Last year saw the publication of two major studies on the evolution of the human mind, Human Evolution, Language and Mind by William Noble and Iain Davidson, and The Prehistory of the Mind by Steven Mithen. Both draw on a number of disciplines including archaeology, psychology, philosophy and animal ethology, but their resulting scenarios of human development differ in several important respects. The question of mind is central to our understanding of the origin of humanness. As Noble and Davidson put it, ‘the mark of modern human behaviour is its self-consciousness, its “mindedness”’. They trace the origin of this behaviour back no further than 100,000 years ago. In Noble and Davidson's view, the behaviours of the ancestors of humans were similar in crucial respects to those of modern non-human primates. Mithen, on the other hand, ‘cannot accept … that language did not appear in a gradual fashion’. Mithen proposes a series of distinct intelligences, and puts forward a modular theory of the evolution of the human mind. In the following pages we present the issues in the form of a debate, inviting each of the three authors to review each other's books and then offering them the opportunity to defend their alternative standpoints. We begin with Mithen's review of Noble and Davidson, then Noble and Davidson's review of Mithen, and finish with their respective replies to the comments and criticisms which have been raised.