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Institute of Archaeology

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Human Evolution

The UCL Institute of Archaeology undertakes world-leading research in early human archaeology.

Cova Gran, Spain

From projects focused on the origins of stone tool technology, to the biological study of human remains from archaeological sites and fieldwork looking at the responses of Neanderthals and modern human populations to climate change, the Institute has a strong record of high quality fieldwork and lab research.

One research focus is the process of growth in remains of children, particularly through the microscopic layered growth of dental enamel. Another focus is palaeopathology, including both skeletal and dental disease, diagnostic and epidemiological problems. Staff are active in research on the past half million years of human evolution, particularly the morphology of teeth and jaws and the heavy tooth wear which they show. As part of research in this area, staff have also developed new techniques for excavating, conserving, recording and storing human remains, from cemetery sites in Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Peru.

Lithics are usually the only tools preserved in Palaeolithic sites, and are also a major component of late Prehistoric assemblages. For most of human history, stone tools are all that may be available to archaeologists, and are an invaluable source to understand how ancient humans lived. A number of staff work on several aspects of lithic studies, which include Palaeolithic and later prehistoric assemblages from Africa, Europe and elsewhere. The Institute's dedicated Lithics Laboratory facilitates both staff and student research in this field.

Projects