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Tracing Neanderthal Territories: Landscape Organization and Stone Resource Management in South East France (TRACETERRE)
Start date: Jun 24, 2013, End date: Oct 13, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The story of the Neanderthals has seen an explosion of interest over the past few decades, both in terms of scientific research and popular appetite for facts and narrative about this extinct human species. The recent revelation that Neanderthals made a significant contribution to modern human genomes has intensified the world’s focus, especially on their similarity to early modern humans. Contemporary research questions converge on the nature of Neanderthal adaptations, and the extent of cognitive parallels between the two species. In particular, were there any differences in how Neanderthals organized their lives on scales as large as entire landscapes?The TRACETERRE project aims to advance these key remaining questions by pursuing research using cutting-edge interdisciplinary methods on the Neanderthal archaeology (c. 60-30 ka BP) of South East France. This diverse region represents a key area where examination of the variability in Neanderthal landscape use and resource management can be characterized through analysis of stone tool (lithic) acquisition/exploitation and technology. These apparently elementary aspects of the archaeological record in fact derive from complex cognitive factors, which can reveal much about differences between Neanderthal and early modern human minds.TRACETERRE will for the first time apply petro-archaeological techniques to open-air sites, to determine the nature of Neanderthal landscape organization by accurately tracing lithics to their sources and integrating these sites into wider settlement systems. The project represents a unique opportunity for transnational collaboration to address key questions on Neanderthal territorial organization. Training in a pioneering new technique will diversify the scientific skills of the researcher, at the same time as producing ground-breaking research. TRACETERRE will therefore significantly enhance her prospects for career independence, while contributing to European research excellence.
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