El Abra

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El Abra is an archaeological excavation site, located in the valley of the same name, east of the city of Zipaquirá, department Cundinamarca, Colombia; in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, at an altitude of 2,570 m. This cave system is one of the first Human settlements in America, used by the Homo sapiens inhabitants of the late Pleistocene epoch.


The first research in the place was developed in 1967, and the stratigraphy of lithic instruments, bones and vegetal charcoal with radiocarbon dating established the date of the settlement in 12,400 BCE ± 160 years.

Archaeological Research[edit]

In 1960, the Indiana University collaborated in a deeper research. In 1970 the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (NWO-WOTRO) discovered four new Pre-pottery sites and the analysis of lake sediments allowed a more accurate understanding of the original weather and flora.

Fúquene stadial[edit]

From 15,000 BCE to 12,500 BCE. It is characterized by a cold weather, flora typical of Páramo ecosystem, and stone tools.

Guantiva interstadial[edit]

About 12,500 years ago, a gradual rise of temperature allowed the growing of Andean cloud forest and the settlement of many animal species, making hunting easier. Articles of this period are abrienses: flint (tool)s, and chopper cores. While the weather was more benign, the cave system was gradually abandoned.

Tibitó stadial[edit]

The excavations of this period, near Tocancipá town, dated 11,400 years BCE, shows lithic instruments, Bone instruments and remains of Pleistocenic fauna, such as mastodons (Haplomastodon and Cuvieronius hyodon), American horse (Equus amerhipuus lasallei), and deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with traces of ritual ceremonies.

El Abra stadial[edit]

Dated 11,000 BCE, it is characterized by a new cooling of the weather, recession of the forests and a last glaciation. From this period the archaeological places of Tequendama Falls in Soacha shows lithic instruments (tequendamenses tools) with a more smooth manufacture, many of them made with materials brought to this place from the Magdalena river valley, such as Quartzite.


At 10,000 years BCE the last glaciation ended, the Andean forest appeared again. The lithic instruments show a rise in the recollecting activities, with rodents and vegetables consumed, and low amounts of large animals hunting. The Abra caves were abandoned gradually.


At 5,000 BCE agriculture was established in terraces, grinding stone instruments can be observed in association with itinerant habits. The abriense type instruments disappear.


  • Correal Urrego, Gonzalo 1980: "Estado actual de las investigaciones sobre la etapa lítica en Colombia"; Antropológicas 2:11-30. Colombian Anthropologic Society, Bogotá.
1990: "Evidencias culturales durante el Pleistoeno y Holoceno de Colombia"; Revista de Arqueología Americana, 1:69-89. Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, México.
  • Correal, Gonzalo; Thomas van der Hammen and J.C. Lerman 1970: "Artefactos líticos de abrigos en El Abra, Colombia"; Revista Colombiana de Antropología 14: 9-46.
  • Hurt, Wesley; T. van der Hammen and Correal, G. 1976: "La ecología y tecnología de los abrigos rocosos en El Abra, Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia"; Boletín de la Sociedad Geográfica Colombiana XXX (109): 1-21. Bogotá.
  • Van der Hammen, Thomas y E. González 1963: "Historia de clima y vegetación del Pleistoceno suprior y Holoceno de la Sabana de Bogotá"; Boletín Geológico XI (1-3): 189-266. Bogotá.
  • Van der Hammen, T. and Correal, G. 1978: "Prehistoric man on the Sabana de Bogota: data for an ecologiacal prehistory"; Paleography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 25:179-190.
"El hombre prehistórico en la Sabana de Bogotá: datos para una prehistoria ecológica"; Thomas van der Hammen 1992: Historia, Ecología y Vegetación: 217-231. Corporación Araracuara; Bogotá ISBN 958-95379-4-4