The colonisation of Europe by anatomically modern humans (AMHs) ca. 45,000 years before present (BP) and the transition to farming ca. 8,000 BP are two major events in human prehistory. Both events involved certain cultural and biological adaptations, technological innovations, and behavioural plasticity which are unique to our species. The reconstruction of these processes and the causality between them has so far remained elusive due to technological, methodological and logistical complexities. Major developments in our understanding of the anthropology of the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, and advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) technology and chronometric methods now allow us to assess in sufficient resolution the interface between these evolutionary processes, and changes in human culture and behaviour.
The proposed research will investigate the complex interface between the morphological, genetic, behavioural, and cultural factors that shaped the population history of European AMHs. The PI s interdisciplinary expertise in these areas, his access to and experience of relevant skeletal collections, and his ongoing European collaborations will allow significant progress in addressing these fundamental questions. The approach taken will include (a) the collection of bioarchaeological, aDNA, stable isotope (for the analysis of ancient diet) and radiometric data on 500 skeletons from key sites/phases in Europe and western Anatolia, and (b) the application of existing and novel aDNA, bioarchaeological and simulation methodologies. This research will yield results that transform our current understanding of major demographic and evolutionary processes and will place Europe at the forefront of anthropological biological and genetic research.