An excellent synthesis of the palaeontological and archaeological evidence of the last five million years of human evolution A number of researchers have tried to characterise the anatomy and behavioural systems of early hominid and early modern human populations in an attempt to understand how we became what we are. Can archaeology, palaeo-anthropology and genetics tell us how and when human cultures developed the traits that make our societies different from those of our closest living relatives? In which cases are these differences substantial, and when do they simply reflect our definitions of culture, species, the image we have of their evolution or of ourselves? From Tools to Symbols, a collection of twenty-seven selected papers from a South African-French conference organised in honour of the well-known palaeo-anthropologist Phillip Tobias, provides a multidisciplinary overview of this field of study. It is based on collaborative research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa by South African, French, American and German scholars in the last twenty years, and represents an excellent synthesis of the palaeontological and archaeological evidence of the last five million years of human evolution.
Francesco d'Errico is Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifi que (CNRS) and Research Professor at the Department of Anthropology, George Washington University. Lucinda Backwell is a Researcher in the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.