Photo: Archaeological Site: Atapuerca, Spain
Archaeologists in Spain are busy excavating the Gran Dolonia portion of the Atapuerca archaeological site for clues to the first humans that arrived in Europe.
Many archaeological treasures have come from this northern Spain location known as the caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca. In 2007 human remains were found that date back one and a half million years, considered the oldest Europeans remains ever found. Human remains have also been found from the “Homo antecessor” dating back 850,000-to-950,000-years ago. The youngest remains found here date back a mere 5,000-years ago from the homo sapien species.
The site is in the Sierra de Atapuerca in the province of Burgos, Spain that has thus far rendered multiple findings covering most ancient periods. The site has been under excavation since 1978 and deemed a historic location by UNESCO in 2000.
UNESCO noted: “The Sierra de Atapuerca sites provide unique testimony of the origin and evolution both of the existing human civilization and of other cultures that have disappeared. The evolutionary line or lines from the African ancestors of modern humankind are documented in these sites.”
The Gran Dolina, where archaeologist currently are focusing is a cave site with some 19 levels deep of archaeological remains that were first excavated in 1981.
Project director Juan Luis Arsuaga said “It is the site that has yielded the most human remains in the world.” That is why experts are confident the site holds the secrets of the first humans in Europe. The current digging will end at the end of this month, then Arsuaga’s team will analyze the thousands of fragments found thus far.
From the remains found at Atapuerca, Spanish archaeologists believe these “first Europeans” were probably hunters who lived amongst lions, hippos and rhinos and settled territorial disputes by cannibalizing their enemy.