Inquiry into the Origins of Modern Human Distributions

Lapa do Picareiro, Portugal
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With support from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Jonathan Haws (University of Louisville) and Dr. Michael Benedetti (University of North Carolina Wilmington) are leading a multi-year study of Neanderthal extinction and replacement by anatomically modern humans in central Portugal. The project brings together an international team to recover high-resolution archaeological, geological and paleoecological records from the excavation of Lapa do Picareiro, a cave in central Portugal. The ultimate goal is to test replacement models based on human responses to climate and environmental change.
Lapa do Picareiro is a unique site, with over 10m of sediments spanning 75,000 years. The sequence includes almost 2m of deposits dated between 30- 42 ka cal BP, making it an ideal locale to track changes in paleoenvironments and human ecodynamics across the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition. The proposed methodology uses radiocarbon dating to establish age control for the sedimentary sequence and the archaeological materials, stone tool analyses for both relative dating and means for understanding the human decision-making of Middle and Upper Paleolithic humans, animal bone assemblages to reconstruct paleoenvironments and understand Neanderthal and modern human diets. Sediment analyses are key to understanding the site formation processes and environmental context of human occupation.


Jonathan Haws


Michael Benedetti


National Science Foundation
Wenner-Gren Foundation
Archaeological Institute of America
National Geographic Society
University of Louisville



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