"The applicant requests the Marie Curie Integration Grant to undertake multidisciplinary investigations at the site of Ain Hanech, Algeria. Ain Hanech preserves the oldest archaeological occurrences in North Africa (ca. 1.8 Ma). Our multidisciplinary team comprised of international scientists will conduct fieldwork at Ain Hanech and laboratory analyses. Ain Hanech offers a unique opportunity to address critical issues pertaining to early hominid adaptation and dispersal into North Africa. The objectives are: 1) to document when the earliest hominids first inhabited North Africa and which early hominids were the inhabitants; 2) to investigate early hominid behavioral patterns and adaptation; and 3) to reconstruct the prevailing ecology of the region. To achieve these objectives the team will: excavate three Oldowan localities (ca. 2.3-1.8 Ma); study the geology and dating of the deposits; analyze the stone artifact assemblages; study the faunas and their paleoecological implications; and survey the unexplored area surrounding Ain Hanech. This research project provides an opportunity to investigate the evolution and dispersal of early hominid populations in North Africa and lead to a better understanding of their behavioral patterns and adaptation. The investigations will have direct implications for questions regarding major Plio-Pleistocene paleoenvironmental changes in North Africa. In addition, the project has the potential for discovering hominids to fill the gap in this part of the African continent. The research at Ain Hanech will greatly assist our understanding of the larger picture of early human migration in Africa. This is the first multidisciplinary scientific expedition to be launched in this area from a European based institution, involving international collaboration. The research project will contribute to foster European competitiveness in archaeological research in Africa and enhance international collaboration in the field of human evolution."
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