WHEN AND HOW CULTURALLY MODERN HUMANS WENT GLOBAL
Tue, 09/04/2019 - 18:30
SA Astronomical Observatory auditorium
Our species emerged in Africa around 200 thousand years ago but archaeological records suggest that culturally modern humans, those possessing toolkits on a par with modern hunter-gatherers, only emerged between 100 and 70 thousand years ago in southern Africa. This talk will review our long, slow cultural evolution in the context of climate variations and other factors and discuss the engine rooms of innovation at the northern and southern tips of Africa. It is proposed that the successful global expansion of our species was only possible once we had become fully modern hunter-gatherers by circa 70 thousand years ago. When and how our species expanded from southern Africa into Africa and then beyond into the rest of the world as part of ’The Great Expansion' is complex and relates to climate, gateways and barriers. Our species did not set out to conquer the world, but that is effectively what we did. Many large animals, including all other members of our human lineage, became extinct in our wake as we quickly filled every habitable corner of the globe 50 to 14 thousand years ago.
Dr Compton’s books ‘The Rocks and Mountains of Cape Town’ and ‘Human Origins will be available to purchase at the meeting.