Universiteit Leiden

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Marie Soressi

Professor of Hominin Diversity Archaeology

Prof.dr. M.A. Soressi
+31 71 527 5355

Marie Soressi is Professor of Hominin Diversity archaeology and head of the Human Origins research unit at the Faculty of Archaeology. She is fascinated by the fact that we are the only human species on the planet; meanwhile our genus was flourishing for approximately 99% of our evolutionary timeframe.

More information about Marie Soressi


Marie Soressi combines her long-term experience as a field and lab archaeologist with that of paleogeneticists, geologists and chemists, to design and lead interdisciplinary projects aiming at reconstructing the diversity of human behavior and the evolution of human biology during the late Pleistocene, with a focus on the 50-35,000 years’ time window when Neandertal population vanished.

Office days

Tuesday and Friday. Meetings on appointment only.


What factors contributed to the growth of the anatomically modern Human population 40,000 years ago? Could it be that building upon local knowledge and local adaptations from humans who have now physically disappeared contributed to the development of our ancestor population? Reconstructing our evolutionary trajectory is key for rethinking who we are, and how we are connected to each other.

The reconstruction of cultural interactions between Neandertals and modern humans has proven to be fecund with the publication of: (1) the first potential evidence of modern humans acquiring Neandertal expertise (Soressi et al. 2013), (2) a first test case discussing the degree of social intimacy between late Neandertals and early modern humans (Roussel et al. 2016). In developing these past projects, two exciting challenges emerged:

  • To fully utilize the potential of sedimentary DNA, it is essential that researchers assess the in-situ character of particles containing aDNA.
  • Studying interactions requires:
    • a new theoretical framework
    • high-resolution analysis of the in-situ character of artefacts
    • tailored empirical studies

Building on her interdisciplinary background, her knowledge of available archaeological sites and collections, and her international network, M. Soressi designed the Neandertal Legacy project to contribute improving the reconstruction of the demise of Neandertals and the formation of the Homo sapiens only population. The project was granted a NWO VICI grant (1.5 million euros) in 2020. For this project she produced the documentary Neandertal Legacy.

She also received a Westerdijk award (50,000 euros) in 2018 as well as regular smaller excavation grants from the French Ministry of Culture.

Watch the documentary

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Curriculum vitae

M. Soressi combines experience at world-class research institute like the Max Planck EVA in Leipzig where she was a junior researcher from 2004 to 2008 with experience in a leading position in commercial archaeology where she led projects with up to 30 collaborators. Since 2013, she went back to the academic sector and embraced innovative teaching and the management of academic education and research.

In 2018, she became the first non-native speaker female professor at the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden and she was appointed Director of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Archaeology. She is currently leading the Human origins research unit and the Neandertal Legacy research group (>20 researchers) at the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden. In 2020, she received a VICI talent schema award (1.5 million euros); in 2018 a Westerdijk award (50,000 euros), and in 2044 the Tübingen Prize for young researchers in Early Prehistory Quaternary Ecology.

She contributed founding the European society for human evolution (ESHE) in 2011. In 2020, she was elected Vice-president of the ESHE society with currently circa 450 members after serving as elected secretary from 2012 to 2020. Since 2018, she is a member of the scientific committee of the Fyssen foundation with a circa 1 million euros yearly budget. She serves as panel members for the reviewing committee of DFG collaborative research centers and for the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities with budget >20 million euros. She is a member of the editorial board of Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology (springer) and the open-access fully peer-reviewed and open-access Paleoantropology journal. She regularly serves as reviewer for Nature and several other interdisciplinary and disciplinary journals including Nature Human behaviour, Scientific reports, Journal of Human Evolution or Quaternary Sciences Review.

Publication output

Her publications have been cited in total more 4940 times according to google scholar (as per 19.03.2022). She has contributed more than 140 publications including more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, and two peer-reviewed edited volumes. She also contributed more than 80 excavation reports. One of her first-authored publication (Soressi et al. 2013 in PNAS) has been cited more than 240 times, and four other publications she co-authored were cited more than 200 times including the D’errico et al. 2003 paper that was cited 778 times (as per 19.03.2022; H index = 36).


  • 1998 Individual national doctoral grant (70 ke)
  • 1998-2005 Pech-de-l’Azé I excavation project (18 ke)
  • 2002-2007 Chez-Pinaud excavation project
  • 2003 Doctorat Université Bordeaux Le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne du sud-ouest de la France (178 citations registered by google scholar in March 2022)
  • 2003 Post-doctoral researcher at the ARI, Cape Town, South-Africa
  • 2003 Post-doctoral award Wenner-Gren foundation (New-York) (20 ke)
  • 2003 Post-doctoral award Fyssen foundation (Paris) (20 ke)
  • 2004 Junior researcher at the Max Planck Institute EVA, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2004 Tubingen Prize for innovative research in Early Prehistory, Quaternary Ecology and Human Evolution
  • 2006-2022 Les Cottés project (465 ke)
  • 2008 Large scale project manager at INRAP, France
  • 2011 Founding member of the ESHE, European society for the study of Human Evolution
  • 2012-2021 Elected secretary and board member of the ESHE society
  • 2013 Assistant Professor, Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology
  • 2018 Full Professor and chair of Hominin Diversity Archaeology, Leiden
  • 2018 Member of the scientific committee of the Fyssen foundation, Paris
  • 2018-2021 Director of the Leiden Graduate School of Archaeology
  • 2020-2025 NWO VICI grant for the project Neandertal Legacy (1.5 million euros)
  • 2020- Quinçay excavation project
  • 2021 Head Human Origins research unit, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden
  • 2021 Elected vice-president of the ESHE society

Past PhD students

  • Dr. Shumon Hussain (2019), Assistant professor, Aarhus, Danemark
  • Dr. Samanta Porter (2019), Manager of the Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Shape and research associate, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Dr. Naomi Martisius (2019), NSF SBE post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tulsa, USA
  • Dr. Paul Kozowyk (2020), post-doctoral researcher at Delft Technical University, The Netherlands

Professor of Hominin Diversity Archaeology

  • Faculteit Archeologie
  • World Archaeology
  • Human Origins

Work address

Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Room number A110




  • No relevant ancillary activities
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