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


Haidle, Miriam Noël, Duilio Garofoli, Sebastian Scheiffele, Regine Stolarczyk 2017. Die Entstehung einer Figurine? Material Engagement und verkörperte Kognition als Ausgangspunkt einer Entwicklungsgeschichte symbolischen Verhaltens. In Etzelmüller, Gregor, Fuchs, Thomas and Christian Tewes (eds.), Verkörperung – Eine neue interdisziplinäre Anthropologie. Berlin: de Gruyter, 251-279


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared six caves of the Ach and Lone Valleys near Ulm World Cultural Heritage sites. The UNESCO committee announced in Krakow, Poland, on July 9, 2017 that the Vogelherd, Bockstein, Hohlenstein-Stadel, Sirgenstein, Geißenklösterle and Hohle Fels caves were inscribed on the World Heritage list as „Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura”.