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PhD defence

Molluscs in the Levantine Upper Palaeolithic: implications for modern human diets and subsistence behaviour

Thursday 3 May 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

This thesis investigates the subsistence behaviour of Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) Homo sapiens based on the remains of molluscs and terrestrial fauna recovered from the Ksâr ‘Akil rockshelter (Lebanon). The results tie into the debate around the dispersal of modern humans into Europe.

In this thesis, a multi-proxy chronological approach was applied providing ages for the modern human occupation and behavioural adaptations just outside Europe. At the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic groups at Ksâr ‘Akil relied mainly on terrestrial food resources, which shifted later, during the early Ahmarian, gradually to more extensive exploitation of smaller bodied taxa including the introduction of marine and terrestrial snails into the diet.

Oxygen isotope analysis of marine mollusc taxa showed that shellfish exploitation was practiced in all seasons and thus played a central role in EUP foraging strateg ies. Equally this implies that the site was occupied during different times of the year. With regard of the implications for EUP Homo sapiens, shellfish as a dietary supplement throughout the year enhances the diet nutritionally and likely contributes to healthier populations. This in turn might have facilitated population growth and increased population density in an area that fuelled the modern human dispersals into Europe.


  • Prof. J.J. Hublin


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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