La Espluga de Puyascada

  • Locality :San Juan de Toledo
  • Municipality :La Fueva
  • Altitude :1.320 m
  • Listed status :
  • Cultural Sequence :Neolithic





    Rock shelter with two occupation levels: one Neolithic, extending generally throughout the rock shelter and rich in materials, and the other post-Neolithic with bell-shaped pottery found in just one of the samplings.

    The site is located in the impressive limestone cliffs on the south face of the Sierra Ferrera.
    To the west of this cave, in the same narrow passes, is the Cave of El Forcón.

    This cave has a large mouth more than 15 m wide that allows natural light to enter into the large vestibule of the grotto, which represents virtually the entire cavern. It could be defined as a large rock shelter with a small gallery at the end with a low roof and no more 5 m in length.

    According to Vicente Baldellou, the cave was occupied at at least two different times:
    -Middle Neolithic (4000-3500 BC)
    -Chalcolithic, also known as the Eneolithic or the Copper Age (3000 to 1800 BC)

    Some of the inhabitants of this cave would have used the Cave of El Forcón as a burial site.
    Neolithic remains recovered consist of pieces of pottery, some plain and others bearing impressed or incised decoration made in the raw clay in an excellent range of designs and compositions that are well produced and finished, obtained using a variety of tools (a denticulated instrument, combs, striated tools, etc.) but not including Cardium or any other kind of shell. The incisions or impressions are combined with other decorative elements such as plastic decorations or painted (only one piece has been found).
    Also dating from the Neolithic Period are the remains found of the carved lithic industry (two scrapers, various slivers, denticulated tufa and a beautiful blade), the ground lithic industry (a conical moulding, axes and cleavers in small numbers) and the considerable bone industry (three spatulas and a large number of awls), various items of personal adornment (two discoid beads on shell, three beads made from a tooth and shell, a possible bone ring and two shells broken at the top).
    Remains were also found of animals that the cave dwellers must have fed on: bones of members of the Ovis genus and of caprids, as well as smaller numbers of bovine and suid bones. Wild animal bones (from deer and roe deer) represent just 5% of the total, indicating that hunting was not a major activity.
    Also found were a boat-shaped granite mill broken into two parts, a granite millstone and various carbons and areas with ash that were used for C-14 analysis. The results from this analysis were: 3980 and 3630 BC. This is quite a late date but it is not an isolated case and would correspond to the Middle Neolithic (4000-3500 BC) or the epicardial period (to relate these dates to a type of pottery). This was a period when impressed and incised pottery was common and cardial decoration disappeared.

    Materials were also recovered from a later period, corresponding to the Copper Age (3000 to 1800 BC), but these are poor and unexpressive, such as three decorated fragments that could be related to bell-shaped pottery output. It could be thought that these are pieces of locally made pottery that imitate, in a fairly crude manner, more typical examples, though this does not discount their possible attribution to the Chalcolithic.


    July 1975. Vicente Baldellou and another eight people. The teachers María José Calvo and Anchel Conte, who discovered the site, helped. The dig lasted 15 days.
    The excavation work consisted of taking four stratigraphic soundings: three inside the vestibule and another below the overhanging ledge of the cave. This last sounding proved barren.