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Elucidate Aurignacian Through Archaeozoological Analysis of Subsistence


This project focuses on the origins of modern humans in Europe and the replacement of Neandertals by these incoming humans. 45000 years ago only Neandertals lived in Europe, but by 30000 years ago only modern humans remained, associated with the Aurignacian Upper Paleolithic culture.

For many years, much research has focused on the fate of Neandertals and their relationship to the Aurignacians. My objective is to illuminate the origins of the Aurignacian.

The diversity seen in the earliest Upper Paleolithic industries raises the question of if the Aurignacian has a single origin or if it evolved in multiple places; and if the local variations are regional variants, adaptations to the local ecology, or indicative of specific activities?

I propose to examine the variation in the Aurignacian using an independent line of evidence, diet, through the study of animal remains discovered in archaeological deposits. Sociological and ethnographic studies have shown the value of diet for defining group identity. The Aurignacian is best known from southwestern France and Germany.

Although animal bones are preserved in many of these deposits, few detailed subsistence studies exist. I will investigate Aurignacian subsistence by undertaking a comparative approach.

I will collect data on many archaeological and paleontological faunal assemblages throughout the areas of interest, using personal study of the bones and published sources. For my primary reference sample, I will conduct a taphonomic and zooarchaeological investigation at Brassempouy (Landes, France).

Conducting this research in the international and multi-disciplinary context of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute from Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany will give me the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers working on complimentary projects and to learn new methodological skills that will help me be an independent and innovative researcher for the rest of my career.

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