“Unique” prehistoric discovery made in Atapuerca

by Lorraine Williamson
Atapuerca prehistoric discovery

PROVINCIA DE BURGOS – In the archaeological site of Atapuerca, located in the Spanish province of Burgos, a possibly exceptional discovery has been made: the first specially prepared floors for the creation of dwellings by Neolithic inhabitants.

Atapuerca is known as one of the most important archaeological treasures in the world. For decades, the site has provided valuable information about our ancestors and their evolution over time, providing a fascinating insight into the early history of mankind. 

Also read: A brief history of Spain – Part 1, The Prehistory and Antiquity (until 1.000 B.C.) 

Among the many remarkable finds at Atapuerca, one discovery, in particular, has caught the attention of experts: the discovery of floors from the Neolithic (Young Stone Age, from c. 1,100 B.C. to the Bronze Age) specially prepared for creating houses. According to researcher Amalia Pérez Romero of the University of Burgos (UBU) and coordinator of the Atapuerca research team, this is a unique discovery in the world. 

Location Protalón de Cueva Mayor 

The discovery took place at the Portalón de Cueva Mayor site, which has proven to be one of the most remarkable sites in Castilla and León. Important finds have been made at this site, including pottery, stone tools, bones and animal remains. The chronology of the finds spans more than 7,000 years. 

Brick floors to create a ‘home’ 

What has been discovered at the site’s lowest Neolithic level is a habitable zone with a peculiarity never before found in Europe. The early inhabitants of Portalón carefully prepared the soil for settlement, using brick floors to give more firmness and stability to the soil. According to Pérez Romero, they buried branches in the ground, set them on fire, and then put clay on top to stabilise the area. This indicates that they were creating a “home”, rather than simply settling in the area out of sheer convenience. 

Cogesa Expats

Expert admiration 

The discovery of these Neolithic floors in Atapuerca has aroused the admiration of experts both nationally and internationally. Pérez Romero emphasises that such floors have not yet been found in Europe, or the Middle East in the same chronological period. Although inhabited areas, cemeteries and animal breeding areas have been found elsewhere from that time, the floors discovered in Atapuerca are new. 

Two levels of excavations 

In the site, which is the gateway to Cueva Mayor, two levels of excavations can be found. The lower level belongs to the Neolithic Age, while the upper level belongs to the Bronze Age. Both levels are inhabited spaces, and distinctive ceramic finds from each period have been found. 

Change in lifestyle of prehistoric inhabitants 

This discovery in Atapuerca provides valuable information about the earliest farmers and pastoralists who settled the Iberian Peninsula in the Neolithic era. Although they still hunted and gathered, the evidence found in Portalón shows a change in the lifestyle of these early inhabitants. 

The Atapuerca site remains of great archaeological importance and will continue to contribute to new insights into the history of mankind and the evolution of our ancestors. 

Also read: Remains of the face of possibly the first European found in Spain 

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