Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Grantee Spotlight: Marie-Hélène Moncel

Marie-Hélène Moncel is a director of research at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France. She was awarded a Leakey Foundation research grant during our spring 2016 cycle for her project entitled “Early evidence of Acheulean bifacial technology in Europe. New fieldwork at Notarchirico (Italy).”

The site of Notarchirico, located in the Venosa Basin (Basilicata), is a key site with several levels of occupation dated to 650,000 years ago. This site has yielded the earliest bifaces in Italy, associated with faunal remains and one hominid bone.

Elephant fossil at the archaeological site of Notarchirico, Venosa. Photo: Generale Lee (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The bottom of the sequence is securely dated to more than 650,000 years and was little excavated in the past. In this project, we intend to re-open excavations in the oldest layers with an international and multidisciplinary team in order to enhance our understanding of the earliest Italian evidence of bifacial technology.

The onset of bifacial technology occurred in Europe during the key time period of 800,000-500,000 years, possibly related to dispersals of Homo heidelbergensis. The main goal of this project is to focus on the technological and subsistence behaviors of hominids working bifaces at 650,000 years ago in Southern Europe in their environmental contexts, and to compare them to behaviors of hominids living in the north of Europe. The climatic data from Southern Europe attest to mild conditions, and continuous occupations are explained in some areas by the presence of rich volcanic territories.

Moncel and her team completed their field season late this summer. We look forward to hearing about how the excavations went!


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