Projects

  • Mechanisms for Bonding Large Scale Communities

    This project will examine the physiological processes involved in maintaining relationships in large scale communities (i.e. beyond the 150-level community of the personal network). In traditional small scale societies, communities are bonded through a variety of activities as diverse as music and dance, and the rituals of religion, often associated with a form of euphoria […]

  • The Genetic History of Europe

    The European continent has a complex human evolutionary history. The first modern humans are believed to have entered Europe some 40,000 years ago, at a time when Neanderthals were the predominant Homo species (or subspecies). In the subsequent millennia a series of environmental and climatic fluctuations have occurred, which caused much of the flora and fauna of […]

  • Do Our Diseases Define Us?

    The project focuses on identifying palaeopathology and historical dissection techniques present amongst the specimens from the 18th and 19th century human anatomy and pathology collection curated at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The main aim of this project is to provide a greater understanding of the evolution of medicine in the 18th and 19th […]

  • Religion’s Impact On Human Life: Integrating Proximate And Ultimate Perspectives

    Religion’s impact on human life is contentious. Does religion make us more moral? Is it responsible for the development of civilisation? What is the effect of religion on creativity and innovation, and its relationship to ‘human nature’? Answering such questions will benefit both our theoretical understanding of ourselves as a species and our practical understanding […]

  • Stones on the Move: the Real Life of a Chimpanzee Tool

    The main goal is testing the hypothesis that the purported strategies of transport of resources by early hominins may have been misconstrued and instead may be more similar to the transport of objects by extant chimpanzees. Dr Susana Carvalho hypothesizes that transport distances in the Oldowan were the sum of many short bouts, which mislead archaeologists […]

  • Cultural Transmission Dynamics in Small-Scale Societies

    This project examines the relevance of evolutionary theoretical frameworks for understanding how innovations may or may not spread in small-scale populations of India without adequate services. It uses data data on multiple networks (friends, kinship, knowledge, prestige, spatial) in multiple populations in two Indian societies with contrasting socio-economic structures (the patrilocal Korwa and the matrilocal Khasi). This research […]

  • Community Size, Shared Culture, and Moral Partiality

    Besides simply knowing who your friends are, sociality depends on a sense of mutual trust and obligation. In traditional societies, community cohesion is in large part generated by a sense of shared common purpose, of being signed up to the same grand project that entails obligations towards, and expectations of appropriate behaviour from, fellow community […]

  • Modelling Kinship and Other Constraints on Network Efficiency

    Historically, there is a fundamental question about how humans managed to raise their community sizes from the upper limit of 50 characteristic of monkeys and apes, through the 150 characteristic of contemporary hunter-gatherers to the successive layers of 500 and 1500 and beyond that seems to have been the trajectory since the Neolithic settlement. It […]

  • Ritual, Community, and Conflict

    Some of the greatest atrocities have been caused by groups defending or advancing their political aspirations and sacred values. In order to comprehend and address the wanton violence of war, terrorism and genocide, it is necessary to understand the forces that bind and drive human groups. This five-year programme of research investigates one of the […]

  • Pliocene Archaeology

    Since 2008 Dr Carvalho has been engaged in the Koobi Fora Field School in Kenya. Some of her main projects in the East side of Lake Turkana include actualistic experiments focusing on the use of percussive technologies, and surveys and excavation in Pliocene (2.6-5.3 Ma) deposits. All her research in Kenya is part of a long-term collaboration with David R. Braun (George […]

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