On the Track of Palaeolithic HuntersPrint


Departure: Village of Algodres, at the main church

: 9.30

Duration of the visit
: about 3h

Maximum number of visitors
: 12

Minimum number of visitors
: 4

Due to the very high temperatures reached in the summer, it is strongly recommended the use of a hat and sunscreen, and also of comfortable clothing and footwear. Each visitor should carry enough water for himself.

Booking must be done in advance, through the following contacts:
Tel:  +351 279 768 260
Fax: +351 279 768 270
e-mail: visitas@arte-coa.pt

Short description of the course:
Departure from Algodres (meeting at the door of the main church).
Travel by all-terrain vehicle until the area of Juncaria, where the deep valley and the Cardina site can be seen from above, occupied during the Upper Paleolithic and where archaeological excavations took place. Explanation of the site and surroundings using an educational briefcase containing replicas of exhumed materials.
Travel by all-terrain vehicle until the Ribeirinha stream and, from this point, a walk on foot (700 meters) in a rural road that borders the left bank of the stream, to the site of Olga Grande 4, occupied during the Upper Paleolithic and where archaeological excavations were made.
Archaeological characterization of Olga Grande, using the Experimental Archaeology Workshop (knapping; handling of stone and bone tools; fire; water heating; glue; hunting).
Return on foot to the car; return to Algodres

General Information

Studies over the past decade in the Côa Valley point to the existence of Upper Paleolithic human groups living in the final section of the valley. They moved seasonally, and settled in camps sometimes in the deep valley, sometimes on the plateau areas, where they went in search of game. It is this occupation of the territory that the course On the Track of Paleolithic Hunters and The Experimental Archaeology Workshop, which ends the visit, intend to illustrate.

In a climatic phase distinctly colder than the present, the plateau areas overlooking the valley of the river Côa were the elected place for the hunting of large herbivores that came in search of the water resulting from spring thaw and the melting of the snow that accumulated during the winter months. The archaeological remains found in the ancient camps at the high areas of the plateaus show a type of occupation specialized in hunting and, in some cases, the recollection of lithic raw materials.

On the other hand, the sites excavated by archaeologists at the bottom of the valley, reveal a more diverse range of utensils and other remains, which also include hunting and gathering of raw materials, but where the traces of repeatedly reused huts in successive passes, the fires, the density and the diverse uses indicated by the lithic remains, indicate longer stays in the more sheltered valley sites than in those hunt specialized sites at the plateaus.

The visit aims to show this duality in the seasonal occupation of the Côa territory, also exploring and briefly explaining the investigations and the obtained conclusions: what are the dating methods used, what were the resources (animal, vegetable and mineral) preferentially exploited, what climatic conditions were then prevalent and how they changed...

Departing from the center of the village of Algodres, the route goes to the edge of the plateau on the Côa Valley, at a point where the Cardina site is overlooked and explained. This archaeological site is located on the left bank of the river, about 3 km upstream of the group of Paleolithic engravings of Penascosa and Quinta da Barca. At this point in its northward course, the Côa makes a sharp turn, determined by the difficulty of overtaking an important geological accident: a hard rock lode of rhyolite, which was also explored as raw material by the Paleolithic men. The crossing point corresponds to the area of the valley where the distance between the two sides is smaller - only 10 m - and is at the origin of the name by which the location is also known: Salto do Boi – The Ox Jump.

The tour then follows along the granite plateau. This, between 500 and 600 meters, interposed between the Côa Valley and the valley of Ribeira de Aguiar, gives rise to stream, the Ribeirinha, which will flow near the engravings of Penascosa. Along Ribeirinha there are many traces of lithic remains on both sides, some of which have been excavated.

At the site of Olga Grande 4, situated around a granite outcrop well marked on the landscape of the right bank of the Ribeirinha stream, the chipped stone tools, the fireplaces and the absolute dates witness its use during the various stages of the Upper Paleolithic and in later periods. The discovery of three quartzite peaks (made with one triangular end, rather worn) at the oldest level made possible to establish a relationship of these pieces with the impacts preserved in schist engraved panels in the Côa valley. However, due to the lack of conserved engravings in the granite plateau, it was not possible to explain the abandonment of these tools, which would likely have been used near the river.

Here on this site is held an Experimental Archaeology Workshop, with which the visit ends.

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