The CENIEH was founded in 2004 as a public consortium equally co-financed by the Central Government and the Regional Government of Castilla y León. Since 2009, its facilities have been located in one of the buildings of the Complex of Human Evolution, in the city of Burgos.
The CENIEH facilitates research into the field of Human Evolution during the Pliocene and the Pleistocene eras, promoting awareness and transfer of knowledge to society as well as promoting and supporting collaboration with excavations at archaeological sites from these periods, both in Spain and in other parts of the world. The CENIEH is also responsible for the conservation, restoration, management and record of palaeontological and archaeological collections from the excavations at Atapuerca and other sites, both nationally and internationally, with similar characteristics that reach agreements with the Centre.
Currently, it consists of five research programmes: Spatial and Economic Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, Geochronology, Paleobiology of Hominids and Prehistoric Technology. Additionally, the CENIEH features laboratories, a specialized library, multi-purpose rooms, open spaces and work areas that have been equipped so that the research on Human Evolution can become an international point of reference. The laboratories that give it its status as a ICTS, regarded as essential, are grouped into three major technical areas: