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Sci Adv. 2019 Oct 16;5(10):eaax0997. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0997. eCollection 2019 Oct.

Earliest occupation of the Central Aegean (Naxos), Greece: Implications for hominin and Homo sapiens' behavior and dispersals.

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Department of Anthropology and School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton L8S 4L9, Canada.
Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
Department of Anthropology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory of Archaeological Science, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Athens 10676, Greece.
Department of Archaeology, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia.
IRAMAT-CRP2A, UMR 5060-CNRS/Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 33600 Pessac Cedex, France.
Cycladic Ephorate of Antiquities, Greek Ministry of Culture, Athens 10555, Greece.


We present evidence of Middle Pleistocene activity in the central Aegean Basin at the chert extraction and reduction complex of Stelida (Naxos, Greece). Luminescence dating places ~9000 artifacts in a stratigraphic sequence from ~13 to 200 thousand years ago (ka ago). These artifacts include Mousterian products, which arguably provide first evidence for Neanderthals in the region. This dated material attests to a much earlier history of regional exploration than previously believed, opening the possibility of alternative routes into Southeast Europe from Anatolia (and Africa) for (i) hominins, potentially during sea level lowstands (e.g., Marine Isotope Stage 8) permitting terrestrial crossings across the Aegean, and (ii) Homo sapiens of the Early Upper Paleolithic (Aurignacian), conceivably by sea.

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