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The Gibraltar National Museum is developing a new collaboration in the research at Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves. This new link involves the Archaeozoology Unit of the Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The annual excavations at Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves are being extended to cover a period of three months (previously two months) and will commence early in May this year. This extension is made possible in part by the arrival of students from Leiden who will make up the main part of the excavation team in May. The team will, as always in these excavations, be supervised by Gibraltar National Museum personnel.

Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. It has seven faculties in the arts, humanities and sciences, spread over locations in Leiden and The Hague. The University has over 6,700 staff members and 29,520 students. Leiden is the oldest university in the Netherlands and among its many distinguished students was George Augustus Eliott, Governor of Gibraltar during the Great Siege.

As part of the development of this new collaboration, personnel from the Gibraltar National Museum recently visited Leiden University where they gave a presentation to students on current research being undertaken in Gibraltar. They also described the work in the Gibraltar caves and discussed all aspects of the digs, from actual excavation to the logistics of the operation. “This was an invaluable exercise for us and for the students” said Stewart Finlayson of the Gibraltar National Museum. “The students now have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and they were very excited about coming to Gibraltar and our caves, which are now so famous around the world.” A similar collaboration was started with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) three years ago and has proved a great success, LJMU students now even practising one-year internships at the museum. “It is the way forward” said Clive Finlayson, director of the museum and also visiting professor at LJMU. “The link with LJMU has shown us what we can all achieve which is of mutual benefit to our research, the students and the institutions involved.” It is hoped that the start being made with Leiden may become another fruitful one following this model.

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