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Atapuerca

Atapuerca
The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca is the finding place of fossils and stone tools of the earliest known hominids in Europe, dating to between 780,000 and 1 million years ago. Several remains of the Homo heidelbergensis were found, the predecessor to the Neanderthal.

The site lies in the Sierra de Atapuerca, an ancient karstic region of Spain containing several caves. They were inhabited also during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Its people left paintings and engravings in the cave walls.

The sites in this area were found during the construction of a railway. Scientific exploration started in 1964.

Year Decision Comments
2000 Inscribed Reasons for inscription



Visit August 2009

Atapuerca is quite a hard site to grasp, as most early hominid WHS are. The remains were found in caves in the Sierra de Atapuerca, an ancient karst landscape. There's not much to see of that nowadays: the surroundings can be described as 'hilly' at the most. It is mainly flat and dry Spanish land. Lots of Santiago de Compostela-pilgrims on the road by the way!

Unfortunately I didn't have much time to spend in the area, so I opted for a guided tour through the archeological park. It's only a small area, and the tour is filled with (long!) explanations. The ranger shows how early man made tools from stone, and how to make fire.

If you've got a day to spare, there are several guided tours on offer from both the towns of Atapuerca and Ibeas de Juarros. They include 2-hour trips to the caves in Yacimiento. I would try to pre-book here. Despite the 'difficult' theme, it's quite a popular site. There's also a museum and a visitor center (and a café / restaurant or two).

More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery

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Reviews

Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Being in the Museo de la Evolución Humana, Burgos, I bought a ticket for 12 Euro to visit the Atapuerca Prehistoric site.
At 10.30 left the bus. We were about 20 visitors, all Spanish, so the explanation was in Spanish language. Our guide, a young boy, was Diego.
Atapuerca site is located at about 15 kilometers distance from Burgos. Upon arriving we were given a helmet to protect our heads, just in case, and walked until the places where archeologists work during the summer months (I was in winter, so the archeologists were not there).
During about one hour we were given explanations on how our ancestors lived in Atapuerca, in the north of Spain and, in general, in the whole world. We were explained about the difference between the Neanderthal men (who disappeared), and the Homo sapiens.
All the instruments, bones and other things that were found in Atapuerca during the excavations had been transferred to the Museo de la Evolución Humana, so we only saw the place where the scientists work.
After that site we took the bus again to Atapuerca village, where we could see a kind of Thematic Park devoted to the Prehistory. Our guide, Diego, showed us every place and even produced fire as the ancient people did. He also with the help of two stones, cutting its edges, created a flint.
It was a didactic experience.
We returned to Burgos, where we arrived at about 14.30. The excursion lasted 4 hours.
Date posted: October 2013
J M de Domingo (England):
Very disappointing, as the teams were working and we had to climb up and around the edge of the site so we saw almost nothing. The guide stopped 3 or 4 times and spoke for 15 to 20 minutes (we could understand as we speak Spanish but there was no consideration for non-Spanish speakers) Leaflets in other languages would be useful, but it's pointless when work is going on, wait till a period when you can get to see things
Date posted: July 2013
John Booth (New Zealand):
My visit to Atapuerca was only to the Yacimentos (excavations) and not to the archaeological park. The visit involved taking a bus to the village of Ibeas de Juarro (on the Burgos to Logrono route), where there is a visitors centre and small museum about Atapuerca. From Ibeas it is a 3km hike to the entrance of the railway cutting where the excavations start, and from there, there is a track which follows the top of the cutting. These excavations are still ongoing and a fenced off for security, but I got a birds eye view of the Suiva del Elefanta, the Galeria and the Gran Dolina.
Date posted: April 2010
():
We could visit the archaeological park on a selfguided tour only without access to the actual excarvations. History is reconstructed by replicas of huts and fences demonstrating how our ancestors may have lived and hunted here until a few thounds years ago. I strongly recommend to arrange for a guided tour as it would give you a much better value add.
 


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