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Why uncover the past?

Professor Bert Roberts explains how modern archaeological science helps us trace out the human story and piece together the human family tree.

What makes you ‘you’ is as much about you as a person as it is about the ancestry written in your genes…

Human evolution is an eternally fascinating topic regarding the story of our species that is etched deeply in time. We are interested in who our parents and grandparents are and if you keep tracing our ancestry back, we are all related to each other somewhere in the distant past.

But how did it all take place? How did it all map out? Why did it follow that particular path? And why did it not follow another path?

Have you ever asked the following questions?

  • How did we come to be the way that we are?
  • What is our story?
  • Who are our extinct cousins?
  • How did we all interact with the world around us?
  • How did the landscape evolve?
  • How did the first humans in my country interact with the land?
  • How did the first people get to my country?
  • What types of interactions took place between the first arrivals, other species and the environment?

A team of archaeologists set out to find answers to these questions. With the intention of looking for ancestors of the earliest members of the human species to reach Australia, they began excavating in Liang Bua – a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores – and found the ‘Hobbit’:

“That’s the beautiful thing about scientific discovery in the real world… you get these serendipitous discoveries. You’re not looking for it, and it pops up. And it leads you in whole new directions. Suddenly, here’s a new species who we would have been around on the planet the same time as… and a distinctively different one from us” (Prof. Bert Roberts)

The fascinating discovery has had significant implications for the world of archaeology and beyond…

We may be the only species of the genus Homo left on the planet. But that’s not always been the case…

Join us on this journey as we use modern archaeological science to trace out the human story and piece together how we all fit together in the human family tree.

Conversation starter

  • What questions about the past do you find most fascinating?

  • What questions do you hope to have answered throughout this course?

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Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of ‘the Hobbit’

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