Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Impacts of Climate Change on Homo Sapiens Diet and Technology in Coastal Morocco

Project: Research project

Project Details


Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Impacts of Climate Change on Homo Sapiens Diet and Technology in Coastal Morocco Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Impacts of climate change on early Homo sapiens diet and technology in coastal Morocco The past climates and dietary resources that allowed adaptations and innovations in human evolution have been thoroughly studied in East Africa and South Africa, yet not in North Africa. North Africa has been an area of archaeological interest for over 100 years, but hypotheses that specify how climate change in North Africa influenced innovations in stone tool technology and population movement remain untested. This project investigates environmental change and early H. sapiens diet, technology, and dispersal in Morocco from 130ka to 20ka. The goal of this research is to provide the first chronology of terrestrial paleoenvironment and H. sapiens diet in North Africa, which will (1) answer questions of how early H. sapiens and terrestrial mammals responded to the predicted desertification of the Sahara during glacial cycles, (2) provide the environmental context for Aterian tanged tools, which possibly represent the first projectile technology, and (3) describe how changes in climate, H. sapiens population size, and faunal exploitation in Morocco contributed to local mammalian and avian extinctions. Faunal remains from Contrebandiers Cave, Morocco will be used to test hypotheses on the impact of glacial cycles on H. sapiens diet, population size, technology, and dispersal. Taxonomic identifications of roughly 16,000 bones will allow for the first detailed reconstructions of paleoenvironment and paleovegetation in Morocco, while ultimately adding a comparative sample to the more completely understood past environments of East Africa and South Africa. This research proposes to establish a framework for the paleoenvironment of North Africa and thus assess the dietary resources available to H. sapiens in this significant region for arguments about early human origins and diaspora.
Effective start/end date12/15/1211/30/13


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $20,916.00


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