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Population trajectories and cultural dynamics of late Neanderthals in Far Western Eurasia

Between c. 45,000
and 30,000 years ago

… Neanderthals ultimately disappear from the archaeological record, being replaced by modern humans. This cultural and biological replacement process is considered one of the most significant turning points in human evolutionary history. FINISTERRA will investigate the cultural and population trajectories of late Neanderthals and respond to the issue of their disappearance in what could have been the last refugia for these populations – Southwestern Iberia by using an unprecedented combination of archaeological, chronological and paleoecological evidence from multiple archaeological sites across the region, coordinated by a bold interdisciplinary approach combining archaeology, geology, ecology, paleoclimatology, aDNA, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and computational modeling.

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THE IBERIAN PENINSULA is one the best examples of how Neanderthals’ final chapters unfolded differently across Eurasia. Different studies suggest that Neanderthals endured in southern and western Iberia until c. 37,000 years ago, if not later, maintaining typical Mousterian technologies with no evidence for the so-called transitional industries. In this context, according to Zilhão’s ‘Ebro Frontier’ model, southern Iberia served as a Neanderthal refugium for several thousand years after the initial arrival of modern humans north of the Ebro river valley, c. 42,000 years ago. The subsequent disappearance of the Neanderthals’ would have occurred sometime in the following millennia as a result of competition , or in a replacement-through-admixture or assimilation process.

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