The archaeological site Hušnjakovo brdo in Krapina

One of the most famous sites of the Neanderthals, both in Croatian and the world archaeological literature, is certainly the site of Hušnjakovo brdo in Krapina. The story of its discovery brings us back to the very end of the 19th century. The teacher Stjepan Rehorić, there in 1895, notices the bones of long extinct animals in deposits of sand extracted for construction purposes. He collected and sent them to Dragutin Gorjanović-Kramberger, then director of the Geological-paleontological department of the National Museum in Zagreb and a university professor. The professor came to the site in August 1899 to check what it was about and soon found a human tooth. He immediately realized that he was “standing by an ancient human settlement, as was not known in our homeland before”. He immediately stopped the destruction of the site and began excavations that lasted until 1905. The collection contains one thousand remains of the skeletons of fossil humans, a slightly larger number of stone products, and over three thousands animal bones. The importance of exploring the site itself also lies in Kramberger's methodology. To prove the same age of human bones and remains of extinct animals from the site, he used a bone fluorine test, and was the first scientist to use the then-new invention for bone analysis - an X-ray machine. Finally, in his book, directly in German and then in the Croatian language, “The life and culture of the diluvian man from Krapina in Croatia”, he clarifies and proves that these are ancient people, not “pathological creatures”, as such remains were once interpreted.

The analysis of the layers shows that they were deposited about 130,000 years ago, and the analysis of human remains indicates that about 80 individuals resided on the site, which defines the site Hušnjakovo brdo in Krapina as the largest site of Neanderthals in the world.