One Of The Oldest Neanderthal Archaeological Locations Has Been Discovered At A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Cueva Mayor-Cueva del Silo Complex at the Spanish archeological site of Atapuerca contains the site of the Gallery of Statues....
According to a recent study1, one of the earliest Neanderthal excavation sites in Spain is an archaeological site that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list and could be 115,000 years old. According to Davinia Moreno, a geochronologist at Spain's National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH), the region is among the oldest on the Iberian Peninsula and dates back between 70,000 and 115,000 years.
Since 2008, two test pits have been continuously used for excavation at the Gallery of Statues site, which is part of the Cueva Mayor-Cueva del Silo Complex in the Atapuerca archeological site in Burgos, a province in northern Spain. The test pits, reportedly known as GE-I and GE-II, stand at nine and six square meters, respectively, and revealed an Upper Pleistocene detrital stratigraphic succession sealed by a speleothem (96 and 64 square feet).
According to the study, age estimates range from 92,000 to 104,000 years for the GE-I pit and up to 115,000 years for the GE-II pit. The Upper Pleistocene chronology of the site is confirmed by the ages discovered by dating fossil teeth using the combined methods ESR/U-series and agree with those previously obtained using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and single-grain thermally transferred OSL (TT-OSL).
The first karstic system Neanderthal fossil discovered (a foot phalanx) at the Atapuerca Archaeological Site was discovered in the caves of the Atapuerca Mountains, along with additional paleontological remnants and lithic items clearly related to the Neanderthals' Mousterian industry. The cave's sediments, which cover a land area of 702 acres also contained Neanderthal mitochondrial and nuclear DNA.
Nearly ten years before it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, the rich fossil reserve that contains some of the earliest human remains in Europe, dating from almost one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era, was registered as a Property of Cultural Interest in 1991. The neighboring Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos houses some of the artifacts discovered at the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca.
Moreno, D., Ortega, A. I., Falguères, C., Shao, Q., Tombret, O., Gómez-Olivencia, A., Aranburu, A., Trompier, F., Bermúdez de Castro, J. M., Carbonell, E., & Arsuaga, J. L. (2022). ESR/U-series chronology of the Neanderthal occupation layers at Galería de las Estatuas (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain). Quaternary Geochronology, 72(101342), 101342. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2022.101342