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The archaeological excavation


Excavation. Throwing spears. Mount Ereñozar.

The Santimamiñe cave is located on the eastern side of the basin of the Urdaibai River, on the southern slope of Mt. Ereñozar, dominating a vast landscape of diverse ecosystems: Holm oak forests in Cantabria, rural areas, estuary, etc.

The cave entrance, at an altitude of approximately 150 metres above present-day sea level, faces south-southeast and leads to a hall that receives natural light. In this room, a remarkable archaeological fill is preserved displaying a cultural sequence ranging from the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic to Roman times.

The first archaeological excavations were mainly carried out between 1918 and 1962 by a team formed by Telesforo Aranzadi, José Miguel de Barandiarán and E. Eguren.

From 2004 to the present time, a multidisciplinary team of more than twenty specialists has been working on a new digging stage at Santimamiñe as part of the revaluation project promoted by the Regional Government of Biscay. The chief purpose of the stratigraphic revision of the cave currently in progress is to determine the precise evolution of the sequence through the application of analytical techniques and sampling within the current framework of Prehistory.

A stratigraphic sequence of 6 m in thickness has been established for the middle part of the hall, with levels of human occupation dating back from the Middle Magdalenian period (c. 14,000 years ago) to the Calcolithic period (c. 4,000 years ago).


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