This paper describes the initial findings of the Balkan Paleo Project (BPP). The project seeks: 1 – to augment the evidence that can be used to test hypotheses about hominin and faunal dispersals into and out of Europe during the Pleistocene; 2 – to gather data for testing the hypotheses regarding the adaptation of early human populations to Eurasian ecosystems, the adjustment of their tool technologies, anatomical characteristics and behaviors in response to local climates and faunal evidence.
These research objectives can only be achieved by identifying and excavating a broad spectrum of archaeological and paleontological sties that span the Pleistocene within the Balkan Peninsula. Results of BPP activities conducted in southern Bulgaria are reported here. These include excavations at the Arkata rockshelter and associated caves overlooking the Arda River near (Eastern Rhodopes, Krumovgrad district), the Leyarna caves and the previously known paleontological locality of Mechata Dupka (Strandzha Mountains, Malko Tarnovo district). These activities have expanded our understanding of ecological conditions along a potentially important pathway along which early humans may have dispersed into and out of Europe, and have for the first time documented the presence of Pleistocene humans within southeastern Bulgaria.