The Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) is a transdisciplinary institution that promotes advanced research, education and knowledge transfer, and social engagement science. Therefore, we cross and combine different fields of science (humanities and social sciences, but also geosciences and biosciences) to apply them to the study of human and social evolution. Our aim is to promote knowledge both about ancient human species of the past and about human beings today.
The research at IPHES is organized through three groups and several projects that cover the whole field of human evolution including the reconstruction of the past landscapes, their chronology and the shifts in human behaviour.
Our research on human evolution and palaeoecology is based on the fieldwork on major sites, significant for the reconstruction of human and ecological past. The scientists at IPHES are responsible for sites such Camp dels Ninots detached for the reconstruction of Pliocene landscape and ecology in Iberia; Atapuerca, Orce and La Boella interested in the first human occupation of Europe and its evolution; Abric Romaní, Consagració, Toll and Teixoneres give as a glimpse on Neanderthals behaviour; Cova Eirós, Valdavara, Casa Corona and Molí del Salt give us the opportunity to reconstruct the social evolution of modern humans in Europe and their challenges in relation to the ecology shifts.
Our fieldwork is not restricted to the Iberian Peninsula. To the contrary we are interested on research topics affecting the mainstream of human dispersal all around the world. This is the origin of the research we conduct at the Eritrean basin of de Engel Ela-Ramud, in Danakil region and in Ain Beni Mathar-Guefait, Morocco, both detached for the primitive human dispersion through Africa; Oued Sarrat in Tunisia and N’Gaous-Kef Sefiane in Algeria are significant for the technological innovation during Middle Pleistocene and the human adaptation to the cyclically changing ecosystem of the Maghreb; Iranian region of Khorramabad is giving the picture for the human evolution and modern people dispersal through Middle East; finally Vallone Inferno in Sicily faces the introduction of Neolithic innovation along the Mediterranean region.
IPHES is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2016. We are now facing the challenge of consolidating the fieldwork research we conduct all over the world to improve our knowledge on the mainstream topics on human evolution and palaeoecology. The investigations we carry out in East Africa, Maghreb, Middle East, Europe, America and of course in the Iberian Peninsula on sites that are significant to the reconstruction of human evolution has to continue, improve and enlarge when possible.
The research groups and projects that build the framework for IPHES investigation cover the main disciplines and topics of palaeoecology and human evolution including the social shifts in human populations that faced ecological challenges. One of those periods of great change in human behaviour has been the shift from hunter-gatherer economies to domestication. IPHES is working on that topic on different geographical areas and sites. We are pleased since one of the projects working on this shift and its relation to ecological pressures has been recently awarded with an ERC Consolidator grant that covers our vocation on social evolution.
Our second commitment looks the formation of new cohorts of specialists on human evolution, quaternary and prehistory within the best international standards. The International Master on Quaternary and Prehistory, within the Erasmus Mundus Programme, has delivered the diplomas to its tenth cohort also in 2016. This is a double celebration for our institute that provide the students with the fieldwork, laboratory facilities and research projects necessary for their formation. IPHES is also participating in the International Doctorate in Quaternary and Prehistory that complete the education cycle on human evolution. We are proud that the consortium giving those university degrees is being converted in a school for studies on our domain.
We at IPHES are engaged in using human evolution as a scientific domain to serve the formation of a scientific culture and a social awareness. The analysis of the problems people has faced in the past has to serve nowadays citizens to improve their knowledge about human behaviour and the way to solve our current challenges. IPHES applies this engagement at two levels: universally through the diffusion of our research and locally through the alliance with public and private partners in our immediate territory. This is what we call socialization: a policy to make human evolution research an active mean for social change and improvement.