Neandertals and us: news from our ancestors, and why it matters

The European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) will hold its annual meeting in Leiden from September 20-23th. The ESHE is composed of professional researchers and promotes the broad field of research that investigates how humans evolved both biologically and culturally. Contributing disciplines include Palaeolithic archaeology for which Leiden has a strong research group.

On the evening before the professional conference starts, Dr. Marie Soressi from the faculty of Archaeology will give a public lecture at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden. Dr. Marie Soressi will share some of the most recent exciting discoveries made in the field of human evolution and also discuss why it matters to study human evolution. Attendance is free, but limited to 250 people and on-line registration is necessary.

Lecture abstract: Spectacular developments in ancient DNA studies have revealed that today’s European and Asian populations can trace part of their gene pool back to the Neandertals. The study of Neandertal skeletal remains identifies some of their biological adaptations, and analysis of their technology and settlements shows the importance of culture in their everyday life. A new challenge in the study of Neandertal archaeology, pioneered by the speaker, is to unravel the nature of their interactions with our direct ancestors, the first early modern humans in Europe. Using multi-disciplinary tools borrowed from both the humanities and the natural sciences, palaeontologists, geneticists and archaeologists all contribute to the unravelling of the complexity of human evolution.

The speaker

Marie Soressi is Assistant Professor at the University of Leiden and a member of the Human origins group at the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden. She has contributed to several discoveries that have impacted our understanding of Neanderthal culture and their interactions with early modern humans. Dr. Soressi has combined high-profile academic research with large-scale commercial projects. She received her PhD from the University of Bordeaux, France.

After a post-doc in Cape-Town, South-Africa, Marie Soressi became a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. She also served as head of paleolithic research and large-scale project manager at INRAP (Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives) for five years. At the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden, where approaches from the natural sciences and humanities are combined to study the human past, Dr Soressi particularly values her interaction with students. She is convinced that archaeology, and human evolution, offers a unique and challenging academic environment for young people to confidently address the complexity of the modern world.

Marie Soressi’s publications can be found at

Neandertals wo 20 sep