Prof. (Melit) Dr Eleanor Scerri

Research Group Leader
Human Palaeosystems Research Group
+49 3641 686-971

Main Focus

I am an archaeological scientist interested in exploring the articulation between material culture, genetics, and biogeography to further theoretical, methodological and scientific advances in the field of human evolution and niche expansion. After winning a place on the Lise Meitner Excellence Programme with my ‘Pan African Evolution Research Group’, I received tenure in 2023 and transitioned to leading the new permanent Max Planck Independent ‘Human Palaeosystems’ Research Group. I am also a Reader at the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Cologne, and Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Malta.

The Human Palaeosystems Group is exploring deep time human-environment relationships in order to understand the dynamics of human bio-cultural evolution and ecosystem change, from the rise of our species, until the beginning of agriculture. To do this, the group focuses on three key areas:

·      The emergence and expansion of the human niche, together with its technological societal and ecological feedbacks

·      Disease-culture co-evolution

·      Island colonization, ecosystem resilience and societal feedbacks

These areas are supported by research projects in the group, including the Disease-Culture Co-evolution project, the Pan-African Evolution Project and the ERC StG funded IslandLab Project.

Prior to this, I was the first Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, where I set up and led the aWARE project which focused on West Africa place in human evolution. This project continues as the fieldwork dimension of the Pan-African Evolution Project. Prior to my move to the MPI-GEA, I was a British Academy Fellow in Archaeology at the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford where I was also a Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College. This position followed by my first, Fyssen Foundation funded postdoctoral fellowship which I held at the University of Bordeaux. I obtained my PhD in Archaeology from the University of Southampton, jointly funded by the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Sutasoma Trust.



Curriculum Vitae


Shipton, C., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Petraglia, M.D. Uniformity and Diversity in Handaxe Shape at the End of the Acheulean in Southwest Asia. Lithic Technology (Link).

Scerri, E.M.L. One Species Many Roots? Nature Ecology and Evolution (Link)

Scerri, E.M.L., Will, M. The Revolution that still isn't: The orgin of behavioral complexity in Homo sapiensJournal of Human Evolution 179, 103358 (PDF).

Pargeter, J., Brooks, A., Douze, K., Eren, M., Groucutt, H.S., McNeil, J., Mackay, A., Ranhorn, K., Scerri, E.M.L., Shaw, M., Tryon, C., Will, M., Leplongeon, A. Replicability in lithic analysis. American Antiquity.

Cerasoni, J.N., Hallett, E.Y., Orijemie, E.A., Ashastina, K., Lucas, M., Farr, L., Hoehn, A., Kiahtipes, C.A., Blinkhorn, J., Roberts, P., Manica, A. Scerri, E.M.L. Human interactions with tropical environments over the last 14,000 years at Iho Eleru, Nigeria. iScience 26, 106153

Guagnin, M., Haburaj, V., Groucutt, H.S., Hoelzmann, P., Gauci, R., Vella, N.C., Parisi, C., Cassar, M., Cassar, Y., Asciak, G., Scerri, E.M.L. Evaluating possible prehistoric cave art in the central Mediterranean: Analyses of pigment traces and identification of taphonomic processes at Għar Ħasan, Malta. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 47, 103815



Cerasoni, J.N., Hallett, E.Y., Ben Arous, E., Beyer, R.M., Krapp, M., Manica, A., Scerri, E.M.L. Archaeological sites and palaeoenvironments of Pleistocene West Africa. Journal of Maps

Scerri, E.M.L., Roberts, P., Maezumi, S.Y., Malhi, Y. The Role of Tropical Forests in the Deep Human Past. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 377, 20200500.

Blinkhorn, J., Grove, M., Timbrell, L., Scerri, E.M.L. Evaluating refugia in recent human evolution in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 377,

Gosling, W.D., Scerri, E.M.L., Kaboth-Bahr, S. The climate and vegetation backdrop to human evolution in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 377,

Groucutt, H.S., Carleton, W.C., Fenech, K., Gauċi, R., Grima, R., Scerri, E.M.L., Stewart, M., Vella, N.C. The 4.2. ka event and the of the Maltese ‘Temple Period’. Frontiers in Earth Science.

Blinkhorn, J., Zanolli, C., Compton, T., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Crété, L., Stringer, C., Petraglia, M.D., Blockley, S. Reply to ‘No direct evidence for the presence of Nubian Levallois technology and its association with Neanderthals at Shukbah Cave’. Scientific Reports 12 (1208).



Hallett, E.Y., Marean, C.W., Steele, T.E., Alvarez-Fernández, E., Jacobs, Z., Cerasoni, J.N., Aldeias, V., Scerri, E.M.L., Olszewski, D.I., El Hajraoui, M.A., & Dibble, H.L. A worked bone assemblage from 120,000-90,000 year old deposits at Contrebandiers Cave, Atlantic Coast, Morocco. iScience (in press) 16 September 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102988.

Groucutt, H.S., White, T.S.,  Scerri, E.M.L.,  Andrieux, E., Clark-Wilson, R.,  Breeze, P.S.,  Armitage, S.J., Stewart, M., Drake, N.,  Louys, J., Price, G.J., Duval, M., Parton, A., Candy, I.,  Carleton, W.C., Shipton, C., Jennings, R.J., Zahir, M., Blinkhorn, J., Blockley, S., Al-Omari, A., Alsharekh, A.M., Petraglia, M.D. Multiple hominin dispersals into Southwest Asia over the past 400,000 years. Nature 597, 376-380

Kaboth-Bahr, S., Gosling, W.D., Vogelsang, R., Bahr, A., Scerri, E.M.L., Asrat, A., Cohen, A.S., Düsung, W,, Foerster, V.A., Lamb, H.F., Maslin, M.A., Roberts, H.M., Schäbitz, F., Trauth, M.H. Paleo-ENSO influence on African environments and early modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2018277118 (PDF).

Blinkhorn, J., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Petraglia, M.D., Blockley, S. Directional changes in Levallois core technologies between Eastern Africa, Arabia, and the Levant during MIS 5. Scientific Reports 11, 11465 (PDF).

Scerri, E.M.L., Frouin, M., Breeze, P.S., Armitage, S., Candy, I., Groucutt, H.S., Drake, N. Parton, A., White, T.S., Alsharekh, A.M., Petraglia. M.D. The expansion of Acheulean hominins into the Nefud Desert of Arabia. Scientific Reports 11, 10111 (PDF).

Schlebusch, C.M., Loog, L., Groucutt, H.S., King, T., Rutherford, A., Barbieri, C., Barbujani, G., Chikhi, L., Jakobsson, M., Eriksson, A., Manica, A., Tishkoff, S.A, Scerri, E.M.L., Scally, A., Brierly, C., Thomas, M.G. Human Origins in Southern African Palaeo-wetlands? Strong Claims from Weak Evidence. Journal of Archaeological Science 130, 105374 (PDF).

Bergström, A., Stringer, C., Hajdinak, A., Scerri, E.M.L., Skoglund, P. Origins of Modern Human Ancestry. Nature  590, 229–237. (PDF)

Blinkhorn, J., Zanolli, C., Compton, T., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Crété, L., Stringer, C., Petraglia, M.D., Blockley, S. Nubian Levallois technology associated with southernmost Neanderthals. Scientific Reports 11, 2869. 

Scerri, E.M.L., Niang, K., Candy, I., Blinkhorn, J., Bateman, M.D., Mills, W., Cerasoni, J.N., Bateman, M.D., Crowther, A., Groucutt, H.S. Continuity of the Middle Stone Age into the Holocene. Scientific Reports 11, 70. (PDF).



Scerri, E.M.L., Kühnert, D., Blinkhorn, J., Groucutt, H.S., Roberts, P., Nicoll, K., Zerboni, A., Orijemie, E.A., Barton, H., Candy, I., Goldstein, S., Hawks, J., Niang, K., N’Dah, D., Petraglia, M.D., Vella, N.S. Field-based sciences must transform in response to COVID-19. Nature Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-01317-8 (PDF)

Stewart, M.,  Louys, J., Breeze, P.S.,  Clark-Wilson, R.,  Drake, N.A., Scerri, E.M.L., Zalmout, I.S., Al-Mufarreh, Y.A.S., Soubhi, S.A., Haptari, M.A., Alsharekh, A.M., Groucutt, H.S., Petraglia, M.D. A taxonomic and taphonomic study of Pleistocene fossil deposits from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia. Quaternary Research 1-22.  doi:10.1017/qua.2020.6



Scerri, E.M.L. Cultural Taxonomy for the European Upper Palaeolithic: A Wide Ranging Problem. Antiquity 93 (371), 1362-1364 (PDF).

Scerri, E.M.L., Chikhi, L., Thomas, M.G. Beyond Multiregional and Simple Out of Africa Models of Human Evolution. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3, 1370–1372. (PDF)

Scerri, E.M.L. & Spinapolice, E.E.A. Lithics of the North African Middle Stone Age. Journal of Anthropological Sciences 97, 1-36. (PDF)

Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Stringer, C., Petraglia, M.D. Skhul lithic technology and the dispersal of Homo sapiens into Southwest Asia. Quaternary International 515, 30-52.

Will, M., Tryon, C., Shaw, M., Scerri, E.M.L., Ranhorn, K., Pargeter, P., McNeil, J., Mackay, A., Leplongeon, A., Groucutt, H.S., Douza, A., Brooks, A. Comparative analysis of Middle Stone Age artifacts in Africa (CoMSAfrica). Evolutionary Anthropology 28, 57-59. (PDF)

Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Drake, N., Zahir, M., Louys, J., Armitage, S., Petraglia, M.D., Al-Omari, A., Al-Fageri, S., Al Murayyi, K.S.M., Alsharekh, A., and the SGS. Palaeodeserts Project Nefud Fieldwork report, 2016. Atlal: Journal of Saudi Arabian Archaeology 27, 115-140.



Scerri, E.M.L., Shipton, C., Clark-Balzan, L., Frouin, M., Schwenninger, J.-L., Groucutt, H.S., Breeze, P.S., Parton, A., Blinkhorn, J., Drake, N.A., Jennings, R., Cuthbertson, P., Al Omari, A., Alsharekh, A.M., Petraglia, M.D. The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula. Scientific Reports 8, 17165.

Roberts, P., Stewart, M., Aziz, N., Breeze, P., Drake, N., Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Lee-Thorp, J., Louys, J., Zalmout, I., Zech, J., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M.D. Fossil herbivore stable isotopes reveal Pleistocene hominin palaeoenvironment in ‘Green Arabia’. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 1871–1878.

Scerri, E.M.L., Guagnin, M., Groucutt, H.S., Armitage, A.J., Parker, L.E., Drake, N.A., Louys, J., Breeze, P., Zahir, M., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M.D. 2018. Neolithic pastoralism in extreme marginal environments during the mid-Holocene wet phase, northern Saudi Arabia. Antiquity 92 (365), 1180-1194.

Scerri, E.M.L., Thomas, M.G., Manica, A., Gunz, P., Stock, J., Stringer, C.B., Grove, M., Groucutt, H.S., Timmermann A., Rightmire, G.P., d’Errico, F., Tryon, C., Drake, N.A.,  Brooks, A., Dennell, R., Durbin, R., Henn, B., Lee-Thorpe, J., deMenocal, P., Petraglia, M.D., Thompson, J., A., Scally, A., Chikhi, L. Did Our Species Evolve in Subdivided Populations across Africa, and Why Does It Matter? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 33, 582-594.

Shipton, C., Blinkhorn, J., Breeze, P.S., Cuthbertson, P., Drake, N., Groucutt, H.S., Jennings, R.P., Parton, A., Scerri, E.M.L., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M.D. 2018. Acheulean technology and landscape use at Dawadmi, central Arabia. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0200497.

Groucutt, H.S., Grün, R., Zalmout, I.S.A., Drake, N.A., Armitage, S.J., Candy, I., Clark-Wilson, R., Louys, J., Breeze, P.S., Duval, M., Buck, L.T., Kivell, T., Pomeroy, E., Stephens, N., Stock, J.T., Stewart, M., Price, G.J., Kinsley, L., Sung, W.W., Alsharekh, A., Al-Omari, A., Zahir, M., Memesh, A.M., Abdulshakoor, A.J., Al-Masari, A.M., Bahameem, A.A., Al Murayyi, K.S.M., Zahrani, B., Scerri, E.M.L., Petraglia, M.D. 2018. Homo sapiens in Arabia 85 thousand years ago. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 800–809.



Scerri, E.M.L. The West African Stone Age. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History.

Scerri, E.M.L. The North African Middle Stone Age and its place in recent human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 26 (3), 119-135.

Scerri, E.M.L., Blinkhorn, J., Niang, K., Bateman, M., Groucutt, H.S. Persistence of Middle Stone Age technology to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition supports a complex hominin evolutionary scenario in West Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 11, 639-646.

Scerri, E.M.L. Le contexte démographique de la première dispersion des hommes modernes : une perspective de la Middle Stone Age de l’Afrique du Nord. Annales de la Fondation Fyssen 30161-171.

Scerri, E.M.L. Bridges and barriers: the Late Pleistocene demography of the Saharo-Arabian belt. In D. Agius, E. Khalil and E.M.L. Scerri (eds.), Proceedings of the Red Sea VI Conference. Brill Publishing: Leiden. pp. 69-88.

Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Amor, K., Shipton, C., Jennings, R.P, Parton, A., Clark-Balzan, L., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M.D. Middle Palaeolithic raw material procurement and early stage reduction at Jubbah, Saudi Arabia. Archaeological Research in Asia 9, 44-62.

Breeze, P.S.,  Groucutt, H.S.,  Drake, N.A.,  Louys, J.,  Scerri, E.M.L.,  Armitage, Zalmout, I.S.A., Memesh, A.M., Haptari, M.A., Soubhi, S.A., Matari, H.A.,  Zahir, M.,  Al-Omari, A., Alsharekh, A.M., Petraglia, M.D. Prehistory and palaeoenvironments of the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia. Archaeological Research in Asia 10, 1-16.

Campmas, E., Stoetzel, E., Oujaa, A., Scerri, E.M.L. Introduction to the special issue ‘The Role of North Africa in the Emergence and Development of Modern Behaviors: An Integrated Approach. ‘African Archaeological Review 34, 447–449.



Scerri, E.M.L., Blinkhorn, J., Gravina, B., Delagnes, A. Can lithic attribute analyses identify discrete reduction trajectories? A quantitative study using refitted lithic constellations. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 23, 669–691.

Scerri, E.M.L., Blinkhorn, J., Groucutt, H.S., Niang, K. The Middle Stone Age of the Senegal River Valley. Quaternary International 408, 16–32.

Groucutt, H.S., Scerri, E.M.L., Lewis, L., Clark-Balzan, L., Blinkhorn, J., Jennings, R.P., Parton, A., Petraglia, M.D. Stone tool assemblages and models for the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Quaternary International 382, 8-30. 

Stimpson, C.M., Lister, A., Parton, A., Clark-Balzan, L., Breeze, P.S., Drake, N.A., Groucutt, H.S., Jennings, R., Scerri, E.M.L., White, T.S., Zahir, M., Duval, M., Grün,  R., Al-Omari, A., Sultan, K., Al Murayyi, M., Zalmout, I.S., Mufarreh, Y.A., Memesh, A.M., Petraglia, M.D. Middle Pleistocene vertebrate fossils from the Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia: implications for biogeography and palaeoecology. Quaternary Science Reviews 143, 13-36.



Scerri, E.M.L., Breeze, P., Parton, A., Groucutt, H.S., Stimpson, C., White, T.S., Clarke-Balzan, L., Jennings, R., Petraglia, M.D. Middle to Late Pleistocene human habitation in the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia. Quaternary International 382, 200-214.

Groucutt, H.S, Shipton, C., Scerri, E.M.L., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M.D. Late Pleistocene lakeshore settlement in northern Arabia: Middle Palaeolithic technology from Jebel Katefeh, Jubbah. Quaternary International 382, 215-236.

Breeze, P.S., Drake, N.A., Groucutt, H.S., Parton, A., Jennings, R.P., White, T.S., Clark-Balzan, L., Shipton, S., Scerri, E.M.L., Stimpson, C.M., Crassard, R., Hilbert, Y., Alsharekh, A., Al-Omari, A., Petraglia, M.D. Remote sensing and GIS techniques for reconstructing Arabian palaeohydrology and identifying archaeological sites. Quaternary International 382, 98-119.

Stimpson, C.M., Breeze, P., Clarke-Balzan, L., Groucutt, H.S., Jennings, R.P, Parton, A., Scerri, E.M.L, White, T., Petraglia, M.D. Preliminary observations of stratified Pleistocene vertebrates with a new record of Panthera gombaszogensis (Kretzoi, 1938) from northern Saudi Arabia. Quaternary International 382, 169-180.

Groucutt, H.S , Petraglia, M.D, Bailey, G., Scerri, E.M.L., Thomas, M.G, Parton, A., Clark-Balzan, L., Jennings, R., Lewis, L., Blinkhorn, J., Drake, N.A., Breeze, P., Boivin, N., Inglis, R.H., Devèsc, M.H., Meredith-Williams, M., Scally, A. Rethinking the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Evolutionary Anthropology 24, 149-164. doi:10.1002/evan.21455

Groucutt, H. S., Clark-Balzan, L., Crassard, R., Shipton, C., Parton, S., Jennings, R., Parker, A.G., Breeze, P., Scerri, E.M.L., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M. D. Human occupation of the Arabian Empty Quarter during MIS 5: evidence from Mundafan al-Buhayrah, Saudi Arabia. Quaternary Science Reviews 119, 116-135.



Scerri, E. M. L., Drake, N., Groucutt, H. S., Jennings, R. Earliest Evidence for the Structure of Homo sapiens Populations in Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 101, 207-216

Scerri E.M.L., Groucutt H. S., Jennings, R., Petraglia, M. D. Unexpected technological heterogeneity in northern Arabia indicates complex Late Pleistocene demography at the gateway to Asia. Journal of Human Evolution 75, 125-142.

Groucutt, H.S., Scerri E.M.L. Lithics of the late Middle Palaeolithic: Post MIS 5 technological variability and its implications. Quaternary International 350, 1-6.



Scerri, E. M. L. On the spatial and technological organisation of hafting modifications in the North African Middle Stone Age. Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 4234-4248.

Scerri, E. M. L. The Aterian and its place in the North African Middle Stone Age. Quaternary International 300, 111-130.



Scerri, E. M. L. A New Stone Tool Assemblage Revisited: reconsidering the ‘Aterian’ in Arabia. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 42, 357-370.



2000 N.Vella, K. Borda, J.M. Briffa, K. Fenech, K. Grinde, E. Scerri, M. L. Sisk, H. Stoeger and M. E. Zammit. Preliminary Report of an Archaeological Survey at Għajn Klieb, Rabat (Malta). Malta Archaeological Review 4, 10-16.


Edited Volumes & Books

2022 Scerri, E.M.L., Malhi, Y., Roberts, P., Maezumi, Y. (Eds). The role of tropical rainforests in the deep human past. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

2017 Aġius, D., Khalil, E. and Scerri, E.M.L. (Eds.). Proceedings of the Red Sea IV Conference. Brill Publishing, Leiden.

2014 Campmas, E, Stoetzel, E., Oujaa, A., Scerri, E.M.L (Eds.). The role of North Africa in the emergence and development of modern behaviours: an integrated approach. African Archaeological Review 34.

2014 Groucutt, H.S. and Scerri, E.M.L. (Eds.). Lithics of the Late Middle Palaeolithic: Post MIS 5 Technological Variability and its Implications. Quaternary International 350.


Book Reviews

2019    Scerri, EM.L. Review of the book The Middle Stone Age of Nigeria in its West African context by Philip Allsworth-Jones. Oxford Archaeopress. Published in Azania

2010    Scerri, E.M.L. Review of the book La Grotte d’Ifri n’Ammar: le Paleolithique moyen by M. Nami and J. Moser. Forschungen zur Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen 9. Published in Antiquity 86, 933.


Science Communication

2021    Scerri, E.M.L. Archaeology in West Africa could rewrite the textbooks on human evolution. The Conversation April 11th,

2018 Scerri, E.M.L. What happened at the end of the Achuelean? Behind the Paper: Nature Ecology and Evolution

2018    Scerri, E.M.L. Human evolution: secrets of early ancestors could be unlocked by African rainforests. The Conversation September 6th,

2018    Scerri, E. M. L. The origin of our species. New Scientist 238, 34-37.

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