November 17th, 2022

Big Bang to Humankind

Prehistoric Diet

  • Pollen analysis
  • Wear patterns on teeth
  • Types of tools used - hunting, plant processing
  • Malnutrition - tooth decay
  • Residue analysis
  • Middens (trash)
  • Cavities are generally not seen before the development of agriculture


Trade between sites can be analyzed via minerals are soil at different sites.

Dating Archeological Materials

  • Relative vs. absolute dating
    • Relative dating: stratigraphy
    • Absolute dating: radiometric dating (Carbon-14, Potassium/Argon)
      • Potassium/Argon: Dating Potassium distributed in crustal / volcanic sediments (rocks only)
    • Dendrochronology (tree rings)
  • Direct vs. indirect (date vs. date associated materials)

Evidence for Human Evolution

  • What makes us human?
    • Bipedalism
  • What causes evolution?
    • Mutations
    • Gene Flow
    • Natural Selection
    • Genetic Drift
      • Isolated population → different genetics
  • Hominids: bipeds
  • Hominin: humans, chimps, orangutans, gorillas
  • Lots of early fossils found in Rift Valley in Africa
    • Tectonic plates, so early layers get exposed
  • Touma:
    • Earliest fond biped, 6-7 million years ago
    • Found just cranium, but they can see where the spine connects so it’s a biped