The Sierra de Atapuerca sites provide unique testimony of the origin and evolution both of the existing human civilization and of other cultures that have disappeared. The evolutionary line or lines from the African ancestors of modern humankind are documented in these sites. The earliest and most abundant evidence of humankind in Europe is to be found in the Sierra de Atapuerca. The sites constitute an exceptional example of continuous human occupation, due to their special ecosystems and their geographical location. The fossil remains in the Sierra de Atapuerca are an invaluable reserve of information about the physical nature and the way of life of the earliest human communities in Europe.
The site is located at the north-eastern corner of the Castilian plateau. Although more than 1,000 m above sea level, it is now no more than a gently sloping limestone ridge, largely covered with scrub and with some farming. Water erosion over the past 5 million years has led to the formation of a karst landscape with an elaborate cave system. The water table became lower as a result of geomorphological processes, making the caves suitable for animals and humans to live in them. The system of terraces formed along the southern margin of the Sierra shows that, during the Middle and Lower Pleistocene, streams flowed close to the entrances of these caves, making them especially suitable for human occupation.
Since 2000 it is a Unesco site.
Thanks to Le and David for the postcard.