Ancient human figures painted in red on a rock shelter in northern Australia (Source: Google Art Project, Griffith University).
For the first couple of centuries of European occupation of Australia the history of its Indigenous people, as written by white fellas, drew heavily on adjectives like ‘primitive’. As both a white fella…
On the hunt for other cultures.
Ask any anthropologist what they do and they will find it hard to give you a direct answer. But it ultimately comes down to studying people and their culture.
Not our natural habitat. Risk and money go hand in hand.
The desire to fritter away our pay packet on the roll of a dice may not be hardwired at all. So where does it come from?
In Nigeria some children who are branded as witches suffer severe abuse.
In many parts of Nigeria, children are branded as witches and suffer abuse and even abandonment. Religion and poverty are thought to play a role.
Yuttasak Jannarong / shutterstock
Archaeological remains, traditional tribes and conflict among chimpanzees can tell us much about the history of human warfare.
Illustration of ritualised human sacrifice in traditional Hawaiian culture, as documented by the French explorer and artists Jaques Arago in 1819.
Arago, Jacques. (1822). Promenade autour du monde: pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820, sur les corvettes du roi l’Uranie et la Physicienne, commandées par M. Freycinet
Human sacrifice seems horrifying and costly. But there might be a reason so many early human societies practiced it.
With moralistic gods watching, it’s easier to be fair and cooperative.
For human groups to grow from small, intimate communities to the huge interconnected societies we know now, people needed to be willing to cooperate with strangers. Religion might have played a big role.
A particularly fruitful moment for technological innovation?
Viktor M Vasnetsov
Not all technologies are created equal. Researchers devised a new model to explain why, after eons of nothing much new, we sometimes see an explosion of innovation in the archaeological record.
Turns out the movement of women after marriage can help explain why humans cooperate beyond the household.
Why do humans collaborate with those we aren't related to? The answer might lie in the tradition of marriage.
3D virtual reconstruction of two-million-year-old ear.
Beyond the cool factor of figuring out hominin hearing capacities two million years ago, these findings could help answer the tantalizing question of when did human vocalized language first emerge.
Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island is certainly an epoch-defining novel, at least inasmuch as it revolves around the task of defining our epoch.
Is there an old lady behind every happy couple?
Prehistoric grandmothers helping out with the kids may have led to a surplus of older men competing for a comparatively small number of young, fertile women. Could this have created long-term couples?
Many hands make light reindeer herding.
Matthew Gwynfryn Thomas
Human cooperation is the cornerstone of any society. We looked at teamwork in an indigenous minority group in Scandinavia, whose lifestyle is under threat.
Getting hitched, or stitched up?
Ray Burmiston/Channel 4
Just because using 'science' to arrange marriages will entertain a TV audience, doesn't make it ethical.
Senator David Leyonhjelm has said he is not taking sides in the debate, saying only that anthropologists disagree.
AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has said that Aboriginal people may not be the first occupants of Australia. What does the research say?
Excavating stone artifacts that date from 3.3 million years ago in Kenya.
Stone tools excavated in Kenya date back 3.3 million years – making them about a million years older than the oldest known fossils from our own hominid genus Homo. Who made and used these tools?
Films such as Avatar idealise indigenous people as Noble Savages, enjoying simple and uncorrupted lifestyles until contact with colonisers.
In a recent study, of the 53 films watched that had at least one anthropologist as a character, just under half belonged to the horror genre. Why should that be the case? And how were indigenous peoples in those films portrayed?
Possum skin cloaks are about mapping the individuals who wear them.
William Barak, 1898/ Wikimedia Commons
Australian Aboriginal dress is rarely cited as a key inspiration for contemporary clothes designers. Maybe it's time that changed.
Before you ask, they probably haven’t seen Twilight.
Real life blood suckers live among us but they don't want you to know about it.
Tsimane hunter with prey after a successful hunt. How are his hormones responding?
Levels of a male sex hormone known to influence aggression and a "love" hormone that promotes bonding both rise in traditional hunters headed home after the kill. What's going on?