Human Evolution @ UCL


UCL Palaeolunch: Hardwired Handaxes

04 March 2016, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm


Event Information

Open to



Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology, WC1H 0PY, UK

UCL Institute of Archaeology invites you to a lunch with a difference. On the 4th of March, a paper from the journal of Evolutionary Anthropology will be discussed and debated. 

The goal of this paper is to provoke debate about the nature of an iconic artifact-the Acheulean handaxe. Specifically, we want to initiate a conversation about whether or not they are cultural objects. The vast majority of archeologists assume that the behaviors involved in the production of handaxes were acquired by social learning and that handaxes are therefore cultural. We will argue that this assumption is not warranted on the basis of the available evidence and that an alternative hypothesis should be given serious consideration. This alternative hypothesis is that the form of Acheulean handaxes was at least partly under genetic control.