The Middle Paleolithic occupation of Gruta do Escoural (southern Portugal)

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Current knowledge on the Middle Paleolithic occupation of southern Portugal is still relatively scarce, with very few excavations carried out, and well-preserved contexts that allow more complete approaches to the Neanderthal archaeological and paleoecological record being particularly rare. In this context, among the sites with the greatest potential south of the Tagus basin, only the caves of Companheira, Figueira Brava and Escoural stand out. While archaeological work in the cave of Companheira is in its initial stages, in the case of Figueira Brava, recent campaigns have revealed important chronological and Neanderthal subsistence novelties (see Zilhão et al. 2019 - Science). Data available for Escoural comes from test pits opened near the southern (original) entrance of the cave, carried out during the late 1980s and early 1990s.  This project proposes to resume the archaeological work in the southern areas of the cave, with the main objectives of acquiring new, high-resolution data on the nature and variability of Middle Paleolithic occupations in the cave. The data obtained will significantly contribute to a better understanding of Neanderthal ecodynamics in southwestern Iberia, namely in what regards to the chronological and geographical diversity of settlement patterns, technological strategies and substistence dynamics.  
FUNDING INSTITUTION Wenner Gren Foundation