Oldest Portuguese human fossils studied by X-Ray microscopy

During the first two weeks of July, John C. Willman visit the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) to microCT some Pleistocene human fossils from the sites of Gruta da Aroeira and Galeria de Cisterna. Both archaeological sites are located in the Almonda karstic system in Torres Novas, Portugal.

My research stay was hosted by Prof. Manuel F. C. Pereira and Prof. António Maurício in CERENA at Instituto Superior Técnico (Técnico) where the microCT is housed.


Postdoctoral researcher, John C. Willman (CIAS—Research Centre for Anthropology and Health, University of Coimbra), collected microCT data on Pleistocene human fossils from Portugal at Técnico this July. Together with Ana Maria Silva, he has collected data for the Virtual Anthropology of Prehistoric Portugal (VAPP) Project. The project—funded through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship—examines prehistoric human population dynamics and microevolution in Portugal through the analysis of variation in internal and external dental morphology.

On the trip to Lisbon John C. Willman visit the Geosciences Museums of Técnico, curated by Manuel F.C. Pereira. The Museu Décio Thadeu contains materials related to geology, stratigraphy, and mineral deposits—which includes a small collection of archaeological materials collected by Alfredo Bensaúde and Ernest Fleury in the early 1900s. Of particular interest are the human skeletal remains from several Portuguese prehistoric sites that appear to date to the Neolithic/Chalcolithic based on artifact association, some documentation by Fleury, and a few other 'biocultural' clues from the skeletal remains. This way, Ana Maria Silva and John Willman are already planning a return trip to Lisbon to work on this material with Manuel F.C. Pereira, to establish a new collaborative project at Técnico.

Additional information of this research trip at Técnico can be seen in John´s blog. https://johncwillman.weebly.com/blog/microct-data-collection-in-lisbon