The project

During the last two million years, the geographic range of the human species expanded in several waves from its original African homeland to encompass Eurasia – – and possibly back into Africa. Of these hominin species, only anatomically and behaviorally modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, have been able to overcome the impediments imposed by the physical geography of this planet. Within a few tens of thousands of years, modern humans successfully inhabited the globe, settling in Australia, the Americas and even the polar regions.

Potential expansion routes between 2 million and 20.000 years before present.
Effects influencing the potential for expansion of human groups.

The project is funded by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and is projected to run for 20 years. The new research center’s aim is to reconstruct the spatial and temporal patterns of the expansions of hominins between three million and 20,000 years ago in Africa and Eurasia.

The main goal of the project is to explain the reasons for different hominin expansions. Implicit in the current working hypothesis is the assumption that the influence of changing environmental conditions decreased as the importance of cultural and technological innovations grew.

News and Announcements


Wirkner, M. & Hertler, C. (2019): Feeding ecology of Late Pleistocene Muntiacus muntjak in the Padang Highlands (Sumatra).

Comptes rendus Palevol


Haidle, Miriam Noël (2019): The origin of cumulative culture – not a single-trait event, but multifactorial processes. In Coolidge, Frederick L., and Karenleigh Overmann (eds.), Squeezing minds from stones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 128-148.




Rhodes, S.E., Starkovic, B.M. & Conard, N.J. (2019): Did climate determine Late Pleistocene settlement dynamics in the Ach Valley, SW Germany? PLoS ONE



Maaß, C.-L., Jerg, A.-L., Lippe, S., Pfrommer, F., Lazar, L-A. & Haidle, M.N. (2018): Images, gestures, voices, lives. What can we learn from Palaeolithic art? A conference at the University of Tübingen, organized by the Research Center “The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans” (ROCEEH) and the Senckenberg Centre for Human

Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP). Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 27 (2018), 131-144



Bolus, M. und Conard, N. J. (2019): Paläolithforschung in den Höhlen der Schwäbischen Alb. Forschungsgeschichte – Kenntnisstand – Ausblick. In: M. Baales und C. Pasda (Hrsg.), „All der holden Hügel ist keiner mir fremd…“. Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Claus-Joachim Kind. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie 327. Bonn: Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt, 43-66.


Lüdecke, T., Kullmer, O., Wacker, U., Sandrock, O., Fiebig, J., Schrenk, F., Mulch, A. (2018): Dietary versatility of Early Pleistocene hominins. PNAS 115(52) 13330-13335.


between May 6th and August 9th 2019.