A joint initiative of the University of Crete and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Departments of History and Archaeology), the Palaeolithic Seminar (2015-2018) aimed to bring Palaeolithic Archaeology closer to its specialist and wider audience. It was a forum where the results of recent work in the field and the current theoretical trends within the discipline were presented and discussed by researchers and academics from Greece and abroad. Thanks to a sponsorship by the Bodossaki Foundation a large number of seminars are now available online on BLOD (Bodossaki Lectures on Demand). Special thanks are also due to the director of the British School at Athens, Professor John Bennet, for offering hospitality to speakers.
Press and Media for the Palaeolithic Lesbos Project
“Palaeolithic Lesbos”: Rodafnidia in the course of the human presence (8 March 2021, SKAI)
Important finds during the ninth year of research on Palaeolithic Lesbos (14 December 2020, ΕRΤ)
Lesbos: Unique finds from the Lower Palaeolithic period (16 August 2018, ΕRΤ3)
Nena Galanidou on the radio show “Blue like an orange” (22 March 2021, Proto Program ERT)
Knowing our history: from the big bang to the history of Europe (SKAI 100,3 FM)
From the big bang to the history of Europe 1 March 2020
From the big bang to the history of Europe 8 March 2020
From the big bang to the history of Europe 15 March 2020
From the big bang to the history of Europe 22 March 2020
The excavation in Rodafnidia, Lisvori, Lesbos (23 November 2017, The Third Programme ERT)
Rodafnidia in the course of the human presence (8 March 2021, STO NISI)
Ten years completed for the project “Palaeolithic Lesbos” – Rodafnidia in the course of the human presence (8 March 2021, Lesvosnews)
Vrisa residents talking about the excavation in Rodafnidia (25 January 2020, “Embros”)
Nine years of research in the Palaeolithic of Lesbos (14 December 2020, ΕRΤ)
“Rodafnidia” offers a new brand for the Gulf of Kalloni (21 Ioυνίου 2020, Lesvosnews)
The smart phone of the Acheuleans 500.000 years (17 July 2019, Sto Nisi)
“The Lisvori excavation – A vision for sustainable development on Lesbos” – Event in Athens (19 February 2019, Lesvospost)
Rodafnidia Lisvori: Lesbos gaining a significant place on the map of the early Palaeolithic sites (October-December 2018, Gera)
Excavations on Lesbos: 150000 years travel back in time (02 August 2018, thetoc)
Meeting the “Acheulean” ancestors and their “multi-purpose” stone tools (2 August 2018, ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ)
When archaeology and local society forming alliances (13 Οctober 2017, Kathimerini)
The Regional Governor of the North Aegean visiting the prehistoric excavation in Lisvori (1 August 2018, ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ)
Rodafnidia, Lisvori: A development opportunity for the wider area of Polichnitos (July-August-September 2018, Polichniatikos Logos)
From Lisvori the promotion of the identity of southern Lesbos (05 October 2017, Εmprosnet)
Archaeological excavation in Lisvori, Mytilene, continues with undiminished pace (12 September 2017, CNN Greece)
Chr. Kalogirou in the Palaeolithic excavation at Lisvori, Lesbos (11 September 2017, ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ)
Immigrants offer volunteer work in the earthquake struck Lisvori (4 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017, ΕΡΤ)
Archaeology of the Stone Age and the public sphere (25 January 2017, Archaeology and Arts)
Lesbos: a unique excavation throughout the Balkans in Rodafnidia: exclusive pictures (13 September 2016, Inewsgr)
Lesbos: a unique excavation throughout the Balkans in Rodafnidia (13 September 2016, ΕRΤ)
A stone tool over 200.000 years old from Lisvori, Lesbos (12 September 2016, ΕRΤ1)
Professor Ν. Galanidou in the Athenian News Agency (ΑΠΕ – ΜΠΕ) talking about the finds form Lisvori, Lesbos (5 September 2016, ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ)
A research centre envisioned through the palaeolithic finds from Rodafnidia (28 June 2016, ΕRΤ)
Lesbos on a migratory route over half million years ago (3 April 2016, ΕRΤ)
Lesbos half million years ago – Archaeological evidence form Rodafnidia Lisvori (20 March 2016, Lesvospost)
On the traces of the first people of the Aegean (Autumn 2014, Βlue Μagazine)
Lesbos: Stone tools spread on the ground (24 August 2014, Kathimerini)
Archaeology means society (13 July 2014, Kathimerini)
On the traces of the first inhabitants of Greece (10 March 2013, To Vima)
Public archaeology aims to actively engage the local community and stakeholders with the research team and process. This action is a fundamental aspect of the Palaeolithic Lesbos Project. During the excavation campaigns, the trenches and the archaeology lab – hosted in the Lisvori Elementary School – are both open to visitors, in an original experiment of extroversion and interaction. Through a series of open events, the archaeological team communicates with and answers to the wider audience of the village, the island, and Greece about the progress of the investigation and the archaeological finds. The team also participates in public initiatives raising awareness of cultural heritage protection. As part of a master’s dissertation and a PhD thesis, ethnographic research is in progress, exploring the dynamic relationship between the local agricultural community and the new archaeological asset now being revealed.
Palaeolithic investigation in Lisvori: why is this of interest? Ν. Galanidou, Cultural Association of Vrisa Lesbos in Athens, Athens, December 2019
The Lisvori excavation – A vision for sustainable development, Ν. Galanidou, Association of Mesopotamos Lesbos “Anagenisi”, Athens, March 2019
Palaeolithic research in Lisvori and its significance for the development of the wider area of Polichnitos, Ν. Galanidou, Polikentro Polichnitos, August 2018
Fears, dreams and migrations, Ν. Galanidou, TEDx Lesbos, December 2016
First people on the Greek islands, Palaeontology, Prehistoric Archaeology, N. Galanidou, Goulandris Natural History Museum & Palaeontology and Geology Museum-National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Palaeontological Museum of Rethymno, August 2016
Lesbos and the Gulf of Kalloni half million years ago, Ν. Galanidou, event celebrating 2400 years from the birth of Aristotle, Kalloni Environmental Information Centre, Skala Kalloni, August 2016
Research progress in the archaeological site of Rodafnidia Lisvori, N. Galanidou, Enhancement and promotion of the cultural and natural heritage and the local agricultural production of Lisvori, Municipality Theatre of Mytilene, September 2015
Public archaeology and prehistoric research in the Aegean, Ν. Galanidou, KYTHNIA 2015, Scientific and Cultural Centre for the Aegean, Kythnos, August 2015
Looking for the first inhabitants of Europe in Rodafnidia Lesbos, Ν. Galanidou, TEDx Heraklion, February 2014
2012-2014 Palaeolithic excavation in Rodafnidia Lisvori, Lesbos. A vision for Lisvori, Ν. Galanidou, Elementary school building, Lisvori, August 2014
Updating the residents of Lisvori on the excavation results, Ν. Galanidou, Lisvori Marketplace , July 2013
The vision of the Palaeolithic Lesbos Project is embraced and supported by public-sector institutional and government funding bodies, as well as private and non-profit institution sponsorships.
Research is funded by the University of Crete, the Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, the Municipality of Lesbos, the Municipality of West Lesbos, the Region of North Aegean, the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation (2016, 2017) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Travelling sponsorships have been granted by Aegean Airlines, Hellenic Seaways and ANEK Lines/Blue Star Ferries.
Valuable scientific and logistical support throughout the project has been offered by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesbos, its directors Mrs Christianna Loupou and Dr Pavlos Triantafillidis, and the staff. The Local Council of Lisvori and its headman Mr Theodoros Chatzipanagiotis, together with the Agricultural and Cultural Association of Lisvori and its president Mrs Maria Dousia, the Monastery of Damandri and Abbot Michael, and the people of Lisvori have all provided warm hospitality and significant technical support.
The Palaeolithic Lesbos Project provides a complete fieldwork training course for undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University of Crete and other research institutions in Greece and abroad. This is a volunteer-based collective project. During the excavation season, the Rodafnidia site is transformed into an outdoor school of Palaeolithic Archaeology and Tertiary Geology. Classes and practical exercises/seminars are delivered in the archaeology lab housed in Lisvori Elementary School.
The minimum participation of trainees is three weeks. Application submissions are open every academic year from 15 March to 15 May. For more information, please contact us here: uocpalaeoarch[at]gmail[dot]com
October-November 2020: Georgia Beka, Theodoros Iosifidis, Panagiotis Kaplanis, Apostolis Maltezos, Areti Mathioudaki, Maria Pappa, Markella Petrogiannaki, Peny Tsakanikou, Androklis Tselekas
July 2020: Georgia Beka, Ioanna Vallina
August-September 2019: Georgia Beka, Evangelia Chaniotaki, Maria Chatziananasiou, Kalliopi Chatzipatera, Theodoros Iosifidis, Eirini Karatzi, Chara Koukouraki, Andrianna Kozoni, Areti Leventi, Areti Mathioudaki, Eleni Neofytou, Giorgos Pantatzis, Angeliki Papachrysou, Charis Papadakis, Ermioni-Eirini Papadopoulou, Maria Pappa, Nikos Soulakellis, Katerina Spakouri, Giorgos Tataris, Georgia Theodoraki, Thanasis Tsirogiannis, Christos Vasilakos, Kostas Vatousis, Panagiotis Zervoudakis, Spyros Valsamidis
April 2019: Georgia Beka, Natalia Stropianna, Ioanna Vallina
October 2018: Giannis Alexopoulos, Georgia Beka, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Elli Karkazi, Dimitrios Kastoras, Ioanna Liaskou, Stefania Papanastasatou, Athanasios Petras, Nikos Voulgaris
July-August 2018: Theodoros Andreopoulos, Antreas Aravanis, Georgia Beka, Evangelia Chaniotaki, Maria Nikolia Charmpila, Dionysis Danelatos, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Theodoros Iosifidis, Kalliopi Karadimitriou, Dimitris Karampas, Elli Karkazi, Elvis Kordha, Chara Koukouraki, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Georgia Kyritsi, Areti Leventi, Areti Mathioudaki, Stella Maria Mathioudaki, Giorgos Pantatzis, Angeliki Papachrysou, Stefania Papanastasatou, Maria Pappa, Katerina Spakouri, Anna Topali, Peny Tsakanikou, Ioanna Vallina, Evangelia Vretzou, Panagiotis Zervoudakis
August-September 2017: Andreas Aravanis, Marieta Bazakou, Georgia Beka, Maria Nikolia Charmpila, Matthew Linden Cupper, Jeanine Curvers, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Robyn Inglis, Theodoros Karampaglidis, Michalis Karampas, Elli Karkazi, Ria Kiskira, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Andreas Manganas, Areti Mathioudaki, Panagiotis Menegos, Giorgos Pantatzis, Angeliki Papachrysou, Stefania Papanastasatou, Maria Pappa, Markela Petrogiannaki, Kalliopi Pitaridi, Gavriela Poulakaki, Katerina Spakouri, Peny Tsakanikou, Ioanna Vallina, Eleni Christina Vezoniaraki, Panagiotis Zervoudakis
August-September 2016: Spyros Alysandratos, Andreas Aravanis, Georgia Beka, Domna Brouma, Jeanine Curvers, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Kalliopi Maria Karadimitriou, Dimitris Karampas, Michalis Karampas, Elli Karkazi, Ria Kiskira, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Maria Maltezaki, Areti Mathioudaki, Gianna Ntertima, Giorgos Pantatzis, Stefania Papanastasatou, Maria Pappa, Markella Petrogiannaki, Gavriela Poulakaki, Dimitris Schoinochoritis, Giorgos Rafail Skoufaras, Michalis Spyridakis, Christina Stefanou, Katerina Taliantzi, Afroditi Tsagkaraki, Peny Tsakanikou, Iro Tsirintoulaki, Eleni Christina Vezoniaraki, Panagiotis Zervoudakis, Maria Zouridaki
March-April 2016: Georgia Beka, Elli Karkazi, Michalis Spyridakis, Angeliki Theodoropoulou
August-September 2015: Spyros Alysandratos, Andreas Aravanis, Georgia Beka, Andrew John Biggin, Jeanine Curvers, Smaragda Danelli, Anastasia Danelli, Myrsini Dimitrakopoulou, Elliot Alexander Hurst, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Dimitris Karampas, Elli Karkazi, Michalis Konstantinou, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Michalis Lamprakis, Apostolis Maltezos, Faidon Moudopoulos, Gianna Ntertima, Giorgos Pantatzis, Chrysi Papagiannaki, Stefania Papanastasatou, Maria Pappa, Markella Petrogiannaki, Dimitris Roussos, Michalis Spyridakis, Katerina Taliantzi, Afroditi Tsagkaraki, Peny Tsakanikou, Giannis Tzamarias, Eleni Zervaki
June 2015: Geoff Bailey, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Elli Karkazi, Giorgos Lyras
March-April 2015: Angeliki Theodoropoulou, Chronis Tzedakis
July-August 2014: Georgia Beka, Jeanine Curvers, Maria Dasenaki, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Petros Kanoupakis, Dimitris Karampas, Elli Karkazi, Maria Kazantaki, Geoffrey King, Michalis Konstantinou, Lena Kouklamani, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Giorgos Lilis, Giorgos Lyras, Areti Mathioudaki, Giorgos Pantantzis, Maria Pappa, Michalis Spyridakis, Afroditi Tsagkaraki, Vangelis Tsakalos, Peny Tsakanikou, Anastasia Zafeiraki, Eleni Zervaki, Panagiotis Zervoudakis, Konstantinos Zisis
June 2013: Orestis Apostolikas, Nikolaos Betinis, James Cole, Jeanine Curvers, Georgia Filtzanidi, Angeliki Garidi, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Naama Goren-Inbar, Elli Karkazi, Athanasios Katerinopoulos, Lena Kouklamani, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Ilias Kousis, John MacNabb, Andreas Manganas, Marie-Hélène Moncel, Aliki Anna Moraiti, Faidon Moudopoulos, Maria Pappa, Milan Prodanovic, Georgia Theodoraki, Angeliki Theodoropoulou, Peny Tsakanikou, Eleni Zervaki, Konstantinos Zisis
May 2013: Pavlos Avramidis, James Cole, Angeliki Garidi, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Elli Karkazi, Lena Kouklamani, Vasiliki Kourkouli, John MacNabb, Neil-Suttie, Angeiki Theodoropoulou
August-September 2012: Konstantinos Athanasas, James Cole, Jeanine Curvers, Angeliki Garidi, Giorgos Iliopoulos, Elli Karkazi, Geoffrey King, Lena Kouklamani, Vasiliki Kourkouli, Elina Latsou, Stefanos Lingkovanlis, Giorgos Lyras, John MacNabb, Maria Pappa, Athanasios Roussis, Eirini Saloustrou, Georgia Theodoraki, Angeliki Theodoropoulou, Roy Waterstone, Eleni Zervaki, Kostas Zisis
November 2010: Angeliki Garidi, Elli Karkazi, Christina Papoulia, Michalis Spyridakis
Professor in Prehistoric Archaeology
Univeristy of Crete
Assist. Professor in Geology, Geodynamics and Geochronology
National Technical University of Athens
Associate Professor in Applied Geophysics-Engineering and Environmental Geophysics
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Associate Professor in geochronology
University of Adelaide
Associate Professor in Palaeontology and Stratigraphy
University of Patras
PhD in Palaeolithic Archaeology
Natural History Museum in Paris
Professor in Mineralogy and Petrology
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Senior Lecturer in Palaeolithic Archaeology
University of Southampton
Professor in Mineralogy, Petrology and Mineral Chemistry
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Adjunct Lecturer in Micropalaeontology and Stratigraphy
University of Patras
Professor in Physical Geography
University College London
PhD in Palaeolithic Archaeology
University of Southampton
PhD candidate in Prehistoric Archaeology
Univeristy of Crete
PhD candidate in Palaeolithic Archaeology
University og Crete
Postgaduate student in Prehistoric Archaeoology
Univeristy of Crete
Michael Kalaitzis, Sofia Sotiripoulou
Postgaduate students in Tectonic Geology
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Galanidou, N. 2020. Re-inventing public Archaeology in Greece. In: Christofilopoulou, A. (ed.), Material Cultures in Public Engagement: Re-inventing Public Archaeology within Museum collections. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 77-93.
Tsakanikou, P., Galanidou, N., Sakellariou, D. 2020. Palaeolithic archaeology and submerged landscapes in Greece: The current state of the art. Quaternary International (published online 3 June 2020).
Sakellariou, D. & Galanidou, Ν. 2017. Aegean Pleistocene Landscapes Above and Below Sea-Level: Palaeogeographic Reconstruction and Hominin Dispersals. In: Baily, G.N., Harff, J., Sakellariou, D. (eds.), Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes of the Continental Shelf. Coastal Research Library, 20, Springer, Cham., 335-359.
Galanidou, N., Athanassas, C., Cole, J., Iliopoulos, G., Katerinopoulos, A., Magganas, A., McNabb, J. 2016. The Acheulian Site at Rodafnidia, Lisvori, on Lesbos, Greece: 2010–2012. In: Harvati, Κ. & Roksandic, Μ. (eds.), Paleoanthropology of the Balkans and Anatolia. Springer, Dordrecht, 119-138.
Sakellariou, D. & Galanidou, N. 2016. Pleistocene submerged landscapes and Palaeolithic archaeology in the tectonically active Aegean region. In: Harff, J., Baily, G. & Lüth, F. (eds.), Geology and Archaeology: Submerged Landscapes of the Continental Shelf. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 411(1), 145-178 (published online July 2015).
Galanidou, N. 2014. Advances in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology of Greece for the new millennium. Pharos, 20(1), 1-40.
Galanidou, N., Cole, J., Iliopoulos, G., McNabb, J. 2013. East meets West: the Middle Pleistocene site of Rodafnidia on Lesvos, Greece. Antiquity, 87(336).
Galanidou, N. 2013. Looking for the first inhabitants of the Aegean: The Palaeolithic excavation at Rodafnidia Lisvori on Lesbos. In: Alvanou Μ. (ed.) Island Identities. Mytilene, 15-17.
Relevant PhD/Μaster’s/Undergraduate dissertations
Beka. G. 2018. Human origins and evolution and local identity: the contribution of Palaeolithic archaeology. Graduate dissertation, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete (in greek).
Karkazi, E. 2018. Raw materials used for the production of knapped stone tools in Palaeolithic Greece: properties, sources and economy. PhD Dissertation. Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete (in greek).
Papadaki, A. 2015. Stratigraphic and micropalaeontological study of Pleistocene sediments from the Palaeolithic site, Rodafnidia, Lisvori, Lesvos Island. Undergraduate dissertation, Geology Department, University of Patras (in greek).
Tsakanikou, P. 2020. Hominin movement and occupation spatial patterns in Eastern and North-Eastern Mediterranean during the Lower Palaeolithic: the Aegean Perspective. Center for the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of Southampton.
Boëda, E. 1994. Le concept Levallois: variabilité des méthodes. Monographie du CRA 9. CNRS, Paris.
Carbonell, E. & Mosquera, M. 2006. The emergence of a symbolic behaviour: the sepulchral pit of Sima de los Huesos, Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain. Comptes Rendus Palevol, 5(1-2), 155-160.
Clark, G. 1969. World Prehistory: A New Synthesis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Cook, J. 2013. Ice Age Art: arrival of the Modern Mind. The British Museum Press, London.
Goren-Inbar, N., Alperson-Afil, N., Gonen, S., Herzinger, G. 2018. The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov Volume IV: The Lithic Assemblages. Springer.
Harisis, H.B, Durand, P., Axiotis, M., Harisis, T.B. 2000. Traits of Palaeolithic Settlement on Lesbos. Archaeology and Arts, 76, 83–87 (in Greek)
Kohn, Μ. & Mithen, S. 1999. Handaxes: Products of Sexual Selection? Antiquity, 73, 518-526.
Kuman, K. 2014. Acheulean Industrial Complex. In: Smith, C. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York. DOI:
Roe, D. 1981. The Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Periods in Britain. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.
Sharon, G. & Beaumont, P. 2006. Victoria West: a highly standardized prepared core technology. In: Goren-Inbar, N. & Sharon, G. (eds.), Axe age: Acheulian toolmaking from Quarry to Discard. Equinox, London, 181-200.
Sharon, G. 2007. Acheulian Large Flake Industries: Technology, Chronology and Significance. British Archaeological Reports IS 1701.Oxford.
Stout, D., Bril, B., Roux, V., DeBeaune, S., Gowlett, J., Keller, C., Stout, D. 2002. Skill and cognition in stone tool production: an ethnographic case study from Irian Jaya. Current anthropology, 43(5), 693-722.
Wynn, T. & Gowlett, J. 2018. The handaxe reconsidered. Evolutionary Anthropology, 27(1), 21-29.
Knowledge diffusion (scientific audiences)
The Acheulean archaeology of Lesbos, Greece and the Aegean corridors connecting east and west Eurasia, N. Galanidou, Down Ancient Trails: Archaeology Forum, Sharma Center for Heritage Education, India, June 2020
Archaeological research and insular societies in the Aegean, G. Beka, N. Galanidou, Archaeological Dialogues, 5th Meeting – Thalasso-Geographies: Sea Routes, Flows, Networks, University of Thessaly, Volos, May 2019
Local Communities and Heritage Management: Ethnoarchaeology as Agency, G. Beka, P. Zervoudakis, Sense and Sustainability International Conference on Archaeology and Tourism, Zagreb, May 2019
Memories, Space and Palaeolithic Archaeology Μνήμες: preliminary results of an ethnographic approach, G. Beka, 24th Pan-Hellenic Postgraduate Intensive Seminar -Conference: Methodological Issues in Social Sciences Research, University of Crete, November 2018
Acheuleans in the Aegean Neanderthals in the Ionian Sea: A view from SE Europe, N. Galanidou, The Prehistoric Society Europa Conference 2018 – Coastal Archaeology in Prehistory, A conference celebrating the achievements of Professor Geoff Bailey in the field of European prehistory, University of York, UK, June 2018
Middle Pleistocene raw- material procurement and use in the Aegean: a view from the Acheulean of Lesbos, N. Galanidou, E. Karkazi, A. Magganas, UISPP, XVIII Colloque, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France, June 2018
Palaeolithic archaeology and submerged landscapes in Greece: The current state of the art, N. Galanidou, A. Zavitsanou, P. Tsakanikou, D. Sakellariou, UISPP, XVIII Colloque, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France, June 2018
The Middle Pleistocene archaeology of Lesbos, N. Galanidou, Quaternary Interglacials, 3ο International Workshop: Interglacials of the 41kyr-world and the Middle Pleistocene Transition, Molivos, Lesbos, August 2017
Sea and Land during the Tertiary and the archaeology of early dispersals, N. Galanidou, 3rd International Geo-Cultural Symposium “Samaria 2016”, Centre of Mediterranean Architecture, Chania, May 2016
Lesvos half million years ago: archaeological evidence from Rodafnidia, Lisvori, N. Galanidou, Palaeolithic Seminar, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, March 2016
Towards an insular Palaeolithic Archaeology. Sea and Land during the Pleistocene. Ν. Galanidou, Island Interdisciplinary Workshop: Islands and Islanders in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. Island worlds during a long geo-cultural spectrum, in honour of Émile Kolodny, University of Crete, Rethymno, December 2015
Lower Palaeolithic Rodafnidia: lithic raw material provenance and petrography, E. Karkazi, A. Magganas, A. Katerinopoulos, G. Iliopoulos, N. Galanidou, 2nd International Geo-Cultural Symposium “Sigri 2015”, University of the Aegean, Lesbos, June 2015
Archaeological discovery on the Aegean shelf, N. Galanidou, International European Maritime Day Conference – Maritime Cultural Heritage and Blue Growth: What’s the Connection, Megaron the Athens Concert Hall, May 2015
Middle Pleistocene Hominids in Greece: a view from the Acheulean site of Rodafnidia on Lesvos, N. Galanidou, Seminar, British School at Athens, Athens, May 2015
Middle Pleistocene Hominins at the doorstep of Europe: The Acheulean Site of Rodafnidia on Lesvos, Greece, N. Galanidou, PalMeso Semimar, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK, March 2015
Public engagement with the ancient world in Greece: Limitations and prospects, Ν. Galanidou, Material Cultures in Public Engagement: European Perspectives on public engagements with collections of the Ancient World, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK, March 2015
Middle Pleistocene Hominins on the Eastern Doorstep of Europe: The Acheulean Site of Rodafnidia on Lesvos, Greece, N. Galanidou, The York Seminars, Dept. of Archaeology, University of York, UK, March 2015
Τhe Acheulean site at Rodafnidia, Lisvori on Lesvos, Greece, Ν. Galanidou, European Acheuleans. Northern v. Southern Europe: Hominins, technical behaviour, chronological and environmental contexts, Natural History Museum Paris, France, November 2014
New Palaeolithic Research in the Aegean and Ionian Seas: Implications for Dispersal and Underwater Research, Ν. Galanidou, DISPERSE Project. Dynamic Landscapes, Coastal Environments and Human Dispersals, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Anavyssos, November 2014
From Africa to the Aegean: The first human evidence from Greece, Ν. Galanidou, Darwin Monday, Natural History Museum, University of Crete, Heraklion, October 2014
Lower Palaeolithic research where Asia meets Europe: The Acheulean Rodafnidia on Lesvos, Greece, N. Galanidou, Seminar, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Natural History Museum Paris, France, September 2014
Cherts and prehistoric artifacts: first petrological results from new findings in Meganisi island, Lefkas and Rodafnidia, Lisvori, Lesvos, Greece, Α. Magganas, Ν. Galanidou, P. Xatzibaloglou, G. Iliopoulos, Α. Κaterinopoulos, International Symposium – Coastal Landscapes, Mining Activities & Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Milos, School of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, September 2014
The Quaternary Sea: Α linking thread in early human travels in the Aegean Basin, Ν. Galanidou, Archaeology of the Sea International Conference co-organised by the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and the Catholic University of Leuven, complementing the Nautilus exhibition, Navigating Greece, Royal Museums Brussels, March 2014
Pleistocene Submerged Landscapes and Palaeolithic Archaeology in the Tectonically Active Aegean Region, D. Sakellariou, Ν. Galanidou, Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes, University of Szczecin, Poland, September 2013
Looking for the palaeolithic humans and hominins of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, Ν. Galanidou, Workshop. Archaeological research and training in the University of Crete. Methods, evidence, evaluations, perspectives, University of Crete, Rethymno, May 2013.
Looking the first inhabitants of the Aegean: the Palaeolithic excavation in Rodafnidia, Lisvori, Lesbos, Ν. Galanidou, Island Identities. The contribution of the Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy in the research and promotion of the archipelagic cultures. Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, April 2013
Palaeolithic research where east meets west, Rodafnidia on Lesvos, NE Aegean Sea, Ν. Galanidou, J. McNabb, G. Iliopoulos, J. Cole, European Palaeolithic Conference, British Museum, London, February 2013
Excavating Rodafnidia, an Acheulean open air-site on Lesvos, NE Aegean Sea, Ν. Galanidou, J. McNabb, G. Iliopoulos, J. Cole, Human Evolution in the Southern Balkans, University of Tübingen, Germany, December 2012
The archaeological finds from Rodafnidia include stone tools, flakes, and cores from different variants of the Acheulean technological tradition. This industry includes a remarkable number of Large Cutting Tools, handaxes, trihedrals and cleavers. Beyond lithic finds only a few micro-fossil remains, visible under the microscope, have been identified through water-sieving and sediment flotation: the ostracods Candona neglecta και Iliocypris gibba, rodent tooth fragments (taxa Cricetidae, Arvicolidae), gastropod shell fragments and charophyte gyrogonites. The presence of ostracods and charophyte gyrogonites is indicative of freshwater environments in Rodafnidia. Organic remains are exceedingly rare; hence the chemical composition of the sediments and the depositional history of the site do not favour preservation.
The large Acheulean assemblage from Lesbos is the first ever to be found in southeastern Europe. The earliest evidence for this technological tradition is dated to 1.76 million years ago in Kokiselei, Kenya, and 1.7 million years ago in Konso, Ethiopia (Kuman, 2014). The name “Acheulean” was given by Gabriel de Mortillet in 1869 after the site of Saint-Acheul in France. The characteristic tool component of this tradition is the Large Cutting Tools, which were added to and enriched the existing core and flake stone-tool tradition spectrum. In Graham Clark’s (1969) categorisation, the Acheulean is described as “Mode II”. It is the longest-lasting technological innovation in human history, surviving for 1.5 million years. The Acheulean technology accompanied early hominins in their first out of Africa dispersal events and the initial colonisation of Eurasia. The geographic distribution of the Acheulean covers the full extent of the known world during the Lower Palaeolithic, from South Africa to Britain and from Iberia to China. This is also the earliest technology used by the first inhabitants of the Aegean on Lesbos.
The Acheulean industry from the Kalloni Gulf presents a remarkable variability in size and end products, capable of providing textbook illustrations of the full range of Acheulean stone tools. Operational sequences identified in the material from Rodafnidia reflect three knapping operations. The first includes operational sequences aimed to produce core tools through the modification of the raw material. Also known as façonnage, this operation produces Large Cutting Tools, chopping tools and debitage products (flakes, debris, knapping accidents). The second operation encompasses relatively short, unelaborate sequences with technical actions aimed for flake removal from cores with one or two rectangular striking platforms. Flakes, the circular or oval detached pieces, would be then modified into Large Cutting Tools with appropriate knapping, unifacial (one side of the object) or bifacial (both sides of the object). The third knapping operation includes flake tools whose blanks have been detached from prepared cores. Operations two and three belong to the debitage methods.
Who were the knappers and users of the Lesbos Palaeolithic tools? To date, no palaeoanthropological remains have been found on the island that could offer an answer. In Africa, Homo ergaster has been identified as the earliest species connected to the Acheulean (in Sterkfontein, South Africa, and in Daka, Ethiopia, fossil remains of Homo ergaster have been found in association with Acheulean stone tools). In Eurasia Homo erectus was initially the bearer of this tradition. Later on, in Africa and Eurasia Homo heidelbergensis also produced Acheulean industries (in Bodo, Ethiopia, Elandsfontein in South Africa, Ndutu in Tanzania, and Broken Hill in Zambia, Homo heidelbergensis remains have been found in association with Acheulean stone tools).
In terms of function, Large Cutting Tools have been classed as pick, cleaver and handaxe, and in terms of shape, as uniface (modification only on one face), biface (modification on both faces) and trihedral (sharp tip is formed by the convergence of three planes). The pick is a large, crude tool with a plano-convex or triangular cross section, and a thick, robust sharp tip. The cleaver is a bifacial tool made on a large flake. Its distal dorsal face, the bit, is a surface vertically or laterally positioned in relation to the long axis of the object, which ends in a large and transversal cutting-edge, similar to that of a modern metal cleaver.
The handaxe is a symmetrical or almost symmetrical tool with centripetal flaking on both faces organized to manage two convexes surfaces. The active, distal part has a sharp tip shaped by the convergence of the two lateral edges, while the non-active proximal part usually fits into a human hand. A handaxe can be made either by knapping the raw material nodule (pebble, cobble, or plaquette), or by modifying a large flake. Initially handaxes were knapped exclusively using a hard hammer, but from 800,000 years ago onwards soft hammers of antler, bone, or wood, have been used for the final retouch.
As a multi-purpose tool operated by the human hand at close range, a handaxe may be envisioned as the Middle Pleistocene analogue of the modern-day smartphone. Its ergonomics may be one of the reasons for the wide geographical distribution of this tool over two-thirds of the Palaeolithic world and its longevity in the history of technology. In its wide spatio-temporal range, the handaxe presents variation in size and shape (almond-shaped, ovate in plan view or flat and tabular forms versus thick ones in 3D view) (Key, 2019); occasionally there are examples of anti-ergonomic, oversized forms (Wynn & Gowlett, 2018).
The ability of early hominins to conceive the idea of the symmetrical, bifacial handaxe and actualise it, stems from the social and cultural context. It attests to a cognitive leap related to the development of symbolic and geometric thought. Aside from its use strictly as a cutting and chopping tool, the handaxe was also used as a medium for expressing thoughts and transferring messages (Cook, 2013). Many scholars argue that the handmade symmetry was triggered by the aesthetic quest and fulfilled the need for communication. Many interpretations have been proposed, not necessarily overlapping. Handaxes may have been used as a means of sexual display and for attracting mating partners (Kohn & Mithen, 1999); or as a symbol of identity of a person or of a group (Carbonell & Mosquera, 2006); or as evidence of the knapping skill (Stout et al., 2002) or other qualities of its bearer (Roe, 1981). Even though stone is a hard material, it can gradually be transformed into a malleable matter in which the ability to plan can be captured, along with technical decision-making and actualisation, satisfying the human need for social interaction and status.
In the Acheulean tradition a major novelty appears: the preparation of the core in such a way that the final product would be a detached piece in a predetermined shape. The origins of this trait were first identified in the industries of Victoria West in South Africa (Sharon & Beaumont, 2006), while a large Levallois core made on basalt was unearthed at the archaeological site of Gesher Benet Ya’aqov (GBY) on the Jordan riverbank in Israel, dated to 780,000 years ago (Goren-Inbar, 2018). These finds suggest a conceptual correlation between handaxe production and the Levallois technique (Boëda, 1994), which was to spearhead innovation during the following stage, and was long considered to be a Neanderthal breakthrough.
Relative (stratigraphy, technomorphological analysis of lithics, identification of micro-fossils, palynology) and absolute dating methods (pIRIR, palaeomagnetism) have been used in combination to establish the chronology of the Lower Palaeolithic settlement on Lesbos. Four samples from the Rodafnidia trenches have been analysed at the National Centre of Scientific Research DEMOKRITOS, Athens, using the post infrared stimulated luminescence pIRIR method, and the Thiel et al. (2011) protocol, and published in Galanidou et al., 2016. According to the resulting dates, the fluvio-lacustrine depositional units where the stone tools are excavated were last exposed to solar radiation between 476 and 164 thousand years ago, before they were covered by other deposits. Consequently, these dates provide a terminus ante quem for the activity of hominin groups in southwestern Lesbos. The chronology is in agreement with the technological and typological features of the archaeological finds.