Project: Neandeerthal cognition: chert procurement in SW Iberia using PIXE analysis

Funding: American Institute for Archaeology

The project "Neanderthal cognition: chert procurement in SW Iberia using PIXE analysis" aims to investigate the distance of procurement of chert by Neanderthals who lived in SW Iberia and to explore, with reference to human evolution, the issues of cognitive complexity and emergence of Modern Human Behavior in Neanderthal populations. We intend to test specifically the signature “Long-distance procurement and exchange of raw materials”. Modern humans, as documented among ethnography of hunter-gatherers, have long distance network sizes that are reflected materially in movement of material items.  These large network sizes are often considered a hallmark of modern human behavior.  The use of lithic artifacts and the sources of stone they come from is one way to investigate network sizes.  It is expectable that our research would also bring insights to the tendency to value and carry exotic materials along with to the post-depositional disturbance on the external surface of the artifacts caused by chemical changes caused by the local environment.

Archaeological samples from Columbeira Cave, Praia Rei Cortiço and Mira Nascente will be examined because they are dated with numerical techniques, under investigation, well preserved and represent key-sites for this type of analysis. This research was funded by the American Institute for Archaeology and the analysis performed in the Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear, Laboratório de Aceleradores e Tecnologias de Radiação of the Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon.