New chronological data about the neolithic burial cave of l'Avellaner (Les Planes d'Hostoles, Girona)

Juan F. Gibaja, Berta Morell, Diego López-Onaindía, Aurélie Zemour, Àngel Bosch, Josep Tarrús, Maria Eulàlia Subirà

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3 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi. All rights reserved. Until a few years ago, the available information regarding the funerary practices of the first Neolithic communities was negligible. Currently, this has changed significantly, thanks, particularly, to the works carried out in sites such as Cova Bonica or Can Sadurní. In this context, the Cova de l'Avellaner, the addressed site of this paper, was one of the best-known Early-Neolithic archaeological contexts from the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The site has three cavities with numerous human remains. This exceptional archaeological record and its old chronology have made this cave a reference site of the funerary practices of the first farming societies. The information provided, both by contexts such as Cova de l'Avellaner, and those currently being excavated, seem to show that the caves were selected during this time as burial sites. Different individuals were buried in those cavities, probably accompanied by different tools, containers and ornaments as grave goods. The problem is that it is practically impossible to assign such elements to each of the dead and even to recognize others who could be part of the sediment that covered the bodies. In any case, in this paper a description of the discovered materials are presented, since their characteristics can help to recognize which type of artefacts could accompany the buried and because they also have an added value as a chronological marker; this is what has helped us to define better the moment in which the burials were practiced. The first radiocarbon dates from Cova de l'Avellaner were made during the nineties and provided too wide margins, so their validity is doubtful For this reason we have recently started a radiocarbon dating programme, in order to determine the chronology of the three funerary spaces of the cave. Three individuals have been dated, one from each cavity. The main goal of this work is to contextualise the obtained results in the frame of the first funerary practices from the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The use of the caves as a funerary place disappears at the end of the fifth millennium, when the communities begin to inhumate their individuals recurrently in pits or stone boxes, especially individually. That period is known as “the Pit Burials Culture”. Curiously, at the end of the Neolithic and the beginnings of the Chalcolithic, in the last centuries of the IV millennium, caves are once again used as collective burial sites, at the same time dolmens or artificial hypogea also appear as funerary structures. We are currently working on the materials and human remains that were exhumed in this cave at the end of the 20th century. The magnificent state of conservation of the biotic and abiotic remains has led us to address new analysis that we hope to present in the coming years. Among them, the review of all the graphic and anthropological material, in order to evaluate if there were more buried individuals, but especially how the burial process was, should be highlighted. In this aspect, the so-called Anthropologie de Terrain has much to say. Likewise, we have started a morphology analysis of the dentition of the individuals that should provide information regarding the connections between these communities and other groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
JournalMunibe Antropologia-Arkeologia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Chronology
  • Funerary Practices
  • Neolithic
  • Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula


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