Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Peny Tsakanikou (2016)

Keywords: Hominin movements, Lower Palaeolithic, active landscapes, complex topography, Aegean.


The wider Aegean region holds a special place in the history of human movements due to its geographical positioning on a crossroad linking Europe, Africa and Asia.  Unfortunately, the Lower Palaeolithic narrative for this specific region of the world has been surprisingly poor. There is a conspicuous gap in the archaeological record for the Lower and early Middle Pleistocene. The archaeological evidence is rare and fragmented, and often poorly dated with no secure chronostratigraphic context.  This biased framework mainly reflects the active geomorphological processes that have been consistently transforming the Aegean landscape. The main focus of this research is to provide a better understanding of Lower Palaeolithic hominin movement and occupation patterns within this specific region and, consequently, within the changing landscape during the Early and early Middle Pleistocene. The ‘Aegean dry land’ hypothesis is the starting point in this quest. Recent paleolandscape reconstructions suggest that the largest part of, what is now the Aegean basin, was a terrestrial landscape prior to 500 Κa, and during glacials and interglacials until at least MIS 8. The archaeological implications of this hypothesis are thoroughly explored here in combination with paleoenvironmental, paleotectonic, paleogeographical and archaeological data from the area under study. Due to the problems inherent to resolution and accuracy in these models, and our reliance upon fragmented archaeological data of this region, this is methodologically challenging, however I will explore the ‘complex topography’ concept, in combination with the GIS analysis, to suggest an alternative reading of the current evidence from the Aegean.