The research carried out at CENIEH is of a markedly interdisciplinary nature, combining the different scientific fields in three Scientific Programs with a number of lines of research. Each Program has a coordinator, who is responsible for its operation and its interrelation with other Programs, both on a scientific level and in terms of human resources. Furthermore, research work is supported by the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i), to disseminat and outreach the research results and the services provided to society by CENIEH through its scientific and technological infrastructures.
The three programs are:
- Geochronology and Geology
The Archaeology Program focuses principally on reconstructing the technical and subsistence strategies of humans in prehistory, using a multidisciplinary approach that integrates studies of lithic technology, archaeozoology, bone taphonomy, formation of archaeological sites and spatial archaeology. In terms of technological strategy, the program investigates the stone and bone industries excavated at archaeological sites with the goal of reconstructing their technological processes and the sequence reductions that led to their elaboration. The approach used is holistic, encompassing the entire process of manufacturing in the industries, from raw material selection and manufacture to the use and discard of artefacts. In terms of subsistence strategies, the program studies past subsistence activities and how food was obtained, by examining the natural deposition of bones and identification of animal bones modified by hominins as a deliberate consequence of the processing of animal carcasses. In addition, the Archaeology program studies the pattern of spatial distribution of archaeological remains in and around Paleolithic sites to explore the cognitive abilities of hominins in their use of the territory.
GEOCHRONOLOGY & GEOLOGY
The main objective of the Geochronology and Geology Program is to characterize the temporal and spatial aspects of paleo-archaeological contexts, as well as their reconstruction and the study of their formation processes. This program straddles a wide spectrum of disciplines in the geosciences, such as geochemistry, geophysics, geomorphology, stratigraphy, mineralogy, petrology and sedimentology. The methods for reaching these objectives are often intrinsically bound up with the major instrumentation capacities. The special nature of chronostratigraphy and the dating methods render parallel advances in instrumental development and implementation, and the applications of the methods, necessary. To this end, the program dedicates significant effort to methodological advances, updating processes, and improving protocols to keep the laboratories in the forefront of research.
The main objective of the Paleobiology Program is to discover the biological characteristics of early hominids. The Program includes characterization of recent populations and those of other fossil and extant primates, to serve as a fundamental reference for knowledge about the ancestors of members of the family Hominidae. The Program covers areas such as paleoecology, paleophysiology, biomechanics, paleodemography, paleodiets, paleoethology, paleogenetics, paleohistology, paleoneurology, paleopathology, and other aspects of the biology of past populations, as well as the morphological description of fossils and assessment of possible taxonomic and phylogenetic assignment.