When: Thursdays, Sept 30- Nov 18th 10:00am - noon
No Class Oct 21

Where: The Hampton Inn

Cost: $195.00 for 7 session(s)

Type: In Person


Instructor: Assistant Professor of Practice in the University of Arizona, School of Anthropology has directed research projects and training programs in the field for Indiana University, Northwest College

Perspectives from archaeology and paleoanthropology

The human story of is one of curiosity, innovation, exploration, and expansion.  Adapting to different ecological zones and environmental regimes over millions of years produced the bewildering phenotypic and cultural variability observed in humans today.  While variability among modern humans often divides us and highlights our differences, we still share common themes such as the search for food, need for companionship, the necessity to support the next generation of the human species, and ~99.5% of our DNA.  Beginning with our earliest ancestors, we began accumulating complex cognitive, social, and behavioral traits as we spread across the face of the Earth.  This course takes an explicitly thematic approach as we explore some of the major questions related to seven topics in the origins of humanity: evolution, bipedalism, encephalization, the development of tools and technologies, human expansion, art and cave paintings, and recent discoveries and developments.

1 – Evolutionary Processes and Human Evolution

  • Part 1: From Darwin to Modern Evolutionary Biology-In the first hour we will cover the basics of Darwinian evolution and current research that help us understand how evolutionary forces mold species.
  • Part 2: What is a species?- In the second hour, we will discuss explore the species concept and discuss how this is becoming increasingly difficult for paleoanthropologists.

2 – Early Hominids and the Origin of Bipedalism

  • Part 1: Ardipithecus Group and the Origins of Bipedalism Early Hominids- In the first hour of this course, we will look at some of the earliest fossils in the hominin lineage, discuss significant changes in the skeletal anatomy, and discuss what this suggests us about the behavior of each species.
  • Part 2: Linking Primates and Fossils-The second hour will focus on how we connect fossil evidence to hominin behaviors by using modern Primates analogies

3 – Cooking, Technology, and Encephalization

  • Part 1: The Cooking Ape-Desmond Morris famously dubbed modern humans “the Naked Ape” and since then, others have employed similar labels. Here we will explore a theory that connects human digestive anatomy to cooking and to increases in cognitive ability.
  • Part 2: The Archaeology of Food-In this second hour, we will examine how archaeologists and paleoanthropologists learn about past diets. We will discuss several methods employed in the exploration of past food systems, and look at some findings from this research.

4 – Studying Tools and Technology

  • Part 1: The chronology and attributes of early lithic technologies-In the first hour, we will explore the development of stone tool technologies and cover the descriptive attributes of the early technologies and the associations between early hominins and lithic technologies.
  • Part 2: Learning from artifacts, technology, and the importance of context-In the second hour, we will discuss some of the method and theory of how we link artifacts to past hominin behaviors and how we begin building an understanding of archaeological sites.

5 – Early travelers

  • Part 1: The Travels of Homo erectus-In this session, we will look at the expansion of hominins from Africa into the rest of the world. We will discuss some of the theories and important sites associated with this first migration and expansion.
  • Part 2: Expansion of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens-In the second session, we will look at the expansion of modern humans and Neanderthals in the upper       Paleolithic. We will look at the timing and evidence of this migration.

6 – Development of Artwork and Cave Paintings

  • Part 1: The Upper Paleolithic-In the Upper Paleolithic we see an explosion of new technologies as modern humans move into new ecosystems. We will look at some of these technological  developments and discuss ideas about the interaction between hominin species, as modern humans move into inhabited landscapes.
  • Part 2: Cave Paintings, Rock Art, and the Creative Human Mind-In the second session, we will look more closely at the expansion and development of art in the archaeological record. We will spend time with the famous cave sites, Lascaux and Chauvet Cave, and discuss the importance of the development of art.

7 – Recent Developments in Paleoanthropology

  • Part 1: New Species -In this final section, we will discuss new findings that are dramatically changing the way we think about human evolution and explore the new species discovered over the past few years.
  • Part 2: Stones, Bones, and Wrap Up- In the second part of this section, we will continue to talk about recent developments and talk about the implications for future research on the origins of          modern humans.
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Register for Tracking the Footprints of Humanity

Online registration has been closed for this class. Please call (520) 777-5817 for information.