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Abstract: It is estimated that in prehistoric societies children comprised at least forty to sixty-five percent of the population, yet by default, our ancestral landscapes are peopled by adults who hunt, gather, fish, and make stone tools and art. But these adults were also parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who had to make space physically, emotionally, intellectually, and cognitively for the infants, children and adolescents around them. The economic, social, and political roles of Ice Age children are often understudied because they are assumed to be unknowable or negligible. Drawing on the most recent data from the cognitive sciences and from the ethnographic, fossil, archaeological, and primate records, this talk challenges these assumptions. By rendering the “invisible” children visible, a new understanding will be gained not only of the contributions that children have made to the biological and cultural entities we are today but also of the Ice Age as a whole.
Bio: Dr. April Nowell is a Paleolithic archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria. She directs an international team of scientists in the study of Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites in Jordan and collaborates with colleagues on the study of Ice Age rock art in Australia and France and on ostrich eggshell beads in South Africa. In 2016, she and her colleagues working in Jordan published the world's oldest identifiable blood on stone tools showing that 250,000 years ago Middle Pleistocene hominins ate everything from ducks to rhinos. This research was named one of Time Magazine’s top 100 discoveries. She is known for her publications on cognitive archaeology, Paleolithic art, the archaeology of children and the relationship between science, pop culture and the media. Her co-edited volumes include Stone Tools and the Evolution of Human Cognition, the Archaeology of Night: Life After Dark in the Ancient World and the forthcoming Culturing the Body: Prehistoric Perspectives on Identity and Sociality. She is also the author of the new book Growing Up in the Ice Age: Fossil and Archaeological Evidence of the Lived lives of Plio-Pleistocene Children. Watch her TEDx "Paleoporn" here: youtube.com/watch?
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