It’s been a year since a archaeologist squad Made up of more than 300 professionals, it explores different nooks and crannies of the emblematic Atapuerca site. Is about the 45th excavation campaign in this famous archaeological site located in the province of Burgos which, a century and a half after its discovery, continues to reveal true wonders. «Has been one of the most important in the history of the project«, explained the co-directors of the deposit, Eudald Carbonell, José María Bermúdez de Castro and Juan Luis Arsuaga at the closing of this campaign, announced this Friday.
On this occasion, the work has focused on five different scenarios Located in the area called the Railroad Trench. Some have also been processed 25 tons of sediment on the banks of the Arlanzón river. All this work, as a whole, has allowed rescartar The History Of Extinct Hominids, of animals that no longer exist and of innumerable fossils that reveal what the world was like thousands of years ago.
These are the main findings carried out during the last excavation campaign in Atapuerca, summarized by researchers from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES).
A hominid in Gran Dolina
The «star discovery» this year, as explained by the archaeologists who have led this latest campaign, is undoubtedly the finding of the remains of an 850,000-year-old ‘Homo ancestor’ in the Gran Dolina. More than 30 years ago the same fossils already cooled in the same area. But now, thanks to this new company, it has been possible to find a new specimen of this extinct species of hominids that once swarmed through Spanish lands.
In this same area they have also been found flint tools, remains of another hominid hitherto unidentified hominin (specifically, a parietal fragment and a foot phalanx), as well as a complete rhinoceros jaw and a hippopotamus bone (with all its elements in anatomical connection).
The oldest face in Europe
The works in the emblematic Sima del Elefante, one of the most prosperous places in the entire site, have also found the remains of a hominid that archaeologists (affectionately) named it ‘Pink’. According to the researchers, it is the oldest human face found so far in Atapuerca and one of the oldest samples found so far of the face of the first Europeans. The analyzes suggest that this hominid lived at least 1.4 million years ago.
Next to his remains were also found tools like a cut quartz pebble and a cretaceous flint ascla, which suggests that these instruments probably belong to this hominid (or its group). In the same area, the fossil remains of a small carnivore and a turtle have also been found.
In the area known as the Gallery, over the past year archaeologists have recovered more than 1,300 faunal fossils and at least 50 pieces of the lithic industry. As for the fauna, experts have been able to identify the remains of deer, horses and bison, both infants and adults. As for the tools, a variety of instruments made with raw materials as diverse as Neogene and Cretaceous flint, quartz, quartzite and stoneware have also been found.
According to the experts who have led this part of the vacation, the humans of Atapuerca used these tools for butchery jobs. Especially for the «evisceration, fleshing and disarticulation of carcasses» of animals to make it easier transport the hunted specimens beyond the cave. There is also evidence of ‘in situ’ consumption by herbivorous animals, among others.
Bronze Age pottery
The works in the so-called Ghost Cave have also produced great surprises. Those responsible for this part of the excavation report finding «an important collection of lithic instruments«and of»a large accumulation of bones«. As the experts explain from the studies carried out, these remains demonstrate the presence of Neanderthals in the area (although, as other works point out, their visits to the area were very sporadic).
In other areas of the cave, «materials from the Holocene, like ceramics from the Bronze Age«. Remains of horses and deer gnawed by hyenas have also been found, and other fossils of lions, bears, dogs, marmots and bovids, among others.
A window to the Neolithic
The excavation of the El Mirador cave has opened a true window to the neolithic world. On this occasion, in fact, archaeologists have been able to glimpse what the area was like about 7,000 years ago from the remains of ceramics, lithic instruments and other animal fossils found in the area. Among the species found in this cave, sheep, goats and even horses stand out, some very unusual animals for this period.
It has also surprised the discovery of «great variety and richness of lithic instruments and personal ornaments«. According to the experts, among the remains of material culture discovered there are several elements made with rock glass and even exotic amber pendants, most likely brought from far away places. All this would demonstrate «the wealth and extensive commercial contacts of the first communities of ranchers and farmers that succeed one another in the Sierra de Atapuerca.»