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Palaeoanthropology and Human Evolution
Provider: Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Activity no.: 3496-23-00-00 
Enrollment deadline: 31/05/2023
Date and time26.06.2023, at: 09:00 - 30.06.2023, at: 18:00
Regular seats20
Course fee9,600.00 kr.
LecturersEnrico Cappellini
ECTS credits4.50
Contact personIda Marie Bergman Rasmussen    E-mail address: ida.mbr@sund.ku.dk
Enrolment Handling/Course OrganiserPhD administration     E-mail address: phdkursus@sund.ku.dk

Aim and content
This course is free of charge for PhD students at Danish universities (except Copenhagen Business School), and for PhD Students from NorDoc member universities. All other participants must pay the course fee.

Anyone can apply for the course, but if you are not a PhD student at a Danish university, you will be placed on the waiting list until enrollment deadline.

This also applies to PhD students from NorDoc member universities. After the enrollment deadline, available seats will be allocated to applicants on the waiting list

Learning objectives
A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to acquire the following knowledge, skills and competencies:

- Understand the processes driving human evolution and the diversity of extinct hominin species, as well as the origins and dispersal of anatomically modern humans.
- Clearly identify the main research challenges in palaeoanthropology, and how they can be addressed studying hominin fossil remains with state of the art morphological and molecular methods.
- Acquire advanced knowledge on hominin cranial and dental morphology.
- Understand the whole process for studying a site from its discovery, its excavation, the recovery of the fossils and their study, the dating of the site and of the fossils.

- Recognize the different hominin taxa (genera and species).
- Identify anatomical parts of the human skeleton in extant and extinct species.
- Handle a fossil specimen from the moment it is discovered all the way through restoration, preservation and museum conservation.
- Acquire knowledge on using software, such as Images and Avizo/Amira, for 3D image analysis and virtual reconstruction of skeletal elements, as well as tools for and statistical (R), and in some cases get advanced skills on data exploration and analysis including the exploration and quantification of structural features with geometric morphometrics).
- Understand the scientific basis and the application of different dating methods of a fossil and of a site.
- Learn zooarchaeological approaches to analyze fossil assemblages.
- Learn how to reconstruct paleodiet and palaeoenvironment from the fossil record.

- Judge, and eventually critique, the content of scientific literature describing palaeoanthropological-based research.
- Understand the application of the different dating methods and critique the misuse of dating techniques of fossils and sites.
- Be able to understand the diet and palaeoenvironment reconstructions in the literature and propose eventually better applications of the different methods.
- Evaluate the robustness and reliability of morphometric analysis results, either yours or previously published.

This course will provide an introduction to the fossil evidence available to the study of human evolution. We will proceed chronologically from the earliest hominins, who originated around 7 million years ago in Africa, up until modern humans who inhabit every part of the world today.

Beginning with the Oligocene and Miocene primate substratum, we will examine the six subsequent major stages of hominin evolution: 1) the earliest hominins, 2) the earliest Homo fossils, 3) Homo erectus, 4) Homo naledi, Homo heidelbergensis, Neanderthals and the Denisovans, 5) Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonensis, 6) Homo sapiens.

For each stage we will provide historical discoveries of previous research, along with a description of the fossil evidence contributing to our knowledge, including paleobiological aspects (upright walking/biomechanics, footprints, paleo-obstetrics and birth, dietary behavior, hand capacities).

The cultural behavior when available (symbolic behavior, subsistence patterns, level of technological capabilities) will be illustrated by archaeological evidences represented in each stage.

We will also explain how to study a site and the fossils it yields. The different methods to analyze the deposits, to date them and to date the fossils, to study the morphology of the fossils and their diet will presented.

To further understand the whole process of studying a site from its discovery to the publication of the fossils, a key site for palaeoanthropology in Southeast Asia will be presented, Tam Pà Ling. This site yielded some of the first Homo sapiens arriving in the region by 60-80 ka. Presentation of Tam Pà Ling site from Northern Laos and the different studies conducted there over 10 years will illustrate the need for multidisciplinary approaches to address the challenges inherent to paleoanthropological sites.

The course will be of special interest to those investigating paleoanthropology, archaeology and/or cultural heritage at PhD level to Danish and Scandinavian students.

Relevance to graduate programmes
- Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Oral Sciences, Forensic Medicine and Anthropology


Lectures in class and in class with Zoom, practical training on casts of fossils, practical data analysis training and exercises for a total of 45 hours.

Course director
Enrico Cappellini: Associate Professor, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, ecappellini@sund.ku.dk

Course co-director:
Fabrice Demeter: Assistant Professor, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, f.demeter@sund.ku.dk

Physical presence:

Fabrice Demeter: Assistant Professor, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen
Eske Willerslev: Professor, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen
Martin Sikora: Professor, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen
Clément Zanolli: Researcher, University of Bordeaux, France
Lauren Schroeder: Researcher,
Renaud Joannes-Boyau: Researcher, Southern Cross University, Australia

On Zoom:

Nicolas Bourgon: (isotopes, Diet and palaeoevironment reconstructions)
Florent Détroit: (Homo luzonensis, Homo floresiensis)
Anne-Marie Bacon: (biochronology)
Philippe Duringer (Geology)
26-30 June 2023

Course location
The Globe Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark

Please register before 31 Mayl 2023

Seats to PhD students from other Danish universities will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and according to the applicable rules.
Applications from other participants will be considered after the last day of enrolment.

Note: All applicants are asked to submit invoice details in case of no-show, late cancellation or obligation to pay the course fee (typically non-PhD students). If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be in agreement with your principal supervisor.

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