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Archaeology (Research): Human Origins

The Human Origins group studies the archaeology of Prehistoric hunter-gatherers, from the earliest stone tools in East Africa, to the end of the last ice age.

We focus on Neanderthal behaviour, with the aim of introducing our students to research questions, methods of analysis and theoretical perspectives in Palaeolithic archaeology. Additionally, we will give you the opportunity to examine data and theory from other disciplines such as ethnography, palaeoanthropology and behavioural ecology.

The study of the origin and development of the human niche is interdisciplinary by nature, and you will find that Leiden University accommodates prominent representatives from some of these disciplines.

Our key fieldwork site is currently Les Cottés (France), which has an excellent record of the archaeology of both the last Neanderthals and the earliest Modern humans. As a Human Origins student, you are expected to participate in the department’s fieldwork. Very recently we have begun small-scale fieldwork at the Homo erectus site Trinil, Java, more than a century after Eugene Dubois uncovered his famous Pithecanthropus fossils there.Finally, a strong focus of our research as well of teaching is the deep history of human fire use – we are currently micro-excavating a 25,000 years old fire place in our lab, an exciting venue for student thesis work.

Track leader:
Prof. dr. J.W.M. (Wil) Roebroeks