W2 Professor and Lise Meitner Group Leader of the Pan African
Research Group, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

About Eleanor Scerri

I am an archaeological scientist interested in exploring the articulation between material culture, genetics and biogeography to further theoretical, methodological and scientific advances in the field of human evolution. I am the W2 'Lise Meitner' Independent Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany where I head the Pan-African Evolution research group. 

I am also a senior faculty member of the International Max Planck Research School at Freidrich Schiller University, Jena and an affiliated Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta, my alma mater. Prior to my current position, I was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellow a the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, a British Academy Fellow at the University of Oxford and Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College, and a Fyssen Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bordeaux. I obtained my PhD at the University of Southampton in 2013.

My research group combines primary fieldwork in West Africa with a range of different modelling approaches using palaeoecological and genetic data, in order to test different hypotheses about human evolution. In addition to this, I am leading a third party funded project on the island of Malta, where I am from. The Malta Quaternary Palaeoecologies Project is seeking to understand patterns of faunal turnover, exchange, land connections and clmate change in the Central Mediterranean from the Pleistocene to the early Holocene. In addition to this, I am also involved in fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula as a core member of the Palaeodeserts Project, led by Prof. Michael Petraglia (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History).

My core research interests include:

  • The population structure of early Homo sapiens in Africa and intra-African dispersals
  • The origins and causes of cultural diversification in the African Middle Stone Age
  • The timing, number and character of early Homo sapiens dispersals out of Africa
  • Late evolutionary processes in the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene of Africa in different biogeographic zones
  • The colonisation of islands as a laboratory for the deep anthropocene
  • The development of rapid and replicable methods of lithic analysis, producing data that can be combined with other sources of information

Please see my Publications page where I list 40+ publications covering these topics. 

Photo Credit: Philipp Gunz

Photo Credit: John Cairns


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