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Home » Explore the fascinating history of mankind with ROAD, the largest digital collection of prehistoric sites

Explore the fascinating history of mankind with ROAD, the largest digital collection of prehistoric sites

Discover the fascinating history of mankind, from 3 million to 20,000 years ago, with just one click! Thanks to the research center ROCEEH, you can now access a vast database comprising 2,400 prehistoric sites and 24,000 assemblages from over 100 ancient cultures.

This digital collection, known as ROAD (ROCEEH Out of Africa Database), offers a comprehensive view of archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, and botany, spanning 150 years of research. Dr. Andrew Kandel, from the University of Tübingen, highlights how this tool combines cultural remains, human fossils, animal bones, and plants within a unified geographical and chronological framework, making it invaluable for understanding human .

The hard work of an international team of six scientists and numerous research assistants, analyzing over 5,000 publications in multiple languages, has made this rich resource available for free. The user-friendly map interface allows you to explore sites worldwide and generate custom maps based on specific cultures, periods, or regions of interest. Additionally, you can download a summary data sheet for each site in PDF format.

The majority of the prehistoric world remains uncharted, as shown by the blank areas. This visualization is based on a Kernel Density Estimate of assemblages in ROAD. Sites with higher densities of assemblages appear more intense in color. Credit: Christian Sommer (ROCEEH); made with Natural Earth – public domain

Kandel emphasizes how scientists can leverage ROAD to formulate advanced queries, revealing insights into various aspects of human history. Queries can unveil the presence of different stone tools across Africa or the distribution of animals like horses, rhinoceroses, or reindeer during glacial periods. The data provides a vast resource for visualization and analysis.

ROCEEH's goal is to deepen our understanding of human history by examining the intricate relationship between culture and the environment, exploring the impact on human expansions. Embracing open science, they offer this valuable data freely to the global community, including the general public, students, and researchers.

Notably, the data collection already highlights that much of our scientific knowledge comes from well-studied regions like Southern and Eastern Africa, Europe, Central, and East Asia, with Oceania yet to be explored. The missing pieces hint at exciting discoveries in archaeology and anthropology to come.


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