Spain’s “King of Coal” jailed for destroying Neolithic site.

The Telegraph reports on multimillionaire mine-operator Victorino Alonso’s demolition of a 10,000-year-old archaeological site, an act courts have described as a “crime against heritage”:

The multimillionaire mine operator, known in Spain as “the king of coal”, used the site as a shelter and feeding site for animals on the surrounding hunting estate, run by a company owned by Mr Alonso.

The destruction of the Chaves Cave in the region of Aragon led to the disappearance of carved bones, thousands of ceramic fragments, a 6,000-year-old burial site and examples of geometric art.

The cave had barely been explored by archaeologists, who say that 90 per cent of the sediments relating to its human occupation have been crushed and dispersed.

“It’s like a page being ripped out of the history of mankind,” said Spain’s best-known paleoanthropologist, Juan Luis Arsuaga, joint director of the country’s important Atapuerca site. Chaves, he said, “was a unique site in Europe with remains dating from the dawn of agriculture and pastoral activities in the Iberian peninsula”.

[via Archaeological News]