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About NeanderEDGE

Through the construction of a unique database resource; developing of a new theoretically refined approach; execution of geoarchaeological groundtruthing and field surveying; novel behaviour-ecological distribution modelling; as well as international collaboration and outreach, this project wants to develop a new research agenda and deliver a deep-time perspective on contemporary quandaries of human-climate interaction and extinction risks at multiple spatiotemporal scales.


The NeanderEDGE project has five work packages:

WPI: A new theoretically robust, qualitative, and quantitative data-driven Neanderthal biogeography

The objective of WPI is to develop a theoretically refined, historically reflected, and widely applicable critical approach to Neanderthal biogeography that integrates a multi-parameter behavioural dimension. To generate data-sets and data-driven interpretations on the variation of behaviour and adaptive responses to glacial environments of northern Neanderthals, which will inform and validate the theoretical model, as well as, provide empirical input for the computational modelling in WPIII.

By including explicit behavioural adaptation data obtained from an in-depth analysis of the archaeological record – producing an understanding of Neanderthal response systems that is at once qualitative and quantitative – NeanderEDGE moves beyond the use of Neanderthal ‘presences’ or ‘absences’ as a one-to-one causally related proxy for adaptive success and contributes significantly to the theoretical field in which it positions itself.


WPII: Novel geo-archaeological investigations of the northern Neanderthal range boundary

The objective of WPII is to field-test the northern boundary of the Neanderthal range and critically assess the role of southern Scandinavia and the Baltic region in the Neanderthal world. The aim is to reconstruct the, now vastly altered, southern Scandinavian palaeo-landscape with its associated valleys, meltwater systems and glaciotectonics, and from this, discuss how it influenced the mobility and behaviour of Neanderthals at the edge of their range. This will allow to systematically evaluate the potential of early human expansion routes and dispersal corridors in southern Scandinavia.


WPIII: Multi-scale modelling of human responses to climate change

The objective of WPIII is to provide a rigorous contextual framework for understanding the global, regional, and local adaptation systems of Neanderthals during times of extreme climate deterioration. This will allow a discussion of the wider implications for the understanding of Neanderthal adaptive abilities against the backdrop of their subsequent demise and replacement by Homo sapiens. By means of niche and distribution modelling, WPIII examines the response of northern Neanderthals to climate change and will use the results to clarify the contrasting interpretations dominating current Neanderthal biogeography. An additional goal is to generate new evidence-based Neanderthal distribution maps incorporating behaviourally graded and dynamic boundaries, providing a widely applicable resource for the broader research community.


WPIV: Interpretation, synthesis, outreach and perspective

The objective of WPIIII is to synthesize and interpret the results and communicate an evidence-based and data-driven interpretative framework for the understanding of human extinction processes and climate change adaptation in northern Eurasia. NeanderEDGE is an international endeavour and consist of an international network of specialists meeting at annual seminars to discuss methodological challenges, analytical strategies and contextualise results across study areas. The aim is also to engage with the wider public and create suitable platforms for knowledge exchange and discussion, such as a museum exhibition, book publication and public lectures.