skip to content

Department of Archaeology



I am a conservator specialized in the treatment of osteological remains and stone artifacts from Palaeolitihc sites. My professional conservation career spans more than twenty years of work within archaeological and paleontological research projects, mostly developed at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES, Tarragona, Spain).

A member of the Atapuerca research team since 1997, my PhD was on the conservation treatments of the Lower Pleistocene hominin remains from Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain). I jointly coordinated the conservation teams at the various sites in the Atapuerca complex. I have also participated in fieldwork, conservation practice, and research at many other Pleistocene sites.

I have taught on undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University Rovira i Virgli (Tarragona), where I have been a supervisor of many udnergraduate students, Master’s and doctoral theses.

I am currently a Research Associate on the Shanidar Cave Project, working on the conservation and reconstruction of the latest Neanderthal remains recovered. This work is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.


I am dedicated to the conservation of Palaeolithic material, working from the field to the laboratory. With expertise in the conservation of osteological remains and particularly hominin fossils, I have also worked with stone artifacts.

My research is based on questions arising from conservation practice. The final goal of my research is to improve the conservation procedures practiced within archaeological research teams, which involves knowing very well both the archaeological record as well as the research methods. Hence, my specific lines of research on conservation practice are:

  • Adapting the general conservation intervention criteria to facilitate cutting-edge archaeological research.

Assessing the most frequent intervention techniques for osteological remains, such as cleaning and consolidation.


Key publications: 

Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Martínez de Pinillos, M., López-Polín, L., Martín-Francés, L., García-Campos, C., Modesto-Mata, M., Rosell, J., Martinón‐Torres, M., 2020. A descriptive and comparative study of two Early Pleistocene immature scapulae from the TD6 . 2 level of the Gran Dolina cave site (Sierra de Atapuerca , Spain ). Journal of Human Evolution. 139, 102689.

Valtierra, N., Courtenay, L.A., López-Polín, L., 2020. Microscopic analyses of the effects of mechanical cleaning interventions on cut marks. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 12, 83–91.

López-Polín, L., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Carbonell, E., 2017. The preparation and conservation treatments of the human fossils from Lower Pleistocene unit TD6 (Gran Dolina site, Atapuerca) – the 2003-2009 record. Quaternary International. 433, 251–262.

Zornoza-Indart, A., López-Arce, P., López-Polín, L., 2017. Durability of traditional and new nanoparticle based consolidating products for the treatment of archaeological stone tools: Chert artifacts from Atapuerca sites (Burgos, Spain). Journal of Cultural Heritage. 24, 9–21.

López-Polín, L., 2015. Interventive conservation treatments (or preparation) of Pleistocene bones: Criteria for covering information from the archaeopalaeontological record. Quaternary International. 388, 199–205.

López-Polín, L., 2012. Possible interferences of some conservation treatments with subsequent studies on fossil bones: A conservator’s overview. Quaternary International. 275, 120–127.

López-Polín, L., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Carbonell, E., 2011. Preparation of Pleistocene Human Bones with an Ultrasonic Scaler: The Case of Mandible ATD6-112 from Atapuerca (Spain). Archeosciences. 35, 235–239.


Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Martinón-Torres, M., Prado, L., Gómez-Robles, A., Rosell, J., López-Polín, L., Arsuaga, J.L., Carbonell, E., 2010. New immature hominin fossil from European Lower Pleistocene shows the earliest evidence of a modern human dental development pattern. PNAS. 107, 11739–11744.

López-Polín, L., Bertral, A., Font, A., Ollé, A., 2010. Preparation and conservation treatments of the Pleistocene fossil vertebrate remains from the cave site of Tossal de la Font (Vilafamés, Castelló, Spain). Paleontologia i Evolució. 4, 225–231.

López-Polín, L., Ollé, A., Cáceres, I., Carbonell, E., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., 2008. Pleistocene human remains and conservation treatments: the case of a mandible from Atapuerca (Spain). Journal of Human Evolution. 54, 539–545.

López-Polín, L., Ollé, A., Chamón, J., Barrio, J., 2008. Laser for removing remains of carbonated matrices from Pleistocene fossils. Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks - Proceedings of the International Conference LACONA 7. 477–481.

Ollé, A., Vergès, J.M., Rodríguez, X.P., Cáceres, I., Angelucci, D.E., Vallverdú, J., Demuro, M., Arnold, L., Falguères, C., Bennàsar, M., López-García, J.M., Blain, H.-A., Bañuls-Cardona, S., Burjachs, F., Expósito, I., López-Polín, L., López-Ortega, E., 2016. The Middle Pleistocene site of La Cansaladeta (Tarragona,

Vallverdú, Josep, Saladié, P., Rosas, A., Huguet, R., Cáceres, I., Mosquera, M., García-Tabernero, A., Estalrrich, A., Lozano-Fernández, I., Pineda-Alcalá, A., Carrancho, Á., Villalaín, J.J., Bourlès, D.L., Braucher, R., Lebatard, A., Vilalta, J., Esteban-Nadal, M., Bennàsar, M.Ll., Bastir, M., López-Polín, L., Ollé, A., Vergès, J.M., Ros-Montoya, S., Martínez-Navarro, B., García, A., Martinell, J., Expósito, I., Burjachs, F., Agustí, J., Carbonell, E., 2014. Age and Date for Early Arrival of the Acheulian in Europe (Barranc de la Boella, la Canonja, Spain). PLoS ONE. 9, e103634.

Job Titles

Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Evolution

Contact Details

Henry Wellcome Building


Person keywords: 
Archaeological conservation
Heritage Studies
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Periods of interest: