The Origins of Culture: Archaeological evidence for the emergence of modern human behaviour

The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre is delighted to host Professor Alice Roberts for the fourth SWC Lecture.

For the last few millennia of human existence, we can learn about our ancestors’ minds from what they wrote - on stone stelae and tablets, on pieces of bone, on papyrus, in tombs, on monuments, in scrolls and books. We can tell what people in the past were thinking. 

But our species - Homo sapiens - has existed for around 300 thousand years. Our special capacity for culture is often seen as the most important feature distinguishing us from other animals. But when does that capacity emerge?  Alice Roberts explores the archaeological evidence for the emergence of complex culture and ‘modern human’ behaviour. That evidence helps us understand the development of the human mind - and what it really is that makes us human. 

Professor Alice Roberts is a biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster. She’s interested in the evolution, structure and function of humans, and our place in the wider environment.

Alice has presented a wide range of biology and archaeology programmes on television, including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us, Prehistoric Autopsy and Digging for Britain, as well as several Horizon programmes on the BBC. She presented a new 6-part series Britain’s Most Historic Towns on Channel 4 earlier this year. She has also written nine popular science books, including The Incredible Human Journey, Evolution: The Human Story, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being, and Tamed: Ten species that changed our world.

This event is free and open to all, but a ticket is required. Register here.

Photo by the University of Birmingham