Job Talk for Origins of Human Culture archaeology search: The evolution of the modern hunter-gatherer niche: Insights from Europe and Africa" by Julien Riel-Salvatore
This paper draws on field research in Italy and Mozambique to address the question of when recognizably modern land-use strategies evolved in our species history, and how that relates to the development of a distinctly 'modern human' niche. Using Neanderthals as a case study, it is shown that a great deal of variability in mobility strategies was already evident in the Middle Paleolithic of Eurasia. In the Italian peninsula, in both modern human and Neanderthal groups, the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic appears to signal a shift towards greater reliance on coastal resources along with a shift towards a more logistical land-use pattern. This pattern appears to accelerate in the Upper Paleolithic, signaling a cultural shift of substantial evolutionary import. The impacts of this shift are assessed using a series of agent-based modeling experiments, and contextualized using recent results from a new field project in Mozambique aiming to investigate the deep history of modern forager lifeways and coastal adaptations in early modern human populations.