Paleoanthropological research of many years on the coastal site of Apidima – west of Areopolis – resulted in the discovery of a uniform area of Paleolithic habitation in the wider region of western Mani.
The important Paleoanthropological finds from Apidima, resulting from research which was done under exceptionally difficult circumstances, have proved the great scientific significance of this site and of the wider Mani in general for the study of Paleoanthropology in Greece and for the evolution of man in Europe. Research was carried out by the Anthropological Museum in collaboration with the Laboratory of Historical Geology-Paleontology of Athens University and the Institute of Geological and Mining Research of Thessaloniki University.
Layers of Palaeolithic habitation, dating from different periods, and important human skeletal finds coming from six to eight different individuals have been located at Apidima. The importance of the Paleoanthropological finds, mainly of the human fossils of earlier geological periods, lies in the fact that they permit the study of the biological evolution of man.
Cro-Magnon (Homo Sapiens)
A number of Paleoanthropological finds, belonging to ossified types of the contemporary Homo Sapiens, have been discovered in the Upper-Paleolithic layers of Apidima. The most interesting among them is a female skeleton. The bone formation of the woman, who had lived about 30,000 years ago, refers to the Cro-Magnon anthropological type, known from similar Upper-Paleolithic sites in Europe and Middle Paleolithic ones in Eastern Mediterranean.
Early Homo Sapiens Finds
The most important Paleoanthropological finds from Apidima are two ossifed skulls (ΛΑΟ1/Σ1 and ΛΑΟ2/Σ2). On the basis of the available data, the human finds from cave A are dated between 100 and 300 thousand years and are classified in the Homo sapiens types (Pre-Neanderthal). The systematic name Homo (Sapiens) Taenarius has been proposed for these finds, until their laboratory cleaning has been completed and their age has been secured by absolute dating.
The Neanderthal Man
Human fossils of the Wurm Glacial (c. 100-40 thousand years), which have been named “classical Neanderthal”, have been located at quite many European sites in the beginning of our century. A series of early European finds, to which the skulls (ΛΑΟ1/Σ1 and ΛΑΟ2/Σ2) from Apidima must also belong, such as the Petralona, the Arago (France) and the Atapuerta (Spain) man, have extended the phylogenetic history of the Neanderthal man 200 to 300 thousand years in the past, dictating his phylogenetic origin from the archaic forms of Homo Sapiens.