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Archaeological Institute of America Lecture: Sarah McClure

November 5, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Cova de la Pastora – A Study of Death and Discovery in the Prehistory of Spain

Sarah McClure, Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University
Sabin Hall Room G90, 3413 North Downer Ave., UW-Milwaukee Campus


Description: In the 1940s, the discovery of a burial site in the hills outside of Alcoi, Spain created an international stir. The remains of up to 70 people with copious precious and unusual grave goods including beads and carved bone idols were exhumed from the cave. Several of the individuals had trepanations – holes carved into their skulls while alive – that were the first to be documented in Spain. Dating to the Late Neolithic/Eneolithic (ca. 3000 BC), the quality of grave goods and the communal burial rite suggested to archaeologists of the day that an elite group had been buried at this location and Cova de la Pastora became a poster child for the emergence of social inequality in the region. We challenged this interpretation, and beginning in 2007 in a joint project with the University of Valencia, we re-analyzed the finds and conducted new excavations at the site. We also reconstructed the old excavations and how material was recovered, moved from the site to various museums, and subsequently analyzed over a 60-year period. In the process we found a rich tapestry of scientific history along with new discoveries on the timing and nature of burials in this cave. This presentation tells the story of death and discovery at Cova de la Pastora.

Sarah McClure is the Harry and Elissa Sichi Early Career Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University, and holds her degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara (M.A. and Ph.D.) and the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg. Professor McClure is an environmental archaeologist interested in the spread of farming in the Mediterranean and Europe. Her research focuses on environmental and social impacts of early farming societies, particularly questions of human-animal interactions, changes in land use through time, the role of local and regional exchange networks, ceramic technology, food consumption, and the emergence of social inequality.

Her archaeological fieldwork is based in the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and she has current projects in on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and in Valencia, Spain. She also directs the Zooarchaeology Laboratory and Ceramic Analysis Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University.


November 5, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Sabin Hall G90
3413 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211 United States
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