Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES)

The Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) was legally established in 2004 as a non-profit foundation within the CERCA program of the Generalitat de Catalunya, supported by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and the Municipality of Tarragona. IPHES is located at the URV STEM Campus (Tarragona, Spain).

The main goal of the IPHES is to develop scientific knowledge across human prehistory. Our research focuses on the cultural and biological evolution of different species of Homo and their environments. Fieldwork projects, data compilation, processing, and analysis, and theoretical work provides the appropriate background to gain insight into social, ecological and climatic factors that have shaped human evolution. The long-standing participation of IPHES researchers in the Atapuerca sites contributes greatly to our scientific production, allowing us to address numerous scientific issues. IPHES’ experience in fieldwork, data collection, research, and publications allows our researchers to direct national and international archaeological sites.

Academia is the second pillar of IPHES. All IPHES researchers collaborate in the URV university education and training (bachelor, masters and doctorate levels). Our Master on Quaternary and Prehistory is part of an Erasmus Mundus program with three more academic institutions of Western Europe. Using strategies of socialization of scientific knowledge, the IPHES works to provide the public with a better understanding of the significance of biological and behavioral human evolution. IPHES researchers publish on the most up-to-date topics in prehistoric archaeology:

  • Pleistocene and Early Holocene hominin dispersal
  • Evolution in subsistence strategies
  • Neanderthal lifestyle
  • Palaeobiology and biochronology
  • The impact of climatic change on human communities


IPHES has contributed in two major areas of international scientific inquiry: 1) determining the chronology of the first human occupations in Europe and 2) defining the palaeobiology of the earliest Homo species associated with the first dispersals into Europe.

Key Facts of IPHES

Number of archaeo-paleontological excavations directed by members of IPHES in 2019
Number of PhD. defended between the years 2015 and 2019
Number of disciplines in which IPHES published papers in 2019, according to WoS records
Number of ERC projects awarded between the years 2015 and 2019

Being part of a Centre of Excellence program as Maria de Maeztu Unit, IPHES should boost its potential as an academic and social oriented research centre in Prehistory and Human Evolution, promoting our knowledge both about ancient human species and current human challenges.

Robert Sala Ramos

Robert Sala Ramos

Director at IPHES

Articles from Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES)