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Conference | Symposium

Valedictory symposium in honor of Thijs van Kolfschoten

Thursday 7 March 2019 - Friday 8 March 2019
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Central Hall

Two valedictory events

In August 2018 Professor Thijs van Kolfschoten reached his retirement age and thus became Emeritus Professor. Leiden University organises two events in honor of Thijs van Kolfschoten:

  1. A valedictory lecture on Friday March 8 (register here)
  2. A valedictory symposium on Thursday and Friday March 8 (register here)

Please note that to attend both these events, you will need to fill in two forms.

Valedictory symposium

Thursday 7 March 2019
Location: Central Hall Van Steenis (Faculty of Archaeology building), Einsteinweg 2, Leiden

13.00 - 13.15

Welcome and opening of the symposium by the Faculty Dean

Prof.dr. J.C.A. (Jan) Kolen

13.15 - 13.40

The role of open ocean and coastal tidal currents in the maritime colonization of Australasia

Kiki Kuijjer et al.

13.40 - 14.05

The Middle Palaeolithic bone retouchers in the Meuse basin

Grégory Abrams

14.05 - 14.30

The Eurasian mammoth distribution during the second half of the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene

Anastasia Markova

14.30 - 15.15



15.15 - 15.40

The Middle Pleistocene carnivore fauna of Schöningen

Ivo Verheijen

15.40 - 16.05

Faunal and human biogeography during the Terminal Pleistocene

Monika Knul

16.05 - 16.30

On Philosophy

Luc Janssens

16.30 -

Drinks in Zoological Lab, room D0.02



Friday 8 March 2018
Locations: Central Hall Van Steenis (Faculty of Archaeology building), Einsteinweg 2, Leiden
                     Academy building, Rapenburg 73, Leiden

09.30 – 09.35



09.35 – 10.00

The Java Sea: Potential and significance of a hidden Pleistocene fauna

Harold Berghuis

10.00 – 10.25

Sharing isotopes

Margot Kuitems

10.25 – 11.00



11.00 – 11.25

Pleistocene voles tell the story of biotic connections in Europe and elsewhere

Alexey Tesakov

11.25 – 11.50

Dutch archaeozoology from a cultural heritage perspective

Inge van der Jagt

11.50 – 13.15

Lunch break and possibility for lab visit


13.15 – 13.30

Item in preparation - Central Hall


13.30 – 13.55

The archaeological work and recent research progress at the Lingjing site, Xuchang, China

Li Zhanyang

13.55 - 14.20

Of hawks and societies: an archaeozoological perspective

Laura Llorente

14.20 - 14.30




Departure to Academy building by bus (to use the bus, please register on the symposium registration form)



Valedictory address by prof. Thijs van Kolfschoten, Academy building, Rapenburg 73, Leiden (please register on the valedictory lecture form)



Reception in Academy building



Palaeolithic bone retouchers are known since the end of the 19th Century but their interest increases mainly in the recent years. So far, in Belgian collections, they were barely identified and never analyzed. Our research aims to develop this knowledge and to discuss specific questions related to the existence of a chaîne opératoire (a predetermined conception, which has guided Neanderthals in the preparation of their tools), the possible symbolic meanings attributed to certain species (such as Cave Bear and Human remains) as well as features which could make the cultural attribution of bone retouchers possible.

Even though not a single bone was ever described from its seabed, the Java Sea plays a key role in the regional Pleistocene palaeontology. The fossil assemblages in the Pleistocene terrestric beds of Java show a repetitive influx of new mammal species, which has been linked to Pleistocene lowstands. New species, including Homo erectus, must have entered Java over the extensive plain, which nowadays is the bottom of the Java Sea. And now we have the first sub-sea fossil locality.

My presentation combines an overview of Dutch archaeozoology with my work at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the results of a recent sieving experiment.

I cover wolf domestication and try to answer questions such as what is different between wolf and dog? When, why and where were wolves domesticated?

I will focus on the importance of the Leiden research I did on this subject, but also ruminate a bit in a philosophical way, on why research has been so eager to place domestication in the unrealistic Aurgnacian and Gravettian and which silly consequences this has had.

The evocative megafauna of the mammoth steppe is part of a complex and changing faunal and environmental system. The project presented in this talk aimed to unravel these biogeographical processes in the latter part of the Pleistocene (60-10 thousand years ago). The changes in biogeographical ranges were studied based on the presence of mammal species throughout Europe. Finally, we investigated the most famous, extinct and therefore non-analogue, taxon in detail: the Neanderthal. The climatic niche of the Neanderthal was explored with climatic niche modelling.

With coastlines playing an important role in the colonisation of early humans out of Africa, an interdisciplinary approach to studying the maritime environment is providing insight into important questions regarding human origins. This paper investigates the role of open ocean and coastal tidal currents in the colonisation of Australasia, around 65,000 years ago. Dynamic effects of the maritime environment on seafaring are explored with high-resolution computer models of open ocean and coastal tidal circulation, forced with modern-day climate data. The findings indicate a strong but variable influence of currents on the migration to Australasia, and demonstrate that oceanographic insights can provide new perspectives on debates surrounding ancient seafaring.

Summary: Isotopes (both stable and radioactive) are routinely implemented in modern archaeological and palaeontological research. This paper presents three case studies of this rapidly changing field: the last surviving woolly mammoths, the Siberian unicorn, and radiocarbon dating archaeological sites to the exact calendar year.

This presentation examines the first evidences of hawking in Iberia. Given the complexity of cultural traditions in Iberia in the early Middle Ages, archaeozoological and documentary data is discussed to throw light on how Visigoth, Byzantine and Islamic traditions carried out this hunting practice.

The different stages of mammoth distribution in Eurasia during the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene will be discussed. All the reconstructions are based on the ~ 900 mammoth localities dated by 14C analysis.

No abstract.

This talk will be centred around my PhD research on the carnivore fauna of the Lower Palaeolithic sites of Schöningen. It will include an overview of the carnivore material discovered over the past 25 years and new insights from the recent analyses. Through a comparison with other  contemporary sites in Europe, the role of hominins as part of the carnivore fauna will be discussed. 

From the Lingjing site (Lingjing Town, Xuchang Country, Henan Province, China) numerous lithic tools and mammalian fossils have been recovered. The most fascinating finds were two human skulls, which dated to circa 125-105 ka, belonging to the Middle Stone Age 5 (MSA5). Research of the skulls provides great insights into human evolution in East Asia. Because its time period is at the crucial time for the human evolution in East Asia, the Lingjing site is of great importance for the understanding of human behaviour and occupation history in this region.

At the same layer where the human skulls were found, more than 30,000 fragments of mammalian faunas were unearthed. The preservation of faunas was excellent, which provided great opportunity for the study of human behaviour. Preliminary observation suggested that cut marks and human impact traces were frequently present on the bones, implying that the accumulation of Lingjing faunas were mainly due to human activities.

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