Northern Neanderthals – A systematic assessment of pre-modern human colonisation of South Scandinavia

Did Neanderthals venture into Southern Scandinavia? Most archaeologists would unequivocally answer no to this question; but the answer to why this is the case, is less straightforward. However, not everyone agrees – and the identification of lithic artefacts resembling typical Neanderthal tools has spurred some enthusiasm of finding secure evidence for a Neanderthal presence, but since none of these proposed artefacts have been found in secure stratigraphic contexts, they cannot provide the evidence needed for a claim of such magnitude. The aim of this project is therefore to assess the possibility of a pre-modern human occupation of Southern Scandinavia by first evaluating the possible timing of such dispersal based on the climatic and environmental data available and secondly to discuss the possible impact of geology and taphonomy on the lack of finds and relevant geological outcrops. Thirdly, the project also has an outreach dimension where contact to local amateur archaeologists and dissemination plays an important role. Within this dimension, field survey and building of a good contact between universities, museums, amateur archaeologists and aggregate industries will also allow potential new sites to be discovered. Compared to other archaeological periods in Southern Scandinavia, the Middle Palaeolithic has received very little professional attention, and the goal of this project is therefore also to put the subject on the archaeological agenda. Since Southern Scandinavia is generally assumed to be in the extreme periphery of the Neanderthal range, the area provides a good case study to investigate and better understand the controlling dynamics, abilities and constraints of the Neanderthal population – and by defining their range boundary we can potentially resolve as of yet unanswered aspects of their behavioural and cultural repertoire.

Curriculum Vitae

Current position

  • Ph.D. scholarship with the research project: Northern Neanderthals – A systematic assessment of pre-modern human colonisation of South Scandinavia. Aarhus University, Aarhus (DK), 2013-2016.

Affiliations

  • Centre for Biocultural History, Aarhus University (DK), 2014-2016
  • ROCEEH – The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans, Tübingen University (DE), 2015

Previous education

  • Research Master of Arts, Paleolithic Archaeology, Human Origins, Leiden University, Leiden (NL), 2009-2011
  • Osteological and Forensic Anthropology, 1 semester, The University of Southern Denmark, Odense (DK),  2008-2009
  • Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology & Ethnography & Prehistoric Archaeology, Aarhus University, Aarhus (DK), 2005-2008

Publications

International journals

  • Egeland, C.P, Nielsen, T.K., Byø, M., Kjærgaard, P.C., Larsen, N.K., Riede, F. (2014): The taphonomy of fallow deer (Dama dama) skeletons from Denmark and its bearing on the pre-Weichselian occupation of northern Europe by humans. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 6: 31–61
  • Joordens, J.C.A., Dupont-Nivet, G., Feibel, C.S., Spoor, F., Sier, M.J., van der Lubbe, J.H.J.L., Nielsen, T.K., Knul, M., Davies, G.R., Vonhof, H.B.. (2013):  Improved age control on early Homo fossils from the upper Burgi Member at Koobi For a, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution, 65 (6): 731-745.
  • Roebroeks, W., Sier, M.J., Nielsen, T.K., De Loecker, D., Parés, J., Arps, C.E.S., Mücher, H.J. (2012): Use of red ochre by Early Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of  America(PNAS), 109 (6): 1889-1894.

Danish publications

  • Riede, F., Egeland, C.P., Nielsen, T.K., Larsen, N.K., Odgaard, B., Kjærgaard, P.C. (2013): Dådyrknoglerne fra Hollerup. Aarbøger for Nordisk oldkyndighed og Historie 2011-2012. Det kgl. Nordiske Oldskriftselskab, København.
  • Riede, F., Egeland, C.P., Nielsen, T.K. (2012): Nyt lys på gamle ben. Skalk, 5: 6-10.

Book sections

  • Plug, H., Heijnes, A., Nielsen, T.K. (2010): Marja van Heese. Implementation of the UNESCO Conventions in the Netherlands. In Lieverse, S. & Ouwerkerk, L. (eds), Legacy and Legislation: the legal toolbox for handling cultural heritage. Graduate school of Archaeology occasional papers 3. Sidestone Press, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Published abstracts

  • Nielsen, T.K. (2013): Neanderthals of the North? Re-investigating the fallow deer from Hollerup and their implication for a possible pre-Weichselian occupation of southern Scandinavia. European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE), peer-reviewed abstract for the Inaugural ESHE meeting 2013, Vienna, Austria
  • Joordens, J.C.A., Dupont-Nivet, G., Feibel, C.S., van der Lubbe, J.H.J.L., Sier, M.J., Nielsen, T.K., Knul, M., Vonhof, H.B. (2011): Magneto- and strontium isotope stratigraphy of the hominin-bearing upper Burgi Member, Karari, Turkana Basin. European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE), peer-reviewed abstract for the Inaugural ESHE meeting 2011, Leipzig, Germany.

Conference presentations

Podium presentation

  • XVII UISPP World Congress 2014 Burgos, session A2f: "Pleistocene human dispersals: climate, ecology and social behavior", presentation title: Pleistocene human dispersal above 55° northern latitude: evidence of absence or absence of evidence?
  • Food, Population and Health symposium held by The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 2014, Copenhagen. Title: Neanderthal Niche Construction.
  • Problems in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic research, conference held in honour of Erik Brinch Petersen in Copenhagen 2013. Title: Problems, predispositions and ‘hot potatoes’ in the Palaeolithic: reinvestigating the possibility of a pre-Weichselian occupation of southern Scandinavia.

Poster presentation

  • European Society of Human Evolution (ESHE) annual meeting 2014, Florence. Title: Evaluating Archaeology – Using network analysis to visualise research behaviour.
  • European Society of Human Evolution (ESHE) annual meeting 2013, Vienna. Title: Neanderthals of the North? Re-investigating the fallow deer from Hollerup and their implication for a possible pre-Weichselian occupation of southern Scandinavia.
  • European Palaeolithic Conference 2013, London. Title: Neanderthals of the North: re-investigating the marrow-split bones from Hollerup and their implications for the pre-Weichselian occupation of southern Scandinavia