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Uncovering Neanderthal extinction

Using geophysics to uncover Neanderthal Archeological dig in a cave in Croatiaextinction

February 11, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. –  Associate Professor of Anthropology Rory Becker uses geophysics and remote sensing to uncover archeological dig sites. Through electrical resistance tomography and sediment depth estimations, Becker determines locations to excavate where he might uncover Neanderthal burial areas. 

Since 2013, Becker has been collaborating with archeologists in Croatia on the ArcheoLim Project. On Feb. 13, Becker will present his research, “Investigating Human-Neandertal Contact in the Northern Adriatic Region,” at the Eastern Oregon University Colloquium.

He hopes to better understand the impact climate change, rising sea levels and humans had on the extinction of Homo neandertalensis homo neandertalensis. 

Becker and his colleagues ask, “Did the coming together of these factors cause Neanderthals to go extinct in the region? How did those earliest Human-Neanderthal interactions play out?”

From various dig sites, they have found stone tool technology and animal bones that date to 40,000 years ago. These artifacts and fossils help develop a picture of how Neanderthals and humans were living environmentally and culturally during this time period.  

Experts in geophysics, fossil analysis, DNA analysis, bone analysis and general archeology come together in these excavations. Becker works with paleoanthropologists from Wyoming and the anthropological institute in Zagreb, archeologists from the University of Zagreb, students from EOU and Croatia, along with personnel from museums and archeological societies in Croatia. 

Every other year, EOU students travel to Croatia for a field-school and work directly with Croatian students and professionals. Away from the excavation site, they enjoy an international experience of learning about different places and cultures. Students visit castles, dig in caves and swim in the Adriatic Sea, while also being exposed to new foods and customs.

The Colloquium presentation begins at 4 p.m., Thursday in Ackerman Hall, Room 210.

All EOU Colloquium presentations are live-streamed. The event is free and open to the public.

Written by PR Intern Briana Rosenkranz.