Before the Neanderthals: How hearth and home made us human
A central question in anthropology is what makes human beings unique in the animal world. A defining feature of human existence is the way that we organize our social and family lives in space. Anthropologists have long recognized that base camps, places to which food is carried and shared, and where many other activities occur, are central features in the lives of hunter-gatherers. Consequently, paleoanthropologists have been consumed by the search for base camps / home bases among early hominins for decades. A range of evidence now suggests that this essential feature of human life emerged in the Middle Pleistocene by 400,000 years ago (if not earlier), in the stem lineage that gave rise to Neanderthals, Anatomically Modern Humans, and the so-called Denisovans. Choices of where to live, the organization of stone tool making, butchery patterns, and widespread evidence of controlled use of fire at this time suggest a profound reorganization of the economics of daily life. These Middle Pleistocene campsites may not have functioned in exactly the same ways as those of more recent periods. They nonetheless set the stage for the evolution of many fundamental human tendencies and behavioral institutions.
XLVI Journal of Anthropological Research Distinguished Lecture
Celebrating UNM Anthropology PhD Alumni on the 90th Anniversary of the Department, the 80th Anniversary of Anthropological Serial Publishing at UNM and (almost) 75 Years of the Southwestern Journal of Anthropology/Journal of Anthropological Research.