The first Europeans: leading roles in a special issue of Quaternary International

The volume focuses on the results of recent investigations discussed in the XVIIth World UISPP Congress held in Burgos in 2014.

The guest editors of the volume are researchers from IPHES.

A growing body of evidence from sites with stone tools confirms that humans occupied Western Europe from 1.4-1.2 million of years ago.

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The renowned international scientific journal Quaternary International recently published a special issue devoted to current research about the first hominins in Western Europe. The data included is based on discussions which took place during the XVIIth World Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences Congress, held in Burgos in September 2014, in which the IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Palaeocology and Social Evolution) contributed significantly. The editors of this special volume, entitled The first peopling of Europe and technological change during the Lower-Middle Pleistocene transition are all members of IPHES: Deborah Barsky, Marina Mosquera, Andreu Ollé and Xosé Pedro Rodríguez-Álvarez.

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The data included is based on discussions which took place during the XVIIth World Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences Congress, held in Burgos in September 2014 – D. Dainat-EPCC-CERPT

The articles included in this volume are the result of the debates that were held by the UISPP Commission “The First Humans in Europe” and which were developed in two specific sessions. The first, entitled “The first peopling of Europe”, dealt with the increasing evidence for “core-and-flake” lithic assemblages dating to the late Lower Pleistocene (between 1.4 and 1.2 million of years ago) in Europe. The second, entitled “Technological change during the Lower-Middle Pleistocene transition in Europe”, revealed new data attesting to the existence of archaeological sites with assemblages attributed to the first European Acheulean, some of which are in excess of 800.000 years old. This new evidence raises debates since this technological tradition is generally believed to have been generalised in Europe only after 500.000 years ago.

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(Left) General view of excavations at the Bois-de-Riquet arqueological site at Lézignan-la-Cèbe (France). (Right) Detail of the fossil-rich archeological level US2 of this site. (Photos: D. Barsky).

The volume contains 15 papers, 13 of which offer new data on already known sites or exposes entirely new data about recently discovered sites, with a chronology ranging from the end of the Lower Pleistocene (around 1.5 million years) to the mid-Middle Pleistocene (around 300.000 years ago). These papers reveal crucial information regarding the first human settlements in Europe and the appearance of the first European Acheulean. The sites included in the volume are: Kermek (Ciscaucasia), Bois-de-Riquet (Lézignan-la-Cèbe, France), Pirro Nord (Italy), Barranc de la Boella and La Cansaladeta (Tarragona, Spain; directed and studied by members of IPHES), as well as La Noira (France), Alto de Picarazas and Valle del Ebro (Spain) and La Ficoncella and Atella (Italia).

In addition, the volume includes two contributions presenting theoretical approaches, one of them focuses on the mechanisms of technological transitions, and the other on introducing computational modelling to illustrate the arrival of the first hominins into Western Europe.

Bibliographical reference

Barsky, D., Mosquera, M., Ollé, A., Rodríguez-Álvarez, X.P. (Eds.) 2016. “The first peopling of Europe and technological change during the Lower-Middle Pleistocene transition”, Quaternary International, vol. 393.

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