Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Wil Roebroeks is the professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is widely considered to be the pre-eminent Dutch archaeologist.[1] In 2001 he became a member of the influential Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[2] In 2007 Roebroeks won the Spinozapremie, the most prestigious scientific award in the Netherlands.[3]

Wil Roebroeks
Roebroeks (2007)
Born 5 May 1955
Sint Geertruid
Residence Netherlands
Citizenship Netherlands
Alma mater Radboud University Nijmegen
Leiden University
Awards Spinozapremie (2007)
Eureka! prijs (1991)
Scientific career
Fields Archaeology, Human evolution
Institutions Leiden University


Wil Roebroeks began his academic career as a history student at the Radboud University Nijmegen where he graduated cum laude in 1979. He then studied prehistory at Leiden University, graduating in 1982. In 1989 he obtained his PhD from the same university, again graduating cum laude. In 1991 he won the Eureka! prijs award for his popular science work Oermensen in Nederland. In 1996 he became a professor at Leiden University.

In 2005 Roebroeks achieved international fame when challenging the Out of Africa theory in Nature.[4][5] In another article in the same journal Roebroeks published on the discovery of stone tools in Great Britain, older than expected and contradicting the previously held belief that Northern Europe was settled much later than the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.[6][7]

In 2007 the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek awarded Roebroeks the Spinozapremie. The jury report highlighted his various original contributions to the study of human prehistory and called him the most prominent Dutch archaeologist nationally and internationally.[8]

In 2009 Roebroeks again made the international news with his work on Krijn, the first Dutch Neanderthal fossil.[9] This discovery prompted him to argue for the founding of a North-Sea Institute to deal with the archaeological material found in that sea.[10]

In 2012 he published an article about the earliest ochre use of early Neandertals. The discovery was made at the Maastricht-Belvédère archaeological site which has an estimated age of 250.000 BP. See: (open source)


Roebroeks has published in a number of academic journals including Current Anthropology, Nature and the Journal of Human Evolution. What follows is a selection of his most prominent publications:

  • Oermensen in Nederland: De Archeologie van de Oude Steentijd (1990), Amsterdam: Meulenhoff
  • "Dense forests, cold steppes and the Palaeolithic settlement of Northern Europe". with Thijs van Kolfschoten and Nicholas Conard (1992), in Current Anthropology 33, No. 5: 551-586.
  • "Updating the Earliest Occupation of Europe", (1994), in Current Anthropology 35, No. 3: 301-305
  • The Earliest Occupation of Europe, with Thijs van Kolfschoten (1997), Leiden: Leiden University Press
  • Studying Human Origins: Disciplinary History and Epistemology, with Raymond Corbey (editors) (2001), Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
  • "An Asian perspective on early human dispersal from Africa", with Robin Dennell (2005), in Nature 438: 1099-1104
  • "Archaeology: Life on the Costa del Cromer" (2005), in Nature 438: 921-922
  • "Time for the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe" (2008), in Journal of Human Evolution 55: 918-926
  • "On the earliest evidence for the habitual use of fire in Europe", with Paola Villa (2011), in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108: 5209-5214
  • "Use of ochre by early Neandertals", with Mark Sier, Trine Kellberg Nielsen, Dimitri De Loecker, Josep Maria Parés, Charles Arps and Herman Mücher (2012), in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109: 1889-1894
  • "Neandertals revised", with Marie Soressi (2016), in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 113: 6372-6379.


  1. ^ "Wil Roebroeks: wieg van de mens", De Volkskrant (in Dutch), 2007, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  2. ^ "Wil Roebroeks". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Spinozapremies naar archeologie, insectenkunde, natuurkunde en recht", De Volkskrant (in Dutch), 2007, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  4. ^ Roebroeks, Wil; Dennell, Robin (2005), "An Asian perspective on early human dispersal from Africa", Nature, 438 (7071): 1099–1104, doi:10.1038/nature04259, PMID 16371999, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  5. ^ Bakalar, Nicholas (2005), "Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?", National Geographic News, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  6. ^ Roebroeks, Wil (2005), "Archaeology: Life on the Costa del Cromer", Nature, 438 (7070): 921–922, doi:10.1038/438921a, PMID 16355198, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  7. ^ Owen, James (2005), "Stone Tools Reveal Humans Lived in Britain 700,000 Years Ago", National Geographic News, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  8. ^ "Juryrapport voor prof. dr. J.W.M. (Wil) Roebroeks", Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (in Dutch), 2007, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  9. ^ Rincon, Paul (2009-06-15), "Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil", BBC, retrieved 2009-06-22 
  10. ^ "Archeologen willen Noordzee-Instituut", Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch), 2009, retrieved 2009-06-24