Human Origins Leiden

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Adam Jagich

Personal Information:

Position: PhD researcher Jagich, Adam
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone or fax: +31(0)715272423
Location: Room 1.02, Rapenburg 73

My PhD research is geared towards understanding the distributional limits of the Neandertals throughout their evolutionary history.  Currently, these estimates provide only a single map for the Neandertal geographic range.  These estimates are palimpsests, documenting more the history of excavation and fossil discoveries of the past 150 years of Neandertal research than the distribution of the species throughout the Middle and Late Pleistocene.  Disentangling patterns generated from the biases associated with the fossil and archaeological records from those derived from the actual distribution of the species in antiquity requires several lines of evidence as well as the incorporation of theoretical frameworks novel to the study of human origins.  By incorporating ecological theory, in particular that of biogeography, this study not only divides the Neandertal record into multiple time-slices, elucidating patterns of temporal dynamics in the distribution of the Neandertals.  Through two case studies a detailed analysis of the range margins of the Neandertals is undertaken and factors limiting the species are uncovered and discussed.  The overarching goal of this thesis is to understand how these factors influenced the distribution of the Neandertals through time.  As a secondary albeit simultaneous goal this dissertation checks the patterns in geographic range size, shape and location generated using fossil and archaeoligcal data against hypothetical reconstructions of the Neandertal geographic range using current paleoanthropological understanding.  The benefits of such a comparison are manifold.  First, by juxtaposing hypothetical geographic range reconstructions for the Neandertals with the actual estimates produced using the fossil and archaeological records this study provides an estimate as the percentage of the past preserved in the geological record and highlight the changing coverage through time.  This turns the passive, stagnant distributional estimates currently employed in paleoanthropological research into predictive models capable of providing novel avenues of research.  


Coming from New York it has been a pleasure to be a part of excavations around the world.  During my undergraduate studies at StonyBrook University I was part of excavations and survey work in the Mayan lowlands in Belize as well as part of the small team which re-investigated Omo Kibish.  The latter project effectively re-dated the earliest member of our species Homo sapiens, pushing the dates back to almost 200,000 years ago.  While obtaining my MA in archaeology from Leiden University I was part of the Neumark-Nord project. Since then I have been part of this project as well as 'guest-digging' at Happisburgh in the UK.  I am an active lecturer at Leiden, teaching MA courses in Lithic Technology (with Eduard Pop), Hominin Biogeography (with Jose Joordens) as well as supervising the thesis tutorial (with Kathy MacDonald and Wil Roebroeks).     


  • Zwyns N, Roebroeks W, McPherron S, Jagich A, Hublin JJ. 2012. Comment on “Late Mousterian Persistence near the Arctic Circle”. Science. 335(6065): 167. [More] 
  • Sier MJ, Roebroeks W, Bakels CC, Dekkers MJ, Brühl E, De Loecker D, Gaudzinski-Windheuser S, Hesse N, Jagich A, Kindler L, Kuijper WJ, Laurat T, Mücher HJ, Penkman KEH, Richter D and others. 2011. Direct terrestrial-marine correlation demonstrates surprisingly late onset of the last interglacial in central Europe. Quaternary Research. 75(1): 213-218. [More]