits pertain to the classic Cantabrian Lower Magdalenian period, first discovered in Altamira Cave and also well represented at such other well-studied coastal sites as El Juyo. El Miron has revealed a long sequence of Magdalenian levels dated to the Initial, Lower, Middle and Upper phases of this quintessential Western European Upper Palaeolithic cultural tradition, plus the (Epimagdalenian) Azilian period. With 46 radiocarbon dates, the El Miron Magdalenian-Azilian stratigraphic series is one of the most complete and thoroughly dated in Iberia or, for that matter, Europe, although some horizons clearly witnessed far more intensive occupation than others. The dates range from about 17 000 to about 10 300 BP (c. 20 000-12 000 cal BP).

By far the densest Magdalenian levels in El Miron pertain to the Lower Cantabrian Magdalenian, represented in the large (30 x 16-10 x 12-13m) front, centre and rear of the cave vestibule by a thick, dark 'chocolate brown', highly organic deposit of silty, clayey loam with small- to medium-size limestone eboulis and large numbers of water-worn cobbles from the alluvial infilling of the inner cave upslope of the vestibule. The Lower Magdalenian is characterised by enormous quantities of lithic knapping debris and tools/weapon elements, osseous artefacts such as points and needles, charcoal- and ash-rich hearths with anvil stones, fire-cracked rocks, pits, a possible stone wall, lenses of red and yellow ochres, and vast amounts of highly fragmented faunal remains--mainly red deer and ibex, plus salmon and smaller fish. Remnants of this horizon survive in niches in the bedrock walls of the erosional ramp leading back to the inner cave, where a Lower Magdalenian layer has also been found in a test-pit we dug at the base of an old exploratory trench (Straus & Gonzalez Morales 2003, 2007a & b, 2008, 2010; Gonzalez Morales & Straus 2005; Straus et al. 2008; Marin 2010).

Along with extraordinary works of portable art (Gonzalez Morales et al. 2007; Gonzalez Morales & Straus 2009, in press), the Magdalenian of El Miron is characterised by engravings both on the bedrock wall at the back of the vestibule and on a very large (c. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lower Magdalenian Secondary Human Burial in El Miron Cave, Cantabria, Spain
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.