© K. Douka,  T. Higham, E. Mastora

Wenner-Gren symposium, Portugal



The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research organised a symposium recently in Sintra, Portugal on the "Human Colonization of Asia in the Late Pleistocene". The meeting was organised by Michael Petraglia and Katerina Douka of Oxford, and Christopher Bae of Hawaii. 


The Wenner-Gren is foundation dedicated to the advancement of anthropology and a major funding sources for archaeology and anthropology. The Sintra meeting was the 75th anniversary of the foundation had run meetings and running such symposia. It was also the final meeting for Leslie Aiello, the President of the Foundation, who has done such a great job for the organisation. 


The meeting ran for 5 days, and was attended by 19 participants (listed here). The Wenner-Gren symposia have strict rules that govern the meeting. No laptops or powerpoint presentations, long discussions and the programme is only announced on the first morning! Despite initial doubts the meeting was one of the most stimulating and interesting I've attended. We debated the various strengths and weaknesses of the various out of Africa models, looked at the DNA evidence, the archaeological evidence and the physical anthropology too. 

The conference location lent itself to open discussions. The Seteais Palace (now a luxury 5 star hotel) was built in the 18th century and covered in neoclassical frescos by the French artist Jean Pillement. It has wonderful views to the sea and beautiful gardens. Atop the hills around it in Sintra are various palaces and castles, including some dating back to Moorish times. 


The conference proceedings with be published in a special edition of Current Anthropology, the journal of the foundation, in 2017. 





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