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Online (Zoom)
South Wales branch

An online talk by Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney, a biological and forensic anthropologist from Northumbria University

Event background

The Dinaledi and Lesedi chambers of the Rising Star cave system (dated to between 236 and 335,000 years ago) have yielded the richest hominin assemblage recovered on the African continent to date; over 1600 fossil specimens all of which have been attributed to the taxon Homo naledi. Based on multi-disciplinary lines of evidence we propose that the remains of H. naledi were deliberately introduced into the chamber through the practice of funerary caching - a remarkable mortuary behaviour in such a small-brained human cousin. 

This talk will discuss the evolution of mortuary practice highlighting the evolutionary, ethological and cultural contexts in which such behaviours may have developed. In doing so, the speaker will bring in comparative anthropology and primatology to investigate the relationships between non-human primate reactions to death, and the origins of complex ritualised mortuary behaviours in hominins. In analysing cultural transmission of ritualised behaviours, the implications for the African archaeological record and the origins of our own species will be discussed.


Patrick is a biological and forensic anthropologist from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. His broad interests concern the application of multi‐disciplinary forensic taphonomy into both current medico‐legal practice and the evolutionary anthropology of the deep past. He has a background in palaeoanthropology and archaeology, and spent much of his early academic life working on the biological and cultural evolution of the genus Homo during the Middle Pleistocene, a critical period that precedes the evolution of our own species and the advent of modern behaviours. In recent years he has been working in the field of forensic anthropology and human identification. He has extensive casework experience in both forensic anthropology and archaeology in the UK and sub‐Saharan Africa, including archaeology of fatal fires, and as a member of the Mission Chambres Africaines Extraordinaires investigating human rights abuses in the Republic of Chad. He was co‐coordinator of the African School for Forensic Science and Human Rights in conjunction with the Argentine Forensic Team (EAAF).

Cost and booking

This event is free to attend and open to all. Advance registration is essential through the link at the top of the page. Joining details will be sent on the day of the event.


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For booking or website queries, please contact Beth Morgan at or on 020 3925 3444.