HISTORY OF HUMAN PEOPLING
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The anthropologist is mainly interested in describing the specific characteristics of the human species and its varieties and the ways in which they have established themselves. Disciplines related to Anthropology share as their common denominator the study of the natural history of Man and his various populations, whose origin, differentiation, physical and bio-social evolution they thus consider. These disciplines tend towards a synthesis of knowledge acquired to date regarding the biological history of Man and their fundamental themes include such subjects as the biological and molecular characteristics that differentiate present-day populations and the processes underlying their respective adaptations to environmental conditions, the chronology of the processes underlying human evolution, and the collection, classification and analysis of hominid remains, for the purpose of reconstructing the phylogenesis of the species and understanding the processes and mechanisms that have brought about the biological and cultural evolution of man.
Human Paleonutrition, too, is a discipline that aims to define the type of nutrition of ancient human groups through the study of chemical elements present in bones. It takes into account variations in climate and the environment and the economic choices and subsistence strategies of human groups in the past.
No prerequisite is required. The knowledge of spreadsheets can facilitate the understanding of some of the micro-demographic models part of biodemography
Course contents summary
Biological Anthropology in the field of cultural heritage.
Cultural approach to the modes of development of the Anthropological Sciences: the main paradigms which have guided the reading and interpretation of natural phenomena over time.
The historical development of theories of evolution.
Genetic characterisation of the human species.
Evolution of physical systems. Sociality, communication and language.
Human phylogenesis. Pleistocene hominids and Homo sapiens.
Theories regarding the genesis of Homo sapiens and migrations on a planetary scale: hypotheses and evidence.
The demic diffusion model.
Key moments in human peopling processes (Durand).
Current population of the Earth: the main ethnic groups and their physical characteristics.
The biological study of human remains (with rudiments of Human Anatomy). Ancient DNA. Osteology and skeletal indices. Skeletal biology and paleopathology: traces of disease in bones.
Analysis of biological data in the study of human peopling. DNA analysis: Y chromosome and mtDNA. Biological data: genetic polymorphism and blood groups. Formation of human language and use of linguistic data.
Global diffusion and occupation of multivariate environments. Food requirements in different environments. Biological and cultural adaptation and preconditions. Evolution of pigmentary and tegumentary characteristics. Extreme zones: sub-arctic, desert, high-altitude, malarial areas. Adaptation in temperate, tropical, urban and rural areas.
Biological Anthropology in the context of Cultural Heritage.
Human populations: growth and epidemic crises.
The anthropological study of the skeletal remains : Osteology and osteometry ; Determination of gender.
Estimation of the age at death.
Evolution of the genus Homo : Homo habilis , ergaster , heidelbergensis , neanderthalensis , and sapiens.
Homo sapiens anatomically modern .
Homo's Lithic cultures: Palaeolithic and Mesolithic artefacts .
The use of the skeletal remains :
Thanatology and fossilization of bones.
The reconstruction of ancient human settlement : the palaeodemography .
Ancient populations : the reconstruction of the diet. Vegetarian and carnivorous markers. The use of isotopes of C and N in collagen.
The reconstruction of the state of health in the ancient populations. The major diseases in the history of human populations.
The reconstruction of the lifestyle of ancient populations : indicators of biomechanical stress.
The reconstruction of facial features from human skulls. Applications to the computer.
Paleogenetics and human populations:
- Methods of study : mtDNA and Y chromosome
- Cladistic Analysis.
Mallegni F., Lippi B. [a cura di]. Non omnis moriar, CISU, Rome, 2009.
Canci A., Minozzi S., Archeologia dei resti umani, Carocci ed., Pisa, 2005.
Caramelli D., Lari M., Il DNA antico. Metodi di analisi e applicazioni, Angelo Pontecorboli ed., Florence, 2004.
Multimedial slides. Program for Spreadsheet for determining the gender of the bone remains
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral interview with recognition of skeletal material and discussion of the dimorphic characters that distinguish male from female skeletons. Ability to estimate the stature from the long bones and to make judgments about the reliability of using bone from different skeletal sites. Reconstruction of the original size of a long bone having available different fragments of the same.