I am a doctoral candidate in the IMPRS – The Leipzig School of Human Origins program - at the Department of Human Evolution. My main interest lies in contributing to a better understanding of human evolution. As a zooarchaeologist, the focus of my research lies in Palaeolithic faunal assemblages and what we can learn from them on hominin biological and cultural adaptations. I am conducting my doctoral research on subsistence behaviour of both Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hominins in the Near East, with a focus on early modern humans.
It is often suggested that Neanderthals had higher energetic needs than early modern humans. And that therefore their subsistence strategy would be geared towards obtaining an energy-rich diet. It is further hypothesized that early modern humans were able to obtain a diet with a higher nutritional value (instead of an energy-rich diet). Such advantageous dietary choices would result in healthier populations, shorter inter-birth intervals and would allow an increase in population size. These combined factors could well have been part of the reason for the success of early modern humans and an advantage compared to Neanderthals. In my PhD project I investigate in which ways these differences in energy requirements and other adaptations might be reflected in archaeological faunal assemblages using a diet breadth approach.
The main site that I am working on is Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon). Ksâr ‘Akil is one of the key archaeological sites in the Near East covering a long time span from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Epi-Palaeolithic (roughly >50.000 to 10.000 years ago). Of special interest is the lower part of the stratigraphic sequence containing multi-layered Middle Palaeolithic, Initial, and Early Upper Palaeolithic deposits. During the Middle Palaeolithic both Neanderthals and modern humans were present in the Near East. In absence of distinctive hominin fossils it is virtually impossible to attribute an archaeological assemblage to a specific type of hominin. By conducting a zooarchaeological study of Ksâr ‘Akil’s faunal assemblages, both vertebrate and invertebrate, I aim to assess Middle Palaeolithic hominin subsistence behaviours and potential changes in dietary adaptations through time. These data will then be used as a baseline from which comparisons can be drawn to the subsequent early modern human subsistence behaviour. Specifically, I will investigate if there is any evidence for a diversification of the diet, or any other adaptations towards a nutritional-rich diet during the Initial and Early Upper Palaeolithic (the first technocomplexes that are univocally assigned to modern humans).
In addition to my doctoral research I am involved in the study of an Upper Palaeolithic mammoth bone accumulation at the site of Grub-Kranawetberg (Austria). Prior to coming to Leipzig, I obtained a Master’s degree in archaeology from the University of Leiden (The Netherlands). For my Master’s thesis I studied mammoth remains from several sites in the middle Danube region.
Department of Human Evolution
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6