Archaeology of Human Origins

This line of research centers on studying how hominins lived by means of the materials left in the archaeological record. Stone tools and the associated animal bones are the principal source of information for researching and understanding how human culture originated and evolved. The archaeological record, which starts in Africa about 2.6 million years ago, indicates clearly that the creation of sharp-edged artefacts used as knives is what sparked off the first lithic technology.

Later, humans continued adapting themselves to the constantly changing environment by adopting advanced stone tool techniques, which would later lead to the invention of the Acheulean handaxe, and then to the Technology of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. The archaeological studies are multidisciplinary, involving a variety of scientific disciplines such as geology, paleontology, taphonomy, experimental and cognitive archaeology, etc. Currently, researchers of the Archaeology Program are carrying out four projects in Africa within this line: 1) Gona Project (Ethiopia) under S. Semaw; 2) Ain Hanech and Tighennif Projects (Algeria) under M. Sahnouni; 3) Sites of Bed II at Olduvai (Tanzania) under M. Santonja and S. Rubio, and 4) Economy of raw materials, patterns of behavior and territory occupation associated with technological development during East Africa Pleistocene, under M. Santonja and S. Rubio.