Cova del barranc de Migdia

For summary of the content of the Exhibition see: The Cova del Barranc del Migdia - 5000 years of human history


An exhibition takes you inside the burial cave of the Migdia ravine in the Montgo

The exposition on the Chalcolithic period opens this Friday at Cirne Foundation in Javea

Javea. Wednesday, 23 May 2012.

The Cirne Foundation and the Javea Town Hall have presented what is sure to be this year's biggest exhibition. "Art and death in the Montgo, the cave in the Migdia ravine" (Art i mort al Montgó; la Cova del barranc de Migdia) captures the intense excavation and cataloguing work done in this important burial site found in a remote cave located 375 meters from the sunny slopes of the Montgo. This is a "singular and unique necropolis" , indicated the Town Hall archaeologist, Ximo Bolufer, which preserves graves that carbon dating dates back to the Chalcolithic period (4,683 years ago), as well as a series of stick-figure-style cave paintings.

Cirne President, Enric Martinez, gave details of the exhibition, which will open on Friday, 25th May 25 at 8.00pm at the foundation headquarters (Avenida de Alicante 18) and will stay open to the public until 30th June. The exhibition consists of 12 display panels that give information on the characteristics of the cave, the remains found, its historical context and the entire process of excavation and subsequent cataloguing using state-of-the-art methods. There are also display cases containing some of the findings and a reproduction of the most representative paintings of the cave. Martinez indicated that the objective of Cirne was to "bring down the cave" - which is located in a very inaccessible area - so it could be easily accessible to all. The exhibition will also be complimented with an educational workshop aimed at the schools to show students the remains, as well as teach them how to make pottery using the techniques available several thousands of years ago. The exhibition, funded by a 69,504-euro grant from the Ministry of Culture, will be itinerant and will move to the Archaeological Museum after its run at the foundation, where it will be located in a small room that recreates the atmosphere of the Cova de Migdia. They are also preparing a documentary reviewing the entire work process carried out in the three excavation campaigns funded by Cirne, with the participation of several experts such as the archaeologists Marco Aurelio Esquembre and Juan de Dios Boronat, or IT researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Daniel Tejerina, who was responsible for all the digital and 3D scanning and is preparing an audiovisual presentation that will simulate a virtual tour of the cave with a video game look.

For his part, Mayor Jose Chulvi, acknowledge the wonderful work being done by Cirne in Javea and said that this project is a perfect example of how coordination between different authorities such as the Ministry of Culture, the Provincial Council, the Town Hall, the direction of the park or the MARQ, is a guarantee of success. Chulvi highlighted the global impact of the findings in the cave, convinced that it will become an important reference on the prehistory of our town, as well as a cultural attraction for locals and visitors.

Cirne's project in the Cova del barranc de Migdia is not over yet. As they await the results of the DNA studies being conducted in the University of Mainz in Germany (which will specify the type of burial, if it was something like a family vault or for important people of the time), the foundation is preparing for new excavations, convinced of the "power" of the cave.

English version of information leaflet

The cave of the Barranc (Ravine) del Migdia was discovered in 1989. At an altitude of around 375 metres on the sunny side of the cliffs of the Montgó, the cave is situated at the head of the ravine after which it is named. On the site an important group of rock paintings in schematic (symbolic or abstract) style is conserved, together with a cave holding multiple burials from the calcolithic or copper age.

In 2009 archaeological excavations were begun in the central room of the cave. This space appears to have been a prehistoric funeral chamber as, to date after three excavation campaigns, the remains of eight individuals have been recovered – women, men and children. These remains were deposited in “packets” or bundles of bones, which indicates that they are” secondary” burials, i.e. the remains of the individuals buried in the cave had been transferred, already as skeletons, from another place.

Acompanying these burials were grave goods, whose purpose was to assist the deceased in the passage to another life. We have found flint arrow heads, hand made ceramic vessels, an adze of polished stone and a copper awl. Radio carbon dating of the bones of some of the burials dates the remains to 4,683 years ago, in late Neolithic times.

The groups of humans who used the cave as a burial place and a site for schematic rock paintings belonged to communities settled in the valley. They lived in small hamlets dedicating themselves to agriculture and livestock farming, although hunting was also an important activity

The cave of the Barranc de Migdia, visible from all over the valley of Xàbia, would have been for these groups an identity point, a landmark of their connection to a site where the remains of their ancestors had rested for generations. It is a unique place as it combines artistic representations of some of their concerns about life and religion, with a burial chamber which conveys their beliefs about death.

Thousands of years later, firstly in Roman times and later at the end of the Moorish period, the cave served as a refuge and hiding place. Here was hidden a small treasure of Almohadian coins, ten of which are conserved by the Museum.

The investigations started on this site - studies of physical anthropology, DNA, stone age diet, vegetation environment, C14 radiocarbon dating, etc – have allowed us to discover aspects about these ancient villagers unknown until now. It is the start of an project of archaeological investigation that brings Xàbia and the Montgò into the field of modern European scientific investigation.


Javea school children visit the Migdia del Montgó exhibition

Children learn to make prehistoric pottery and paintings

Javea. Tuesday, 5th May 2012.

Hundreds of children from Javea have visited the exhibition entitled “Art and Death in the Montgo: The Cave in the Migdia Ravine" in the Cirne Foundation these last few weeks. In addition to listening to the local archaeologist, Ximo Bolufer explain the process of excavating the nearly 5,000-year-old remains as well as give information about the Montgo, the Chalcolithic period, its settlers and their customs, they were able to immerse themselves inside the 3D replica of the burial cave and take part in several arts and crafts workshops.

The school children learned to mould pottery, which they took home, using prehistoric techniques. They also learned to make paintbrushes with animal hairs they then used to paint over murals in the prehistoric style. Sources from Cirne have indicated that this week they have received the visits of students from the Graüll, Arenal and Vicente Tena schools and that all the children were delighted with the exhibition that has taken them back 5,000 years through the history of Jávea.

After the tour, the students received a booklet containing information about the collection, as well as practice exercises to reinforce the lessons learned.
These workshops complement the exhibition "Art and the Mongtó mort", funded by the Ministry of Culture and will remain open to the public at the headquarters of the Cultural Foundation (Avenida de Alicante number 18) until 30th June. The exhibition consists of 12 display panels that review the characteristics of the cave, the remains found, its historical context and the entire excavation process and subsequent cataloguing using state of the art methods. There are also showcases featuring some of the findings and a reproduction of paintings and a 3D representation of the cave that can be visited inside.


The site of the Cova de Migdia will be virtually accessible through state-of-the-art 3D multimedia resources

The Cirne Foundation presents augmented reality and a video game on the remains and ancient cave paintings found in the cave

Javea. Thursday, 28th June 2012.
The Cirne Cultural Foundation in Javea presented two innovative multimedia resources they intend to make available to researcher or anyone interested in the information and conclusions drawn from the excavation and analysis of the Cova del Barranc de Migdia located in the Montgo. In this hard-to-reach cave, excavators have unearthed intact bone remains dating back 5,000 years (Chalcolithic period) and some burial objects, which along with the existing paintings, makes it an all but unique burial site.

The initial excavation was funded and coordinated by the Javea foundation, but due to the vast importance of the archaeological remains discovered, the Ministry of Culture has participated in the funding of the presentation of the results of the findings. It has also attracted the interest of the scientific community and foreign universities are now analysing the DNA of the bones found.

Cirne is now putting the finishing touches on two computer-generated 3D multimedia products that recreate the interior of the cave and can be deployed on a computer, iPad or smart-phone, allowing the user to interact with the ceramics and bones discovered in the cave. Professor and researcher at the University of Alicante, Javi Esclapés, presented the "augmented reality" of the cave, a live, direct view of the physical, real-world environment of the cave, allowing the user to touch the remains, bring them closer, or link to videos offering more information. Cirne has also produced a video game that features a virtual tour inside the cavity (also state-of-the-art), 3D exploration of the objects and extensive information about the site.

Archaeologist Marco Aurelio Esquembre has indicated that these 3D digital resources are a "breakthrough in popular science" because they represents a huge leap in the presentation of scientific results, until now always limited to articles published in scientific journals. Esquembre went on to say that the online access to these multimedia resources will allow “any professional in the world to investigate the Migdia cave and see the progress in real-time,” see how the data on the remains evolves and possibly even contribute their own theories about the site.

These projects, along with an audiovisual documentary still being edited, give continuity to the important information and outreach campaign on the burial cave that has been carried out in Javea, with an educational exhibition installed in the headquarters of Cirne and which has received the visit of more than 500 children and many neighbours and residents.

Chus Sampedro, representative of the foundation, has said that offering this exhibition and the corresponding educational workshops was a “true pleasure for us, because we were able to witness the children's attraction to the history and magic of the Cova de Migdia,” a special place that “we have helped them understand belongs to their heritage and to all humanity.” Sampedro said that the students are now excited to see the 3D resources that the foundation had been working on and the they will soon be able to discover in the Soler Blasco Archaeological Museum of Javea, when a permanent room on the cave and its contents is outfitted. But first, advanced Cirne President, Enric Martinez, the exhibition panels and the resin diorama of the cave will be re-inaugurated in the Museum on 24 August. They will subsequently go on display in the headquarters of the Parc Natural del Montgo.

Martinez stressed the satisfaction this project is providing and the interest on the part of both students and the general public. In this regard, he highlighted the huge turnout of residents from the Montgó urbanisations that became interested in the exhibition after having witnessed the evolution of the excavations, which required a helicopter due to the inaccessibility of the cave.

For her part, Councillor for Culture, Empar Bolufer showed her department's support of the presentation and thanked the foundation for the work being done, especially with young people, who they have managed to make local history attractive to with innovative means.

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