Early Palaeolithic on the Greek Islands?


  • Curtis Runnels Boston University




Acheulean, Greek islands, hominin dispersals, Mediterranean, Palaeolithic, sea-crossings, stone


Humans evolved in Africa and colonized Eurasia in successive adaptive radiations, establishing themselves in Europe ca. one million years ago. It is assumed that these dispersals were by land through southwest Asia, or secondarily across the Strait of Gibraltar, because early hominins lacked the cognitive faculties and technical skills needed to cross the open Mediterranean. Such crossings are thought to have occurred only at the end of the Pleistocene, after ca. 11,000 years ago. This reasoning is challenged by the presence of early Palaeolithic artifacts on the Greek islands, suggesting that hominins made sea-crossings more than 130,000 years ago, and indicating that the Mediterranean—and by implication other seas—were at times open roads rather than barriers to hominin dispersals.

Author Biography

Curtis Runnels, Boston University

Curtis Runnels is Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology at Boston University and specializes in Aegean prehistory from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. His recent research has focused on the testing of a site location model for Mesolithic sites on the mainland and islands of Greece, and the study of the Lower Palaeolithic from the Plakias survey in southwest Crete.



How to Cite

Runnels, C. (2014). Early Palaeolithic on the Greek Islands?. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 27(2), 211–230. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmea.v27i2.211




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