Site - Ardales


Cave   geoscience, archaeology, other   E -4.828639, N 36.873377  
c1 f5 z2


Ardales Cave (Málaga, Spain) is a prehistoric site near the village Ardales. The cave has two floors and is approximately 1,5 km long. One of the first caves open for tourism, it is known since the first half of the 19th century. During the Neolithic period, the cave was used as burial ground; human remains, ceramics and lithic tools can be found on the surface of the cave floor. At the beginning of the 20th century, Upper Palaeolithic and Neolithic cave art was discovered by Henri Breuil, consisting of engravings and paintings from mainly horses and deer, some human representations and signs.
After a first campaign in 2011, when four areas of the cave were excavated and a set of analysis were carried out to get a first impression of the surroundings, a more extensive excavation project is undergoing since 2015. A team of German and Spanish researchers from the University of Cologne, Neanderthal Museum and University of Cadiz is conducting excavations in three zones of the cave (Zona 2, Zona 3, Zona 5).
The objectives are to document the well preserved stratigraphy of the cave, understand the sedimentation processes, and find a connection between archaeological layers and human traces that Upper Palaeolithic people left behind while exploring the underground and decorating the cave walls. These internal analyses of the Ardales cave are imbedded in the search for pattern which will give insight into the role and the function of caves with rock art in the settlement system of Upper Palaeolithic foragers in Southern Spain. Against the backdrop of the complete absence of contemporaneous cave art in Morocco these studies are of essential importance


  • 1st campaign (2011)

    geoarchaeological sondage with georadar and microcoring to investigate the ground in front of the cave entrance and archaeological sondages in four different areas of the cave (Zone 1, 2, 3 and 4) to document stratigraphy, sedimentation processes and possible archaeological material; geomorphological, sedimentological and micromorphological analyses
  • 2nd campaign (2012)

    laser scanning of lower galleries as well as surrounding area outside the cave; thermal-imaging of entrance area of entrance area; structured light scans of engravings and relevant objects; spectral analyses of paintings; geomorphological, sedimentological and micromorphological analyses
  • 3rd campaign (2015)

    archaeological prospection of the upper gallery
  • 4th campaign - CA15 (2015)

    excavations of 3 square meters in Zone 5, an almost undisturbed area where Palaeolithic people left paint traces on stalactites; to better understand sedimentation processes of cave and find conclusive material for chronology of this zone; sedimentological analysis
  • 5th campaign - CA15_2 (2015)

    continuation of excavations in Zone 2; expansion of profile to better understand chronology of this zone, sedimentological analysis
  • 6th campaign - CA16 (2016)

    continuation of archaeological excavation in Zone 5; creation of a 5 m long profile; sedimentological and micromorphological analysis
  • 7th campaign - CA16_2 (2015)

    continuation of archaeological excavation in Zone 2 and 3 to find traces from Middle Palaeolithic period; sedimentological and micromorphological analysis

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