The Project

The Palaeolithic Lesbos Project investigates the early settlement of the Aegean region. Since 2012 it has been conducted by the University of Crete in collaboration with other universities and research institutions in Greece and abroad. Research aims to explore the essentials of prehistoric activity of at least the past 500,000 years through systematic excavation conducted at Rodafnidia, an open-air site in the Kalloni Gulf, strategically located close to the Lisvori thermal springs.

Archaeological excavation unveils a lithic industry having Acheulean affinities. Lower Palaeolithic cores, flakes and tools, among which a great number of Large Cutting Tools, have also been discovered during surface survey along the axes connecting Vasilika – Lisvori – Nifida and Polichnitos – Vatera. They are testimonies to the wide spatial range of hominin activity around Lisbori, across the Kalloni basin and southern Lesbos. The project adds a new piece to the still incomplete puzzle of the early Palaeolithic world, at the heart of Eurasia, at the very point where Asia meets Europe, the northeastern Aegean.  

Palaeolithic Lesbos investigates the following questions:

  • The Lisvori-Rodafnidia site-formation.
  • The chronology of hominin dispersals and the duration of hominin presence on the island of Lesbos.
  • The geographic range, the habitats, and the nature of the Palaeolithic settlement on Lesbos. The Acheulean industry remains unprecedented to date in terms of spatial distribution and density in southeast Europe and the northeast Mediterranean.
  • The biogeographical role of the island of Lesbos and the Aegean region in the early hominin dispersals from Africa to Eurasia and vice versa during the Middle Pleistocene.

The Palaeolithic Lesbos Project is part of world research on human origins and evolution, gathering valuable archaeological information on technology, lifeways, and settlement patterns of the Middle Pleistocene Aegean groups. It enriches the current discussion on the early colonisation of Europe and migration to Eurasia with stratified material, dated by absolute and relative methods. The Aegean region emerges as a new locus of great and thus far underestimated importance, connecting the Anatolian with the Balkan Peninsula. During periods of low sea level, the Aegean basin is envisioned to have offered a rich variety of coastal resources attractive to mammal and hominin populations. This vital space, which now lies underwater over the Aegean seabed, operated during the Middle Pleistocene as a land bridge that opened and closed following the successive climatic cycles and the subsequent eustatic and tectonic changes. Archaeologists team up with valuable partners from archaeometry, oceanography, and the geosciences to examine the Lower Palaeolithic record against palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic change and gain new knowledge on the history of the prehistoric Aegean.

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