Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 December 2013
As a result of its geographical location between the Old World continents, its distinctive natural resources and its innovative cultural record, the Near East is of particular interest to scholars concerned with human developments through the Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Research has focused on the nature and timing of hominid dispersals from Africa into Eurasia, the adaptations of premodern humans to Near Eastern environments, the nature of neanderthal and early modern human societies, hunter-gatherer adaptations in the later Pleistocene and the emergence of village-based farming. However, in spite of considerable concern with these phenomena, our knowledge of the early prehistory of the Near East remains geographically restricted. The best known region for the Palaeolithic is the central and southern Levant. Limited work was undertaken in the Iraqi and Iranian Zagros in the 1950s–60s, but the northern Levant and Turkey remain poorly studied. Aceramic Neolithic research has been more evenly spread, having benefited from the dam salvage projects in the Tigris-Euphrates basins and work in the central Anatolian plateau. However there are still substantial gaps in our knowledge.