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Dr. Matt Pope. Inquiring Minds Lecture Series.

14th March 2013

On Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th March 2013 a selection of KS4 & KS5 students at JCG were extremely privileged to have a series of lectures delivered by Dr. Matt Pope. Dr. Pope is a specialist in Human Origins and he is a Senior Research/Teaching Fellow (Palaeolithic Archaeology) at UCL.

We were delighted to have such a high number of students attend his Monday lectures. They were given the opportunity to learn about a topic that they do not normally get a chance to study at school, but the information is vital for gaining a deeper understanding of who we are as humans.

His knowledge of deep Prehistory was astounding and the students who attended found it a very interesting day. The topic covered the geographical story of the earth and its natural climate changes, as this is intrinsically linked to the emergence of early humans. This in turn allows a better understanding of the climate change crisis that faces us today, and it was very interesting to hear the possible prognosis for our world. It was a clear and relevant way to show the students how valuable the past can be to prophesise about the future.

The story of evolution is biological as well as historical, geographical and other subjects such as psychology were also included, so the students were given an opportunity to see how subjects can overlap and support each other. They were even given a chance to handle some of the skulls of our extinct ancestors (models not real!) and an original 500,000 year old hand axe, which really helped to bring the information to life. The day ended with Dr. Pope linking the information to some key sites in Jersey that he and his team have been studying for several years, and then a stone tool making experiment.

In the evening Dr. Pope delivered a lecture to an audience of parents, students, Jersey Heritage staff, Societe Jersiaise members, and other interested people, which managed to sum up the days information very concisely, and then talk in more depth about the Jersey sites. Again this was a fascinating lecture, and we were pleased that so many were able to join us.

On the Tuesday a smaller group of KS5 geographers and historians went out to visit some key sites around the island. Dr. Pope explained the changing face of Jersey over hundreds of thousands of years very clearly. I think we will all be looking for raised beaches every time we see a cliff face in the future! We visited sites such as Le Pinacle and La Cotte de St. Brelade to see the locations favoured by early humans inhabiting the area around Jersey. Many of the girls had never been to these sites so they found it very interesting. We also went to see the late Hunter-Gatherer site in the field at the back of JCG Prep. It is amazing to think that early humans were living in the area where our school now is, and we are all very excited about the future potential of this site.

Thanks to Dr. Pope our students got an opportunity to see how valuable Jersey is internationally for the surviving evidence we have from this ancient past. We have a unique Heritage and the remains that have recently been found suggest that Jersey was an important part of the landscape for early humans living in the area. The potential for future investigation and discovery is immense and the girls were given a real sense of pride as well as knowledge.

A massive thanks must go out to the girls who got involved and attended the lectures, and the staff, and of course to Dr. Matt Pope for coming over and providing such thought provoking and inspirational information.