Jamie Hodgkins

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Colorado, Denver, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9412

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Hodgkins, Dr. Jamie Melichar, U. of Colorado, Denver, CO - To aid research on 'The Timing and Nature of the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic Transition at Arma Veirana (Liguria, Italy)'

Preliminary abstract: One of the primary objectives of paleoanthropology is to understand why modern humans were able to colonize the world while their archaic contemporaries, including Neandertals, disappeared. Recent genetic and archaeological data indicate that the processes underlying ‘modern human origins’ were complex and may have varied considerably by region. Italy’s Pleistocene record includes archaeological and paleontological remains of pre-Neanderthals and Neanderthals as well as some of the earliest modern human sites in Europe. Thus, Italy is of critical importance for understanding the timing and nature of the population transition as modern humans dispersed from Africa across Europe. This proposal requests funds for fieldwork at Arma Veirana, a recently discovered Paleolithic cave site in Liguria (northwestern Italy) with great potential. Arma Veirana preserves deposits spanning the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition and the cave resides within a poorly-sampled environment (the Ligurian Maritime Alps) in proximity to other critical Italian Mousterian and Protoaurginacian sites of similar age located on the Mediterranean coast. This environmental mosaic makes the region of Liguria an exemplary ‘laboratory’ for examining ecological factors that may have influenced hominin population dynamics in the late Pleistocene. Continued excavations at Arma Veirana will 1) refine our understanding of the site-formation, stratigraphy, and chronology of cultural shifts in the area (i.e., precisely dating the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition at the site); 2) examine the occupation intensity and behavioral adaptations of Neandertals and modern humans in a mountain environment; and 3) examine possible ecological stress in Neanderthals just prior to modern human colonization; and 4) ultimately facilitate comparisons with contemporaneous Ligurian coastal sites.