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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Investigation of the Palaeolithic Period in Greece

The interest in human habitation during the Palaeolithic period in Greece was first expressed in the second half of the 19th century by scholars of Greek antiquity (F. Lenormant), who had become sensitive to the issues of the appearance of man and the beginning of Prehistory, then in vogue among the intellectuals of West Europe. In the years between the two World Wars foreign scientists, but now prehistorians (H. Breuil, H. Obermaier, D. Garrod), in the framework of their research also became interested in Greece and specifically in its position and role in European Prehistory. During the same period the first excavations (Zaimi and Ulbrich caves) were carried out by the Austrian A. Markovits, which however did not attract the interest they deserved for a number of reasons. After the excavation at Seindi, Boeotia, in 1941, the investigation of the Palaeolithic was continued after the War, mostly within the framework of research programs orientated to later periods. In the sixties research was focused on mainland Greece and was mainly undertaken by foreign archaeological schools. The British worked in Epirus (Kastritsa, Asprochalico, Kokkinopilos and later Kleidi), the French in the Eleia plain, the Germans around the Thessalian Peneios river and the Americans in the Argolid (Franchthi). Among the Greek archaeoligists who became interested in the Prehistoric period, the name of D. Theocharis is distinguished. In recent years the activity of a new generation of Greek prehistorians, specialized in the Palaeolithic abroad, as well as the realization of a series of interdisciplinary research programs on Palaeolithic (Theopetra, Boila, Kalamakia, Kleisoura) by the Ephorate of Palaeo-anthropology-Spelaeology gave a new impulse to the research and opened new prospects of scientific cooperation. Finally, the 1st International Congress on “The Palaeolithic Period in Greece and in the Neighbouring Regions”, which took place in loannina in September 1994, proved to be a milestone in the course of the relevant field. However, the progress of the research into the Palaeolithic in Greece will be successful only if the Palaeolithic period is included in the curriculum of Greek universities, the interdisciplinary groups are activated and the programs of cooperation and exchange with colleagues from the neighbouring countries are developed.