Universiteit Leiden

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PhD defence

Beyond the trenches

  • M. Hein
Tuesday 6 June 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. dr. J.J. Hublin
  • dr. T. Lauer (Tübingen University)
  • dr. H. von Suchodoletz (Leipzig University)


The research presented in this thesis is aimed at the establishment of robust
chronostratigraphic frameworks for Late Pleistocene Neanderthal open-air sites on the European Plain using case studies at Khotylevo I (Western Russia)
and Lichtenberg (Northern Germany). Very deliberately, the surroundings of these sites were included into the consideration. They can provide insightful background information to better decipher site formation processes and may also elucidate Neanderthal habitat preferences. The two study sites share many similarities, concerning their northern location, their artifact assemblage, and the stratigraphic potential of their embedding sediment sequences. While for both sites previous chronological data supported their assignment to MIS 3, the characteristics of their deposits also made an earlier occupation in MIS 5a seem possible. This ambiguity was to be resolved using geomorphological surveys, pIRIR290 luminescence dating (ca. 30 samples) and sediment analyses, the latter also including pollen analysis for additional environmental context. The chronostratigraphic results led to a revision of the timing for the occupations at both sites: Khotylevo I is assigned to MIS 5a and Lichtenberg to the MIS 5a/4 transition under severely cold conditions.
Furthermore, the landscape-oriented approach of the investigations directly resulted in the discovery of two unknown occupations in Lichtenberg. The first one could be allocated to the Mid-Eemian Interglacial (PZ E IVb/V), the second one was dated and palynologically assigned to the late Brörup Interstadial (ca. 90 ka, PZ WE IIb).

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally 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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