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Alcaucín museum project aims to bring Neanderthal man discovery to the public

The Zafarraya cave where the Neanderthal remains were found.
The Zafarraya cave where the Neanderthal remains were found. / SUR
  • The town hall wants to convert the current art and popular culture building into a centre dedicated to the history of Neanderthals in the area

The council in Alcaucín has announced that it is working towards converting the town's museum into a centre dedicated to the Neanderthal man whose remains were discovered in the early 1980s near the 'Boquete de Zafarraya', just north of Alcaucín. It would also explain how the area acted as a border between the provinces of Malaga and Granada during medieval times.

The existing art and popular culture museum was opened in 2014, but has failed to attract high numbers of visitors. The new name for the site would be 'Centro de Interpretación del Neandertal y Alcaucín Tierra de Fronteras,' (Neanderthal interpretation centre and Alcaucín, borderlands).

It is estimated that the conversion would require a 200,000 euro investment. According to the mayor, Mario Blancke, the area is home to one of the settlements with the highest number of Neanderthal remains discovered in Spain. The jaw, tibia and a number of femur bones which date as far back as 35,000 years BC were unearthed during a dig in the early 1980s and the findings led to important discoveries about the life of this extinct species.

The opening of the interpretation centre would allow Alcaucín to demonstrate the importance of the discovery in the Boquete de Zafarraya cave, also known as the Zafarraya cave.

Excavations

The first official archaeological excavations took place between 1981 and 1983. The cave opening is at the bottom of a limestone cliff at 1,022 metres above sea level. The cave itself is small and only goes 20 metres back into the rock, while its width varies between just 500 centimetres in places to 2.5 metres. It is believed that the cave was only used as a base by up to 10 Neanderthals during summer months while hunting.

Blancke added that the town hall, along with Malaga's Diputación will invest the 200,000 euros. They will collaborate with Vélez-Málaga's Museo Municipal de Vélez (MUVEL) and Vélez-Málaga town hall's archaeologist, Emilio Martín, who said, “We aim to have the centre open in October 2018.”

According to Blancke, the centre will also explain the history of the Zalia fortress, which also belongs to Alcaucín and is situated near the Malaga to Granada road which passes through the Boquete de Zafarraya.