The rock of Gibraltar at the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, and in full view of North Africa, is a British Territory with a long tradition of work on Ice Age humans, fauna and geology which dates back to the 18th Century.
It was in Forbes’ Quarry that the Gibraltar 1 Neanderthal skull was found in 1848, eight years before the Feldhofer specimen.
The Gibraltar Museum is a long-standing institution which was founded in 1930. It is situated in Bomb House Lane,
just off the Main Street in the heart of the city. Here galleries display representative findings of Ice Age Europe in the extreme south-west where climatic changes were not as severe as in the north of Europe.
The Gibraltar Museum is responsible for the 14 Ice Age sites on the 6-km long peninsula, nine of which were occupied by Neanderthals including two fossil sites. It runs a Field Station at Parson’s Lodge where researchers are accommodated and where post-excavation work is carried out.
The Gibraltar Museum’s brief includes research and it carries out annual excavations in Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves. Gorham’s Cave is currently the last known site of Neanderthal survival, as recently as 31 thousand years ago. These sites are also being used to reconstruct the lives of the southern Neanderthals.
These findings, such as the exploitation of seals and dolphins or the feathers of large raptors, are exhibited in the Gibraltar Museum which acts as the interpretation centre for all the Gibraltar Ice Age sites.
In addition to exhibitions and research, the Gibraltar Museum has an active hands-on education programme on Ice Age Europe and the Neanderthals. This programme is available to local schools and those from outside as well on request.
The Gibraltar Museum is currently developing the extension of this education programme to some of the cave sites. The programme will be available to adults as well as children by prior request. The aim is to bring the sites closer to the public where possible.
Site visits can be organised including during the period of excavation where visitors can interact with archaeologists. For those unable to access the caves, visits are organised to the Parson’s Lodge Field Station where
the process of sieving sediment is demonstrated.
The museum’s web site www.gibmuseum.gi, a blog and a Facebook page, provide continuous information about the progress of excavations and work during the rest of the year.