||Huguet, Rosa; Vallverdú, Josep; Rodríguez-Álvarez, Xose Pedro; Terradillos-Bernal, Marcos; Bargalló, Amelia; Lombera-Hermida, Arturo; Menéndez, Leticia; Modesto-Mata, Mario; Van der Made, Jan; Soto, María; Blain, Hugues-Alexandre; García, Nuria; Cuenca-Bescós, Gloria; Gómez-Merino, Gala; Pérez Martínez, R.; Expósito, Isabel; Allué, Ethel; Rofes, Juan; Burjachs, Francesc; Canals, Antoni; Bennásar, M. Lluc; Nuñez-Lahuerta, Carmen; Bermúdez de Castro, José María; Carbonell, Eudald
Level TE9c of the Sima del Elefante site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) is one of the oldest sites with evidence of human occupation in western Europe. We began excavating level TE9c in 2003, and the work there continues today. The studies of the archaeology, palaeontology and geology from this locality have provided an indispensable dataset with which to capture a picture in the scenario of the origin of humans in Europe. Based on these data, we raise and discuss several topics, such as the possible origin of the lineage of the first hominins that inhabited western Europe; their capacity to have active hunting or scavenging abilities; whether their subsistence strategies were successful; and what the environment and habitats where these hominin groups settled was like. The aim of this paper is to present the results and discussions obtained from the research team and to establish the primary features of early human occupations in southwestern Europe. Tentatively, we may conclude, based on the events recorded at TE9c, that the first humans were in the Iberian peninsula at around 1.2 Ma they used the caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca as shelters probably during their hunting activities; the cavities were surrounded by Mediterranean forest, rivers and water ponds, and varied habitats as suggested by the rich and diverse assemblage of fossils of vertebrates (fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, large and small mammals); where humans possibly caught what they found in the surroundings.