"A number of important archaeological sites within the Iberian Peninsula hold the key to answering fundamental questions about human evolution and migration out of Africa into Europe. However, the existence of chronologies that are either too ambiguous, imprecise, poorly described, or only based on non-numeric dating methods, prevents the development of well sustained hypotheses on the age of such early expansions, on hominin migratory patterns, and on the driving mechanism behind such migrations. This interdisciplinary project entails the application of newly developed techniques and protocols in the field of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to obtain robust absolute chronologies on key Lower Palaeolithic archaeological sites in Western Europe. The main aim of the research is to improve and expand on the current chronological framework of important late Early Pleistocene (1.2 Ma - 780 ka) and Middle Pleistocene (780 ka - 125 ka) archaeological records in the Iberian Peninsula in order to accurately reconstruct and interpret the earliest human expansions into Europe. An integral aspect of this research is the pursuit of methodological advancements and refinements of the latest protocols in OSL dating to push back the existing age range of the technique. This project will focus on several important early human occupation sites in the Iberian Peninsula, namely the Atapuerca karstic complex in northern Spain, Orce sites (Fuente Nueva III and Barranco León), Guadix-Baza Basin, southeast Spain, and La Boella, south Barcelona, northeast Spain. This work will help to confidently reconstruct the emergence and expansion of human species in Western Europe, and improve interpretations of when and how past environmental changes have impacted human populations and their evolution."
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