Institute of Archaeology


Ignacio de la Torre awarded ERC Advanced Grant

28 March 2019

Congratulations to Ignacio de la Torre (UCL Institute of Archaeology) who has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to undertake innovative research on the dynamics of earliest human occupation.

Prof Ignacio de la Torre (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Ignacio de la Torre has received an ERC Advanced Grant for his 5-year project  Biogeographic and cultural adaptations of early humans during the first intercontinental dispersals.

Our understanding of the emergence and dispersal of the earliest tool-making hominins has been revolutionised in the last decade, with sites in eastern Africa and China pushing both events more than half a million years earlier than previously thought.

According to Ignacio:

Recent discoveries suggest that the picture of the earliest human colonisation across the Old World is substantially complex, demanding heuristic approaches to understand the biogeography and adaptive behaviours of early humans. This project aims to produce a global synthesis of earliest human occupation dynamics by comparing the world’s longest sequences of early archaeological sites, namely eastern Africa and China. Our objective is to understand the alternative evolutionary trajectories adopted by hominins that shared an overarching biological and cultural background, but who faced different climatic and biogeographic challenges and opportunities.

Fieldwork in both study areas, alongside a primary study of top-quality assemblages in both subcontinents, will be combined with extensive metadata sets to produce comprehensive views of temporal trends and paleoecological patterns.

This innovative research, involving an exceptionally diverse range of disciplines from geochemistry to niche modelling, as well as ground-breaking analytical perspectives, will enable Ignacio and his team to develop new approaches to challenge established paradigms and produce a new picture of the biogeographic adaptations of early stone tool makers.

ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to exceptional research leaders that demonstrate a significant track record of research achievement.  Ignacio previously led ERC-funded research on the origins of the Acheulean in Olduvai.

The Institute of Archaeology undertakes world-leading research on early human archaeology and works to foster research partnerships with researchers in associated disciplines both within UCL and beyond.

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