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Cova Gran Archaeological Project

Location: Catalunya, Spain

June 29, 2014 to August 2, 2014

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, June 22, 2014

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona & Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. Jorge Martinez-Moreno, Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona; Prof. Rafael Mora, Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona; and Dr. Alfonso Benito-Calvo, Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona

Project Description

The ability to quickly and efficiently adapt to diverse landscapes allowed humans to spread throughout the world during the Paleolithic period.  In the Old World, such ability enabled early humans to replace Neanderthals (and likely H. denisovans) in diverse environment, including the Southern Pyrenees.  How such replacement took place and what where the technological and social advantaged early human brought to the region is still poorly understood.  Through excavations at Cova Gran de Santa Linya – a large rock shelter located at the seam between the first range of the southern Pyrenees and the Ebro Basin – students will explore these very questions.  The cave is rich with evidence of human occupation dating to at least as early as 50,000 years ago and continuing through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.  In 2014, students will continue excavations at the site and will primarily focus on the north-west area of this shelter, where deep stratigraphy with excellent preservation of archaeological materials is present.   

Period(s) of Occupation: Paleolithic and Neolithic periods

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full program

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No previous experience is required

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will stay at the Alberg la Cova hostel at Sant Llorenc de Montgai.  This village is approximately 30 km north of Lleida (Catalunya, Spain). The building has excellent facilities with communal space, kitchen, shower, laundry and free internet access.  Sleeping bags are not necessary but students are welcome to bring them. Students will share communal bedrooms (6-8 people in each room).
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided by the program Mon-Sat.  On Sundays, students may choose to take their meals at the different local restaurants in the area.  While the project may accommodate some dietary needs, you must communicate directly with project directors to ensure your needs can be met in the field.  In general, vegetarian diets may be accomedated but other types of diet may be more challenging to be managed.

All room and board costs are included in tuition (excluding weekend meals)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units)


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
1855 Industrial St. #106
Los Angeles
424 226-6130
Recommended Bibliography: 

Benito-Calvo, A., Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R., Roy, M.,  Roda, X. 2011. "Trampling experiments at Cova Gran de Santa Linya, Pre-Pyrenees, Spain: their relevance for archaeological fabrics of the Upper–Middle Paleolithic assemblages." Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 3652-3661.

Casanova, J., Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R., de la Torre, I. 2009. "Stratégies techniques dans le Paléolithique moyen du Sud-est des Pyrénées." L’Anthropologie 113 : 313-340. (optional).

Martínez-Moreno, J., de la Torre, I. Mora, R., Casanova, J. 2010. "Technical variability and changes in the pattern of settlement at Roca dels Bous (southeastern Pre-Pyrenees, spain)", In Conard & Delagnes (ed): Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age III. Kerns Verlag. Tübingen: 485-507.

Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R., de la Torre, I. 2010. "The Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic Transition in Cova Gran (Catalonia, Spain) and the extinction of Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula." Journal of Human Evolution 58: 211-226.

Martínez-Moreno, J., González Marcén, P., Mora Torcal, R. 2011. "Data matrix (DM) codes: A technological process for the management of the archaeological record."  Journal of Cultural Heritage 12: 134-139.

Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R., Torre, I., Benito,A. 2012. "The role of flakes in the Early Upper Palaeolithic 497d assemblage of Cova gran de Santa Linya (Southeastern Prepyrenees, Spain)." In Pastoors, Peressani & Weniger (ed): Flakes not blades. Discussing the role of flake production at the onset of the Upper Paleolithic: 85-104. Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums.

Mora, R., Martínez-Moreno, J., Casanova, J. 2008. "Abordando la noción de “variabilidad musteriense” en Roca dels Bous (Prepirineo suroriental, Lleida)." Trabajos de Prehistoria 65: 13-28. (optional)

Mora, R., Martínez-Moreno, J. de la Torre, I. 2010. "ArqueoUAB: A systematic archaeographic approach for the analysis of Palaeolithic sites." F. Melero & Pedro Cano (eds): Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archeology-CAA’2010.

Mora, R., Benito-Calvo, A., Martínez-Moreno, J., González Marcen, P.,  de la Torre, I.  2011. Chrono-stratigraphy of the Upper Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological sequence in Cova Gran (south-eastern Pre-Pyrenees, Iberian Peninsula). Journal of Quaternary Science 26: 635–644.

Polo, A., Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R., Benito-Calvo, A. in press.  "Prehistoric herding facilities: site formation and archaeological dynamics in Cova Gran de Santa Linya (Southeastern Prepyrenees, Iberia)." Journal of Archaeological Science.  

de la Torre, I., Martínez-Moreno, J., Mora, R. in press. "Change and stasis in the Iberian Middle Palaeolithic. Considerations on the significance of Mousterian technological variability." Current Anthropology.

Roy, M., Tarriño, A., Benito-Calvo, A., Mora, R., Martínez-Moreno, J.2013.  "Aprovisionamiento de sílex en el Prepirineo oriental durante el Paleolítico superior antiguo: el nivel arqueológico 497C de Cova Gran (Santa Linya, Lleida)." Trabajos de Prehistoria 70(1): 7-27.