Pre- Homo Sapiens Place-Worlds

Authored by: Andrew Chamberlain

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781598742947
eBook ISBN: 9781315427737
Adobe ISBN: 9781315427720

10.4324/9781315427737.ch8

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Abstract

The fossil record of human evolution spans over 6 million years, and at least a dozen extinct species of hominid have been identified from palaeontological sites in Africa and Eurasia. The natural world inhabited by these premodern hominids was largely the same as the world that we inhabit today—if we ignore the effects that Homo sapiens has had on the earth’s biota, topography, and climate during 100,000 years of stewardship. With the emergence of modern humans came the capacity first to drive other species to extinction through the effects of over-exploitation, followed by the ability to further modify the nature of the earth’s flora, fauna, and habitats through domestication, plant and animal husbandry, and deliberate habitat modification. More recently, the irreversible impacts of human industrial activities on the natural world at the global scale have become apparent; nonetheless, in some parts of the modern world there still exist a few examples of natural landscapes and habitats that resemble those occupied by our distant Plio-Pleistocene hominid ancestors. Furthermore, according to some views, Homo sapiens has retained some elements of its original biological and cognitive adaptation to a small-scale, mobile hunting and gathering lifestyle (Tooby and Cosmides 1990), an evolutionary legacy that is amenable to investigation as a potential guide to possible environmental preferences in earlier hominid species.

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