The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Apr 30, 2015
Moses Hall, Room 234, 5–7 PM
Stephen Davies (University of Auckland)
The Problem of Psychological Modernity

Abstract: Our species dates to about 195,000 years ago and early specimens have skeletons, including skulls, just like ours. But many of the behaviors that are associated with human ways of thinking – art, religious ritual, burial with grave goods, abstract thinking and symbolism – do not become common in the archaeological record until about 30,000 years ago (mainly in Europe). I consider three explanations for this apparent discrepancy. Our brains changed. There was slow cultural change and development beginning at least 70,000 years ago. We were psychologically modern from the outset. I favor this last option, which involves explaining the earlier absence of evidence and the later seeming explosion of modern behaviors.