Montserrat Sanz Borràs

Ramon y Cajal research fellow

Short biography

I currently hold a Ramón y Cajal position at the University of Barcelona. Before this, I held a postdoctoral fellow (Juan de la Cierva-Incorporation Grant) at the University of Barcelona (UB), a postdoctoral fellow (Juan de la Cierva-Training Programme) in the Centro Mixto – Complutense University of Madrid (UCM)-Instituto Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) – Research Group in Human Evolution at the UCM, led by Juan Luis Arsuaga. Earlier, I was employed at the UNIARQ-University of Lisbon (Portugal) on an FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) postdoctoral contract. I have also been an invited scholar at the LabexMed Université Aix-Marseille (France). I graduated in History and hold a PhD (with European Mention) in Archaeology from the University of Barcelona. I have been a visiting PhD fellow at the University of Arizona (USA), Université de Toulouse (France) and the University of Bristol (United Kingdom).

I have authored/co-authored 130 papers, 60 of them in indexed and peer-review journals and I am currently engaged in several national and international projects.  

Furthermore, I am increasingly concerned with dedicating efforts to knowledge transfer and promoting archaeological activities for the benefit of society, in the role of project manager or science consultant in the preparation of archaeological exhibitions, conferences, teaching materials or popular archaeological science books.

Research interests

The Palaeolithic in south-western Europe has been the primary focus of my research and I specialise in the Taphonomy and Zooarchaeology of large mammals. My main research line is Human-carnivore relations in Quaternary landscapes and within this line, I address various subtopics, including human subsistence behaviour, hominin-carnivore interactions, fire management, mortuary activities, palaeobiology and the relationship between societies and ecosystems, among others.

Selected publications

Sanz, M., Daura, J., Costa, A. M., & Araújo, A. C. (2023). The characterization of bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) coprolites in the archaeological record. Scientific Reports, 13(1), 57.

Sanz, M., Daura, J., Cabanes, D., Égüez, N., Carrancho, Á., Badal, E., Souto, P., Rodrigues, F., & Zilhão, J. (2020). Early evidence of fire in south-western Europe: the Acheulean site of Gruta da Aroeira (Torres Novas, Portugal). Scientific Reports, 10(1), 12053.

Sanz, M., Rivals, F., García, D., & Zilhão, J. (2019). Hunting strategy and seasonality in the last interglacial occupation of Cueva Antón (Murcia, Spain). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11(7), 3577–3594.

Sanz, M., Sala, N., Daura, J., Pantoja-Pérez, A., Santos, E., Zilhão, J., & Arsuaga, J. L. (2018). Taphonomic inferences about Middle Pleistocene hominins: The human cranium of Gruta da Aroeira (Portugal). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 167(3), 615–627.

Sanz, M., & Daura, J. (2018). Taphonomic analysis of an ungulate-dominated accumulation at the Pleistocene Cova del Rinoceront site near Barcelona, Spain (northeastern Iberian Peninsula). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 498, 24–38.

Selected projects

  • European Network for Quaternary Taphonomy (TaphEn). CNRS (Aix-en-Provence, France). GDRI International Research Network IRN 0871 CNRS-INEE. 01/01/2017 – present. Steering committee and PI of working group on coprolites.
  • 2021SGR00337, Grup de Recerca de Qualitat-SERP. Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca. Generalitat de Catalunya. AGAUR. PI: Xavier Mangado (Universitat de Barcelona). 2022 – 2024.
  • “Centro Mixto (UCM-ISCIII) de Evolución y Comportamiento Humano”. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. PI: Juan Luis Arsuaga. 2017-present.
  • CLT/2022/ARQ001SOLC/128- “Les societats caçadores recol·lectores del paleolític mitjà i superior: estratègies de subsistència i canvis climàtics”. Direcció General del Patrimoni Cultural. Generalitat de Catalunya. 2022-2025. PI: Joan Daura.
  • PGC2018-093925-B-C33. Geología, geocronología y paleobiología yacimientos de la Sierra de Atapuerca VII. PI: Juan Luis Arsuaga. (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM-ISCIII). 01/12/2019- 31/12/2021.
  • CLT/009/18/0022. Els canvis climàtics durant el plistocè superior a la costa central catalana i l’impacte en les poblacions neandertals i humans anatòmicament modern. Direcció General del Patrimoni Cultural. Generalitat de Catalunya. Período 2018-2021. PI: Joan Daura (Universitat de Barcelona). Co-PI: M. Sanz.
  • Arqueologia e evolução dos primeiros humanos na fachada Atlántica da Península Ibérica. FCT – FCT. (UNIARQ – Universidade de Lisboa). 01/01/2018-31/12/2020. PI: João Zilhã
  • HAR2017-85153-P, Síntesis del Paleolítico medio y superior en Valencia y Murcia: aspectos cronológicos, paleoambientales, económicos y PI: Valentín Villaverde (Universitat de València). 01/01/2018-31/12/2020.

Selected excavations

My scientific interests have led to my undertaking archaeological excavations at several sites in the Iberian Peninsula: most notably, the Garraf massif (Spain), the Almonda karst system (Portugal) and the Abrigo do Lagar Velho (Portugal). Since 2002, I have led an archaeological team working on Palaeolithic studies, directing more than fifty different field excavation seasons, and I have also acted as the scientific coordinator of multidisciplinary studies.