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Snapshots in Time

Explore these prehistoric sites where evidence of early humans has been found. Once you’ve seen all four clues from each site with a Smithsonian Human Origins scientist, you can discover how all the pieces of evidence fit together.

You can also visit these interactives in person in the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins.

Swartkrans, South Africa: 1.8 million years ago

Life was dangerous for early humans living in southern Africa’s wooded grasslands 1.8 million years ago. They used simple tools to forage for food and banded together to ward off danger. But sometimes, that wasn’t enough. Explore the interactive to see who’s predator and who’s prey.

Olorgesailie, Kenya: 990,000 years ago

During a dry period in East Africa, a group of Homo erectus lived by making and using tools and by working together in social groups. Explore the interactive to find out how they survived.

Shanidar, Iraq: 65,000 years ago

In the Near East, a group of Neanderthals—close relatives of modern humans—buried their dead. No other primates, and no earlier human species, had practiced this sophisticated behavior. Explore the interactive to see what happened.