Monday, July 22, 2013

Neolithic hand-axe from Gorham's Cave

This hand-axe was excavated from the Neolithic (Level II) at Gorham's Cave last Saturday. It was stained with ochre, with the part that would have been hafted showing by the absence of ochre (arrows below).

Reconstruction kindly provided by Dr Geraldine Finlayson

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Neanderthal technology

We've been excavating some wonderful examples of Neanderthal workmanship in Gorham's Cave so I thought I'd simply put some photos for all to see and admire the work of our cousins.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

First week at Gorham's Cave

Yesterday we completed the first week in Gorham's Cave. Much time has been spent preparing the site for excavation as we are opening old sections that were last looked at close to twenty years ago. We are also opening sections that were excavated in the 1950s and backfilled at that time. The work then was not as detailed as today so we are finding some great pieces that were missed at the time. Above is a Mousterian point, made by the Neanderthals. I'll dedicate another post to showing some of these artefacts. It is now 23 years since Geraldine and I started this project with Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum.

Above and below: After all these years, going down the cliffs and through the boulders with the team on a daily basis has become a part of Geraldine's life. The line in the image below shows Geraldine at the head of the line of archaeologists. It serves to illustrate the spectacular scale of the site.

We're concentrating a lot of effort on the Middle Sections of the cave this year. Here, Dr Ruth Blasco and Marco Antonio Bernal are hard at work cleaning the sections (above and below).

Above we see the beautifully cleaned Middle Section. Dr Richard Jennings is up on the scaffold. Behind him is the inner part of the cave where we are also working (below)

Material from here is transferred in bags down the site for dry sieving (below). Once we start on the in situ deposits - this Monday - the material will be taken to Vanguard Cave for wet sieving.

The bags are left in an intermediate location (above) before transportation to the sieving team (below). Any shade is gratefully received as the morning sun beats down. Mercifully, the cliffs provide shade in the afternoon.

It looks idyllic (below) but it is tough work

Taken from close to the sieving station, the image above shows clearly the middle section with the inner part of the cave at the top. It is truly a grand cave, 50-metres deep with an additional inner chamber that is 35-metres deep. The stratigraphy is 18-metres from top to bottom!

As well as cleaning the middle section, we are also preparing it for excavation. This part is just below the main section and will offer a wide horizontal space for excavation

It's a great team and everyone is working really hard. Well done guys!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back in Gorham's Cave

Things got busy down in Gorham's Cave this morning as our team arrived to start three weeks of excavations. Old friends met while new ones saw the impressive site for the first time. The first day is being spent bringing equipment to the site and also cleaning old sections and generally preparing the site for excavation. Here are some pics from today...

Above and below: walking the plank

Above: Dr Richard Jennings carrying the can, with Dr Ruth Blasco behind. Our chief archaeologists

Above and below: The EDM crew - Dr Ciaran Brewster and Dr Geraldine Finlayson (project co-director, carrying tripod)

Above: first briefing on site

Above: EDM crew first off the mark!

Above: The cave comes to life

Above: Deep in discussion

Above: the discussion continues, while Geraldine takes notes!

Above: ...and it carries on, while the cleaning gets under way!

Above: ...more notes...

Above: Marco and Ciaran - old mates reunited

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Return to Gorham's Cave

Personnel now assembled, tomorrow morning we take on Gorham's Cave for another year!

Don't forget naturalandalus

Don't forget to visit our sister blog where we are featuring animals and habitats that shared the coastal shelf outside Gorham's Cave with the Neanderthals.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Getting ready for Gorham's Cave

Today some of us went down to Gorham's Cave to start setting up the grid ahead of the arrival of the main contingent of archaeologists. This preparatory work will save us a lot of time later on and will allow us to get digging quickly.

It was VERY hot and humid today, so after five-hours work and the long climb back up in the heat of the day, cool water was very welcome!

Our neighbours (above and below)