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Dr Andrew Sorensen wins Tübingen Prize for Older Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology

Andrew Sorensen received the award for his work on the origins of fire-making, especially for his dissertation "Beyond Prometheus: Pursuing the origins of fire production among early humans". The prize was awarded on February 7th, in Tübingen, Germany.

Dr Andrew Sorensen


Fire is still a threatening and at the same time fascinating elemental force. Its control was an important step in the path of human development. But the origins of this human behavior are largely in the dark. Sorensen has wondered when people started making fire. Reliable evidence exists in Europe only for anatomically modern humans. It is often doubted that Neanderthals were able to produce fire.

Sorensen examined this question from different perspectives. He critically examined the assumption that Neanderthals used only fire created by lightning. He also developed with a colleague the computer-aided model "fiReproxies", with which it can be evaluated whether heated stones are an indication of fire use, if there are no other traces for fireplaces.

The cover of "Beyond Prometheus"

Jury report

"It is the great merit of Andrew Sorensen to have brought movement into a long and deadlocked controversy with various new approaches", says the archaeologist PD Dr. med. Miriam Noël Haidle, Lecturer and Scientific Coordinator of the Research Center "The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans" of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. "His approach has the potential to detect fires not only in Neanderthal sites during the last Ice Age, but also to find traces in earlier times."

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