Boquete de Zafarraya

Cave of Zafarraya - Cueva del Boquete

Useful Information

Location: Between Gibraltar and Malaga, near Alcaucín.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Guided tours:
Bibliography: J.-J. Hublin, C.B. Ruiz, P.M. Lara, M. Fontugne, J.-L. Reyss (1995): The Mousterian site of Zafarraya (Andalusia, Spain): Dating and implications on the Paleolithic peopling processes of western Europe. Comptes-Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences de Paris. Series 2a. 321 (10). 931 - 7. [L.O.C. Q2.COM]
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1979 discovered.
1981-1983 excavations.
1996 report by Cecilio Barroso starts international excavation.
2007 1,750 page report on the archaeological excavations published.


This cave is a paleolithic site where remains of the Neanderthals were found. The fragmentary remains date to 30.000 years ago, the youngest yet found.

The Boquete de Zafarraya is located in the Sierra de Alhama in the municipality of Alcaucín. It was excavated between 1981 and 1983, and a femur and a jawbone of Neanderthal man were found. This are most probably the best preserved Neanderthal remains in the world. The archaeologist Cecilio Barroso published his results in 1996 seeking the collaboration of European and North African specialists. Further on the exploration of the site was a collaboration of French, Spanish, English and German institutions, including the Natural History Museum of Paris, and the universities of Marseilles, Montpellier, Oxford, Granada, Valencia and Zaragoza. The excavation was coordinated by professor Henry de Lumley and professor Cecilio Barroso. More than 100 researchers studied 55 human remains, 5,000 pieces of animal bone and about 1,000 stone tools discovered in the cave.

From about 50,000 to 30,000 years ago this place was used as a hunter's camp. The hunting parties followed their prey, primarly horses and goats. Then they brought it to the cave, cut up the meat and broke the bones to extract the marrow. The reason why this cave was frequented so much is its location at the Boquete de Zafarraya, the Zafarraya Gap, which is a deep valley between mountain ridges and was used by the animals to cross the mountains.