About Human Origins

Neandertals made the first specialised bone tools in Europe

New finds demonstrate that Neandertals were the first in Europe to make standardised and specialised bone tools – which are still in use today. These firndings are reported by Leiden reseachers together with an international team of archaeologists in the PNAS journal (Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA).


PhD grant for Andy Sorensen

NWO Humanities and the Humanities Regieorgaan have awarded a PhD grant to Andy Sorensen under the joint funding program PhDs in the Humanities. Andy will start his research on how long humans already have the ability to make fire on July 1st. 2013.


Archeologists involved in drilling the East African Rift System

NWO-ALW has funded the project "Climate impact on human evolution: age calibration of the ICDP Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP)", led by PIs Cor Langereis and Guillaume Dupont-Nivet (Utrecht University). Mark Sier has been contracted as post-doctoral reasearcher for three years. Josephine Joordens is part of the project’s research group.   


Leiden archaeologist Wil Roebroeks appointed Academy Professor

Wil Roebroeks, Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology in Leiden, is to be awarded the ‘Academy Professors Prize’ of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW). Roebroeks has drastically changed academic thinking about the behaviour of early hominins and our knowledge of the earliest colonisation of Europe and Asia.


Leakey Foundation funds fieldwork in the Turkana Basin

Josephine Joordens (Human Origins Group) has been awarded a grant of EUR 15.000 to conduct fieldwork in the Turkana Basin, “the cradle of mankind”, in Kenya. Her research aims to shed light on the early history of the genus Homo in the time period around 2 million years ago in Africa.


New project on the last Ice Age

The Australian Research Council funded a truly ‘global archaeology’ project comparing the archaeologies of southwest Tasmania and southwest France during the last Ice Age. The project is directed by Richard Cosgrove and Colin Smith from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Wil Roebroeks and Alexander Verpoorte from the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University are involved in the analysis of the lithic technology.


Sparks on the Reuvensplaats

Making fire is no simple matter. This became abundantly clear during the demonstration by German archaeologist Jürgen Weiner. Weiner was invited by Professor W. Roebroeks to share his practical knowledge about fire. The Human Origins group of the Faculty of Archaeology organised a guest lecture and demonstration on The Earliest Fire on 27 May. 


Fire came to Europe later than was thought

Early hominins probably lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years before using fire to alleviate the winter cold, to cook or to make tools. It was only in the period between 300,000 and 400,000 years ago that the first finds were made that indicate that people had the ability to control fire.


Humboldt Research Award for Wil Roebroeks

Prof. Dr. Wil Roebroeks has been elected as recipient of a Humboldt Research Award. This award is conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. In addition, the awardee is invited to carry out research projects of his own choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany.


Happisburgh, East Anglia

The research Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe published 8th July 2010 in Nature is part of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project, in which the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University is involved. One of the authors of the article is Dr Mike Field , staff member of the Faculty of Archaeology.


A Neandertal fossil from the north sea

A fragment of a human skull discovered in sediments extracted from the bottom of the North Sea, 15 km off the coast off the Netherlands, has been identified as belonging to the extinct Neandertal group.


New discovery

In Valkenburg (Zuid-Limburg, the Netherlands) Archol and the Faculty of Archaeology have discovered traces of prehistoric occupation. The finds were located in the shelter of the entrance to a prehistoric cave.


Spinoza Prize 2007

Professor Wil Roebroeks received the NWO/Spinoza Prize 2007 for his original observations about early hominins and the development of human society.