In this module an overview of the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic archaeology in Eurasia will be provided. The course begins with the earliest out of Africa and the human dispersal across Eurasia. Then the European Lower and Middle Pleistocene chrono-stratigraphical sequence will be reviewed, as well as the major sites in Asia. Subsistence and technological patterns by Neanderthals, and their symbolic behaviour, will be assessed following recent debates and discoveries. Finally, theories of Homo sapiens origins and the extinction of last pre-modern humans will be discussed.
Aims and objectives of the course
This course aims to review some of the key issues in human biological and behavioural evolution, from the first dispersal of hominins from Africa until the emergence of anatomically modern humans. The archaeological record from the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic periods in Europe and Asia will be examined in relation to data from paleo-environmental and bio-anthropological research. Subsistence and technological patterns by Neanderthals, and their symbolic behaviour, will be assessed following recent debates and discoveries. Finally, theories of Homo sapiens origins and the extinction of last pre-modern humans will be discussed.
On completion of this course, students should have a good understanding of some of the central debates in the study of pre-modern humans in Europe and Asia. The seminars, practical classes, associated readings and written work should provide a strong foundation for research in this discipline.
On successful completion of the course, students should demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge on the Archaeology of archaic humans. Students will be able to read critically scientific publications, identify the key elements of the Palaeolithic material culture, and include them in the evolutionary frameworks required to interpret the behaviour of pre-modern humans. In addition, the development of seminars will support the acquisition of oral presentation skills and debate abilities.
This course will involve 3 lectures (6 hours), 2 practical sessions (4 hours) - one of them in the British Museum- and 5 seminars (10 hours). The structure of seminars will be as follows: a short presentation of the case study will be introduced by the course coordinator. Then, a student or a group of students will support a hypothesis on the interpretation of a given problem, basing their arguments in the bibliography suggested. Later, another student/ group of students will support an alternative archaeological hypothesis, again through the articles provided. It is expected that the exposition of rival explanations for the interpretation of case studies will create a discussion environment in which all students participate.
The composition of discussion groups will depend on the overall number of students, but all sessions are compulsory for all students. Seminars have recommended articles, which all students (and not only those involved in the discussion groups) are expected to read, in order to contribute actively to the debate. Composition of groups and the selection of topics for the seminars will be arranged at the beginning of the term.