Egyptian Section Research at the Penn Museum

The Abydos Survey for Paleolithic Sites (ASPS) examines early modern human behaviors in an area along the Nile Valley route out-of Africa.


The ASPS project surveyed the high desert near Abydos in Middle Egypt—450 km south of Cairo.


Paleolithic: 500,000 to 10,000 BP (Before Present) with emphasis on the Middle Paleolithic (240,000-45,000 BP).


  • Deborah I. Olszewski (Penn)
  • Harold L. Dibble (Penn)
  • Shannon P. McPherron (Max Planck Institute)
  • Jennifer R. Smith (Washington University)

Project Overview

The ASPS project uses systematic archaeological survey, detailed stone artifact analysis, and study of landscape formation processes of the high desert west of Abydos (Middle Egypt), focusing mainly on the Middle Paleolithic. During this time (~100,000 BP), the first anatomically modern humans left Africa to colonize the rest of the Old World, and the Nile Corridor quite probably represents the route for this dispersal. Our goal is to provide new and important data on the ways in which this landscape was used and how early modern human behaviors were or were not similar to later modern human strategies.

Additional Sponsors

National Science Foundation
Leakey Foundation

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