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date: 12 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Studying human evolution means getting to grips with the fundamental question of what it actually means to be ‘human’. Is humanity best defined by our genes, our physical biology, or our behaviour, or some combination of all three? Multiple lines of evidence are available from a range of disciplines, including archaeogenetics, biological anthropology, and archaeology, but each also has its weaknesses, and different disciplines often work from very different definitions of ‘human’ which are inevitably informed by—and impact on—broader cultural ideas about human nature and origins. This chapter discusses the ways in which archaeologists and anthropologists can integrate these often conflicting perspectives on what humans and our ancestors are, what we do and why, into a coherent account of how and why we ‘became human’.

Keywords: human evolution, Palaeolithic archaeology, biological anthropology, aDNA, socio-ecology, cognition

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