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Marina de Araújo Igreja

Marina de Araújo Igreja

Auxiliary Researcher

Auxiliary Researcher
Member type
Laboratório de Arqueociências, DGPC, IP and LARC/CIBIO/InBIO; Associate researcher to the laboratory UMR 7269 of C.N.R.S. (France)

Graduated in Archaeology by the University of Lisbon in 1998, I have completed a PhD in 2005 on prehistoric stone tools use-wear analysis at the University of Aix-en-Provence (France) funded by the Fundação para Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). Given the lack of specialists in use-wear research in Portugal, I worked from 2006 to 2012 on Portuguese Upper Paleolithic sequences located in Côa Valley and Estremadura in the scope of a post-doctoral grant from FCT where I developed an innovative microwear method to assess and to first model the use behavior of stone tools made on coarse grained and microcrystalline rocks from these contexts. Specialized in use-wear analysis of prehistoric stone tools, my present research targets the shift and variability of human adaptive systems in the scope of the dispersion of the Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) from the African continent to Eurasia. This has been supported by fellowships and international projects between the CNRS and Southern African universities, where I have acquired specialized competences and scientific network. Following a Marie Curie IOF (2012) at the University of Cape Town and more recently an IF FCT contract I have been investigating Middle Stone Age (MSA) contexts in South Africa. 

My work aims to explore the mechanisms at play between cultural adaptation and environment. By studying distinct environmental backdrops and material cultural niches of Early Upper Paleolithic Sequences in Western Europe and Middle Stone Age contexts in South Africa, the goal is to determine how ecological factors (e.g. bio-geological resources availability) influenced and shaped subsistence and settlement strategies of the early modern humans. Investigating how artefacts were produced and used in the past by humans is one of the key research topic in the study of human behavioural evolution. I use stone tools use-wear analysis to assess past human activities. In the course of prehistoric times stone tools were the primary means for obtaining and processing a wide range of natural resources being therefore, the main archives of past societies gestures and activities. Use-wear analysis aims to identify how and on what stone tools were used by examining using microscopy direct evidence in the form of use-wear traces on the tools surfaces and edges. In this regard stone tools functionality reflects the manner in which the humans have organized themselves in their cultural and natural contexts, providing information to infer past human behaviors associated with such artifacts. Closely related to the question of the spread of AMH is the source and timing of modern behavior. The Middle Stone Age of South Africa holds the oldest evidence of complex technology and symbolic expressions (beyond 100.000 years) that predate similar behavior only occurring in Europe around 40 000 years B.P. By putting it in line of evidence with the study of Early Upper Paleolithic contexts in Portugal and France I expect to provide keys to better understand how the shift in AMH mentality and practical skills occurred in Europe.

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