IFG 1604

INQUA IFG 1604: METHOD: Modelling EnvironmenTal dynamics and HOminin Dispersals around the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution


Jesús Rodríguez. CENIEH. National Research Center on Human Evolution, Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca 3. 09002, Burgos, Spain. Email

Ana Mateos. CENIEH. National Research Center on Human Evolution Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca 3. 09002, Burgos, Spain. Email

Christine Hertler. The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans (ROCEEH), Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt/M., Germany. Email

Maria Rita Palombo. Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Piazzale A. Moro, 5 I-00185, Roma, Italy. Email


The Mid-Pleistocene Revolution (MPR) was a period of profound ecosystem reconfiguration, caused by climatic changes driven by variations in orbital forcing that took place around 1 Ma. Changes in climate drastically affected vegetation in complex ways and led to a significant renewal of mammalian faunal complexes in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, it is generally accepted that those environmental changes affected the survival opportunities and the distribution patterns of humans in Europe. However, it is not well established how, where, when and at which extent the environment affected human population dynamics.

The study of complex phenomena, as the ones described above, requires the contribution and cooperation of researchers from several fields. During the last decades, palaeontologists, palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists have produced spatio-temporal and taxonomically organized datasets describing hominin distribution and databases containing quantitative palaeoenvironmental and palaeoecological data. In parallel, several conceptual models have been proposed to explain the dynamics of the human colonization of Europe in this period, but too often they reflect the actual data only loosely or were based selectively on data provided from a specific research field. Thus, a subsidiary aim of this International Focus Group (IFG) is to promote an active collaboration among researchers interested in understanding the dynamics of the first European humans, the specialists with knowledge on the ecological and environmental scenarios where that dynamic occurred and the people with the skill to set up mathematical models, including mathematicians, physicists or engineers with experience in the study of complex systems through mathematical modelling.

Since the MPR was a planetary event, the IFG has a worldwide scope, though it is initially focused on Europe because the quality and quantity of available data are significantly higher for the western Eurasia than for other regions.

The METHOD website is where people involved in the IFG share their research questions and results and where new participants will find a gateway to join the IFG. The International Focus Group will promote and facilitate the operation of daughter projects through this website.

The first training lab organized by the METHOD IFG was held on September 13-15th, 2016 in Sassari (Sardinia, Italy) and entitled “Data availability, management and storage – Working with databases“. The meeting focused on crucial infrastructure, in particular shared data sources. The assistants worked on the connection of their databases to the ROCEEH Map Module which will be used as the core data source and management tool for the IFG members. In summary, the meeting served to set the bases to share data between the IFG participants.

The workshop “Keep calm and boldly go – Which factors in the environment drive early human expansions and have an impact on their settlements?“ was held in Mauer on April 25th – 27th, 2017 . The meeting focused on the dynamics of hominin distribution patterns in Africa, Europe, and Asia during the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution and the way the different factors influencing hominin survival and dispersion might be modelled. The fruitful discussions held during the last day of the meeting set the bases for future research.

Dispersion model