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Our first steps to Europe: Pleistocene Homo sapiens dispersals, adaptations and interactions in South-East Europe

Project description

Homo sapiens evolution in South-East Europe

The early history of Homo sapiens remains largely unknown. Increasingly, it is viewed as a dynamic process of population expansions and contact among human lineages, occurring in concert with the Pleistocene climatic oscillations, which influenced the probability of human survival as well as the availability of land bridges enabling expansions. As such, dispersals and population contact may have played a central role in human evolution. South-East Europe emerges as an area of sustained and successive contact. In this context, the ERC-funded FIRSTSTEPS project will apply a pioneering interdisciplinary investigation to recover new evidence and connect existing evidence across sites, regions and periods. The findings will take paleoanthropological research in South-East Europe to the next level.

Objective

Despite recent discoveries in human evolution, the origin of our species, Homo sapiens, and the process through which it expanded and became established around the globe remain murky. Increasingly, it is viewed as a dynamic process of population expansions and contact among human lineages, occurring in concert with the Pleistocene climatic oscillations, which influence the probability of human survival as well as the availability of land bridges enabling expansions. Dispersals and population contact, therefore, may have been the norm in human evolution and may have played a greater role in shaping our species than previously recognised. In such a model, South-East Europe emerges as a likely area of sustained and / or repeated contact, making this region critical for testing hypotheses about European deep prehistory. Despite this crucial role, however, paleoanthropological research there remains in its infancy, with little existing data and no overarching interpretive framework. FIRSTSTEPS aims to fill this research gap by applying inter-disciplinary cutting edge investigation to recover new and connect existing evidence across sites, periods and regions. Key sites / finds from South-East Europe (Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, Romania) and Italy — whose better documented record has yet to be connected to its counterparts to the East and will provide a crucial comparative perspective — will be included. In-depth analysis of important fossil / cultural assemblages from specific chrono-cultural periods ca. 200-30 ka, will be conducted to identify patterns of biological and cultural variation. In parallel, regional and supra-regional perspectives will be constructed beyond individual sites /countries. By addressing this crucial research gap FIRSTSTEPS will take paleoanthropological research in this important region to the next level and squarely place it on the paleolithic map of Europe.

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Coordinator

EBERHARD KARLS UNIVERSITAET TUEBINGEN
Net EU contribution
€ 2 583 562,00
Address
Geschwister-scholl-platz
72074 Tuebingen
Germany

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Region
Baden-Württemberg Tübingen Tübingen, Landkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)