Main content

Archaeologist Matt Pope on tools and human evolution

Archaeologist Matt Pope looks at tool use in early human evolution. He argues that technology has not just changed us, it helped to create us.

There's a tiny bone needle at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire. For archaeologist Matt Pope it's hugely significant. 13,000 years ago local people used it to construct tailored clothing which allowed them to survive and thrive at the very limits of Ice Age civilisation.

Skip forward millennia and the first human visitor to Mars will be protected by a thin skin of man-made fabric, a suit containing the only biological processes for millions of miles. Our ability to create tools that take us into new and hostile environments is, for Matt Pope, the key to man's evolutionary journey.

It's a view he shares with the first philosopher of technology, Ernst Kapp. Living through Germany's rapid industrial revolution Kapp came to believe that we could extend all the functions of the human mind and body through technology. Together, man and his tools would know no limits.

Available now

11 minutes



Learn more with The Open University

Learn more with The Open University

Watch the animations and then delve into free related content from The Open University.

Change a light bulb, check your emails...

Change a light bulb, check your emails...

What can you do in 4 minutes? Join us in some intelligent time wasting.