On 1978 a group of researchers lead by Manel Edo, M. Josefa Villalba and Anna Blasco located Can Sadurní cave in Montau mountains (Begues, Baix Llobregat, Spain).
That was the onset of the current research group known by the name of CIPAG (Col•lectiu per a la Investigació de la Prehistòria i l’Arqueologia de Garraf-Ordal). Several field seasons have been undertaken since then, always connected to research projects linked to the University of Barcelona. The actual project is called “La Prehistòria al sud-est del Llobregat, de la costa al massís de Garraf-Ordal” (Prehistory in the SE of the Llobregat River, from the coast to the Garraf-Ordal Massif).
These campaigns uncovered a site of exceptional characteristics, both because of its dimensions and because of the quality and richness in the archaeological materials.
For the last 4 years, and under the direction of Manel Edo and Ferran Antolín, a series of projects funded from public administrations (Ajuntament de Begues, Generalitat de Catalunya and Diputació de Barcelona) have taken place in order to adequate the site to its opening to the public while the research continues.
View of Begues Valley from the plateau in front the cave
CAN SADURNÍ CAVE
The cave is located on the north-western extreme of the Garraf Massif (its highest part). The valley of Begues, where the cave is located, is a real crossroad ever since Antiquity. This gave a priviledged position to the cave.
West side of the plateau of the site. Detail of the fallen pieces of the roof of the cave
The site consists of an external plateau and a cave of natural origin (karstic). The entrance of the cave is oriented towards the south and it is of more than 10 metres wide. This resulted in excelent conditions for living.
Stairs to access the cave.
DIFFERENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CAN SADURNÍ CAVE
• With 27 stratigraphic layers and more than 4 metres of depth excavated, it is to date the most complete archaeological stratigraphy of the Recent Prehistory of Catalonia.
• 28 historical episodes took place, which resulted in a very detailed recording of the human history in Begues valley and, by extension, in the Baix Llobregat area during the last 12.000 years.
• The 4 layers corresponding to the Epipaleolithic (10000 – 6000 BC), excavated in a sondage (4x1m) reveal that there is more than 1 metre of depth of archaeological deposits from this period. These layers could have more than 200 m2 of surface, for which this could be the best stratigraphic series for this period in Eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
• The 13 layers (and 9 episodes) identified for the Neolithic period (5500-2500 BC), and especially the stratigraphic series corresponding to the Early Neolithic, are the best and most complete stratigraphy of the Western Mediterranean (Peninsula Ibèrica, France and Northern Italy).
Recording of the data with a total station during field work.
• There is no other cave site in the Iberian Peninsula which has five different burial episodes, four of which are from the Neolithic period (Early Neolithic, Middle Neolithic, Late Neolithic and Bell-Beaker Culture) and one (an episode of incineration) from the Late Bronze Age.
• The burial episode of the Early Cardial Neolithic (5400 aC) is the only necropolis of inhumation that is known in the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula for this period.
• The ancient DNA analyses that were carried out, identified 7 different individuals. Some of them presented haplotypes which could be typical of the Near East, for which their presence in the Iberian Peninsula would support diffusionist theories which defend that farming practices spread together with people.
• Several evidences of the process of elaboration and consumption of beer weree found durin the early middle Neolithic at the cave (around 4300 BC). These are, to date, the oldest evidences of beer production in Europe.
• During the last field season (2012), the oldest human figurine on pottery was identified in layer 11, which corresponds to the early Middle Neolithic (around 4500 BC). The figurine was rapidly known as L’encantat de Begues (the Enchanted of Begues).
The Enchanted of Begues. The oldest human representation on pottery in the Iberian Peninsula. The prestigious magazine National Geographic considered it as one of the 12 most important discoveries of 2012.
• The recovery of all the tools and elements of the chaîne opératoire of variscite bead production with an earlier chronology than that observed in the nearby variscite mines of Can Tintorer (around 4500 BC), confirms that mining activities were started by the populations who were dwelling in the area. They would be responsible for the first trade networks of this mineral.
The field campaing of 2013 will take place between the 20th of July and the 4th of August.
The aim is to proceed to the excavation of layer 11, dated to the early middle Neolithic (between 4600-4200 BC). Two different settelement phases seem to take place in this layer. During the oldest one, the cave is used to as a byre, while during the youngest one, a burial episode was documented.
At a more concrete scale, it is hoped that new fragments of the figurine of “the Enchanted of Begues” are found during this field season.
Excavation works in extension, with a grid square of 1 metre of side.
WHAT WE WILL DO WITH YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS
Even though the excavation is supposed to be funded by the Archaeology Service of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the actual facts are that we are still waiting for 80% of the amount of the funding for 2010, 100% for 2011 and 80% for 2012. Therefore, members of CIPAG have been putting their own money to finance the excavation during the last two years. We have reached a critical situation where we cannot continue funding scientific research only with our savings. The budget for the fieldwork in 2013 is of 3.500 €, which will exclusively be used to pay for three meals a day for 30 archaeologists during 16 days (10€/day per person) and the diverse expenses that the micro-funding campaign involves (for example, the posting of books and cds).
For this reason we request your solidarity with the project and hope that with the sum of your donations we obtain the minimum quantity which is necessary in order to conduct the excavation for this year. Paralelly, the project includes the possibility of opening the doors of the site to all the collaborators who involve themselves in its funding, according to their different degrees of participation (see rewards).
This project is aimed to everyone interested in history and archaeology and who wants to participate in a unique experience in an exceptional environment provided by the archaeological site of Can Sadurní Cave.
You will find more information on CIPAG’s website and the blog site of the International Workcamp “Archaeology in Garraf”.
SCHEDULE FOR THE EXECUTION
If we receive the proposed amount, the excavation campaign will take place between the 20th of July and the 4th of August 2013.
Some rewards can be delivered right after the payment is carried out. Others, like those involving participation or visits to the site during fieldwork, will have to take place between the 20th of july and the 4th of august of 2013. Those which involve a tour to other caves in the area, the visit of the site after fieldwork and the special recordings on CD of the excavation, will be formalized during september.