Landscape use by Homo erectus in Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)

Theme: Past Life & Environments

Primary Supervisor:

Ignacio dela Torre

Archaeology, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Philip Hopley

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, BBK

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Additional Supervisor(s):

Project Description:

The study of landscape use by early humans is crucial for our understanding of how ancient environments shaped cultural and biological evolution. Global climate trends towards more arid systems lead many to assume that Homo erectus was adapted to more open environments than Homo habilis, but the fact is that little archaeological evidence supports such a proposition. Thus, the ecology and landscape use of Homo erectus remains poorly understood, despite the wealth of such studies concerning those of Homo habilis.

This project will investigate landscape use of Homo erectus in Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), one of the world’s most important paleoanthropological sites, where unparalleled evidence has been unearthed on the biological and cultural evolution of 2-1.5 million year old hominins. This project will analyse the natural distribution of lithic resources in the Olduvai paleo-landscape, and how that influenced Homo erectus mobility patterns.

Policy Impact of Research:

Olduvai Gorge is one of the few Pleistocene sequences where preservation of the fossil record enables the study of archaeological and paleoecological evidence across wide areas. This project will thus open new venues for our understanding of landscape use by Homo erectus.

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