The richest collection of Neanderthal man in the world was gathered at Hušnjak Hill in Krapina in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Scientifically known as Homo sapiens Neanderthalensis, the Krapina prehistoric man was discovered all the way back in 1899 when geological and paleontological research started on Hušnjakovo hill in Krapina. Excavations, supervised by professor Dragutin Gorjanović-Kramberger, a well-known Croatian geologist, paleontologist, and paleoanthropologist, lasted six years (1899 – 1905). His works significantly contributed to the European and global science of the fossil man.
The collection comprises around 900 fossil bones belonging to about 80 Neanderthal individuals of different gender, between 2 to 27 years of age. There is no single complete skeleton in the collection, but different parts of skeletons have been preserved, very fragile and fragmented. The most complete and famous finding is the skull C or Krapina 3, which belonged to a 20-year old Neanderthal woman. Osteological analysis has revealed some changes in the frontal bones of this skull, some regular cuts inflicted on purpose. All in all, 42 cut marks were inflicted immediately after the woman had passed away, so they could be interpreted as traces of burial rituals, i.e. symbolic behavior of Neanderthals.
Step into the pre-historic – in KRANEAMUS – KRAPINA NEANDERTHAL MUSEUM!
Around 1,200 stone tools of Mousterian type testify to the material culture of Krapina, early man. Most of them were made by simply smashing hard river pebbles and shaping them into recloirs, points, axes, and graters. The tools were also made of tuff, volcanic rock suitable for making sharp axes.
Besides fossil bones of Neanderthal people and stone tools, 2,400 remains of different animals were found, such as rhinoceros, cave bear, prehistoric ox, buffalo, giant deer, elk, beaver, leopard, grey wolf, and others. Together with remains of big mammals and smaller animals, the collection also contains remains of birds and various kinds of inland snails and river shells. The latest research works on white-tailed eagle claws from the Krapina collection suggest that Neanderthals were making jewelry.
It is estimated that the site is 125,000 years old.
Hušnjakovo site rates among the most important paleontological sites in the world. Since the great discovery at the beginning of 20th century, it has been attracting a large number of visitors, especially after the Site was and the old Museum of Evolution was founded in 1971 and housed in former Kneipp Spa. The idea of building a new museum building was achieved in 2010 when a new Krapina Neanderthal Museum was opened, today one of the most modern and frequently visited museums in Croatia. Multidisciplinary and interactive approaches are distinguishing features of the museum exhibition representing a time machine, a journey from the most distant past of the Earth to modern times, with a special emphasis on the evolution of man and the significance of the discovery of Krapina early man. The museum exhibition is divided into 18 thematic units telling the intricate story of the development of life on Earth and the evolution of man taking advantage of numerous exhibits, visual interpretation, multimedia installations, and effects.
Throughout the year, numerous Museum visitors are also offered various happenings and events like temporary exhibitions, presentations, and concerts. The majority of visitors being kids, educational workshops, and playgroups are organized, enabling them to learn through their own experience, research, and creative work.
Together with numerous awards and certificates, Krapina Neanderthal Museum and Hušnjakovo Site were awarded the European Heritage Label, a recognition of their importance and extraordinary value of this site.
The site is protected as the first paleontological natural monument in the Republic of Croatia and is listed as one of the richest Palaeolithic habitats of Neanderthals in Croatia and Europe.
While in Croatia, you must try to get to Krapina to KRANEAMUS – KRAPINA NEANDERTHAL MUSEUM!