VILA NOVA DE FOZ CÔA, Portugal — After a long, grinding descent through rocky terraces planted with almond trees, Thierry Aubry eased a battered four-wheel-drive vehicle to a halt on a patch of level ground above the wild Côa River in northeast Portugal.
The place, known as Cardina, is a pastoral idyll, nestled in a gorge overlooking deep pools skimmed by swallows. It was also, archaeologists are discovering, an appealing spot for ancient humans. It is high enough above the river to avoid flooding, yet provides access to food and water.
Excavations in the elevated patch of land have found evidence of long habitation from about 12,000 to 30,000 years ago, including tools and the remains of two buildings that may have been meeting places.
“There is something special about the Côa Valley,” said Mr. Aubry, a French archaeologist for the nearby Côa Museum. He is part of a dedicated group of scientists who have made breakthrough finds in the area over the past two decades. [...] nytimes.com