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Naomi Martisius, Fulbright Scholar, New Bulgarian University, AY 2019-2020

Naomi Martisius was part of the research team working on bone fragments from the Bacho Kiro cave. The studies they published with the results from their joint work present very convincing proofs that modern humans began arriving in Europe thousands of years earlier than previously thought, sharing the continent much longer with Neanderthals. The studies were published in the journals Nature and Nature Ecology & Evolution, and the discoveries have been reported by all major news agencies as they provide new context for the early occupation of Europe suggesting there was around 5,000 years of chronological overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans.

Naomi was offered a postdoctoral position at the MPI in Leipzig, Germany, but due to Covid-19 restrictions she is currently working remotely from California on the write-up of the work she conducted in Bulgaria. In addition to that, Naomi received a National Science Foundation SBE Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to be conducted in the Anthropology Department at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. The main goal of this project will be to develop innovative quantitative methods for studying bone tools.

In the past year, Naomi published the following papers:

Martisius, N.L., Welker, F., Dogandžić, T., Grote, M.N., Rendu, W., Sinet-Mathiot, V., Wilcke, A., McPherron, S.P., Soressi, M., and Steele, T.E., 2020. Non-destructive ZooMS identification reveals strategic bone tool raw material selection by Neandertals. Scientific Reports 10:7746.

Hublin, J.J., Sirakov, N., Aldeias, V., Bailey, S., Bard, E., Delvigne, V., Endarova, E., Fagault, Y., Fewlass, H., Hajdinjak, M., Kromer, B., Krumov, I., Marreiros, J., Martisius, N.L., Paskulin, L., Sinet-Mathiot, V., Meyer, M., Pääbo, S., Popov, V., Rezek, Z., Sirakova, S., Skinner, M.M., Smith, G.M., Spasov, R., Talamo, S., Tuna, T., Wacker, L., Welker, F., Wilcke, A., Zahariev, N., McPherron, S.P., and Tsanova, T., 2020. Initial Upper Palaeolithic Homo sapiens from Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria. Nature. 

Fewlass, H., Talamo, S., Wacker, L., Kromer, B., Tuna, T., Fagault, Y., Bard, E., McPherron, S.P., Aldeias, V., Maria, R., Martisius, N.L., Paskulin, L., Rezek, Z., Sinet-Mathiot, V., Sirakova, S., Smith, G.M., Spasov, R., Welker, F., Sirakov, N., Tsanova, T., and Hublin, J.J., 2020. A 14C chronology for the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition at Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 

Naomi also wrote a blog describing her own experiences:

If Neandertals had a bone to pick, which would they choose? Blog post for the Nature Ecology & Evolution Community blog, Behind the Paper (May 8, 2020), and gave several interviews about her findings:

Neanderthals ‘knew what they were doing‘: Archæologist Dr Naomi Martisius discusses her findings about Neanderthals’ behaviour with Wikinews (June 28, 2020).

A Spark of Insight Into Neanderthal Behavior. Written by Anna E. Goldfield, columnist at Sapiens (June 22, 2020).

Game of Bones. Critically acclaimed podcast by Rose Eveleth, Flash Forward (August 18, 2020).