Dr. Bence Viola, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
January 28, 2021, 9AM Pacific / 12PM Eastern / 6PM CET
Central Asia and Siberia have for a long time only played a very limited role in discussions of modern human origins. These areas were seen as peripheral to our story, that was thought to mostly have taken place in Africa, Europe and Eastern Asia.
Over the last years, new research in Central Asia, especially in the Altai Mountains, yielded evidence that this region was not the periphery, but was an area where different hominin groups, such as early modern humans, Neanderthals and the enigmatic Denisovans – a group only known from a few fragmentary fossils and their DNA – interacted. Through the combination of ancient DNA, archaeological and morphological data we can look at the dynamics of these populations, and explore these contacts. In this talk, I will present some of the recent advances in our understanding of how these groups interacted both biologically and culturally.
Dr. Viola is a paleoanthropologist focusing on the biological and cultural interactions between different hominin groups in the Late Pleistocene.
After studying at the universities of Bordeaux and Vienna, he spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, and is now an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto.
Dr. Viola’s research uses an interdisciplinary approach combining morphological, archaeological and genetic data to better understand how the Neanderthals, their enigmatic Asian cousins, the Denisovans, and the first modern humans interacted. He has led excavations in Central Europe and Central Asia, and is currently working in Sel’ungur cave in Kyrgyzstan.