El Mirón Cave

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El Mirón Cave
El Mirón Cave in Spain
El Mirón Cave in Spain
location in Spain
El Mirón Cave in Spain
El Mirón Cave in Spain
El Mirón Cave (Spain)
LocationAsón River valley
RegionCantabria, Spain
Coordinates43°14′47″N 3°27′4″W / 43.24639°N 3.45111°W / 43.24639; -3.45111Coordinates: 43°14′47″N 3°27′4″W / 43.24639°N 3.45111°W / 43.24639; -3.45111

The El Mirón Cave is a large cave in the upper Asón River valley towards the eastern end of Cantabria in northern Spain, near the border of the Basque Country.[1] It is an archeological site in Ramales de la Victoria. It is known for a skeleton belonging to a woman nicknamed The Red Lady of El Mirón. She is estimated to have died around 18,700 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic (Magdalenian).[2][3] The skeleton is examined to that of someone between 35 and 40 years. Her bones were coated with ochre, a red iron-based pigment, hence, her name.[4]

Striation-engraved red deer scapula from El Mirón Cave.

The cave was discovered in 1903 by amateur archaeologists Hermilio Alcalde del Río and Lorenzo Sierra. It contains a rich collection of Upper Paleolithic art.[1] Among the prominent arts are those of an engraving of a horse and possibly one of a bison.[5] The first systematic excavation started only in 1996. The team of archaeologists, led by Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico and Manuel González Morales of the University of Cantabria, made a discovery of a number of prehistoric remains. The Red Lady was discovered in 2010. The cave contains a large limestone block towards the rear. A narrow space running through the block was the location of the skeleton.[4]


  1. ^ a b Straus, Lawrence Guy; Morales, Manuel R. González (2013). "El Miron Cave: Geography and Culture". In Smith, Claire (ed.). 978-1-4419-0426-3 Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York (US): Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 2346–2352. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2247. ISBN 978-1-4419-0426-3.
  2. ^ González Morales, Manuel R.; Straus, Lawrence G. (2015). "Magdalenian-age graphic activity associated with the El Mirón Cave human burial". Journal of Archaeological Science. 60 (1): 125–133. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2015.02.025.
  3. ^ Straus, Lawrence G.; González Morales, Manuel R.; Carretero, Jose Miguel; Marín-Arroyo, Ana Belen (2015). ""The Red Lady of El Mirón". Lower Magdalenian life and death in Oldest Dryas Cantabrian Spain: an overview". Journal of Archaeological Science. 60 (1): 134–137. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2015.02.034.
  4. ^ a b Weiss, Daniel (11 August 2015). "The Red Lady of El Mirón". Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  5. ^ Sarchet, Penny (1 March 2015). "Red Lady cave burial reveals Stone Age secrets". New Scientist. Retrieved 2 August 2016.