The Sierra de Atapuerca is a small mountain range and ancient karst topography region of northern Spain, about 14 km east of Burgos. where several caves are located with evidence of very old occupations, dated to the Paleolithic period. The caves have been found in two sectors, the Trinchera del Ferrocarril (railway trench) and the Cueva Mayor (main cave).
The Trinchera del Ferrocarril is named that because the sites discovered in this region were discovered during trenching for a railway line. The most important sites in this part of Sierra de Atapuerca are Gran Dolina and Sima del Elefante. In the Main Cave section of the Atapuercas are numerous other caves, including the Sima de los Huesos and the Galeria del Silex. Hominid fossils recovered from the Sierra de Atapuerca sites include Homo antecessor and H. heidelbergensis.
Sierra de Atapuerca Sites
The oldest occupied cave in the Atapuerca region is Gran Dolina, where the earliest fossil hominid of the type Homo erectus (or perhaps Homo antecessor) was found, dated perhaps as early as 886,000 years ago, making it among the oldest human occupations in Europe.
Bermudez de Castro, J.M., et al. 2004 The Atapuerca sites and their contribution to the knowledge of human evolution in Europe. Evolutionary Anthropology 13(1):25-41.
Carbonell, Eudald, et al. 1999 The Pleistocene site of Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain: a history of the archaeological investigations. Journal of Human Evolution 37:313-324.
Ortega AI, Benito-Calvo A, Porres J, Pérez-González A, and Martín Merino MA. 2010. Applying electrical resistivity tomography to the identification of endokarstic geometries in the Pleistocene Sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain). Archaeological Prospection 17(4):233-245.