Comparative studies of female depictions in the “Willendorf style” and of the “Gönnersdorf type” show how the Zeitgeist (“spirit of the age”) changed during the Upper Palaeolithic. In their geographical and chronological context the female figures are a reflection of the population history of Europe.
El Mazo is a Mesolithic site of the so-called "Asturian". The rockshelter lies on the Cantabrian coast near the town of Andrín. The site contains a shell midden typical for this period. Thanks to its late discovery in 2006 El Mazo is the first Mesolithic site in the region which could be excavated to modern standards and using state of the art technology. Ongoing excavations since 2009 have produced a complete stratigraphic record for the first half of the Holocene.
The archaeological site of Arlanpe Cave, in the Basque town of Lemoa, is considered a key site for understanding the first occupation of Northern Iberia by Neanderthals. Archaeological field works took place from 2007 to 2013.
Investigations of present day assemblages of animal bones at Ngamo Pan, Simbabwe provide analogies for a better evaluation of the complex taphonomic histories of archaeological sites. Of primary concern is the ability to identify humanly determined features in the archaeological record and distinguish them from other natural processes such as carnivore activity. Only this will allow the accurate reconstruction of past human behaviour.
The cave site La Cotte de St. Brelade (Jersey) was occupied some 230,000 years ago and is located at the northern boundary of Neanderthal diffusion. The project investigates the evolution of Neanderthal diet under cooler climatic conditions.
Dated to 400,000 years ago, Bilzingsleben (Thuringia) provides one of Europe’s oldest archives for human life ways under temperate climatic conditions. The finds from Bilzingsleben tell of particularly impressive survival strategies during this interglacial. Many of the massive bones of elephant, rhinoceros and wild cattle represent unambiguous human food remains.
Well preserved finds and features at this open-air site extending over more than 1,000 m² provide information on settlement behaviour and use of the landscape 13,000 years ago. Placed in context with other contemporary Central Rhineland sites new models were developed for the settlement systems of the Federmessergruppen (Penknife Point Groups).
The excavations at Kärlich uncovered stone artefacts alongside excellently preserved plant remains and animal bones. Among the latter were the remains of at least 8 straight-tusked elephants. High resolution taphonomic and spatial analyses aimed primarily at clarifying site formation and depositional processes in order to distinguish evidence for human behaviour.
The large and impressive cave of Mas d’Azil has given its name to the “Azilian”, a typical culture of the late Ice Age. Finds from Mas d’Azil, especially the lithic tools, were examined in the context of the cultural chronology at MONREPOS.
Research in Wallertheim had by the early 1990s already produced impressive evidence for Neanderthal big game hunting. At this site they killed at least 52 bison, taking only the biggest and heaviest individuals.
Finds from the Magdalenahöhle Cave are dated to the Ice Age “Last Glacial Maximum” (LGM). The stone artefacts shed light on strategies of landscape use and mobility during these difficult climatic conditions.
In this project we analysed hearths from the late Upper Palaeolithic in order to understand their construction and function and the spatial patterning of activities around them. The analyses show that people's day-to-day life was structured and regulated and the construction of special fireplaces designed to use fuel economically.
The engraved slate plaques from Gönnersdorf show us the art of 15,800 years ago in its social and economic context. For the first time we are examining the engravings by employing high-resolution 3D scans. These permit a more objective evaluation of the depictions. The design and execution of the engravings, the conventions of the images, stylistic devices and “handwriting” provide first insights into the competence or intention of individual artists.
Staying alive a harsh landscape with fluctuating resources requires successful strategies. Complex conventions and organizational systems are necessary to ensure long-term survival. This project examines the complex processes of social transformation of Northwest European societies at the end of the Ice Age 16,000 - 13,000 years ago and their interconnection with environmental change.
So called red deer antler frontlets from the Mesolithic are some of the few finds directly representing the contemporary concepts of ritual and the afterlife. The laterally perforated deer skulls appear to have served as head gear. Using microscopic examination of their surface traces we are attempting to decipher the appearance and function of specimens from Bedburg-Königshoven (Rhineland).
The Duvensee “residential sites” present a unique archive for research into settlement beahviour, subsistence and use of the landscape during the early Holocene. Comparative analyses of selected residential sites focused on the economic function of these nut-processing localities.
Stone tools and bones from under the enormous cave vault were investigated by several research projects at MONREPOS. The most recent zooarchaeological analyses show that Neanderthals here used the opportunity to hunt cave bears during their hibernation.
In cooperation with Israeli colleages we investigated bones found at the 800,000 year old site of Gesher Benot Ya´aqov and recognized the oldest evidence for organized butchery and exhaustive utilization of the hunted game.
Elaine Turner studied parts of this famous Magdalenian hunting site with particular emphasis on the animal bones and their taphonomy. Her investigation showed that while mainly horses were hunted and butchered, many reindeer and bison were als present. Unlike in a long assumed traditional scenario, the study also confirms that horses were not chased in large numbers over the Solutré cliff.
At 1.8 million years old, Dmanisi is the earliest dated site outside Africa. In cooperation with the Georgian Academy of Sciences we excavated at the site and studied the stone artefacts. Palaeolithic research at Dmanisi was initiated in cooperation between the Georgian Academy and MONREPOS and the first early human remains discovered during joint excavations.
Ubeidiya (Israel) is one of the oldest sites outside Africa. We conducted excavations and analysed the animal bones in an international cooperative project. Our investigations established for the first time the existence of systematic hunting 1.5 million years ago.