Modeling the impacts of Mediterranean island colonization by Archaic Hominins: The likelihood of an insular Lower Palaeolithic
Thomas Leppard Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27.2 (2014), 231-254
It has been suggested that the islands of the Mediterranean were first settled during the Pleistocene. Attention has in particular been paid to recent claims that the occupation of Crete by hominins dates to the Middle Pleistocene. This paper examines what—if Lower Palaeolithic pre-modern hominins did indeed colonize the Mediterranean islands—environmental and evolutionary impacts this would have had, what forms these impacts would have taken, and what traces these forms would leave. Such impacts are modeled using information derived from island biogeography, historical ecology, and evolutionary biology. Probable outcomes of colonization scenarios—including turnover in insular faunas, ecological cascade events, and morphological changes in isolated populations of Homo—are compared to the palaeontological and palaeoenvironmental record for the Mediterranean islands. The absence of any obvious correlation casts doubt on large-scale and sustained colonization of the more remote Mediterranean islands during the Lower Palaeolithic, although this does not preclude the possibility of chance and short lived colonizations by pre-modern hominins.