THINK of Benidorm and you think of skyscrapers and tourists. This was not always the case. Try cavemen and prehistoric hunters. Preliminary archaeological studies conducted in the excavation site of the Abric quarry on the Sierra Helada of Benidorm, (the mountain range lying between Benidorm and Albir, whose sea facing chalky cliffs gave the name white coast – Costa Blanca – when viewed by the Greeks and Romans) have produced evidence of the presence of the first settlers in the area as around the late Upper Paleolithic, between 15,000 and 11,000 BC.
The data was announced jointly by the town’s Heritage Councillor, Jaime Llinares, and Javier Fernandez, the Director of the Research and Development Company Heritage Harp, who are sponsors of the dig.
They say that within the next four weeks they should have the results of carbon dating tests which they believe will show that this is the oldest find in the entire Valencia Region.
The field works and excavation began last January and lasted fourteen days. They have enabled the location of remains of animals actually hunted by the inhabitants of the Sierra Gelada over ten thousand years ago.
These traces include the hoof of a wild horse and jaw of a now extinct species of bull, as well as the remains of deer, goat, rabbit and terrestrial molluscs.
The vegetation has also changed over the millennia. Pollen residue tests have shown that there is evidence of the black pine being present, although now it no longer exists in this region.
Moreover, the studies conclude that the shoreline viewed by our ancestors would have been very different from that of today. The sea would have been several kilometres further out from the current coastline, so the geography was very different.
There is concern that the integrity of the site is being compromised through the actions of souvenir hunters, hikers, and traditional livestock use.
Benidorm Council is looking at ways to preserve the remains for “future generations”, by perhaps creating a protection zone, which may involve prohibited access to the sensitive site.
By Paul Deed