The Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins
Palaeolithic archaeology is about reconstructing how ancient species of hominids lived. Some of these species were our ancestors and others were not. We study a variety of different kinds of evidence, trying to piece together how these ancient species organised their lives as individuals and as societies. This is one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of all archaeology.
CAHO was founded in 2000 and is based in the Archaeology Department of the University of Southampton. It is a research and teaching organization dedicated to exploring and promoting all aspects of Palaeolithic Archaeology and the study of Human Origins. Current and past members of CAHO have investigated a variety of different topics, such as colonisation of the world by different species of ancient humans; the technology of making stone tools; the influences of climate on where and how people lived; when did we become a predominantly right-handed species; dating the spread of modern humans in different parts of the world; and many other critical topics concerned with the evolution of our species.
Members of CAHO have excavated extensively in South Africa, Eastern Europe, North America, and in Britain. But our work also involves looking at old museum collections, as well as historical aspects of our subject's development, so that old data and older ideas will contribute to the most up to date research questions.
A central part of CAHO’s mission is educating future generations of Palaeolithic archaeologists. This is done through the MA in Human Origins. This is a taught course, on which experienced archaeologists, actively engaged in cutting edge research, take part in passing on their theoretical and practical skills to train students to become the new generation of Palaeolithic archaeologists.
In October 2006 CAHO gained a new laboratory, in the purpose built archaeology building, where MA teaching and CAHO seminars take place. The John Wymer Laboratory, was named after one of the most prominent British Palaeolithic archaeologists, and contains a huge collection of stone tools, experimaental and genuine, an enormous library and is fully networked for teaching, presentations and seminars. All the resources are available to the students and researchers of CAHO alike.
The return of Professor Gamble to CAHO has provided the opportunity to focus a number of CAHOs research interests under the heading of the social life of hominins, combining both the personal research agendas of core staff, with broader synergies developed through core staff’s involvement with the ‘Lucy to Language; the Social Brain’ project. So, for the next few years, one of CAHOs lead research directions will be the social life of hominins.