HNHP: Natural history of the prehistoric human being

UMR 7194 Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris-UPVD-CNRS

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Striving to define itself within his own environment and in relation to the future, humankind needs to remember that for more than 2 million years (the Quaternary period), it has stood witness to and catalysed changes in climate, the planet’s environments and its biodiversity. This is the backdrop against which the 7194 joint research unit – the Department of Prehistory at the Paris Natural History Museum – studies and teaches (in the broadest sense of the term) naturalistic and multidisciplinary prehistory that is rooted in a heritage approach the keywords of which are human lineage, environments, behaviours and long term. By ensuring constant interaction with the other entities within the Museum and with numerous units within the CNRS and universities, it is working on a project that is focused on national and international scientific networks.

In charge of several excavation projects which have been scheduled in France and overseas, the members of the 7194 joint research unit (including research students and volunteers) help apply their findings scientifically, as well as the findings of the heritage funds which result from them. They are fully involved in managing and making scientific use of the Museum's valuable collections – something which involves taking part in museographical initiatives: lithic and bony prehistorical industries, human bones, fossilised and current fauna and palynological preparations.

Research areas

  • Dispersions, behaviours and relationships between Humankind and the environment during the early to middle Pleistocene period in Eurasia
  • Neanderthals and anatomically modern human beings: emerging behaviours, cultural dynamics, territorial mobility
  • Palaeoanthropology: functions, evolution and (biological) diversity
  • Landscapes, biodiversity and environment: spatiotemporal dynamics
  • Prehistory in tropical and subtropical zones



  • A sedimentology-micromorphology platform: for characterising sediment, modes of transport and the conditions under which it forms.
  • A geochronology platform: dating of fossilised dental remains using combined U-Th/ESR methods; dating of alluvial, wind borne and marine sediments using the ESR method; paleomagnetism.
  • A palynology platform: palynological analysis of Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentary sequences; paleoenvironmental interpretations.
  • A platform for characterising archaeological materials: characterisation of archaeological and sedimentary materials; taphonomic alterations.

Additional information

Research programmes
  • ANR PremAcheuSept
  • European project prehSEA
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Date of update December 6, 2019