ABSTRACT

Examining time forces us to look into the origins and development of human behaviour and ask some of the biggest of questions. Nowadays, we can easily say what human behaviour is like. But what is it to be human? We understand that humans are a distinct species of animal, related closely to other apes. Chimps, bonobos, gorillas and humans share a common ancestor. Although chimps and bonobos use and make simple tools (as do some other animals), they have not developed complex technologies and the use of raw materials in the same way that humans have. No chimp or bonobo has yet invented the electric toothbrush! But, when we pass farther back in time, we reach a point where our own species had yet to evolve. Instead, we have to deal with the remains of

our ancestral species, and other early human relatives that later became extinct. The farther back in time we go, the less technologically developed is the material culture of these other species. At some point, we reach a time when our ancestors had yet to develop complex material culture. Archaeology is then left to study the biological development of our ancestors in the same way that geologists study the evolution of other animals. The excitement for the archaeologist lies in understanding what makes these early species human rather than ape. This is one of the most important questions that archaeology can address, which strikes at the very root of our identity and self-image as a species.