The Prehistory collection encompasses a very long time span, commencing over one million years ago and ending at the dawn of the first millennium BC. The highlights of the collection include Palaeolithic materials from the Manzanares River Terraces and San Isidro (Madrid) in particular, the decorated scapulae from Castillo (Cantabria), the basket moulds and woven esparto grass from the Cave of Los Murciélagos in Albuñol (Granada), the eye idol from Extremadura, the Bell-Beaker pottery from Ciempozuelos (Madrid) and the sword from Guadalajara.
Of particular note are the richly varied Siret Collection, with its valuable archive, and the excellent Millares and Argar collections. These are joined by the Huelva Estuary Hoard, diadem stelae, and a large sample of goldsmithing from the Late Bronze Age (such as the bowls from Axtroki and the Berzocana and Sagrajas hoards).
The objects in this section of the catalogue refer to different aspects of the daily lives of the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula during this long period. They primarily include implements made out of stone, bone, clay or metal, which demonstrate how human beings became increasingly skilled at exploiting their environment during the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze ages.