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We’re happy that in a collaborative effort to support ongoing archaeological work, we recently joined up with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) who helped us with the transportation of excavated sediment from the Gorham's Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage Site for further study.

Following the spring/summer 2023 excavations at Vanguard Cave and the recently discovered Neanderthals' Grotto, a substantial volume of sediment still remained on site, awaiting post-excavation research in the museum laboratories. The magnitude of the task prompted the National Museum's initiative to request assistance, via WO Phil Stanley, for help in bringing the sediment bags to temporary storage so that they could be more easily accessed. This was kindly approved by Major Shaun Brown of British Forces Gibraltar HQ, who facilitated the assistance of the 13 Geographic Squadron of 42 Engineer Regiment, deployed in Gibraltar for Exercise DHOW ENDURE.

Final arrangements were made with Capt. George Olding and Sgt Alan Walters of 13 Geo Sqn, and 18 people were involved in the challenging task. Working in tandem with National Museum staff on site, including archaeologist Francisco Giles Guzmán, the troops meticulously transported well over a tonne of sediments in bags, weighing 5-7kg each, up over 340 steps from Vanguard Cave to road level, adhering to all health and safety, and World Heritage Site protocols. Ever-cheerful and upbeat, they enjoyed the exercise which they cheerfully dismissed as a "scenic morning’s work"!

With this endeavour, the troops have not only contributed to the scientific research conducted by the Gibraltar National Museum, but also reinforced the partnership between the museum and the MOD who is a key stakeholder in the Gorham's Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage Site and a member of the World Heritage Advisory Forum.

The next phase is ongoing with the collaboration of local volunteers who will be assisting museum researchers in sieving and processing these sediments, further advancing our understanding of the behavioural ecology of Neanderthals in the region.

The sieving and processing of these archaeological sediments will take place at Parson’s Lodge on weekdays from 14:00-18:00. We are still taking on volunteers and if you are interested in getting involved, email us at the Gibraltar National Museum ( stating your availability.

Published: March 07, 2024

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