Introduction – Winter 1992

By: Philip G. Chase

Originally Published in 1992

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Ice Age archaeology has a special fascination, for it was during this time that our ancestors became fully human, both biologically and mentally. Europe has played a central role in the history of Ice Age studies. It was in Europe that the discovery of tools with the bones of extinct animals demonstrated the “antidiluvial” age of humanity, and it was in Europe that the basic chronologi­cal foundations were laid for the work that has followed.

This may have given us a distorted view of human pre­history. There is reason to suspect that Europe was a rather atypical backwater during much of the Ice Ages. Moreover, the continent was simply too cold and inhos­pitable for our earliest ancestors to inhabit, so the prehis­tory of Europe begins long after that of Africa or Asia.

Still, the later stages of human evolution are better known in Europe than anywhere else, and Ice Age Eu­rope is a fascinating place to study—all the more so be­cause experts still disagree about such fundamental questions as how long ago the biology and intelligence of our ancestors became equal to our own—or even whether early Europeans survived into the later Ice Ages or were were replaced by newcomers from Africa.

This issue of Expedition differs in its organization from many others. All the authors have worked together to give the reader a coordinated picture of Ice Age Europe. The first article sets the stage with an introduction to Ice Age climates and conditions. Harold Dibble then pro­vides an introduction to paleolithic archaeology that serves as a framework for the articles that follow: Nancy Minugh-Purvis describes the people of Ice Age Europe as known from their fossil remains and discusses the scien­tific debates concerning how to interpret them; Randall White presents the most spectacular aspect of Ice Age ar­chaeology, the art of the European Upper Paleolithic; and, in the final article, I cover one of the most elusive of all topics, the origins of human language.

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Cite This Article

Chase, Philip G.. "Introduction – Winter 1992." Expedition Magazine 34, no. 3 (November, 1992): -. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/introduction-winter-1992/


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