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Jonathan Haws

Dr. Haws' Research

My research interests focus on prehistoric human land-use and decision-making as part of a socio-natural process.  I use a multi-scale approach to understand how past humans, especially Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans in Europe, interacted with their environment. 

I have been doing archaeological fieldwork in Portugal since 1993.  Most of my research focuses on human lifeways during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. Currently, I am conducting a collaborative NSF-funded project titled, Human responses to late Pleistocene environmental change in the coastal zone of Portuguese Estremadura, with Michael Benedetti of UNC-Wilmington.  This project is a geoarchaeological survey of the coastal region between the towns of São Pedro de Muel and Peniche, about 100 km north of Lisbon. This project encompasses a regional scale survey that began in 2005 funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS-0455145, 0715279, 1118115 and 1118183).  The immediate goal of this project has been to find evidence of coastal settlement during the Paleolithic.  During this period global sea level was much lower because enormous amounts of water were trapped in frozen continental ice sheets.  Lowered sea level created a 10-40 km strip of exposed land along the central Portuguese coast during much of this period.  Most of this has been lost due to postglacial sea level rise.  However, in places where the continental shelf is steep, the distances to ancient shorelines is much shorter.  In addition, tectonic uplift due to salt diapirism and faulting due to stresses created by plate-tectonics have elevated ancient beaches and coastal landforms making it possible to find near-coastal Paleolithic settlements on modern land surfaces.  The Estremadura region is such a location and also contains the types of geological contexts in which Paleolithic sites are usually found in Portugal.

This project has discovered dozens of new Paleolithic sites, including Mira Nascente and Praia Rei Cortiço, and several important stratified sections that contain uplifted Pleistocene beaches, tidal flats, estuarine muds and freshwater peats. The two sites demonstrate Middle Paleolithic settlement in coastal wetlands, a previously undocumented landscape setting for Neanderthal habitation.  Praia Rei Cortiço is particularly important because it represents a rare glimpse of Last Interglacial environments in Iberia.  We reopened the site in 2012 in order to collect additional data on lithic technology and the paleoenvironmental setting of the site. In 2013, we will return to Mira Nascente for additional investigation.

In addition to the coastal survey, I am excavating a multi-component Upper Paleolithic cave site, Lapa do Picareiro. The excavation has been funded since 2006 by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Archaeological Institute of America, the National Geographic Society and the University of Louisville. This site contains a fine-grained stratigraphic record of human occupation and paleoenvironments dated 10-50,000 years ago.  The deposits reach at depth of at least 9.5 m with 36 distinct stratigraphic layers, most of which have animal bones and/or human artifacts. We just finished the 15th season of work at the cave and still haven’t reached bedrock.  Ground penetrating radar analyses by Lawrence Conyers suggest a depth of 13 m. The excavation will continue in the summer of 2013.

Recent Publications include:

Bicho, N.F. and J.A. Haws. 2012. The Magdalenian in central and southern Portugal: human ecology at the end of the Pleistocene. Quaternary International, 272-273: 6-16.

Haws, J.A. 2012. Paleolithic socionatural relationships during MIS 3 and 2 in central Portugal. Quaternary International, 264: 61-77.

Bicho, N.F.,J.A. Haws and L. Davis. 2011. Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement. Springer, New York.

Haws, J.A., C.L. Funk, M.M. Benedetti, N.F. Bicho, J.M. Daniels, T.A. Minckley, R.F. Denniston, M. Jeraj, J. Gibaja and B.S. Hockett. 2011. Paleolithic landscapes and seascapes of the west coast of Portugal. in N.F. Bicho, J.A. Haws & L. Davis (eds.). Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement. p. 203-246. Springer, New York.

Haws, J.A., M.M. Benedetti, C.L. Funk, N.F. Bicho, J.M. Daniels, P.A. Hesp, T.A. Minckley, S.L. Forman, M. Jeraj, J. Gibaja and B.S. Hockett. 2010. Coastal wetlands and the Neanderthal settlement of Portuguese Estremadura. Geoarchaeology 29: 709-744.

Benedetti, M.M., J.A. Haws, C.L. Funk, J.M. Daniels, P.A. Hesp, N.F. Bicho, T.A Minckley, B.B. Ellwood and S.L. Forman. 2009. Late Pleistocene raised beaches of coastal Estremadura, central Portugal. Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 3437-3447.

Hockett, B.S. and J.A. Haws. 2009. Continuity in animal resource diversity in the Upper Paleolithic diet of central Portugal.  Before Farming 2009/2/2.

Bicho, N.F. and  J.A. Haws. 2008. At the land’s end: marine resources and the importance of fluctuations in the coastline in the prehistoric hunter-gatherer economy of Portugal. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 2166-2175.