Rachel Jennifer Anne Hopkins
Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationIndependent Scholar
Grant numberGr. 9881
Approve DateOctober 9, 2019
Project TitleHopkins, Rachel (Independent Scholar) "A Matter of Time – Tracking the initial migration of Anatomically Modern Humans into central Europe"
This PhD research investigated whether the initial spread of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) into central Europe occurred along the Danube corridor as many published hypotheses suggested. A combination of extensive direct radiocarbon dating of human actions and Bayesian modelling approaches was used to construct the first high-resolution chronology for the relevant period of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic along the Danube. Subsequently, published dates from Europe, the Levant and Siberia were evaluated and, where deemed reliable, included in larger regional models. The resulting complex spatio-temporal patterns were resolved by attributing each human occupation and activity to either Neanderthals or AMHs on the basis of associated skeletal remains and technological considerations. Different attribution scenarios were computed to test how sensitive the resulting migration patterns were to assumptions of authorship. The research findings greatly impact our understanding of the timing and context of the initial AMH migration into central Europe. They support the Danube corridor as a migration path, but date the movement to 50–47k cal BP – significantly earlier than the previously proposed 43–40k cal BP. As a result, the new environmental and cultural context calls for a rethinking of how and why early Upper Palaeolithic technocomplexes evolved. Publishing these findings, and the methodologies that underpin them, is therefore crucial to anthropological theory and those interested in biocultural evolution.