Session abstracts > Session 5

Session 5: First prehistoric settlements: adaptations to Pleistocene environmental changes, subsistence and migrations 

Valentina Villa1, Héloïse Koehler2, Eslem Ben Arous3 et Fréderic Blaser4

Joint French-German organisation


The effects of the current global climate change on ecosystems and societies, striking by their speed and magnitude, are not a new phenomenon. Climatic cycles of varying amplitude and duration (glacial and interglacial periods, millennial climatic variations) have also impacted past ecosystems, notably during the first human settlements in the Lower and Middle Pleistocene. For these ancient periods, however, our perception of the adaptability of human groups to these changes is influenced by the scarcity of archaeological sites as well as by their geographical distribution and their chronological resolution, which is sometimes insufficient. Thus, models of settlement and technical and cultural evolution are based on fragmentary evidence that depends on the presence of sedimentary contexts favourable to their preservation (alluvial terraces, tectonic basins, loess sequences, etc.).

The present session aims to combine multidisciplinary approaches in order to reconstruct both the response of continental ecosystems to these climatic changes and the various strategies implemented by the first human populations to adapt to them. It will focus on Europe and neighbouring regions (Africa, Asia, etc.) during the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, up to the beginning of the last glacial period.

This session will host presentations combining multidisciplinary data (palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and geochronological) that will highlight potential cultural and technical choices made by Palaeolithic human groups according to the associated landscape characteristics. If syntheses on a regional and macro-regional scale will be favoured, local studies on sedimentary and archaeological archives that have recorded one or more climatic cycles can also be proposed. Contributions addressing the issue of migrations in relation to periods of climatic and environmental transition will also be welcome.


1 -Université Côte d'Azur- CEPAM - UMR 7264, Nice

2 - Archéologie Alsace et UMR 7044 – Archimède, Sélestat

3 – a) Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Pan-African Evolution Research Group, Jena, b) Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Geochronology lab, Burgos c) Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Département Homme et Environnement-Histoire naturelle de l’Homme préhistorique, Paris

4 - Inrap Centre-Ile-de-France et Cnrs / UMR 7041 - Ethnologie Préhistorique

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