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Chapter 13. Origin and Dispersal of Modern Humans. Chapter Outline. Approaches to Understanding Modern Human Origins The Earliest Discoveries of Modern Humans Technology and Art in the Upper Paleolithic Summary of Upper Paleolithic Culture. Homo sapiens sapiens.

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Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

Origin and Dispersal of Modern Humans

Chapter Outline

  • Approaches to Understanding Modern Human Origins

  • The Earliest Discoveries of Modern Humans

  • Technology and Art in the Upper Paleolithic

  • Summary of Upper Paleolithic Culture

Homo sapiens sapiens

  • Members of early Homo sapiens sapiens are our direct kin.

  • They were much like us skeletally, genetically, and (most likely) behaviorally.

  • They were the first hominids that we can confidently refer to as “fully human.”

Questions About the Origin and Dispersal of H. sapiens sapiens

  • When did H. sapiens sapiens first appear?

  • Where did the transition take place? In one region or in several?

  • What was the pace of evolutionary change? How fast did the transition occur?

  • How did the dispersal of H. sapiens sapiens to other areas of the Old World take place?

Theories of Human Origins

  • Complete Replacement Model

  • Regional Continuity Model

  • Partial Replacement Model

Complete Replacement Model (Recent African Evolution)

  • Developed by British paleoanthropologists Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews.

  • Proposes anatomically modern populations arose in Africa in the last 200,000 years.

  • They migrated from Africa, completely replacing populations in Europe and Asia.

  • Does not account for the transition from archaic H. sapiens to modern H. sapiens anywhere except Africa.

Partial Replacement Model

  • Proposed by Günter Bräuer of the University of Hamburg.

  • Postulates the earliest dates for African modern Homo sapiens at over 100,000 y.a.

Partial Replacement Model

  • Initial dispersal of H. sapiens sapiens from South Africa was influenced by environmental conditions.

  • Moving into Eurasia, modern humans hybridized with resident groups, eventually replacing them.

  • The disappearance of archaic humans was due to both hybridization and replacement.

Regional Continuity Model(Multiregional Evolution)

  • Associated with paleoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan.

  • Populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa continued evolutionary development from archaic H. sapiens to anatomically modern humans.

The Regional Continuity Model(Multiregional Evolution)

  • Question: How did modern humans evolve in different continents and end up so physically and genetically similar?

  • Explanation:

    • Due to gene flow between archaic populations, modern humans are not a separate species.

    • Earlier modern H. sapiens did not originate exclusively in Africa.

Early Modern Homo sapiens Discoveries from Africa and the Near East

Early Modern Homo sapiens Discoveries From Africa and the Near East

Time Line of Homosapiens sapiens Discoveries

Techniques for Dating Middle and Upper Pleistocene Sites

Early Modern Homo sapiens Discoveries - Europe, Asia, Australia

Early Modern Homo sapiens Discoveries - Europe, Asia, Australia

The New World

  • Ancestors of Native Americans reached the New World through migration over the Bering Land Bridge over many millennia.

  • Debates continue, but at present, the only direct evidence of hominids in the New World date to about 12,000 y.a.

The Upper Paleolithic

  • Cultural period began in western Europe approximately 40,000 years ago.

  • Five industries based on tool technologies:

    • Chatelperronian

    • Aurignacian

    • Gravettian

    • Solutrean

    • Magdalenian

Cultural Periods of the European Upper Paleolithic

Upper Paleolithic Tools

The Punchblade Technique

A large core is selected.

The top portion is removed by use of a hammerstone.

The Punchblade Technique

The objective is to create a flat surface called a striking platform.

The Punchblade Technique

The core is struck by use of a hammer and punch (made of bone or antler) to remove the long narrow flakes (called blades).

The Punchblade Technique

The blades can also be removed by pressure flaking.

The Punchblade Technique

  • The result is the production of highly consistent sharp blades.

  • They can be used, as is, as knives; or can be modified to make a variety of other tools.

Upper Paleolithic Archaeological Sites

Cave Art

  • Majority comes from southwestern France and northern Spain.

  • Grotte Chauvet

    • Dating has placed the cave painting during the Aurignacian period more than 30,000 y.a.

    • Images include stylized dots, human handprints and animal representations.

    • Among the archaeological traces are dozens of footprints on the cave floor produced by bears as well as humans.


  • Rock art is found in southern Africa dating to between 28,000 and 19,000 y.a.

  • Personal adornment dates back to 38,000 y.a. in the form of beads made from ostrich shells.

  • Excavations in the Katanda area show remarkable bone craftsmanship.

    • Intricate bone tools resembling harpoons were made from the ribs of large mammals.

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