Face of a 7,500-year-old woman reveals Gibraltar's earliest humans

Analysis of a Neolithic skull revealed not only how she looked but also where her people originated far across the Mediterranean.

Reconstruction of the face of Calpeia. Gibraltar National Museum
MANUEL JAÉN

In 1996 archaeologists ventured into a cave in Gibraltar, where they found a burial containing human bones. Among them was a skull.

The archaeologists knew that the burial was very old. It was discovered under layers of sediment containing fish, bird, and mammal bones and carved flint objects. The skull had been damaged after the burial, but it still joined the collection of the Gibraltar National Museum.

The skull’s age remained a mystery for many years. In 2019 the results of a landmark study proved through DNA analysis that it belonged to a woman who lived 7,500 years ago, making it the oldest remnant of a modern female woman found in Gibraltar to date.

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