Title: " Archaeology meets earth-science in modern human origins research in Africa"
Abstarct: Modern humans (Homo sapiens) first appeared in Africa, subsequently spreading across Africa and later to Eurasia, Australasia, and elsewhere during the Late Pleistocene. Understanding the evolutionary processes that led to the origins and dispersal of modern humans in Africa requires a multi-disciplinary approach, particularly to understand the complex relationships caused by a dynamic record of environmental and behavioral changes. I outline a series of long-term collaborative projects in East Africa at archaeological sites that focus on reconstructing ancient biomes and constructing high resolution data archives to explore spatial and temporal changes in ancient landscapes, drawing on data from paleolimnology, geochronology, tephrostratigraphy, biogeochemistry, ecology, geography, and allied fields. The Late Pleistocene dispersal of modern humans from an East African source may have been largely facilitated by a series of environmental changes that altered connections between regions across the continent. [Background paper]