The Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans

Modern human dispersal into Eurasia, its relation to Neanderthal extinction, and the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, are some of the liveliest debated issues in paleoanthropological research. The first appearance of Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) technocomplexes, e.g., the Aurignacian and the Bohunician, is of crucial importance for the discussion about the timing and nature of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition and the Neanderthal replacement debate. In order to contribute to this debate our research focuses on the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of central and eastern Europe and aims to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What behavioural and cultural adaptations contributed to the success of modern humans dispersing into Europe?
  • Were these adaptations unique to modern humans?
  • What were the climatic conditions under which modern humans dispersed into Europe?
  • How can we test for horizontal cultural transmission between late Neanderthals and first modern humans in Europe?

To answer these questions, we are conducting excavations and study collections in central and eastern Europe, including Willendorf II (Austria; excavation, collection study), Beregovo I (Ukraine; excavation and collection study), Kostenki 14 (Russia; excavation and collection study), Vedrovice V (Czech Republic; collection study), Stranská skálá (Czech Republic; collection study), Getzersdorf (Austria, collection study), Stratzing 94 (Austria; collection study), and Beregovo I (Ukraine; excavation and collection study). Our research also includes new age estimations to enhance the chronostratigraphic framework for the archaeology of the region.