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The role of culture in early expansions of humans

Links to the project

Human evolution is a story of expansions. During the last two million years the genus Homo spread from Africa into Asia and Europe in several waves of migration. New species developed and old groups became extinct (range expansions). As early as three million years ago, hominins had established new ways of dealing with their specific environment through culture. Stone tools produced with the help of other stone tools opened up access to new resources and activated changes in body, mind and behavior (expansion of performances). The ecospace of human species and their conspecifics changed the viability and development of potential resource spaces not only through natural processes, but also through changes in the distribution of a species and its behavior, which itself was increasingly shaped by culture (expansions of resource space).

ROCEEH’s mission is to develop a systemic understanding of “becoming human”, one which integrates these three types of expansion and how they interacted with each other. The project encompasses the time from three million to 20,000 years before present and spans from Africa to Eurasia. The project focuses particular attention on the development of the human capacity for cultural activities, as well as its background and characteristics.

The role of culture in early expansions of humans

The role of culture in early expansions of humans

Host Academy
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Location and federal state
Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg; Frankfurt a. M., Hesse

Basic Research in Social Science and Cultural Studies

Project number

At the core of the project is the multidisciplinary, web-based georelational database known as ROAD (ROCEEH Out-of-Africa Database) with its geographical information system (GIS) functionality. ROAD unifies geographical data about sites with additional information about the stratigraphical structure of layers and the archaeology those layers contain. In addition, ROAD assimilates information on human fossil history, fauna, flora and climate, information which can be used to model early human habitats. The results are integrated into a digital atlas detailing the development of humans and environment on the basis of GIS.

ROCEEH is an interdisciplinary research center located at the interface between the natural sciences and the humanities. It is conducted from two research centers at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt and the University of Tübingen.

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