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Cultural transformations and environmental transitions in North African prehistory

Objective

There is emerging consensus that European human populations, Ancient (Homo erectus) & Modern (H. sapiens), originated in Africa, but the timing, routes & character of their migrations remain obscure. In Europe, the cultural transformations represented by the appearance of cognitively-modern human behaviour c.40000 years ago appear to relate to replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans, & to correlate with abrupt climatic & environmental changes. N Africa may have played a critical role in these events but when, how & why modern humans emerged in this region (which lacks Neanderthals), questions vital for understanding the colonization of Europe, remain unanswered. TRANS-NAP aims to address these questions by a programme of archaeological fieldwork, science-based archaeology & environmental science in NE Libya. One component will be an archaeological & geomorphological survey, & allied palaeoecological studies, across the Gebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) massif from the Mediterranean to the Sahara. The other will be a programme of targeted archaeological excavation combined with palaeoenvironmental studies & fine resolution dating including at the major prehistoric cave of the Haua Fteah, which 1950s excavations & trial work in 2007 have shown represents a unique opportunity for high resolution analysis of changes in climate & environment, & of hominin responses to these, over at least the past 100000 years. The combination of spatial behavioural data & landscape reconstruction from the surveys, & deep time cultural & palaeoenvironmental data from the excavations, will enable TRANS-NAP to reconstruct the strategies developed by Ancient & Modern Humans to utilize a typical N African landscape of Mediterranean littoral, uplands, pre-desert & desert, & to understand how they responded to challenges of profound climatic & environmental change, findings which will have fundamental implications for understanding the development of behavioural modernity in Africa & Europe.

Field of science

  • /humanities/history and archaeology/archaeology
  • /social sciences/sociology/social problems/migration
  • /social sciences/sociology/anthropology/physical anthropology
  • /natural sciences/earth and related environmental sciences

Call for proposal

ERC-2008-AdG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARSOF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 2 000 000
Principal investigator
Graeme Barker (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARSOF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 2 000 000
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Graeme Barker (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)