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National Research Centre on Human Evolution (CENIEH)
Hosting Legal Entity
Self-standing RI
Paseo Sierra Atapuerca 3, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Burgos, PO: 09002 (Spain)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Operational since 2009
Scientific Description
The National Research Centre on Human Evolution (CENIEH - Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana) is an RI with open access for the international scientific community, as well as for other public and private sectors such as industries. The research activities in Human Evolution principally cover Paleoarchaeology (excavations worldwide), Paleoanthropology (hominins), Prehistoric Technology (stone tools), Geochronology (dating) and Curation and Conservation (collections). The centre actively promotes awareness and knowledge transfer to society.

RI Keywords
Prehistory, Collection, Conservation, Comparative anatomy, Paleobiology, Hominin, Paleoanthropology, Geochronology, Paleolithic, Archaeology, Spectroscopy, Geoarchaeology, Material characterisation, Stone tool, Restoration, Fossil, Hominid, Dating, Human evolution, Paleoclimate, Heritage, Isotopes, Lithic, Hominid
RI Category
Materials Synthesis or Testing Facilities
Data Archives, Data Repositories and Collections
Natural History Collections
Biomedical Imaging Facilities
Scientific Domain
Biological and Medical Sciences
Humanities and Arts
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Social Sciences
Access to Collections
Collections consultation and study of fossil material and archaeological tools

Access to consultation of the collections' database.

Library and documentation

Documentation search and selection of bibliography related to archaeology, palaeoanthropology and related fields.


Elemental determinations in geoarchaeological and environmental samples up to ultratrace levels. Geological Sample Preparation, (soils, sediments, rocks, etc.), thin sections preparation.

Conservation and restoration of heritage

Preventive and curative conservation and restoration of all kind of materials, especially archaeological remains.


This facility develops programs on experimental human energetics, analysis of human body composition and anthropometry. The laboratory has high precision equipments of indirect ventilatory calorimetry indoors to measure metabolic rates (resting and energy expenditure) and to monitor "breath by breath" the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds during physical activity trials. Moreover, it has a telemetric portable device of indirect calorimetry and a triaxial accelerometer for the tests outdoors.

Material Characterisation

Experiments with all kinds of materials using the CENIEH laboratories: X-Ray labs (XRD and XRF), Micro-CT, Microscopy (electronical and optical), TGA/DSC, Raman Microscopy and ICP-OES. Heavy Inorganic Isotope analyses: Sr/Sr, REEs. Elemental determinations in geoarchaeological and environmental samples up to ultratrace levels.

Geochronological Analyses

State-of-the-art laboratory facilities with the latest equipment types comply with the minimum requirements needed to apply routine as well as novel / experimental protocols for dating techniques such as Luminescence, Electron Spin Resonance, Archaeomagnetism and Uranium Series, so far.

Digital Mapping and 3D analysis services

The activities of this laboratory centre on cartography, spatial reconstruction and the analysis of geological and archaeological elements. Among its products, we may highlight: geological and geomorphological cartography, paleogeographic reconstructions, analysis of spatial patterns, 3D reconstructions, and the morphometric analysis of archaeological sites and objects. Completed in the field and inside caves, these activities can cover temporal sequences, so that the digitalization, reconstruction and analysis of Natural and Cultural Heritage may be approached from a 4D perspective.

Sample preparation and handling

Analysis of soils, sediments, fossil and other solid samples.

Luminescence (OSL)

4 x RISØ TL/OSL readers (Model DA-20 C/D) with automated 48-position multi-grain sample holder/changer system built into a vacuum chamber, incorporated 90Sr/90Y beta irradiation sources (1.48 GBq), heating element with lift mechanism, and EMI 9235QB15 PM tubes with quartz window. In terms of the incorporated Optically Stimulation Luminescence (OSL) light units, 2 readers have combined IR (870 nm) / Blue (470 nm) LEDs, and the other 2 have combined Blue (470 nm) / Green (530 nm) / IR (870 nm) high power LEDs, allowing for BLSL / IRSL / TL measurements. See ESR for equipment common to OSL and ESR.

Sample Preparation & Thin sections

Chemical fume hoods, microwave digestion system, ultrasonic bath, particle size analyser, calcimeters, magenetic separators, ovens, centrifuges, saws, drills, shakers, millers, balances, mortars, sieves, polishers, etc.

Micro–Computed Tomography

The GE Phoenix v/tome/x s 240 system with two x-ray tubes (nano-focus (up to 180 kV) and micro-focus (up to 240 kV).MicroCT 80 (Scanco Medical, in disuse).Mimics Materialise 13.1 post-processing and analysis software.


X-Ray powder Diffractometer (XRD) PANalytical X´Pert; Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) PANalytical Axios; Confocal Raman microscope DXR Thermo Fisher; Nicolet 6700 Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer; Simultaneous TGA / DSC SDT-Q600 TA Instruments; TG interface to an FTIR spectrometer; Portable Raman Spectrometer Deltanu Rock Hound and Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer.

Uranium Series

Thermo NEPTUNE Multicollector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer MC-ICP-MS. Thermo ELEMENT XR Extended Range High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer HR-ICP-MS. Perkin Optima 5300DV Dual View Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer ICP-OES. NewWave UP-213 Laser Ablation system.ESI Apex HF with Spiro and Cetac Aridus II membrane desolvator and nebulization systems.ESI SC-FAST automated advanced sample introduction system.ESI PC3 and GE Isomist Peltier temperature controlled sample inlet systems.


Optical microscopy: petrographic microscopes and fluorescence polarization (Olympus BX51), stereo (Olympus SZX16 and SZX10) and metallography (Olympus BX51M); Confocal Laser Microscopy Olympus LEXT OLS3000; Morphologi G3; Scanning Electron Microscopy FEI Quanta-600.

Electron Spin Resonance

X-band and Q-band Bruker Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) spectrometers (EMXmicro-6/1 and Elexsys 500 models). Equipment common to OSL and ESR:Gammacell 1000 Elite-I Cs-137 gamma irradiation source. 2 x Canberra high purity germanium detectors (Extended Range Coaxial -XtRa- and well-type detectors) for high-resolution gamma spectrometry of sediments. Dr Hönle solar simulator (UVACube400 + SOL500). 2 x Canberra in situ field gamma spectrometers with LaBr3: Ce and NaI: Tl probes and InSpector 1000 multi-channel analysers.

Conservation and Restoration

Stereo microscopes, copy stand & fluorescent lighting photography equipment, measuring & recording instruments, vacuum & pressure system, water purification system, safety cabinets, fume hoods, extraction cabinet, electric lift table, mechanical and ultrasonic equipment.


Indirect Calorimetry by Master Screen CPX and Oxycon Mobile, Jaeger. Treadmill Ergometer hp-Cosmos, CareFusion. Accelerometry by Armband SenseWear BodyMedia. Bioelectrical Impedance BIA101 Akern. Anthropometry by Stadiometer and Anthropometer Holtain. Softwares JLab, BodyMedia Professional and BodyGram Pro.

Digital Mapping and 3D Analysis

3D Scanners and Topographic Equipment: Ground-based 3D Laser Scanners, 3D Laser Triangulation Scanners, Robotic Total Stations, GNSS (base and rover), Calibrated Digital Camera for Photogrammetry.Software 3D Modelling and Processing tools: Photogrammetry software, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Teledetection software - Multivariant image analysis, Ground Penetration Radar, Electrical Resistivity Tomography, Drones-RPASPeripherals: Large-scale plotter and printer DIN A0+, ScannerDIN A0, Digitizing Table.


Cryogenic magnetometer with AF demagnetizer and ARM capabilities (SRM 755-4K, 2G Enterprises).Thermal Demagnetizer model TD48-SC (ASC Scientific). Vibrating sample Magnetometer MicroMag 3900 (Lakeshore) with cryostat and furnace. Kappabridge MFK1-FA (AGICO). Magnetic susceptibility sensors (Bartington). Impulse magnetizer to 5 Tesla (IM-10-30 , ASC). Miscellaneous field equipment (portable drill machines, orienting fixtures, etc.) and saws for sample preparation.

Ice Age Europe
Date of last update: 05/12/2018