The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Paleoanthropology in the Balkans: State of the art and challenges for future


Paleoanthropology, Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution & Paleoenvironment, Dept. of Early Prehistory & Quaternary Ecology;, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

March 27, 2015 9:15, Grand Ballroom D Add to calendar

The European paleoanthropological record continues to produce unexpected discoveries after more than a century of study, reshaping our knowledge of human evolution on the continent. Over the last 20 years our understanding of the earliest colonization of Europe, of the evolution and paleobiology of Neanderthals, and of the advent of modern humans into the continent, have been radically enhanced due to new discoveries and new approaches to the study of the fossil and archaeological record. Within this research landscape, however, crucial primary evidence is missing from the Balkans in general and Greece in particular. This geographic region is of great interest, as it is both a major dispersal corridor to and from Europe and a Mediterranean refugium for fauna, flora and likely also for human populations. Nowhere is this data gap more evident than in the human fossil record, often consisting of chance finds that lack an excavated context and secure chronology. In our long term collaborative research in Greece, we have contributed to the knowledge of the Neanderthal lineage in the country. We present promising regions for locating new sites on the basis of their sedimentary history, known paleontological localities and paleoenvironmental conditions: the Mani peninsula in Southern Greece, the Mygdonia basin in Northern Greece and the Megalopolis basin in the Peloponnese. The lacustrine sequences of Megalopolis and Mygdonia are well-suited for investigating the earliest human presence in Greece. Alternatively, Mani is dotted with caves and rockshelters, suitable targets for exploring human adaptations in the Middle / Upper Palaeolithic.

Supported by the European Research Council (ERC STG 283503).