Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


11 September 2012

Greek palaeoanthropology and archaeology

Charles Clarke, Heritage Daily, 29-08-2012

An understanding of tectonic activity and the ever changing relationship between the Aegean Sea and mainland Greece are crucial to understanding why so little Lower Palaeolithic Hominin material has been discovered to date.The Lower Palaeolithic of Europe lasted almost 2.6 million years from 2.6 ma (million years ago) to 300 ka (thousand years ago). The generally accepted paradigm, though disputed, involves the rise of a species of human called Homo sapiens from the Africa continent, a group which left Africa somewhere around 60 ka and 100 ka. A previous human, Homo ergaster originated in Africa about 1.9 ma and later evolved into Homo heidelbergensis, while Homo erectus evolved into Homo heidelbergensis in Europe. This is the current understanding and general overview of hominin evolution in Africa and Europe between 1.9 ma and 300 ka accepting that fossil record is incomplete and this is just one interpretation of many.

The fossil record can be very fragmentary at times both temporally and spatially. The region of Greece and the Aegean Sea is a metaphorical black hole for hominin fossils. Yet this famous peninsula may have occupied a key biogeographic location in hominin evolution, supported by the Pleistocene archaeological evidence in the circum-Mediterranean region.

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