Field work seasons

Archaeological works at Bolomor Cave involve different systematic seasons since 1989. These works have been carried out in a planned way during 30 days and, by the Prehistoric Investigation Service of the Valencian Council with the correspondent license of the Cultural Conselleria of the Valencian Community. The resumes summary of these annual fiel-works seasons are part of the excavation reports. The archaeological material is stored in the Valencian Prehistoric Museum.


The twenty-fifth field-work season was conducted between September 7th and October 4th. The tasks were focused on the excavation of the level XIII (MIS 7, ca 200,000 years) in the Northern Sector of the site, in the same area as the previous field-work season. The work involved the squares A10-N12 with an area of 42 m2, and 20 cm thickness. In the Western Sector, we removed the spoil sediments. In total, 3,756 archaeological items (bones/teeth and lithics) were recovered. The excavation team involved 22 people, including students, doctors and technicians.

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View of the 2015 excavation area

2015_03 2015_04

General view of the excavation progress.


Detail view of the excavated area.


View of the sieving process.


Detail view of the southern squares in the North sector.


3D-location of the archaeological materials and view of the stratigraphy.


Faunal specimens during the excavation progress.


2015 Excavation team.


The twenty-fourth excavation season took place between 8th of September and 5th of October of 2014. We focused on the excavation in extension of level XIII (MIS 7, ca 200,000 years) from the Northern area of the site, as the last year. The fieldwork involved the squares B9 to N12, which represented an area of 35 m2 and 25 cm thick. In total, more than 7,000 archaeological remains (bone and lithics) were recovered. In the Western sector, we continued with the cleanup and removal of scrambled sediments in squares B6 to H9, with 20 m2 and 40 cm thick. The fieldwork involved 22 technicians and students.


General view of the excavation in different phases of development


Sieving tasks and recovering process of archaeological materials


Taking data during the fieldwork


Archaeological materials from level XIII


Opening day. Visits, workshop and outreach tasks in the site


2014 excavation team


The twenty-third season of excavation took place in September 2nd-29th, 2013. The excavation works were focused on the start of level XIII (MIS 7, ca 200,000 years) in the Northern Sector of the archaeological site. The excavation tasks affected mainly the squares A9-N12 with a maximum of 40 m2 in extension. In the Western Sector, we proceeded to the cleaning and extraction of large stone blocks in order to prepare the area.


Excavation area in detail


 Archaeological materials from level XIII


Water winnowing at the site


Open days


Open days. 2013 excavation team and visiting archaeologists

2013 excavation team and visiting archaeologists


25 th Anniversary Conference (workshop). General discussions about Prehistory and Heritage


The twenty-second excavation season took place from the 10th of September until the 7th of 2012. The objective, as in the last seasons, was to continue with the excavation of level XII, dated to 180 kya – final phase of the Middle Pleistocene. The excavation tasks affected mainly the squares A10-N13. At the end of the season, level XII was completely excavated. Other activities were also carried out, such as strengthen the protective fence and arrange the access way to the site.


Detail of the excavation area and, mapping of archaeological material before raising


Archaeological excavation in progress and, packed findings as the excavation tasks advance


Excavation area during this season


Explanations related to the site and excavation process during open days


Explanation about the excavation tasks during open days and experimental butchery of a goat


2012 excavation team


The season number 21 took place between the 12th of September and the 9th of October 2011. The excavation focused in the Northern Sector with the digging of level XII on squares A10 to N13 (30 m2), some partially. This work is a continuation of the two previous years on the same level, very brecciated and with an average of 30 cm thickness. The rest of the sectors were left for further season.


Detail of the excavation


Data recovering and equid molars

xcavation area of level XII in the Northern Sector


2011 excavation team


The twentieth excavation season took place between the 15th of September and the 15th of October of 2010. We focused on the excavation of the Northern area in level XII and squares A10 to N13 (30 m2). This level XII, with strong breccias, was lifted in a sole layer with total station and the archaeological material was consolidated in situ previously to its extraction. The maximum density excavated was of 30 cm in yellowish sediment, with a sandy texture, strongly compacted.

Excavation area of level XII in the Northern Sector. Excavation detail


Locating remains in 3D and a horse mandibule

Bovid immature mandible and sampling for microsedimentological studies. Excavation team 2010


The nineteenth season took place during the 15th of September and the 15th of October of 2009. We worked on the areas of the western and eastern sector. The western sector was excavated on levels I to V on squares F1, F1′, H1 and H1′. Works in the second sector affected level XII on squares C10 to N13 (25 m2). This level was excavated on a unique layer of 20 cm (breccia). The 3D location of the archaeological material was registered with a total station. Dry sieving took place with the retrieving of the sediment and was later cleaned with water and a sieve in order to obtain microfaunal, vegetal and lithic debris. Levels I to V of the western sector are part of a spoilt sediment in which the archaeological material is concentrated in different areas and alignments, product of the artificial spill which took place due to the old mining activities.

Excavation area of level XII in the northern sector


View of the excavation process


Detail of the obtainment of coordinates and extraction of a bone remain.


Fragment of deer horn and a piece of flint.


Excavation team 2009


The eighteenth excavation season took place from the 15th of September to the 15 of October of 2008. Most of the work took place on the Northern sector, on levels XI and XII. Excavated squares: E9 to N13 (20 m2). More specifically, efforts were aimed at finalizing the excavation of level XI and finishing documenting hearth number 6 which didn’t get finished the year before. The maximum density excavated was 20 cm. This level is the beginning of a short mild period of this paleoclimatic phase which marks the end of the Middle Pleistocene. In level XII the archaeological work was scarce, focused on the northern and eastern squares where this level is higher (E12, E13, G11, G12, G13, LL11 and LL12).


Tar maxillary and the excavation of level XI with hearths


The Southern squares of the Northern sector and a detail of the archaeological material

Documenting the find


Documenting the find


Carrying the water deposit to the site


Excavation team 2008


The seventeenth excavation season took place from the 15th of September to the 15th of October of 2007. The efforts were focused on the northern sector, with the excavation of strata IX, X, XI and XII. Excavated squares were E8 a K11 (16 m2) with an approximated density of 50 cm. This was the continuation of previous years in the same sector with the rising of very breccia layers.  Level IX was strongly crusted and corresponds to cold moments of the isotopic stadium 6, possibly to subphases 6.0/6.3 with a chronology of 130.000-140.000 years. Level X, like the previous one, was very poor in archaeological materials and with the presence of bone remains brought by carnivores. On level XI, which had a very detailed excavation, we focused on the combustion structures and on the recovering of all the sediment for its analysis, obtainment of samples in thin sheets, sedimentology and phytoliths.  It corresponds to a less rigorous climatic phase such as the two previous levels and is located in subphases 6.3/6.4 with an estimated chronology of 140.000-150.000 years. Level XII is not very excavated on the northern and eastern squares where this level appears higher (K12-LL12). The level corresponds to the isotopic stadium 6 where the cold conditions appear again, related with the subphase 6.4 with a chronology of 150.000-160.000 years.


Planimetry of hearths of level XI and their representation


Deer shinbone not anthropically contributed of level X


Deer shinbone and maxillary from level X of the northern sector


Excavation team 2007

ROOF AND PROTECTION FENCE 2006. After the clandestine actuations of 2005, the General Directory of Patrimony of the Valencian Government decided to put up a new protection fence in order to protect the site. It was set up during the first week of February of 2006. During August and September, the roof was ready and was carried to the cave by the excavation team. It was subsidised by Iberdrola and private donations.



Carrying of the material with a helicopter which formed part of the protection fence.


Protection fence once set up


Carrying the material for the protection roof with a steel tiroline


Carrying up the material of the roof in the first stretch

Carrying up the material in the second stretch with the tiroline


Setting up the material


Covering the site once finished the with the materials


The sixteenth excavation season took place from the 15th of September till the 15th of October of 2006. We focused the work on levels VII and VIII, characterized by breccias and with scarce archaeological material. The excavated density was of 60 cm of breccia sediment with a yellowish coloration and a sandy texture. On the western sector we worked on the removed sedimentation of squares F1′ to H1 (4 m2). The conditioning works and setting of the protection cover limited the excavation work.


Excavating the sterile layers of the northern sector. Preparing the base of the platform


Archaeological material of levels VII-VIII of the northern sector


Central Platform setting



Excavation team 2006


The fifteenth excavation season took place from the 19th of September until the 15th of October of 2005. The excavation took place on the following areas: Western sector and southern sector on levels VI and XIII. On the western sector we finished the excavation of the layer and of the hearths in a yellowish sediment with a sandy texture. These two combustion structures, with a rocky base, on squares F2 (focus 1) and D2 (focus 2) where numerated and raised. We elaborated silicon models reproducing the hearths for their use in museums. On the northern sector we worked on level VI, with breccia on squares E10 to I 11 (6m2). Clandestine actions affected principally the eastern sector.


Aerial view of the excavation of level XIII in the western sector


Detail of the excavation of level VI in the northern sector

Panoramic view of the excavation area


Sus scrofa molar and phalanx of hippopotamus inside breccia sediment


2005 Excavation team


The fourteenth excavation season took place from the 13th of September until the 12th of October of 2005. We worked on the following areas: western sector, eastern sector and northern sector, on levels XII, XIII and XV. The cleaning labours continued as well as the extraction of removed earth from the old mining activities. In the western sector level XIII was excavated, started in layer 11 and squares A2 to F3 (7 m2). In this layer’s base we found two important combustion structures with a rocky base on squares F2  (focus 1) and D2 (focus 2). On the northern sector we excavated level XII in squares G8 to K9 (4 m2). Finally, in the eastern sector we excavated squares 04 to Q7 (6 m2) with the emergence of the stalagmite layer and areas with mixed sedimentation.


Excavation of the western sector with the area of hearths in level XIII

View of the excavation of the eastern sector. Excavation of level XII with in situ documenting


Deer maxillary and superior molars of horse in level XII of the northern sector inside breccia sediment

View of the central part of the site with the eastern sector to the left. Excavation of the eastern sector


Level XII of the southern sector and elephant’s diaphysis of shinbone from the eastern sector



2004 Excavation team


The thirteenth excavation season took place from the 16th of September until the 12th of October of 2005. We continued in the excavation of strata XII, XIII and XV. On the western sector we excavated stratum XIII, layers 8 to 11 (Z= 530-570) on squares A2, A3, A4, B2, B3, B4, D2, D3, F2 and F3. On the northern sector the excavation of stratum XII, strongly compacted (breccia) took place on squares G8, G9 and I9. On the eastern sector, as the stalagmite layer increases, the extension of the sector reduces the extension to 2 m2. We excavated layers 12 and 13 of stratum XV and we proceeded to the opening of squares O6, 07, Q6 and Q7 after the cleaning of the mixed sedimentation which covered them. This corresponds to the “Ia sub XIII”, initials equivalent to the sedimentary level Ia.

Excavation of level XIII of the western sector and level XII of the northern sector


Deer mandible and maxillae in breccia from level XII


Excavation of the eastern sector. Layers 12 and 13 of level XV


2003 excavation team


The twelfth season took place from the 16th of September to the 14th of October. The objetives where to continue the work were: western, eastern and northern areas; with the excavation of strata XII, XIII and XV. The western sector was excavated on squares A2, A3, B2, B3, D2, D3, F2 and F3 (7 m2) of stratum XIII, with layers 5, 6 and 7 (Z= 500-530).  On the northern sector we excavated stratum XII, with breccia on squares G8, G9, K8, K9 (3 m2), documenting with detail this strong and rich archaeological pavement of difficult extraction. On the eastern sector, after squares N, O4 and O5 were very reduced as the stalagmite layer increased. Three layers were excavated, 9, 10 and 11 with high between 790-820 and proceeded to the topographic rising with a total station which delimited in detail the extension of the site, after the works of the last years.


Western’s sector excavation. Level XIII


Excavation of the northern sector and of the East area


Excavation of level XII in the northern sector


2002 Excavation team


The eleventh season took place from the 10th of September until the 9th of October. We opened a third excavation sector in order to increase the working area. The sagittal and frontal cuts of the northern and eastern area of the cave where regularized. Stratum XII was excavated in layers 6 and 7 (440-460) and gave space to stratum XIII, over which we worked in the three first layers (Z= 470-500). On the northern sector, once the area had been divided into a grid, the sagital cut was normalized. Excavated squares were E8, E9, G8, G9, K8 and K9, most of them with a partial extension, with a real excavation area of 3m2. Stratum XI was excavated in a sole layer where there appeared two hearths in squares I9 and K9. Once these have been raised up and the analysis had been done we started with the excavation of stratum XII. On the eastern sector only layers 7 and 8 of stratum XV were excavated (Z= 770-790), on squares O4, O5, Q4, and Q5 (4 m2). In the cleaning labours we acted on the western area of the site which is situated next to the gorge, in order to individualize the existent blocks and relate them to the collapse of the visor. The scarce existent sedimentation was considered as outer removal.


Beginning of the excavation on the Northern sector. Level VI


Excavation in level XII. Western sector


Hearths of level XI on the Northern sector. Excavation of layer 22 of the Eastern area. Level XV.


Excavation team 2001


The tenth excavation season took place between the 18th of September and the 16th of October. We focused on the excavation of strata XI, XII, XIII, XIV and XV. These, with a width of 420 cm were excavated on squares A2, B2, B3, D2, D3, F2, F3, N4, N5, O4, Q3, Q4 and Q5 (12 m2) by the lifting of superficial layers with an average density of 10 cm. On the western sector we excavated stratum XI with five layers and scarce bone remains. Level XII was excavated also in five layers in squares B2, B3, D2, D3, F2 and F3 (6 m2).  On the eastern sector and next to the cave’s wall we excavated 19 layers (Z= 630-775) affecting squares N4, N5, O4, O5, Q3, Q4 y Q5 (5 m2) and with a reduction of the surface’s deepness when we found the stalagmite layer.


Excavation level XII. Materials of level XII. Excavation of the Eastern area

Excavation level XII. Materials of level XII. Excavation of the Eastern area


Lithic industry made of limestone associated to faunal remains


Excavation team 2000


The ninth excavation season took place from the 13th of September till the 10th of October. We focused on the excavation of stratum V which ended in layer 4 and gave place to one of the most widely compacted pavements of the site, stratum VI.  This was raised in a whole block with a density of 25cm, was cut up and we extracted from it scarce archaeological material. Stratum VII was excavated in a surface of 6 m2 in eleven layers with very little archaeological material, between Z= 250-350. Stratum VIII, individualized by its breccia was excavated in a sole layer of 15 cm and without archaeological materials. Also, stratum IX, less compacted was also raised in a sole layer and without archaeological materials. Stratum X corresponds to a petrous level of platelets fallen from the ceiling. The last level excavated in this sector was the first layer of stratum XI, also without materials in this sector. On other areas of the site, we only acted over a removal which existed next to N4-Q5 (4 m2).

Final season and excavation of level VII


Stratigraphy  levels VII to X

  Detail of the stratigraphy


Cleaning of the removed earth at the southern part, the Eastern area. Excavation team 1999


The eighth excavation season took place between the 15th of September and the 13th of October. The aims of this campaign were focused in the excavation of strata IV and V on squares A2, B2, D2, D3, F2, and F3 (6 m2). On the first (IV), with an average density of 30-50 cm, we excavated the last layers between Z= 230-260. The second (V) was excavated on three layers of 10 cm and with a basal breccia. We abandoned squares D4 and F4 where a wide breccia didn’t allow us to continue excavating and underneath which existed a big block of the falling of the visor. In order to reduce the excavation area, we closed squares B1, D1, F1, H1, H2, H3 and H4 (7 m2), leaving an extension of 6 m2. Works on the eastern area got deeper and more extended towards the north and east, appearing a gallery of 5m of deepness with a 15 m route. This big removal of some 100 m3 of earth was screened leaving abundant archaeological material of 161.178 bones and lithic industry.


Excavation of the last layer of level IV. Excavation of level V


Contact between levels V and VI of the western sector. Excavation of level V


Extraction of sediment of the Eastern sector and the gallery The bottom of “the gallery” once sedimentation has been extracted


Excavation team 1998


The seventh excavation season took place between the 22nd of September and the 20th of October. The aims were focused on the stratigraphic sequence and on the beginning of the excavation works on the eastern sector. We wanted to access to other deeper levels without the necessity of working over the strong packets on top of these levels. Level IV was excavated in squares D2, D3, D4, F2, F3 and F4 (6 m2) in six layers of 10 cm. Level V appeared with a major density towards the interior of the site. In order to reduce the excavation area and accelerate the excavation rhythm, we closed squares H2, H3 and H4 (3 m2). Stratum XIII of the Eastern area with a density of 220 cm was excavated on squares N4, N5, O4, O5, Q4 and Q5 (6 m2). Works on the Eastern sector next to the wall of the cave gave as a result the existence of a great perforation and what seemed to be a ‘bin’ of the ancient actions which took place in the cave. After the cleaning of this removed earth (in 15 m2 area), appeared an intact area of de 2 m2 corresponding partially to squares N4 to Q5 which were excavated in their first layers. We proceeded to make a pit in squares O6-Q6 (2 m2) to know its maximum depth which was of 5 m, with the appearance of level XVII. I order to individualize the removed earth, or bin, we opened a ditch in squares G4-G7 to I4-I7 (8 m2). The extraction of all the removal was done in sedimentological packets of different colorations (XIII, I sub XIII and sub I A). These deposits had features of an “inverse stratigraphy”, consequence of a mining dump. We extracted approximately 30 m3 of removed earth which was screened with a 1 cm net.


Excavation of level IV


Cleaning of the old mining dump with the appearance of the Eastern area


Mining filling which covered the Gallery and screening of the material extracted from it


Excavation team 1997


The sixth season took place between the 7th of October and the 3rd of November. We worked sequentially on the stratigraphy and paralyzed the extensive excavation initiated in 1992. Levels IV to X with a total width of 150 cm, was excavated on squares B3 and B4 with the rising up of 22 layers. Also, we proceeded to the definitive closing of squares J3, J4 and H4 (3 m2), with the extensive average area of 11 m2. Levels XI to XIV with a width of 220 cm were excavated on squares B4, A1, A2 and A3 (4 m2), and by 25 layers with a variable width depending of the sedimentological characteristics of each layer, as well of the presence or not of materials. Levels XV to XVII with a density of 240 cm were excavated on squares A1, A2, A3, C2, C3´and C4´ (6 m2) and the lifting of its 38 layers. Level X, formed by gravitational platelets, is sterile from its genesis. Stratum XVI corresponds to the presence of big blocks which are related to the falling of the cave’s roof. Stratum XVIIb, petrous level which sealed the levels underneath, was raised mechanically, with the appearance of XVIIc strongly compacted (breccia). Thus, squares C5’-E5’ were abandoned.


Sequential excavation of level XIII.Excavation of level XV and pollen samples


Sequential excavation of level XIII.Excavation of level XV and pollen samples


Archaeological remains corresponding to excavation of level XVIIc


Working on the inferior levels and excavation team of 1996


There was no excavation season this year due to the lack of economical budget.


The fifth excavation season took place during the 4th of September till the 2nd of October. The excavation tasks were focused on levels IV and XV-XVIIa. We opened 11 m2: squares B2, B3, D3, D4, F2, F3, F4, H2, H3, H4 and J3. We proceeded to the definitive closing of squares D5, F5, H5 and J5 (4 m2), leaving an area of 12 m2. In squares F3, F4, H3 and H4 of stratum IV we documented combustion structures (fig. II.8). In lower levels we proceeded to normalize the sagital cut, working over strata XV, XVI and XVII. Here the excavation was focused on squares   C3´, C4´, C5´and E5´ (4 m2) of stratum XVII, highly compacted (breccia).


Excavation of level IV


Excavation of the Eastern squares of level IV and the level’s structures of combustion


The fourth excavation soason took place between the 14th of October and the 15th of November. We proceeded to remove the lower levels in order to look for non affected areas of the old removals. After the emptying of the southern sector we saw that all the deposit had been mixed and spoiled. On the upper levels we excavated Ia, Ib and Ic, on squares B2, B3, B4, D2, D3, D4, F2, F3, F4, H2, H3, H4, J3 and J4. We abandoned definitively squares B5, D5, F5 and J5 due to its strong breccia. Stratum II presented a Black-grey coloration, characteristic of a dumping of cinder, with a loss of density towards the west. Stratum III with a strong breccia formed a compact pavement which sealed the levels underneath. This was raised in a sole layer, with a density between 15-20 cm. The deepness of strata I, II, and III confirmed that the archaeological record had been affected by post-depositional processes (roots, burrows and breaches, etc.). We deepened at the base of the sequence until we checked out that there was no stratigraphy in situ underneath the stratigraphic level XVII, in all the southern area. Different levels of the sequence were analyzed in order to determine dates by amino acid methods of Thorium-Uranium and Thermo-luminiscence.


Excavation of levels I to III with presence of travertine.


Excavating on the sequence and the 1993 team.Excavated area in the western sector


The third season took place between the 11th of April and the 5th of May. The aim was to look for an adequate extensive excavation area of the most recent levels of the site (Western sector). After the surface cleaning of spoiled sediments of about 3 and 40 cm we proceeded to its excavation which was divided in three sedimentary levels  -a, b and c- which corresponded to squares B2, D2, D3, D4, D5, F2, F3, F4, F5, H2, H3, H4, H5, J3, J4 and J5 (16 m2). Level Ia was excavated in 8 layers of 8 cm with roots, burrows and an irregular and breccia substrate (Ib) which conditioned the digging process. Squares with non altered sedimentation were excavated according to a three-dimensional rising. In certain squares level Ia was totally eroded: in B2 and others. On stratum Ib happened the same, in square D2. The breccias of this level presented a tubular morphology which is characteristic of travertine, very eroded and with very little archaeological material. The morphoestratigraphic characteristics determined the closing of squares D5, H5, J3, J4 and J5 (6 m2) and the opening of B2, D2, F2 and H2 (4 m2), leaving the site with an average extension of 12 to 15 m2.


Planimetry of the beginning of the western sector’s excavation


Excavation of level I

View towards the valley.End of level I excavation

Excavation team 1992


The second season took place between the 22nd of March and the 22nd of April. The aims were focused in completing the study of the stratigraphic sequence with the minimum effect on its extension. We consider three groups of different diachronic moments: upper, intermediate and lower stratigraphic levels. The upper levels (I to V) with a density of 150 m, affect squares B3 and B4. The excavation of the intermediate levels (XIII-XV) with a width of 220 cm was displaced to the south (squares A3 and A2). The lower levels (XV-XVII) were excavated on squares C1, C1’, C2’ and C3’ looking for the normalization of the stratigraphic general cut. The same ended in a stalagmite basal layer and were affected partially by the old mining works. This excavation campaign generated stratigraphic modifications: level I was divided in Ia, Ib and Ic due to the individualization of these two clay levels and one breccia. Level XIII, is divided in XIIIa, XIIIb and XIIIc because of the existence of three levels with a variation of a fraction and compactation. On the lower levels, the falling moment of the blocks passed to be considered level XVI, underneath which XVII divided into XVIIa, XVIIb and XVIIc, corresponding to two clay levels and another one of platelets (b). For sampling, we extracted sedimentological materials of the lower levels and the pollen analysis which affected to the levels I to XIV.


View of the general sequential excavation. Working in intermediate levels

Working in the lower levels. Excavation team 1991


The excavation season of this year didn’t take place because of the lack of an economic budget. In January we proceeded to the closing and protection of the site with a metal fence.


Setting up the first protection fence.


The first season took place from the 8th of November to the 4th of December. The initial works consisted in conditioning the archaeological actuation area and the access to the site. The main aim was to document with detail the stratigraphic sequence of the western sector. We proceeded to normalize the sedimentological deposit and to create the general planimetry. The stratigraphic sequence was divided in XV provisional levels of which we excavated VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and XII, numbered archaeologically from I to VIII. The excavation focused on squares A2, A3 and A4, on layers of 10 cm of depth. Levels were analyzed for their posterior microfaunistic, sedimentological, palinological study, and for the obtaining of absolute dating.


View of the site previous to the archaeological  works


Stratigraphic documentation. First archaeological works