The period of the Paleolithic that fascinates me most, as I know it does many archaeologists, is the transition between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic. I’m particularly fascinated by archaeological work in parts of the world where anatomically modern humans (AMH) and Neanderthals met, potentially interacted, and certainly interbred. The two most likely areas where this happened, based on archaeogenetic and archaeological evidence, are the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Europe.
While the genetics are at this point incontrovertible — all non-African modern humans carry Neanderthal DNA, and recent research has proved that gene flow also occurred in the other direction — what intrigues me most are the cultural markers of interaction between AMH and Neanderthals. Similarly, what constitutes behavioral rather than merely anatomical modernity? Thus, the Mode 3 technologies associated with AMH at several sites in the Levant and Mode 4 technologies (and potentially symbolic behavior such as personal adornment) associated with Neanderthals at Châtelperronian sites like Saint-Cesaire and Les Cottés in France represent amazing opportunities to answer these questions.
- The Palaeolithic Settlement of Europe by Clive Gamble (1986)
- The Human Revolution: Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origins of Modern Humans edited by Paul Mellars & Chris Stringer (1989)
- Context of a Late Neandertal: Implications of Multidisciplinary Research for the Transistion to Upper Paleolithic Adaptations at Saint-Cesaire, Charente-Maritime, France Ed. by François Lévêque, et al (1993)
- Rethinking the Human Revolution edited by Paul Mellars, Katie Boyle, Ofer Bar-Yosef, & Chris Stringer (2007)
- Settling the Earth: The Archaeology of Deep Human History by Clive Gamble (2013)
- Stone Tools in the Paleolithic and Neolithic Near East: A Guide by John J. Shea (2013)
- Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Pääbo (2014)
- The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction by Pat Shipman (2015)