You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival

Experience 2.5 million years of history as you discover what life was like for early humans.
Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 16.
  • y_2023, m_5, d_31, h_22
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_0, tr_16
  • loc_en_CA, sid_30150, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 5.64ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Birch gets it right The lecturer gave up to the minute information in clear, densely packed lectures. She described the data, explained it, and enlivened the story with personal experiences. I immediately looked for other courses she has done.
Date published: 2023-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Overview Such a vast time period with so little actual evidence to go on. Prof. Birch did a good job laying out the current state of knowledge plus highlighting the different theories in play. Especially happy to see such scientific innovation taking place. This history is still in the very early stages of being discovered and understood. Look forward to hearing more about in the future.
Date published: 2023-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Tour de Force, but could be improved I just finished Dr. Birch's brilliant course on Early Humans. Her vocabulary is vast and her erudition a real joy to experience. The problem is poor to non-existent graphics to anchor all of this. This is a problem common to many Wondrium productions. Rather than having lists of events and dates on the sidebar, in many cases it would be so much better if we could see a chart of global temperature change over millennia, superimposed with the particular human events she's discussing. Talk to the chart(s), let the diagram linger so the viewer can absorb it, don't just read verbiage. In many cases, a good diagram should be the centerpiece of the discussion, until everything in the diagram is explained. Many of the physical artifacts she discusses, such as microliths, are mentioned, but are never shown and so I really have no idea what they look like/how they were used. It's not enough to stick someone in front of a camera, let them talk, and embellish the work with side graphics, as afterthoughts. Good diagrams should be the centerpiece, as they're worth thousands of words, which are then discussed in detail. Think back to kindergarten “Show and Tell”. Show (visual) is first, Tell (verbal) second. Think about how weather is presented on television: the map of the country with weather conditions is displayed, then the weather person points and talks about what you’re seeing. Because the presentation is way too slanted toward verbal learning, my retention of the material is far less than it could be. You would benefit greatly by getting acquainted with Edward Tufte, and his main work, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". Tufte's material all by itself would make a great Wondrium course.
Date published: 2023-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Instructor looking off camera I'm having a hard time adjusting to the instructor looking off camera. I like what she is teaching but this format is very odd and it gets even odder when the camera angle shifts and we see her from the side.
Date published: 2023-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival - an Update Very interesting information regarding early human development, survival methods and worldly trekking. BUT, I could not get past such a credentialed Anthropology expert reading each lecture. It was similar to the computer generated readers provided by news media. I have been a Great Courses/Wondrium member since 2002, and have been enlightened from over 1000 courses with brilliant and engaging professors, and find a lecturer reading a monitor as their delivery method very distracting. I had a very difficult time staying focused on the lecture discussion. The lecture information would be very difficult to retain if the learner was working out or driving as it is critical to pay attention to the data as it is cumulative. Some learners/students may not be impacted by this now, more common delivery method. I would still recommend the course as the data was very current.
Date published: 2023-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good material, incomplete visuals Her organization is well thought out and thorough, for an introductory course. However, I was disappointed to realize that she was reading aloud, not really lecturing from notes. I think this contributes to others' disappointment in her delivery - she is not talking to someone in the room, which makes it all come too fast and sound unnatural at times. On top of that, this lecture would be helped greatly by more and better visuals - maps, even briefly shown, when a location is mentioned. Instead of a cave site where bedding evidence is, show us the evidence. What does it look like to find evidence of a post hole for a hut? I will never know, because that wasn't shown. Too much is described, without showing us what she is talking about. And on top of that, one particular visual that was actually presented, had a major error: In discussing locations of domesticated snails in Mali and Libya, the heading really said "...North America." I kid you not. Who proofed the few visuals that were there? Will recommend, but with caveats.
Date published: 2023-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Perspectives I found this course a good compliment to the other course dealing with early human history and prehistory. Of course, there is some overlap, but each professor brings a different perspective to the topic, which only serves to illuminate the topic more.
Date published: 2023-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's well structured and I learn a lot :D I like how she make the subject broader and explain the basic in a well understood way.
Date published: 2023-05-07
  • y_2023, m_5, d_31, h_22
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_0, tr_16
  • loc_en_CA, sid_30150, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 5.37ms


You and the other 8 billion humans alive today are members of the only species that has survived in the genus Homo since its 2.5-million-year evolutionary journey began. Many other species we know of and perhaps dozens yet to be discovered have all come and gone. Who were these long-ago ancestors? Where and how did they live and die? And how are we even able to learn about these humans, some of whom became extinct millions of years ago? In 20 captivating lectures, Professor Suzanne Pilaar Birch shares her expertise and passion for discovery as she peels back the years to expose the emergence and lives of early humans in Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival.


Suzanne Pilaar Birch

The story of early humans is a triumph of adaptability and ingenuity in challenging environments.


University of Georgia

Suzanne Pilaar Birch is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Georgia. She earned a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. She is an experienced field archaeologist, the editor of the book Multispecies Archaeology, and the author of more than 30 scholarly articles and book chapters. She is also a cofounder of TrowelBlazers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to highlighting women in archaeology, paleontology, and geology. Her research has been funded by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council.

By This Professor

Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival
Early Humans: Ice, Stone, and Survival


What Does It Mean to Be Human?

01: What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Discover when humans developed and consider the questions we need to ask to explore early life. In setting the framework for our species’ development, you’ll learn about some of the large-scale changes in Earth’s climate, sea level, and land masses in the past several million years.

25 min
Stones and Bones: The First Fossil Families

02: Stones and Bones: The First Fossil Families

Meet Homo habilis, the earliest known species of our genus. Discovered in 1960, at that time it was the first species known to have used tools. We have since discovered tool use in many animal species. But what does distinguish H. habilis from all previously evolved organisms? It’s the brain that allowed them to survive in a variety of locations, navigating different environmental conditions and climate shifts.

26 min
Bio-Cultural Adaptation and Homo erectus

03: Bio-Cultural Adaptation and Homo erectus

Meet Homo erectus, the first of our genus to walk completely upright. Being one of the longest-lasting hominin species—more than 1.5 million years—H. erectus learned to adapt to a wide range of environmental challenges. But how did H. erectus get all the way from Africa, where they most likely originated, to Java, where their remains were first discovered?

27 min
How Homo sapiens Left Africa

04: How Homo sapiens Left Africa

How did H. sapiens adapt to new environments by changing our diet and using technology as we spread across the Old World? Learn how the study of prehistory through molecular genetics has both transformed and confounded our understanding of the human fossil record. Explore the roles of gene flow, and the exchanges of artifacts, ideas, territory, and social structure as populations ebbed and flowed out of Africa.

26 min
X-Woman! Meet Our Ancient Relatives

05: X-Woman! Meet Our Ancient Relatives

Discover the complexity of early human history by meeting “Denny”—a female specimen whose mother was an H. neanderthalensis and whose father was an H. denisova. We also now know that early H. sapiens also interbred with H. neanderthalensis and produced fertile offspring. In fact, both Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA have been found to be present in modern human populations.

24 min
Did the Neanderthals Really Go Extinct?

06: Did the Neanderthals Really Go Extinct?

Explore the culture-rich lives of the Neanderthals, who existed for more than 300,000 years across a vast geographic space—from Siberia and Central Asia to westernmost Europe and the Near East. They thrived with multifaceted lives in a time of massive climate change with multiple ice ages, both before and after the arrival of modern humans in Europe. Why did they go extinct … or did they?

25 min
Sailing to Australia 60,000-Plus Years Ago

07: Sailing to Australia 60,000-Plus Years Ago

How were Homo sapiens able to get to Australia 60,000-plus years ago without a land bridge to travel? Discover the evidence that exists for their travel by water and the scientific methods used to date the earliest H. sapiens discovered in Australia. To what extent were the First Australians responsible for the extinction of the continent’s megafauna?

27 min
The Origins of Language and Music

08: The Origins of Language and Music

Learn about the combination of fossil and DNA evidence that have helped us understand when and how human language evolved. But what about the full range of human communications—including music and singing? Explore the difficulties archaeologists have in trying to discover whether or not our predecessors developed music and how and when it shows up in our own past.

22 min
Handprints in Time: Early Art and Objects

09: Handprints in Time: Early Art and Objects

Consider the earliest evidence for human modification of physical material for aesthetic purposes: art. What can we learn from the fact that artwork surfaced everywhere early humans were found, not just in one region? From cave paintings to rock art and figurines to human-made pigments, who were the people who created these artifacts and what were they wanting to accomplish?

23 min
Ancient Jewelry as Extensions of the Mind

10: Ancient Jewelry as Extensions of the Mind

We might not like to think about body lice as a source of information about our history, but it is genetic evidence from this insect that points to humans wearing clothes as early as 170,000 years ago. Discover what we can learn about our early cognition by exploring the ways we adorned ourselves, from clothing to jewelry to tattoos.

25 min
Death and Burial in the Prehistoric World

11: Death and Burial in the Prehistoric World

When did people first start to bury their dead and grapple with the meaning of death? Explore the many varied burial practices of our ancestors and how those practices reveal their social structures and relationships with their environment. Was H. sapiens the only species to use ritual burials long ago, or did the Neanderthals also develop this practice?

25 min
Feast or Famine? The Paleolithic Diet

12: Feast or Famine? The Paleolithic Diet

Explore the varied human diet that existed even before the domestication of plants and animals. Learn about the research tools—including proteomics and DNA analysis—that have allowed us to not just generate lists of the species our ancestors ate, but to reconstruct entire ancient economies.

25 min
Why There’s No Such Thing as Cavemen

13: Why There’s No Such Thing as Cavemen

While our ancestors did utilize caves in some capacity—as we know from cave paintings and multiple artifacts—there’s little evidence that they lived in caves, contrary to the ideas that have been popularized in our culture. Instead, discover the earliest evidence for built structures and the materials early humans used for bedding.

23 min
Early Technology: Axes, Harpoons, and Hooks

14: Early Technology: Axes, Harpoons, and Hooks

Changes in tool form and function are among the foremost markers of the arrival of the modern mind. Explore the materials used and the many new tool forms that appeared tens of thousands of years ago. From fishing hooks to sewing needles to the use of natural poisons for hunting, evidence shows an explosion of new technologies developed by our ancestors well before the appearance of agriculture.

23 min
Coming to the Americas 20,000-Plus Years Ago

15: Coming to the Americas 20,000-Plus Years Ago

The Bering Land Bridge between modern-day Russia and Canada, also called Beringia, was a temporary 240,000 square miles of land that allowed the first people to enter the North American continent. Not covered in ice, the land supported steppe vegetation and fauna. But when did early humans arrive? Discover the fascinating scientific journey archaeologists have taken to try to answer that question.

26 min
Living Dangerously as the Last Ice Age Ended

16: Living Dangerously as the Last Ice Age Ended

Explore the world of 15,000 years ago as the last ice age ended, and the vast ice sheets began to melt. Discover the scientific advances that have allowed us to describe that world in detail, a world with H. sapiens living on every continent except Antarctica. How did those people—very much like us today in appearance and thought—cope with such drastic change in their environment?

22 min
Brewing Beer and Baking Bread in the Levant

17: Brewing Beer and Baking Bread in the Levant

About 15,000 years ago, people began to settle down and adopt certain aspects of sedentary agricultural lifestyles in the eastern Mediterranean region. Explore the exciting discoveries of this time period, including the purposeful brewing of beer; possibly some of the earliest human efforts at written record-keeping; and other developments of the Natufian people, including the domestication of dogs.

20 min
The Hunter-Gatherers Begin to Settle Down

18: The Hunter-Gatherers Begin to Settle Down

As the world began to warm and vegetation changed, people turned to new dietary options instead of having to follow large migratory herds across the landscape. Discover the scientific methods used to reveal exactly what our ancestors ate during this period—including evidence that we might have turned away from gathering food from the sea and quite possibly farmed snails in addition to plant crops.

17 min
Secrets of Cave Art, Ceramics, and Cattle

19: Secrets of Cave Art, Ceramics, and Cattle

Explore the recent scientific discoveries that have revealed more nuanced lifeways about the last Ice Age than were previously known. Learn why the narrative about life in North Africa has also shifted. Learn about the ritual practice of dental evulsion that seems to reveal population and cultural exchanges between North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, the Levant, throughout this period.

18 min
Was Agriculture a Revolution or an Accident?

20: Was Agriculture a Revolution or an Accident?

Although agriculture was historically framed as a “revolution,” we now know it was the result of thousands of years of process. Learn about the recent archaeological evidence showing that the phenomenon of domestication occurred independently in many places around the world, unfolding sometimes with and sometimes without accompanying Neolithic cultural shifts.

23 min