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Archaeology: Palaeolithic Archaeology

This is a specialisation of the Master’s programme of Archaeology

The focus of Leiden Paleolithic archaeology is on the archaeology of the Neandertals. There are three main strands to our research of Neandertal behaviour, all of which will be covered in the Master program. The first consists of study of the formation, chronology and environments of Middle Palaeolithic sites. The second involves reconstruction of Neandertal behaviour, primarily on the basis of stone tools, fauna and spatial patterns. Finally, studies of the Neandertal niche use theory and comparative data from evolutionary ecology, primatology and palaeoanthropology, for instance to address differences between the Neandertal and anatomically modern human record.

Leiden University has been running large-scale excavations at Neumark-Nord 2 in collaboration with German research and heritage institutions. Neumark-Nord is a unique Middle Palaeolithic site with excellent preservation of bone and stone material in fine-grained lacustrine-like deposits. Students will be able to work on some of the lithic material from the site and its context. Courses by scientists working on various aspects of the geology and archeology of Neumark Nord 2 will provide the opportunity to learn how archaeologists study the depositional environment, chronology, environment, spatial patterning of archaeology, and lithic and faunal material from the site. This site has the potential to contribute to the three strands of research on Neandertals, and will provide an example of how archaeological data can be used to address research questions. Our group is involved in two other fieldwork projects: one along the east coast of England, where the environmental setting of Europe’s earliest colonizers is the focus, and one at Breitenbach (Germany), where a large-scale excavation of a very rich Aurignacian open air site will start in the summer of 2009.

Staff : Prof. Dr Wil Roebroeks, Dr Alexander Verpoorte