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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research Group: Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins

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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 place 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.

The Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) was founded in 2000 and is based in Archaeology at the University of Southampton. It is a research organisation 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 in 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 so that old data 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 a variety of modules as part of our archaeology MA and MSc programmes. These are taught courses, 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 Wymer Laboratory, named after John Wymer one of the most prominent British Palaeolithic archaeologists contains a huge collection of stone tools, experimental and genuine, an enormous library and cutting edge technological equipment for presentations and seminars. All the resources are available to the students and researchers of CAHO alike.

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