DISPERSAL OF EARLY HUMANS
September 12-13, 2014
Few topics are more compelling to scientists and non-scientists alike than the question of how the human species originated and evolved and how this peculiar creature, unlike any other species of animals, colonized the whole globe to lay the foundation for the emergence of the vast array of diverse societies and cultures that we know today.
Research over the past few decades has established that Homo sapiens originated in Africa; current work shows that this occurred far earlier than anyone had imagined. An array of sophisticated new scientific tools from diverse disciplines including archaeology, biology, geology, physics, DNA studies, and linguistics is generating amazing new insights into when and how these earliest humans spread from Africa across the rest of the world into Europe, Asia, the Pacific region, and the Americas.
New discoveries, new interpretations, and new theories are tumbling forth at an amazing rate, and discussions among scientists are intense and exhilarating.
Following a highly successful SYMPOSIUM ON HUMAN ORIGINS (SOHO) in 2009, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is, once again, assembling an international group of pioneering researchers in this exciting field. Like the earlier event, SOHO II has dual purposes:
- To offer a unique opportunity for some of the world’s leading scientists to gather in a congenial setting for an extensive and intensive exchange of ideas; and
- To present to a broad non-scientific audience not only the very latest insights and discoveries but also provide a fascinating peek into how scientists work.
To accomplish this, SOHO II will include two sets of events.
Friday, September 12, 2014:
Two interdisciplinary panels of scientists will engage in wide ranging discussions about (a) the settlement of the Eurasian continent and (b) the settlement of the Pacific region and the New World. They will bring to bear the latest evidence and perspectives of their diverse disciplines. The public will be invited to listen in on this dialog.
Saturday, September 13, 2014:
Seven leading scientists will present lectures to the public in which they will not only put the latest discoveries into a broad perspective but also provide insights into the nature of scientific work and discovery. The speakers will highlight how their exciting research on human origins and dispersals matters to all of us today. There will be extensive opportunities for the audience to pose questions and explore topics of special interest.
In addition, an evening banquet on Saturday, September 13 will bring the visiting scientists together with members of the public in an informal, festive setting. The banquet will afford attendants the opportunity to mingle with some of the stars on the firmament of science and engage with them in free ranging conversation.