New horizons in reconstructing past human behavior: Introducing the “Tübingen University Validated Entheses‐based Reconstruction of Activity” method

New Article

A new review paper has been published in Evolutionary Anthropology by Dr. Karakostis (our DFG Center's Junior Research Group Leader) and Professor Dr. Harvati (our DFG Center's co-PI). This article summarizes a series of previous studies led by Dr. Karakostis, which introduced and validated a novel and reliable method for reconstructing human behavior in the past. The name of this approach is the "Validated Entheses-based Reconstruction of Activity (hereafter, V.E.R.A.).

An accurate reconstruction of habitual activities in past populations and extinct hominin species is a paramount goal of paleoanthropological research, as it can elucidate the evolution of human behavior and the relationship between culture and biology. Variation in muscle attachment (entheseal) morphology has been considered an indicator of habitual activity, and many attempts have been made to use it for this purpose. However, its interpretation remains equivocal due to methodological shortcomings and a paucity of supportive experimental data. Through a series of studies, we have introduced a novel and precise methodology that focuses on reconstructing muscle synergies based on three‐dimensional and multivariate analyses among entheses. This approach was validated using uniquely documented anthropological samples, experimental animal studies, histological observations, and geometric morphometrics. Here, we detail, synthesize, and critically discuss the findings of these studies, which overall point to the great potential of entheses in elucidating aspects of past human behavior.


For the full article, please visit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/evan.21892