The project has been put together in collaboration with teachers, outreach specialists and prehistorians. The core team for this website and material are:
Penny Spikins is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Her current research focuses on cognitive and social evolution, including the archaeology of compassion, the dynamics of egalitarianism, the origins of autism, the evolution of self-control, and Neanderthal childhood. She has written a number of books, including most recently How Compassion Made Us Human and The Prehistory of Autism, and is currently working on a new volume entitled Hidden Depths: The Ancestry of our Most Human Emotions, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Taryn Bell is a PhD student and Research Assistant at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. She completed her MSc in Early Prehistory at York in 2016, and her doctoral research focuses on the archaeology of emotional attachments to objects.
Alexis Pantos is an archaeologist-cum-digital practitioner with an interest in prehistory. Work includes excavation, documentation and presentation. A recently completed MSc in Heritage Visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art explored the role of linked digital systems in artistic reconstructions of the past.
Below you can find a range of papers, articles and resources with more detail on many of the topics discussed in the lessons and on this website. All of the links and articles below should be open access and therefore free to read, but if you’re having trouble accessing any of them, email Taryn Bell (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
Please note that all of the following sites are external, and we do not take responsibility for their content.
Lesson One: Support Networks
Previous research by us:
‘Calculated or caring? Neanderthal healthcare in social context’ by Penny Spikins et al.
‘From homininity to humanity: compassion from the earliest archaics to modern humans’ by Penny Spikins et al.
‘The object of my affection: attachment security and material culture’ by Taryn Bell and Penny Spikins
The evolution of empathy and compassion ‘The compassionate instinct’ by Dacher Keltner
‘The evolution of empathy’ by Frans de Waal
Encouraging compassion in young people:
‘How to help teens become more self-compassionate’ by Karen Bluth
‘Can self-compassion improve well-being in teens?’ by Emily Campbell
Lesson Two: Human Diversity Previous research by us:
‘How do we explain ‛autistic traits’ in European Upper Palaeolithic art?’ by Penny Spikins et al.
‘How our autistic ancestors played an important role in human evolution’ by Penny Spikins [the conversation]
‘How our autistic ancestors played an important role in human evolution’ by Penny Spikins [roundedglobe]
Related articles, projects and videos:
‘The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man’ from Channel 4 (2018) - this is all about the new Cheddar Man reconstruction.
Neanderthal art video by Science, which also mentions the perception that Neanderthals were stupid
‘Where were all the women in the Stone Age?’ by Darren Curnoe
‘What does prejudice reveal about what it means to be human?’ by Jeremy Adam Smith
Fascinating project matching skin colours to the Pantone colour chart
And a TED Talk by the photographer, Angélica Dass
‘Understanding race’ - a project by the American Anthropological Association
Lesson Three: Difficult Feelings and Collaboration
Previous research by us:
‘Are there alternative adaptive strategies to human pro-sociality? The role of collaborative morality in the emergence of personality variation and autistic traits’ by Penny Spikins et al.
‘The geography of trust and betrayal: moral disputes and Late Pleistocene dispersal’ by Penny Spikins
Related articles and videos:
Video by the Natural History Museum about La Cotte de St Brelade:
‘Accepting the difficult emotions’ by Karyn Hall
Interactive human evolution timeline by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Human evolution timeline by the Natural History Museum
‘Meet the first Britons’ by the Natural History Museum - an excellent overview of early human occupations of Britain
There are some lovely examples of Ice Age art on
Morphosource, run by Duke University in the US, is a website with a huge number of 3D models, including a large number of ancient human remains. All material on Morphosource is free to download and use - if you don’t wish to download anything, you can simply click on the pictures to access a movable 3D reconstruction.
Note - if you want to look at all early human remains and not just the examples below, browse by taxonomy, then choose Chordata → Mammalia → Primates → Hominidae.
Homo habilis skull
Homo erectus skull
Homo heidelbergensis skull
Homo naledi skull
Neanderthal skull and mandible (jaw)
Neanderthal arm and leg bones
Remains from Upper Palaeolithic burials in Italy
The Archaeology Data Service (ADS), connected to the University of York, is another excellent source of data.
‘Denny’ 3D model of bone
Websites about the Palaeolithic and human evolution
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
For a virtual tour of the museum, go to https://naturalhistory.si.edu/VT3/
Natural History Museum, London
Natural History Museum’s ‘Pathways to Ancient Britain’ website
National Ice Age network - downloads
Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project (now ended)
Map of Pleistocene sites here