Institute of Archaeology

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Institute of Archaeology Annual Lecture 2013

Publication date: Jan 30, 2013 3:32:11 PM

Start: May 1, 2013 6:30:00 PM

Location: UCL Chemistry LT: Christopher Ingold XLG1

Prof Chris Stringer holding the Broken Hill skull (Photo courtesy of The Natural History Museum, London)

Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum) will give the Institute of Archaeology Annual Lecture 2013 on 1 May with a presentation entitled 'Human Evolution in Europe'.  

Prof Stringer's lecture will be held in the Christopher Ingold XLG1 Chemistry Lecture Theatre at UCL and will be followed by a drinks reception in the A.G. Leventis Gallery of Cypriot and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology at the Institute. All are welcome to attend.

Admission is free but registration is required for the event.  Please click here to book your ticket»

Abstract

Human Evolution in Europe

Thirty years ago, Europe was considered to be a locus for the evolution of Homo sapiens, with the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition paralleling a gradual transformation of the Neanderthals into modern humans. However since then, accumulating fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence has suggested that its mid-late Pleistocene record documents the appearance and physical extinction of the Neanderthals. Nevertheless, the early history of humans in Europe is much more complex than that.

The earliest occupants may well have resembled those known at Dmanisi, while the species Homo antecessor was present in Iberia around the time of the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary. The mode of transition to Homo heidelbergensis by about 600 ka is uncertain, and the large Sima de los Huesos sample from Atapuerca is central to debate about the status of this species, and its relationship to the Neanderthals. Although it is claimed that this assemblage represents heidelbergensis and dates from ~600 ka, the clear Neanderthal affinities are in conflict with other fossil and genetic estimates of the origin of the Neanderthal lineage. Instead it seems more likely that the bulk of the material is much younger than 500 ka and represents a primitive form of Homo neanderthalensis. By ~400 ka Neanderthal affinities may be apparent at Swanscombe, but more archaic morphologies were still present at Ceprano and Bilzingsleben, and perhaps also at Vértesszőlős and Petralona.  Moving on to the late Pleistocene, the physical and cultural juncture between neanderthalensis and sapiens continues to look complex, with new archaeological and chronological data, and genomic evidence of the survival of Neanderthal DNA in extant humans. However, how much interaction there actually was between these populations in Europe and beyond remains to be established.

  • Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Kelly Trifilo.

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