Dr Alastair Key, a Palaeolithic archaeologist and Lecturer in Biological Anthropology at SAC, worked with Dr Samantha Winter and PhD students Ian Farr and Rob Hunter, biomechanics experts at SSES, to run this research. The combined effort from the researchers made the project possible, with expertise and equipment from both schools contributing to the study.
Dr Key said, “There is huge potential for techniques and methods that have become commonplace in sports’ science to contribute to our understanding of early human behaviour. I can only hope that this research will lead to others undertaking similar projects in the future. It’s not just the investigation of muscle contraction levels, but elements of the whole musculoskeletal system are routinely investigated in detail by sports’ scientists, yet archaeologists rarely utilise these techniques to shed light on early human behaviour.”
Dr Winter added, “We usually use electromyography in our labs on athletes such as cyclists, footballers and wheelchair athletes to understand what limits their performance or how to improve their sporting skills. It was fascinating to see how these methods could help us understand something about what life was like millions of years ago, and how the use and design of these tools developed.”