Geoff Bailey Lecture and Project Research in Athens

Geoff Bailey was in Athens from 13–16 January to give a public lecture and to discuss DISPERSE research results on the southern Red Sea with members of HCMR .

The lecture, entitled Landscapes of Human Evolution and Dispersal: a World Perspective was given at the University of Athens as one in a series of seminars on Palaeolithic archaeology organised jointly by Professor Georgia Kourtesi-Phillipaki of the University of Athens and Professor Nena Galanidou of the University of Crete.

In the lecture, Geoff explored the development of the ideas and techniques associated with the DISPERSE project, tracing their origins back to the Klithi Project in Epirus, NW Greece, in the 1980s, which first identified the impact on early human land use of tectonically active landscapes, and highlighted the problem of dealing with the extensive offshore areas of now-submerged landscape flooded by postglacial sea-level rise and their likely significance for the Palaeolithic societies of the region.

The lecture went on to discuss two developmental pathways (both intellectual and geographical) of significance in early patterns of human evolution and world-wide dispersal, one associated with the active tectonics of the African Rift and the plate margins of Eurasia, the other with coastal environments and the potential significance of marine-driven dispersal, particularly in the later stages of human expansion, currently a topic of world-wide interest.

Geoff illustrated these themes with examples of DISPERSE research drawn from East Africa, Saudi Arabia and the southern Red Sea. Finally the lecture returned to Greek territory and discussed the new work that is highlighting the dramatic long-term changes in the palaeogeography of Greek territorial waters, particularly in the Aegean, resulting from cyclical sea-level change superimposed on long-term subsidence during the past half million years, their implications for early patterns of human movement between Asia and Europe including possible early experimental sea-crossings, and the challenges and requirements of pursuing this research agenda in the future.

Geoff spent the rest of his stay in discussion with Dimitris Sakellariou and other members and associates of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research about the results of the sediment analysis of the cores recovered from the survey of submerged landscapes in the southern Red Sea by R/V AIGAIO, and the strategy for completing the current stage of analysis and future plans.

For further details of the lecture click here and here