Pleistocene survey of the Olteţ River Valley, Romania

Romania sits at the gateway to Europe and may have represented an important hominin dispersal corridor; determining whether this region was conducive to hominin dispersals into Europe is therefore critical. In particular, the Olteţ River Valley of Romania has yielded a series of fossil sites that can shed light on mammalian, including hominin, dispersal patterns into Europe during the early Pleistocene. For example, in this region is the site of Grăunceanu, which has yielded the richest collection of mammal fossils in Romania from the Pleistocene, and which is similar in purported faunal composition to the site of Dmanisi. At present, we are currently undertaking a new survey of the Olteţ River Valley to identify new paleontological localities.

In conjunction with our survey efforts, we have just begun to fully inventory the Grăunceanu faunal assemblage, with the goal of updating the species list for this site, and conducting a thorough palecological study of this assemblage. This will include taphonomic, ecomormophological, stable isotope, microwear, mesowear, and micromammal analysis. Combined, these investigations will allow us to assess the potential for human dispersal through this region during the early Pleistocene.

Preliminary results of our field and laboratory work can be found in our 2013 AAPA2015 SVP, and 2017 ESHE posters.