Research interests

Research Themes

Terry Hopkinson's research interests lie primarily in the theorisation of technological and other behavioural transitions in human evolution in terms of social and ecological dynamics. At present this is focussed on the development of models for the social transmission of innovative knowledge that integrate landscape, climatic and social patterns and processes in space and time, with particular reference to the Lower-Middle Paleolithic transition and prepared-core lithic technology. He is also currently a core member of the 'Palaeolithic of Northern Bosnia' Project, an international collaboration that is carrying out surface survey and excavations in Northern Bosnia with the aim of building understanding of landscape use in that region through the Upper Pleistocene.

Terry has also worked on the late Middle Palaeolithic of central Europe. The key issue he addressed here was the relationship between the 'leaf point' stone tool industries of late Neanderthals and rates of environmental change in the period between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago. It was in the course of this work that Terry developed an interest in the problem of scale as applied to human knowledge, environmental change and the relation between them - an interest upon which his current research is building.

During 2005-7, Terry was East Midlands manager of the National Ice Age Network, a project which aimed to synthesise existing knowledge of the Pleistocene period, to monitor sand and gravel quarries for archaeological and palaeontological potential, and to promote awareness of Ice Age archaeology and science in the quarry industry and among the general public. In the course of this work a number of significant finds were made in East Midlands quarries, and a major East Midlands private collection of Palaeolithic stone artefacts was brought to public attention. Terry continues to take a keen interest in the growing number of Palaeolithic finds that are now emerging from quarries in the region as a result of the work of ULAS, the School’s contract archaeology unit.

In addition, Terry is interested in theoretical and philosophical problems in human evolution and Palaeolithic Archaeology, especially the problem of what constitutes a 'modern human being' in evolutionary terms. He is particularly concerned to explore the extent to which the concept of 'the modern human' is a product of the history of archaeological and anthropological thought, and of the history of Western thought more generally. His present concern with social and ecological explanations for behavioural transitions in human evolution connects with this, and especially with his belief that now-extinct forms of hominin have been falsely excluded from 'humanness' by a misguided disciplinary emphasis on intelligence and cognition as biologically-specified capacities.

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