Silas Dean received his PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Pisa. In the Basin Analysis and Petrophysical Laboratory at the University of Haifa’s Department of Marine Geosciences, Dr. Dean reconstructs the ancient environmental conditions of the paleolake that once existed at ‘Ubeidiya in Israel’s Jordan Valley. The ancient site—over 1 million years old—has been identified as one of the most important areas for the presence of early hominins (direct ancestors to humans) outside Africa, and provides a unique opportunity to resolve questions of human adaptation at a pivotal point in evolution.
Applying expertise in sedimentology and paleoenvironmental studies, Dr. Dean recreates the ancient environment and climate through geochemical, sedimentological, and micro faunal analyses of sediment samples attained by drilling, and analyzes these data with information from the site’s rich assemblage of lithic artifacts and associated fauna. Dr. Dean attempts to answer important questions about the environmental conditions that prevailed in this area, part of what is known as the Levantine Corridor, during the passage of humanity’s ancestors H. erectus from Africa to Eurasia.
A comparison of this new data with regional and global climate records will show the large-scale impacts of climate on the local environment and clarify whether these fluctuations shaped and controlled the migration and dispersal patterns of hominins.