The Geography of Trust and Betrayal: Moral disputes and Late Pleistocene dispersal

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The explanations for a rapid dispersal of modern humans after 100,000 BP remain enigmatic. Populations of modern humans took new routes – crossing significant topographic and environmental barriers, including making major sea crossings, and moving into and through risky and difficult environments. Neither population increase nor ecological changes provide an adequate explanation for a pattern of rapid movement, including leaping into new regions (saltation events). Here it is argued that the structural dynamics of emotionally complex collaboration and in depth moral commitments generates regular expulsion events of founding populations. These expulsion events provide an explanation for the as yet elusive element to dispersal. Alongside cognitive and cultural complexity we should recognise the influence of emerging emotional complexity on significant behavioural changes in the Palaeolithic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalOpen Quaternary
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Authors. This content is made available by the publisher under a Creative Commons CC-BY Licence


  • Pleistocene Dispersal
  • Hyper cooperation
  • Trust
  • Moral conflicts
  • Evolution of emotions
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Palaeolithic Colonisations

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