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PhD defence

Virtual Neanderthals

Tuesday 28 May 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


This study presents an agent-based simulation model exploring the patterns of presence and absence of Late Pleistocene Neanderthals in western Europe. HomininSpace implements a parameterized generic demographic and social model of hominin dispersal while avoiding parameter value biases and explicitly modelled handicaps. Models are simulated through time within a high-resolution environment where reconstructed
temperatures and precipitation levels influence the carrying capacity of the landscape. Model parameter values are assigned and varied automatically while optimizing the match
with Neanderthal archaeology using a Genetic Algorithm (GA) inspired by the processes of natural selection. The system is able to traverse the huge parameter space that is created by the complete set of all possible parameter value combinations to find those values that will result in a simulation that matches well with archaeological data in the form of radiometrically obtained presence data.


  • Prof. J.W.M. Roebroeks


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.

Press contact

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

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