04328 - Paleoanthropology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Sustainable cities Life on land

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire when and where the hunam evolution occurred trhoughout the fossil record and the cultural manifestations of the prehistoric humans.

Course contents

The course is for the students of the School of Sciences and of the School of Art, Humanities and Cultural Heritage.

In the course the natural history of humans will be told through the fossil record and its chronological and geographical framework. To understand the evolutionary process, a comparative approach is made between the skeletal variability of modern humans, that of the living Primates and that of some fossil remains. In this context, the main features of modern human biology (upright posture, biopedism, encephalization) will be explained. The changes of the ecological niches in the different phases of the human evolution will be dealt with the study of cultural innovations (fire, diet, lithic technology, sociality, funerary behavior) and in particular those occurred in the Pliocene-Pleistocene and Pleistocene-Holocene transitions. An important topic refers to the past funerary practices and rituals.


Manzi G. Ultime notizie sull'evoluzione umana. Ed. Il Mulino, Bologna, 2017.


Manzi G. Il grande racconto dell'evoluzione umana. Ed. Il Mulino, Bologna, 2013.


The slides of the lessons will be provided. They can vary in relation to the scientific innovations that emerge from year to year.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons within which the teacher will show skeletons of humans and other Primates to compare and recognize the different features. Moulds of the most important human fossils housed at the Museum of Anthropology will be also analyzed.



In the course in the AA 20/21: The topic of the humankind's place in the natural world and the interactions among environment, humanities and techonologies will be highlighted through seminaries of the Laboratory 'NOS. New horizons for the species: ecosystem, cultures, diversity. Intedisciplinary dialogs'. The seminaries will be held by UNIBO teachers.


The project is curated by:

Maria Giovanna Belcastro (Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche Geologiche e Ambientali): Antropologia e storia naturale dell’umanità, interazione tra fattori biologici e culturali nel corso dell’evoluzione

Ivana Bolognesi (Dipartimento di Scienze Dell'Educazione "Giovanni Maria Bertin"): Processes of integration and construction of identity, cultural belonging

Alessandra Bonoli (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Chimica, Ambientale e dei Materiali): Environment and sustainabilty, green techonologies

Paola Govoni (Dipartimento di Filosofia e Comunicazione): Interactions between science and society, gender and science

Giovanna Guerzoni (Dipartimento di Scienze Dell'Educazione "Giovanni Maria Bertin"): Anthropology of the contemporaneity and sociocultural processes of the present world

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral examination in which the student have to explain the chronological phases of the human evolution, the geographical location of the fossils, the criteria for recognizing the human fossils, and the cultural aspects related to the human evolution. 

As regards the assessment the students have to:

prepare the required arguments, demonstrate ability of expression and correct use of the Italian language, an adequate and correct scientific terminology.

Teaching tools

Computer projector, PC,laboratory hands-on, visit at the Museum of Anthropology

Office hours

See the website of Maria Giovanna Belcastro