The First Humans out of Africa exhibit arrives at the Ateneo

The Ateneo Department of Sociology & Anthropology and the Rizal Library, with the Georgian National Museum, Cozoz Inc., Crania Heritage Sciences Inc. and Traveling Museum PH, launched on Feb. 9, 2016 the very first exhibit in the country of “The First Humans Out of Africa: The Journey of Mankind.”

The exhibit featured the lecture of Prof. Dr. David Lordkipanidze, the first Director General of the Georgian National Museum and the one who spearheaded the discovery of the Dmanisi Hominid fossils, and three of the five well-preserved skull casts (replicas) of the first Homo to leave Africa.

Also present during the launch of the exhibit were Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, His Excellency Ambassador Zurab Aleksidze of the Republic of Georgia, Honorary Consul of Georgia in Manila Joselito Aseniero, Honorary Consul of Poland Dino Lising, Ms. Gemma Cruz Araneta from the Heritage & Conservation Society, Dr. Vincent Fabella from Jose Rizal University and Prof. Alfredo Pascual from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

University President Fr Jett Villarin, SJ thanked Dr. Lordkipanidze for giving the Ateneo de Manila the priceless opportunity to be part of an ongoing discussion of the evolution of man. He also expressed his gratitude for making the Ateneo the venue for the first run of the travelling exhibit.
At the beginning of his talk, Dr. Lordkipanidze confessed that it was a challenge to present their work in different countries. Despite that, he said he was happy to be here and was even looking forward to any genetic connections between the Philippines and Georgia.
Throughout his lecture, Dr. Lordkipanidze gave examples of other fossils that had certain characteristics which were said to be the reasons why the Dmanisi Hominids left Africa.

“These characteristics include larger brain and body size, terrestrial preferences and advanced culture,” he said, adding that the purpose of the Dmanisi excavation was to prove if this theory was true.
To process all their findings, Dr. Lordkipanidze and his team built the fossil interpretation, archeological site and research stations in one big site for interactive discussions. Their plan was contrary to the usual setting where all 3 stations were in different locations.

“It gave us the opportunity to study one big site where there is a huge quantity of well-preserved fossils [of the first humans who left Africa],” Dr. Lordkipanidze explained.

He and his team eventually came up with a breakthrough that clarified all prevailing beliefs in paleoanthropology.
Before, they believed that the first humans had bigger brains and bodies and were equipped with advanced tools in order to survive after leaving Africa. But what they discovered in the Dmanisi site was that the first humans who left had small brains, bodies and statures and used very primitive tools. This meant that man has evolved faster and much earlier.

He pointed out that the discovery was even more special because there were able to find additional animal fossils and stone tools that could help determine the timeline of activities of the Dmanisi Hominids. He also said that curiosity was another reason why they left Africa.

Wrapping up, he said that this curiosity was the very same curiosity that served as the reason to push many young people into rethinking everything they learned.
“This exhibit will bring an opportunity to develop creative thinking for students,” he said. “Students, the future is in your hands.”

As part of the tour in Ateneo, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology invites the public once again on Feb. 26 for a simulated archeological dig conducted by local archeologists and on March 2 for a lecture on human evolution.

The exhibit will run until March 4 and will then be launched in the following schools: Jose Rizal University (March 14-April 6), University of Santo Tomas (April 25-May 28), University of the East-Manila (June 27-July 22), University of the Philippines-Diliman (Aug2-26) and De La Salle University (Sep12-Oct 14).