Research group

Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO)

Bison painting at Altamira cave

We delve into the lives of ancient hominin species, deciphering their societal structures from diverse evidence to piece together how these ancient species organised themselves as individuals and societies.

Part of Archaeology


We founded our centre in 2000 to explore and promote all aspects of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology. We also study human origins.

Current and past members of our centre explore many topics critical to the evolution of our species. These include:

  • global dispersals by different species of ancient humans
  • the technology and cognitive implications of making stone tools
  • the influences of climate on where and how people lived
  • dating the global spread of modern humans

Our members have excavated in South Africa, Europe, North America, and Britain. We also review old museum collections. We identify overlooked data and apply it to new research questions.  

Our mission includes educating future Palaeolithic archaeologists. We offer various modules in our archaeology MA and MSc programs. These courses are taught by experienced archaeologists who are actively engaged in research, and they pass on their theoretical and practical skills to train students.

The Wymer Laboratory opened in 2006 in the purpose-built archaeology building. This is also where MA teaching and CAHO seminars take place. It's named after John Wymer, one of the most prominent British Palaeolithic archaeologists. The laboratory contains a huge collection, including:

  • stone tools, experimental and genuine
  • an extensive library
  • equipment for presentations and seminars.

All the resources are available to our students and researchers. 

People, projects and publications


Professor Alistair Pike

Professor in Archaeological Science

Research interests

  • U-Th dating
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Reconstruction of mobility using Sr and O isotopes, including time resolved measurements by laser ablation

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Christopher Standish

Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Isotope Geochemistry
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Archaeological Science
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Dr Francis Wenban-Smith

Principal Enterprise Fellow

Research interests

  • Hominin ecology and colonisation of Europe and Asia in the Early and Middle Pleistocene, in particular the history of settlement and cultural change through the Palaeolithic in Britain 
  • Human evolution and cognitive development, Palaeolithic behaviour and material culture 
  • Pleistocene chrono-stratigraphy and geo-archaeology, with a particular emphasis on the Middle and Late Pleistocene in Britain 
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Dr Helen Farr

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Seafaring
  • Submerged Palaeo Landscapes
  • Maritime Heritage

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Jacobo Weinstock

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Zooarchaeology
  • Palaeogenetics
  • Palaeoecology
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Professor John Mcnabb


Research interests

  • Acheulean – the broad umbrella label under which we find the material culture of the handaxe makers, Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis (c. 1.8 – 0.3 mya)
  • Development of Human Origins research as an academic discipline
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Dr Rachel Bynoe

Lecturer B

Research interests

  • Human origins
  • Quaternary landscape and environmental change
  • Submerged landscapes
Connect with Rachel