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What Is Archaeology? & Lower Paleolithic

What Is Archaeology? & Lower Paleolithic

Archaeology = the study of human behaviour through material remains
Archaeological record = the material remains of the world’s past human behaviour
Culture = “the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning” (Bates and Plog)
Culture = “learned behaviour” (Colin D. Wren)
Archaeological culture = a set of material remains consistently found together in many sites (not necessarily a group of people)
Course concept map:

Archaeological record (survey excavation to get it) à interpretation (lab work, quantitative, qualitative analyses to get it) à cultural processes (comparison theory to get it) à hypothesis (synthesis, predictions, testable to get it )à archaeological record

And the cycle continues

Why study the past?

(Pre)history repeats itself
Appreciation for cultural diversity
New perspective on the present
Alternative trajectories of civilization
How we have shaped our environment (for the past 2.6M years)
Understand cultural origins

What’s involved in doing archaeology?

The fieldwork:

Survey (walking through the sand, looking for any trace of a bowl, or the remains of a fireplace, etc)
Interpretation (the lab work – the majority of time is spent at this stage)

Archaeology is multi-disciplinary:

Natural science
Social science

Exercise: what does your garbage say about you? Consider your collection of garbage leaving your apartment for one month?

What are the three most abundant artefact types?


What can you interpret about:


Prepackaged foods

Role in society

We are consumers not producers
There are roles; we do not dispose of garbage ourselves, other people do it

Values and beliefs

We are not environmentally friendly
We throw things out, we do not conserve

Diet, role in society, values and beliefs – this is the hierarchy, it becomes harder to make judgements as we move up the hierarchy

Biological vs. morphological species (archaeology uses morphological):

Biological species = a group of physically similar organisms that can produce fertile offspring
Morphological species = a group of physically similar fossils

Says nothing about reproduction – this is a potential problems
Morphology is shape
We categorize male/female based on shape/dimensions (since we can’t do it based on reproduction) à we end up using ratios, since we measure every dimension imaginable)
Potential problems:

There are individual size differences (that’s why we use ratios)
Age and specimen (especially with things like teeth and bones built together)

But we can account for that

Huge problem = if damage (if you have a tiny fraction of a femur, it’s hard to measure that) – this approach relies on whole specimens
Methods are not standardized – different researchers have their own ideas about which measure is most important

Researchers disagree on how to categorize specimens
This makes for different estimates of a species’ prevalence in a certain area

4M years ago, in Aramis, Ethiopia, you find “Ardi” (ardipithecus ramidus)

The oldest known hominin (hominid includes the various other primates)
Our ancestor
The skeleton is almost complete!
Quadrepedal in trees & bipedal on the ground (he can do both)

He has the ankle shape that allows him to walk upright on the ground

Divergent big toes (big toe is separate from the other toes, like our hands, not our feet)
He’s a hominin bc he’s bipedal – or we wouldn’t have the confidence that he’s hominin

Go forward a million years – 3.2mya, in Hadar, Ethiopia, you find “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis – so a new species and family from Ardi)

Bipedal but still some arboreal features (features that allow her to be in trees still)

2mya (or 3.3mya) in Dikka, Ethiopia, you find “Selam” aka Lucy’s baby

A 3 year old female
She had a still-growing brain when she died at 3 years old – this is very human, and requires extra parental care

Childhood, which required a complex social organization, therefore emerged over 3.3 mya!

Brain growth after birth – this is a derived characteristic (something that emerged after we split from the apes)

8mya in Laetoli, Ethiopia

Footprints in ash
Likely A. Afarensis
Bipedal, soft tissue impression
Directly dated ash (bc it’s volcanic ash)
Therefore: bipedal existed, before Lucy and Selam

6mya in Gona, Ethiopia:

Oldest known stone tools (archaeology begins)

Archaeology begins here – first tools, and archaeology deals with tools, not people!
Core and flake tools

Garhi vs. homo habilus – there’s a debate here
Core tool: chunk of rock with a couple flakes taken off of it – it has a particular shape, you have to hold it at a particular angle

You bang a rock against another rock so a couple flakes come off

This process = “percussion”

Purpose: so you have a sharp edge
Also called a “chopper”

Flake tools: the flakes are taken off of the core
We don’t know which one was the end purpose (core or flake) – probably both were used. Choppers for working wood or breaking bones to get marrow; flakes for butchery
The characteristic tool of the Oldowan is the chopper
Likely efficient scavenging tools – marrow extraction
This is the Oldowan industry
Purpose is probably not hunting elements
They are probably highly efficient scavenging tools

If a gazelle has died by a lion
A small chimp cannot take away the meat from the pack of lions
They had to wait until the lions were finished
Then they waited until the hyenas were finished
Then they ate – so they probably did marrow extraction

Marrow: not eaten by the lions, bc they couldn’t break the bones
These tools were to bash open the long bones

9mya in Olduvai, Tanzania:

Significantly larger brain that A. afarensis (Lucy)

That’s why we give him the family name “homo” – first homo

Oldowan industry type site

It’s industry, not culture – one small tool is not enough for the big word “culture”

But forehead still not a modern forehead – not as big as ours

This is bc our PFC has grown

5mya in Nariokotome, Kenya

Fully bipedal
Not a successful species
Stenson: he had a bad back, probably from a childhood injury, he had scoliosis

So to have survived til when he did, he must have had females and younger family members look after him
He died at age 12 when he was trapped in a swamp

Body was very similar to our own
Was on the threshold to becoming human
modern physiology – bipedal, same running gait as our own, etc
One adolescent boy skeleton (1.5mya in Nariokotome):

He was tall and thin, typical of tropical populations among modern humans
He lived on the rich grasslands by the Omo River
Perhaps died of infection

8 mya in Dmanisi, Georgia (another recently discovered skeleton)

Another H. Erectus
First hominin out-of-Africa
He had lost all but one of his teeth – how did he survive? Did he rely on charity?

He died at age 40

Much older than any previously-found fossil out-of-Africa
Same old oldowan stone tools – they were obviously used for a very long time
New ecological niche – had to adapt to a new environmental condition

He did so with not much new (since still using the same tools)

Also made it to Java (1.6mya), and China

First hominin dispersal:

Erectus covered most of old world quickly

They spread out of Africa and went everywhere

Lots of new ecological niches
No fire, simple tools
How did they make it out?

Theory: bigger brain size

Behavioural flexibility

Ability to adapt to a lot of new environments, using the same tools in innovative new ways

Extended social networks à reduced risk (this is the second theory)

The right turn out of Africa

The left turn out of Africa (i.e. in Europe; Georgia is Eastern Europe, near Asia):

800kya, Atapuerca, Spain
Took longer to get to Europe
Antecessor? New species name? Looked a little different
Earliest site in Europe
Oldowan tools
27 hominins tossed into a natural crevice

Special treatment of the dead?
Implies that they placed some value on that individual
They were all at the same time roughly
Theory: if some infection killed many, they were all buried together

500 kya, Boxgrove, England


Some still call it erectus, very similar

No boats
Acheulean industry

Finally they started making something new, in addition to Oldowan tools
Huge “handaxes”
Spread everywhere except China
Larger, more deliberately shaped into this tear-drop shape (and symmetrical)

More flakes taken off – bc it took more effort, used for longer (there’s a lot of curation at the ends of the tool – this means they used it for a while and then re-sharpened it)
They made them this specific way (learned from their parents) for a non-functional purpose – it was just a style

Woodworking? Butchering?

Big animals (lions, bears, rhinos) present near this site of Boxgrove, England

Unsure what was hunted – although probably horse, given the next finding:

400kya; Schoningen, Germany

8 wooden spears

Fire hardened tips

20 butchered wild horses
Heidelbergensis not a scavenger – he was out there purposefully hunting
Handaxes used to sharpen wooden spears here – so this was probably a use for the handaxes before as well

What do the fossil and material remains tell us?

Bipedal (a derived characteristic)
Spatial/social organization (how artefacts are arranged in a site and across landscapes)

To take down 20 wild horses, you need an established group + coordination (this suggests language)

Tool function

Hunting vs. scavenging

Why tools at that time?

Maybe because now we have free hands

An old hypothesis: we learned to walk on two feet to be able to have free hands à this has been shown to be false

Brain size/learning

A larger brain doesn’t necessarily mean learning, but it does seem correlated with increasing complexity of tool manufacturing and the purposes we use the tools for

Maybe environmental stress

The environment was all great, lots of resources
Then the climate shifted, and the ecological niche that we were inhabiting shrunk
Scarcity, bc the forest started disappearing, and we ate a lot of fruit à so natural selection selected for something like a brain, which allowed us to make tools

Climate niches

Most of old world
No other species are like this – inhabit lots of niches
Our ancestors adapted and diversified – this is rare

Why is this relevant today?

Understand: why we look, think, and act the way we do
Humility: in the interpretation of our ancestors scavenging meat for a few million years
Impact: of the environment on shaping our physiology
Appreciation: for the time depth of technology (2.6my) and its role in our lives

Textbook, Chapter 3

The early hominin record includes species belonging to 4 distinct genera:

Australopithecus (4mya – 2.5mya)
Homo habilis (2.5mya – 1.6mya)
Paranthropus (2.5mya – 1.4mya)
Homo erectus (1.9mya – 45,000 years ago)

3 major themes in the archaeology of early hominins:

Tool use

A distinctive marker of the human lineage

Social organization

Sahelanthropus tchadensis:

The oldest fossils thought to belong to the hominin lineage
Fossils were discovered in Chad, that were 7 mya

Ardipithecus ramidus:

Another early hominin
Lived 4.5mya
Known from fossils discovered in 1992 at the site of Aramis in Ethiopia
More is known from the discovery of a complete skeleton – a female named Ardi

She had an opposable large toe – so can climb in trees

Unlike apes in that she: lacks the features necessary for knuckle walking + lacks the pronounced canines they also have

The early hominin radiation: 4mya – 2mya

= an explosion in the diversity of hominin species
Included 3 distinct genera (all in Africa still):


Similar to the australopithecines

Australopithecus (“australopithecines”)

Mostly East and South Africa
A new one (Australopithecus bahrelghazali) lived 3.5mya in Chad
Lucy provided the evidence that they walked on two legs

The ash footprints provided graphic evidence of this
The footprints were dated 3.8mya, so they were likely a. afarensis (like Lucy)

Can also climb trees


Also called “robust Australopithecus”
Massive molars and muscles for chewing (nickname = Nutcracker man)
A diet that includes seeds or fruits with a hard outer coating

These three were distinct but similar in that they all:

Bipedal (though some could climb trees still)
Lacked the pronounced canines
Mean brain size at 450-475 cubic centimeters (this is at the high end of brain size for living apes)

So: within the hominin lineage, bipedalism and loss of large canines preceded a significant increase in brain size

Homo habilis:

Same time as Paranthropus
East Africa
Lacked the heavy chewing muscles and large teeth characteristic of Paranthropus; had a larger brain (500-800cc)
The first “homo”

Homo erectus: brain size 750-1250cc (further increase); Africa, Asia, Europe

Some researchers separate the earliest Homo Erectus fossils from sites in Africa into a distinct species called Homo Ergaster

The richest context for the recovery of early hominin archaeological sites = East African Rift Valley
It is a trough (so it’s filling up with sediments so it preserves the sites)
It is tectonically active (so there’s lots of erosion)
This à formation of badlands (gullies and ravines)
It is volcanically active (so levels of volcanic ash, “tuffs”, can be dated using the argon method)

Of all the gullies and ravines, the most important location for the study of human evolution is: the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania

Bed I is the earliest unit, Bed IV the latest, and the Masek Beds overlying Bed IV

Lower Paleolithic, in Africa, is called the Early Stone Age

Lower Paleolithic is the period during which early hominins began making stone tools

Two main industries associated with the Lower Paleolithic: Oldowan + Acheulian

Oldowan: 1.9mya – 1.15mya

The least-effort solution

Acheulian: 1.7mya – 200,000 years ago

Sites found in Africa, Europe, Middle East, and India
Began at the same time as the first appearance of Homo Erectus and the extinction of Homo Habilis
The characteristic tool of the Acheulian is the biface

Earliest evidence of design
Can be handaxes (pointed end) or cleavers (wide working end)

The archaeological study of stone tools = lithic analysis
The manufacture of stone tools = knapping

Percussion (banging) techniques:

Direct: it is delivered directly to the core

Hard-hammer direct: a rock is used as a hammer
Soft-hammer direct: an antler or piece of hardwood is used

Using this allows the knapper to produce thin flakes with a less pronounced bulb of percussion

Indirect: intermediary device (“punch”) is used btwn the hammer and the core

For precise placement of the blow – controlled

Pressure techniques:

The force is applied by pressure vs. a blow (the knapper pushes off a flake using an antler)
Involves a great deal of force
Used in the very fine shaping of tools
No blow is involved, so the bulb of percussion is very diffuse, and very thin flakes can be removed

The careful secondary shaping of a core or flake = retouch

Tool use is not uniquely human (even birds use tools)

Chimpanzees in the Tai Forest use tools to break nuts, after observing parents doing it
This tool use is not uniform across Africa; even when two populations in different African regions have the same nuts, only one uses tools

This may mean that chimps have culture

Only humans manufacture tools (chimps can be taught, but limitedly)

3mya from Lokalalei, Kenya – the tools found there showed:

Tool manufacturing was extremely complex, unlike any process known from studies of animal behaviour

The main methods used to date early hominin sites:

Paleomagnetic dating

Determines when sediments were deposited
Dates the soils in which artifacts are found, vs. the artifacts themselves
So won’t be applicable if the artifact has been carried around by water and isn’t in its original location
Based on switches of polarity (normal and reversed)

So you can tell whether the artifact was from a period of normal or reversed polarity

Argon dating

Gives you a numerical age vs. assigning a deposit to an epoch or event
Works by means of an accumulation clock, measures the ratio of K:Ar
Needs volcanic activity

Cosmogenic Burial Age dating

A new method
Beginning to have an impact, particularly on cave sites

Chimpanzee sharing is at the spot of the kill; hunter-gatherer sharing is back at home base

Home-base/food-sharing model (Isaac): the sharing of meat at base camps is fundamental to the lives of early hominins

The ability to share and cooperate, vs. the ability to kill, is the driving force behind human evolution

Palimpsest: an archaeological site produced by a series of distinct brief occupations

Isaac’s theory is based off of a site filled with bones and tools – he thought it was a base camp, where they shared meat
The site may actually be a palimpsest, and not a base camp where meat was shared

So his theory may be wrong

In the lower Paleolithic period: there is very little evidence for the controlled use of fire
By 1.4mya, the radiation was over – only Homo erectus survived

Then (1.8mya): dispersal: a single species disperses

Archaeological evidence for the timing of the dispersal:

Ubeidiya (in Israel)

4mya, Homo Erectus

Dmanisi (in Georgia)

8mya, Homo Erectus
Earliest evidence of human occupation outside of Africa

Java (Indonesia, East Asia)

Sites of Sangiran and Perning – 1.8mya
Stone tools not found
Homo Erectus

Nihewan Basin (China, East Asia)

6mya, Oldowan tools found

The earliest evidence for walking upright was found in Australopithecus afarensis
The earliest evidence for tool manufacture is found at the Gona site in Hadar, Ethiopia, 2.5mya

Why Is Dating Important? & Middle Paleolithic

Dating is important because:

Links time over space
Link different types of data (e.g. paleoclimate with artefacts)
Context to interpretation
Allows us to study change

Ways to categorize dating methods:

Relative vs. absolute dating:

Relative = X is older than Y

Law of superposition = things that are lower down in strategraphy are older
But how much older? All we could do was know the order of things

Absolute dating allows us to say how much older

A newer development
X is 4500 +/- 50 cal yr BP

Cal = calibrated
BP = before present (the standard present is 1950)

Direct vs. indirect dating:

Direct = method dates the target itself (e.g. radiocarbon dating)
Indirect = date something associated with your target (less precise)

Dating methods:

Radiocarbon dating:

Effective range = 400-40,000 years ago
Target: anything organic
Absolute & direct
Also known as C14 dating
Clock starts when target dies
C14 decays, but regular C12 doesn’t; so the ratio of C14 to C12 changes, and it changes in a predictable way


Effective range = present-10,000 years ago
Target: wood
Absolute & direct
Needs to be anchored to another tree
Counting the rings on a tree trunk – but then when you cannot count anymore, you need to anchor to another tree
Used to be used to calibrate radioactive carbon


Effective range = ~2-500 thousand years ago
Target: bones and teeth
Absolute & direct
Best combined with other methods (ESR) bc it’s wobbly

K-Ar & Ar-Ar:

Effective range = 1000-5mya
Target: volcanic rock, ash
Absolute & indirect
Only in volcanic areas (e.g. volcanic)


Effective range = present – 200 thousand years ago
Target: burnt lithics (TL), buried sediment (OSL), teeth (ESR)
Absolute & direct
Recent techniques, highly specialized

Rodent teeth:

Effective range = present – 500kya
Target: rodent teeth
Relative & indirect
Gives wide age ranges (+/- 10,000 or 20,000 years), commonly used for MiddlePaleo European sites

How are dates represented in the published literature?

If we don’t say “plus or minus however many years”, it can be very misrepresented

If we don’t say that, it looks like we’re dealing with multiple strata / time periods – really when we are dealing with one strata
So you need to give midpoints AND ranges

We can represent dating as:

Continuous vs. phased time

Different types emphasize different things
Continuous seems like change is continuous
Phased time makes it seem like change goes in jumps

Olduvai Gorge is a type site for Oldowan

It was found first
So if a new site is found, it’s compared to Olduvai Gorge, and if it’s similar, it’s lumped in with Oldowan

Middle Paleolithic

Also called Middle Stone Age, in Africa
Middle Paleolithic creatures:

Neanderthals (Nean): appears in Europe and the Middle East
Erectus: covers Eurasia and Africa (the whole old world)


Allopatric speciation; the boundary is just different continents, creates separation = out-of-Africa model
H. Antecessor is found only in spain; this theory is not given much credit
Gene flow maintained Nean and AMH (anatomically modern humans) as one species, with enough separation to form “ethnic groups” = multi-regional model

We evolved in multiple regions, with enough gene flow to keep us together

To determine which ones are falsified, need to look for hybrids! Haven’t found yet

Neanderthals have the biggest brain EVER; their range of brain size is smaller than AMH, but their average brain size is much bigger

But their skull is different, and it shows that they have less frontal lobe

Also thicker brow ridge
Bigger occipital bun
Their brains are bigger than ours, and they are organized differently

Neanderthals also have a hyoid bone in the throat – it’s in the voicebox

Other than Selam, neanderthals’ hyoid bone looks identical to ours
So that suggests that they could talk just like us; they could make the same sounds as us (whether or not they had language is unknown, bc that’s a learned thing)

Different brains maybe means that they think differently than us

If they think differently they may behave differently
What was the interaction with modern humans? Did they interbreed? What was the nature of their relationship?

Neanderthals’ post-cranial (body) morphology:

Stocky and robust body

Shorter + huger muscles

They were stocky and robust because they are “cold adapted” (debated)

Lived through two complete glacial cycles
They were in Europe, not Africa in the sun
They are more similar to people who live in cold environments today

Bow-legged: hips and legs

Not as much as Lower Paleo creatures, but more than AMH

Lots of trauma to their bones, just through their life

This is almost ubiquitous, in almost every skeleton discovered
They have also been healed

Nean diet:

Take the stable-isotope analysis (N15) of Neanderthal bone, and compare to other animals, lions, etc – from that we can determine their diet

They ate meat, just meat (97%)
This means they are skilled hunters using a variety of techniques

They ran 20+ mammoths off a cliff
Seasonal bison hunt à shows an understanding of how the world/environment works, they could clearly keep time
Thrown spears, javelin-style

The Neanderthal genome has been sequenced!

This can be used to determine the relationship between the Neans and the AMHs
Neans are more similar to European and Chinese modern humans, than they are to African modern humans
So they mixed in Europe, and Europeans brought that when they moved to China
So now, non-African humans have that Nean component

Nean geneticsà

Divergence (the divergence between Neans and AMH)= 800kya

But there has been significant interbreeding

5-9% Nean DNA in today’s people

Characteristics: not a lot of genetic variation – this means that they had a small population size
They have some genetic traits that are the same as ours

The only one we’ve figured out that we have the same = red hair

Tools: Mousterian industry (300-30kya)

Levallois method: they take a nodule of rock and they spend a lot of time precisely shaping a core

Not to use the core, but bc the last thing they do = to pop off one flake that is exactly the shape they want
The end purpose was the flake, not the core – the core becomes garbage
“Levallois flakes”, “prepared core techniques” à points, scrapers

Spatial variability in look and in technique (the sequence of how they shape that original core)
What do regional differences represent? Regional variations in style like we have today à means they had culture
Dating is important here; without dates, we couldn’t tell if it were spatial variation in design, or simply change through time

Neanderthal sites:

Umm el Tlel, Syria (5o+kya):

Wild ass with embedded levallois pointà means thrown spear

If it were jabbed in, the point wouldn’t have broken off

Shanidar Cave, Israel (70kya):

One individual: Shanidar 1:

40-50 years old
Broken cheekbone, blind in one eye
Broken arm resulted in unusable hand
Joint disease on right leg
Yet he was 40-50 years old! Somebody had to be taking care h

Shanidar 3: sustained penetrating wound to a rib
These cases show that these guys cared for each other

Their social group was tight enough that they cared for each other for a prolonged period of time

Flower pollen on buried adult male – this had been a symbolic burial

This has been questioned: ritual or rodents (carried the pollen)?

Amud cave, Isreal (60kya):

Child burial; upper jaw of a red deer on pelvis

The deer seems to have been buried with him, but only the jaw was found
This has been interpreted also as a ritual

With Shanidar 1, maybe he was older so he’d built up status, and that’s why he was cared for
With this child, no time to build up status; so maybe he inherited status

Moula-Guercy, France (100kya):

Totally average butchery – of a Neanderthal

This is cannibalism!

Cannibalism also at Krapina, Croatia
Is this ritual consumption of ancestors or enemies? Or simply a “this guy died, he has meat, let’s eat it”

Vanguard and Gorham’s Caves, Spain (42kya):

Dolphins and seals with cut marks
Also mollusks, fish
Water’s edge hunting inferred (rather than boats)
But catching a dolphin is not as easy as catching a grazing wild ass

Shows what they are capable of

Preveli, Crete (190-130kya):

Chunky quartz handaxes
Dated indirectly using known geological strata and sea rise models
Why is this significant?

This location is far off the coast; you would have had to sail and paddle there
So Neanderthals built boats once in a while; they were capable of it

Kebara Cave, Israel (50kya):


60-70% regular flakes, various shapes

Half of the triangular ones show use-wear

20% Levallois

lots of points and scrapers
Not much retouch (resharpening)

Spatial organization:

3-15cm thick, 20-80 cm diameter ash & charcoal deposits, no rocks

These are fire pits!! “Hearths”
And there were a lot of them, pretty close together

We don’t actually know if these were burning at the same time
That would suggest that a) they came back, and b) they didn’t care where they burned it – no fireplace

Ash was spread out, purposefully – maybe sleeping area??

That was the excavator’s explanation, but why would you want to sleep in ash???

Bones and garbage around sides of cave, especially the north wall, middle clear à they clean the place out!

Flora and Fauna:

Gazelle and deer bones

Cut marks on 10%
Burning on 4% – which is weird, given that they cooked most of their meat (bc we saw fireplaces)

Plant materials around ash deposits

Oak charcoal and charred wild peas

Oak charcoal à they are therefore burning wood!
Charred peas à dried out peas last longer, so that’s why they were charred, it was purposeful

Nean skeletons:

Mostly teeth, many of children (kids lose teeth!)

This means they were spending lots of time in this cave, families were here as well, wasn’t just hunter men

KMH 1: infant 7-9 months
KMH 2: mostly complete adult male, missing skull, most of legs

Dug out pit, in the north wall garbage pile

KMH 9 & 10: foot bones
KMH 17: clavicle
KMH 20: Parietal bone


Family living space above a hunting grounds

That they visited frequently, maybe seasonally, or maybe different groups used it

Control of fire
Purposeful burials (but why?)
Hunting tools and prey animals
Plant processing
Very little difference from the contemporary AMH

“In sum, the commonly Eurocentric summaries which attempt to show major archaeological differences between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons [AMH] are not supported by the evidence exposed in Kebara Cave” (Bar-Yosef et al. 1992)
Neanderthals were not stupid, grunting knuckle-draggers

Neanderthal summary:

Seriously rough lives
Highly successful, intelllifent species (sub-species? Maybe they are homo sapiens neanderthalis; we are homo sapiens sapiens)

If they were interbreeding, they were not a separate biological species
Morphological species? Not sure

Cared for the sick, wounded and dead
Conservative in Mousterian stone tool technology
Top of food chain, specialists in grazing animals
Fairly similar in behaviour to contemporary AMH

Even though their brains lad a different morphology

Textbook, Chapter 4

The evolution of Neanderthals took place within the context of the geological period known as the Pleistocene, or the Ice Age

The Pleistocene is characterised by glacial eras (significant buildup of ice sheets) and interglacial eras (periods during which the ice sheet subsequently retreated)
A record of Pleistocene climate change can be measured by looking at shifts in this ratio:

Colder climate à more ice on land à less water in ocean à high ratio 18O : 16O
Warmer climate à less ice on land à more water in ocean à low ratio 18O : 16O
This is the oxygen isotope curve

Glacial and interglacial events are given numbers, from the most recent to the oldest

We now live in Oxygen Isotope Stage 1

In the last chapter we examined evidence for the initial dispersal of H. Erectus. To understand the evolution of Neanderthals, we need to know more about what happened after this initial dispersal, when hominins first spread into Western Europe. We also need to know about the Lower Paleo cultures of Europe and Asia.

Gran Dolina, Atapuerca, Spain:

Stone tools (flakes and cores) and hominin remains dated to 800,000 years ago
The oldest reliable evidence of human occupation of Western Europe
Homo antecessor

Bose, China:

The earliest date for an Acheulian industry anywhere outside of Africa

Gesher Benot Ya’akov, Israel:

Other than Bose, the earliest well-dated Acheulian site outside of Africa
In the northern extension of the East African Rift Valley
Dated to 780,000 years ago

Only beginning 500,000 years ago, Acheulian sites became common in Eurasia

There is regional variation in the Eurasian Acheulian, but as a whole, these industries show significant contrast with the African Acheulian

Cleavers are almost completely absent from the Eurasian Acheulian, and handaxes are the major type of biface
Eurasian Acheulian also included retouched flakes, e.g. sidescrapers

Boxgrove, England:

Among the earliest known Acheulian sites in Europe, dated to 500,000 years ago

Not all sites in Europe after 500,000 years ago have produced handaxes

The Clactonian is an industry in England of simple flake tools contemporary with the Acheulian
One would expect that all groups would rapidly adopt the Acheulian technology, but this is not the case – handaxe manufacture never became widespread in East Asia, and it only became widespread in Europe (and Western Asia) 500,000 years ago, hundreds of thousands of years after the first arrival of hominins

Then, even after the widespread appearance of handaxes in Europe and Western Asia, there were industries such as the Clactonian that did not involve handaxe manufacture

Ecological factors might account for this as well as for the differences between the African and Eurasian Acheulian

Another possibility is that different industries are evidence of distinct groups / waves of migration

The initial dispersal might have been of the Oldowan people pushed out of Africa by more successful Acheulian groups

Another possibility is that it reflects social factors such as group size, since elaborate stone tool manufacture involves learning

Maybe the far less elaborate Clactonian industries were produced by small groups living in an interglacial wooded environment with a low risk from predators and an evenly distributed availability of food resources

Zhoukoudian: a massive series of caves in China, where the remains of more than 40 H. erectus individuals and 100,000 stone choppers and flakes were recovered

Might be as old as 750,000 years old
Provides the earliest evidence for the use of fire

The use of fire during Lower Paleo was rare – the most compelling evidence for the use of fire in the Lower Paleo comes from the Beeches Pit in England, dated 400,000 years ago
There is very little evidence of either artwork or ritual behaviour in Lower Paleo; exceptions:

Signs of artwork in Berekhat Ram, Golan Heights
Special treatment of the dead in Sima de los Huesos (a cave in Atapuerca, Spain), 300,000 years ago

The earliest evidence of human occupation of Western Europe was at TD-6 level of the Gran Dolina site at Atapuerca – dated 800,000 years ago
With the exception of Bose, there is little evidence of Acheulian sites east of India


175,000 – 30,000 years ago

Oldest fossil found in Biache-Saint-Vaast (France), dated to 175,000 years ago
Most recent fossil found in Mezmaiskaya Cave, dated to 30,000 years ago
Neanderthals lived through two complete glacial cycles

Brain size: 1200 – 1700cc
Europe and the Middle East

No Neanderthal fossils have been found in Africa or East Asia

Neanderthals only rarely made handaxes; after having been central, they disappeared 200,000 years ago

Unlike Lower Paleo (where tools were uniform across time and space), there is variation

The Binford-Bordes debate on tool variation:

Bordes à it means different ethnic groups existed
Binford à they didn’t have ethnicity, rather different tools were for different purposes, and variation reflected the activities that took place in one area vs. another
Mellars said neither were correct: the different tools were across time, which also makes Binford wrong, since a “hide working period” wouldn’t be followed by a “butchery period”, etc
Dibble also critiqued Bordes’ typology by pointing out: Frison effect:

Due to re-sharpening, the process through which the shape of stone tools changes during their use-life

g. a simple sidescraper (one edge of the flake retouched) could become a double sidescraper (two edges retouched), and it could then become a convergent sidescraper (two edges that meet are retouched)

Variation due to different accesses to raw materials – if less, more retouching

Boeda à now we know that there is ethnicity, but not in the way Bordes thought; different groups had different ways of getting to the flake

La Cotte de St. Brelade: the location on the Jersey islands where evidence of Neanderthals hunting mammoths by stampeding them off a cliff was found
Neanderthal base camps: central living areas with hearths and peripheral areas used as dumps

complications bc caves were shared (though not at the same time) by Neanderthals, hyenas, cave bears

There is no evidence of Neanderthal artwork
Though many Nean sites are very small, they show intensive activity

Possible that this is because they were inhabited continuously; i.e. Neans were much more sedentary than the more recent human hunter-gatherers
Other researchers say that they are highly mobile hunter-gatherers – there is evidence to support this position as well

How Do We Recognize Modern Thought? & Modern Humans in Africa

What categories of thinking define us as modern? How do we define modern thought?
Which hominins were capable of having modern thought?

AMH (logic is circular, but we’re going to go with it)


Morphologically within modern human’s range
Dimensions of skeletal features same as ours
Characteristics of the skull:

Globular skull
Big brain (average smaller than Nean)
Vertical forehead – larger PFC
Smaller brow ridges
They have a chin – chins only exist in modern humans

Characteristics of post-cranial body:

Gracile body (less robust, more delicate a frame)
Narrower rib cage
New pelvis shapeà no longer bow-legged (knees are straight)

A new pelvis is related to different skull – a baby’s skull has to fit through the pelvis of the mom


Little genetic diversity (and all the diversity is found in Africa)

So little, that we’re comparable to a sub-species (homo sapiens sapiens)
This is bc recent common origin (200kya) of a small-ish population

One of the earliest AMH (or almost):

Herto, Ethipia, 160kya
Three partial skulls
sapiens idaltu
Retains some H. Erectus features

Klasies River and Border Cave, South Africa (120-70kya) – the first homo sapiens sapiens

Cranial and post-cranial remains found
Within modern human size range
Neans were definitely still around

How do we recognize thought at all, in archaeology?

Need to make assumptions about behaviour
If they act modern, they must think modern
But what exactly is modern behaviour

It’s the behaviour of only AMH
Behaviours in which we only see in AMH
This logic is circular – bc we’re looking for what distinguishes AMH from Nean, so what happens if we see symbolism as modern, but then find it in Neans? Do we say Neans are capable of modern thought, or do we say symbolism is no longer characterised as modern thought?

What is AMH behaviour?

Middle stone age: the tool industry of AMH
Very similar to Nean’s MP (middle Paleo)

Lots of Levallois prepared cores

But more variations in end product shape
250kya – 50kya
The homo sapiens sapiens start well within the middle stone age

Mugurk, Kenya – Sangoan/Lupemban industry:

A variant of middle stone age industry
East and central African regional industry
Unreliable dates, could be as old as 200kya
Heavy tools and light lead shaped points
Lots of crappy flake tools
Specialized functions

Mugharet el Aliya, Morocco (60-35 kya):

Aterian industry (40-20kya)

Another regional industry, northern African
Points with a tang (probably for an atlatl dart)
Small figurines

Katanda, Congo (75+ kya):

Barbed bone spear points

Klasies River, South Africa (110-70kya):

Howiesons Poort industry

Microliths or exotic material
Part of compound tools

Ochre “pencils” (like red paint) (Neans had black)
Significant spatial organization

Hearths, organized middens (not in the sides, like Kebara; outside, organized garbage areas)

Pinnacle Point, South Africa (160kya):

Marine adaptation (shellfish)
Not like Neans, where we found in once; sea creatures were their dominant food source

This was possibly a response to a harsh climatic period (OIS 6) – land animals started to disappear

Glacial cycles:

Core of ocean floor
Glacial: cold, even numbers

So OIS 6 is a cold period

Interglacials: warm, odd numbers

We count back from the present, so 1 (an odd number) is warm

Blombos Cave, South Africa (77kya)

8000 pieces of red ochre

Carved ochre pencil; not just a pencil, but carved design into it

This is one of the first evidences of artwork

So red point is now a very important part of their daily life

Ostrich egg and shell beads – jewellery or maybe these beads were tied into clothes

No beadwork like this in Nean sites

MSA (the middle stone age) – has greater regional diversity (of styles, even materials used for the tools)

Neans had diversity in method, but not like this; the end products were the same

What is modern about the MSA? What does the MSA say about AMH cognition?

In what new ways were they able to think?

Artwork – shows symbolism, they are representing an idea or a concept onto a canvas or stone
Exotic materials – needs they had to trade

Modern thought (McBrearty and Brooks 2000):

Abstract thinking: abstract concepts not limited in time or space
Planning depth: strategies based on past experience in a group context
Behaviour, economic and technological innovativeness

Economy = the sharing and distributing of products
Here, it’s about food – so it’s about hunting styles, etc – that’s what they are talking about

Symbolic behaviour: represent objects, people, and abstract concepts with reified symbols

Material evidence of modern thought:

Ecological: colonizing new environments (innovation and planning depth)
Technological features (inventiveness and capacity for logical thinking)
Economic & Social: develop systematic plans, formalized relationships among individuals and groups
Symbolic: communicate abstract concepts, manipulate symbols as a part of everyday life (an example of this would be regionally specific tool shapes, to show that you are part of a certain group – represents this abstract idea of belongingness)

Neans show some colonizing new environments – Crete, they had to built boats for that

They seem halfway there

Neans existed in Europe when AMHs were in Africa – contemporary
Upper Paleo revolution (Europe) – these innovations (blades, beads, etc) all happened at the same time

In Africa, they happened gradually

The Middle à Late Stone Age Transition


Distinct transition from Middle to Upper Paleo; called a revolution


MSA-LSA transition
Most research in Africa was re early hominins; Europe was thought to be the exciting place to study middle-upper Paleo
It used to be thought of as a revolution as well – it was just assumed, since Europe was
What used to be thought:


Made by pre-modern homo (archaic homo sapiens)
Cognitive equal to Neanderthals


Symbolism, microliths, broad spectrum foraging
Both made by modern humans
Both start roughly 40kya

But then – they found the earliest AMH, dated to almost 200kya

When the MSA was happening – challenged the above view
So you have AMHs who aren’t behaving modernly – so was there a lag btwn the development of modern anatomy and modern cognition?

Theory: there was a rewiring of the brain that didn’t leave any anatomical trace

Then they found these weird things: a shell used as a palette, an engraved ochre fragment….. again challenged the assumption that Africa had a revolution

Early symbolism
Also they had broad spectrum foraging in the MSA

LSA periods:

Early LSA:

More microliths, and you see ostrich eggshell beads
Poorly understood

Robberg (12-18kya, microlithic)
Oakhurst (non-microlithic)

The MSA-LSA transition: what’s going on:

Changes in demographic pressure

And the more people you have in one area, the more rules you need to have, in order for people to get along
In the MSA, you have periods of intense demographic pressure, and then periods of less – ebb and flow

This is related to cultural change

Changes in social structures and networks
Cultural change

This transition is different from the early-middle stone age transition – bc you have only one species (vs. also having Neanderthals, etc)
If people in the MSA were behaviourally and cognitively modern, then when did modern complex cognition originate?

Is complex cognition limited to modern humans only?
What constitutes complex cognition?
How can this be identified from the archaeological record?

g. compound tools (multi-component tools)
Also traps and snares are a good indicator of complex cognition
Compound tools have also been found at Nean sites

Textbook, Chapter 5 (5.1 – 5.3)

Modern humans first appeared in Africa btwn 200,000 and 100,000 years ago
The Acheulian industries in Africa were replaced between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago by a group of industries known as the middle stone age (which ended 40,000 years ago)
The MSA is the archaeological context for the earliest modern humans
Tool manufacture in MSA (Africa) is similar to Middle Paleo (Europe), but with greater diversity and some a couple extra tool types
Distinct MSA industries:

Aterian (North Africa)

Points with a tang + fine bifacial tools serving as knives or hunting points

Sangoan/Lupemban (Central and East Africa)

Crude, heavy-duty tools; may be an adaptation to heavily wooded environment

Howiesons Poort (South Africa)


MSA in Africa (modern humans) vs. Middle Paleo in Europe (Neans)


Stone tools made mostly by prepared core technology
Variability btwn stone tool industries
Evidence supports both hunting and intensive use of fire


MSA more variability
MSA had elaborate bone tools, and clear evidence of fishing and collecting shellfish
Modest evidence of artwork in MSA

The Middle East connects Africa, Asia and Europe – so it is where AMH Africans and Nean Europeans may have interacted

In Middle East sites, you find AMH skeletons in Middle Paleo earth (weird – you would think Neans in Middle Paleo) – and also, their caves were the same as Neans’ caves in Europe (no artwork, etc)
When Neans expanded out of Eurasia (into the Middle East), you find Nean skeletons
When AMH expanded out of Africa (into the Middle East), you find AMH skeletons

Not one is older than the other – they overlap and criss cross

AMH expanded into Europe no earlier than 60,000 years ago

Around 40,000 years ago, Neans became extinct in the Middle East as part of a process that swept modern humans into Europe

Radiocarbon dating is not useful for the Middle Paleolithic

Identifying Cultural Process & Modern Humans in Europe
Cultural Process

Culture = learned behaviour
Cultural trait = some element of culture; a particular artifact (e.g. stone tool), or behaviour (e.g. manufacturing method) would be an element
Cultural change = change in the frequency of a cultural trait (e.g. an increase in amount of ochre)
Cultural evolutionary theory = an archeological approach which interprets cultural change as the result of systematic (social) processes (e.g. natural selection)
Cultural process = the underlying historical processes which are at the root of change

Primary cultural processes:

Innovation (an individual comes up with an innovation)
Cultural diffusion (the passing of that idea btwn individuals)
Migration (the movement of people)

These 3 processes explain most of the change we see in the archaeological record

But what is driving these particular (culture) changes? There are drivers, culture change is systematic

OR if culture doesn’t change systematically, historical contingency (random chance, no systematic way to understand it, series of unpredictable events)
These are the two views

Drivers (for the systematic-change view):

External drivers: environmental constraints (e.g. limited food resources keeps population size down; carrying capacity)
Internal drivers: innovation, drift, inter-group sharing, humility (e.g. value on humility maintains egalitarian social structure)

Drift: accounts for historical contingencies within a predictable framework (things happen, like broken telephone)

Synchronic vs. diachronic change:

Synchronic: variability in cultural traits over space at one time
Diachronic: variability in cultural traits over time within one space (could be through space as well)

AMH in the Middle East

When AMH arrives, Nean still there

Means that this place is a key location for understanding transitional processes, the nature of the interaction btwn the two species, the role of environmental constraints on both species, etc

We can explain that transition using cultural processes




Generic Middle (Nean-style stuff, not the regional styles)
Stone Age

Toolkits essentially the same

Skhul and Qafzeh Caves (120 and 80 kya, respectively):

AMH fossils, MP tools
Incised flint (we didn’t see those in Nean sites)
Shell pendants with pigments (we didn’t see those in Nean sites)
Like Amud (the Nean burial that had the upper jaw of the deer), deer antler in AMH burial at Qafzeh, boar jaw at Skhul
Regional cultural continuity between Nean and AMH behaviour

Nean and AMH: they weren’t occupying it at exactly the same time – oscillations of occupations in Middle East (like this oscilated with climate/glacial cycles)

Morphology different, behaviour the same – except for art

AMH have art

AMH Dispersal into Europe

AMH enter Europe 40kya
Nean gone by 30kya
What happened?

What cultural processes could have caused this transition?
Most controversial and divisive period in Paleolithic archaeology

3 basic models from the AMH perspective:

Out of Africa Model:

AMH evolved in Africa, moved into Europe as Nean went extinct
Early DNA results showed Africa to be the recent origin of AMH (100kya)
Lots of processes proposed: niche competition, warfare, coincidence

Coincidence: due to climate, Neans were diminishing; AMH just happened to walk in at that time

The archaeological transition occurred directly bc AMH moved into Europe and replaced Nean

Multiregional Model:

Gene flow between Africa and Europe maintained Nean and AMH as one species

How much gene flow do you need to maintain a species?
How do we test that?
Should expect transitional fossils, mixes of Nean and AMH features – and we don’t have that
Implied a very old divergence btwn the modern day world’s ethnicities

Implies a greater difference between races – racists ran with that, and it tainted the model


Mix of the two
Gene flow, and then we replaced them a bit
Tiny bit of gene flow, but not enough and they were starting to diverge as species

But then they interbred
Bc AMH had greater population numbers, AMH kind of absorbed the Neans (they absorbed Nean’s DNA – our DNA has some Nean in it!)

Paabo: this hybridization probably happened in the Middle East
Most popular model today
The archaeological transition occurred bc of interactions btwn AMH and Nean

“Revolution” in material culture around the time that AMH entered Europe

This is diachronic change – change through time

In Africa, they gradually developed beads, images, blades, etc

Then they moved to Africa in 40kya, after they’d already invented all of it! Makes sense that change was abrupt in Europe!

General Upper Paleo toolkit:

Blade based industry
Use of bone, antler, and ivory for tools

Split-based bone points

Ornaments of bone and teeth

Our exit to Europe lines up with mtDNA

In Africa, there was lineage “L” mtDNA
Then, you see a quick change to lineages “M” and “N”, at the same time as they go to Europe! So you have lineage “L” only in Africa, and then lineages “M” and “N” are found all over the world! There seems to be some sort of connection

60,000 years ago the lineage explodes
40,000 years ago they expand into Europe

Mellars lines this up with climate change:

Rapid climatic change at OIS 5 (warm) to OIS 4 (cold) = the cause
Resources started to shrink
It’s not until people are stressed that they are forced to change
This is a cultural process: an external driver for cultural change

There is an overlap of 10,000 years when both Nean and AMH are there

Transitional industries:

Chatelperronian knives (made on blades) and ivory tools

This is important, bc Neans didn’t make blades that much

Blades are an Upper Paleo / AMH thing

Found with otherwise Mousterian tool technology
Worked bone and teeth as ornaments
Nean teeth and temporal bone found in Chatelperronian layer

This means that this wasn’t an AMH site; it was Nean!
Before this was found, it was just assumed that it was an AMH site; since they had blades, etc – Neans weren’t supposed to be able to do this!

Chatelperronian Industry (40-35 kya):

Read “Paleolithic whodunit” (http://averyremoteperiodindeed.blogspot.ca/2010/08/paleolithic-whodunnit-who-made.html)
If these sites are Nean, could be:

Acculturation: they mimic what the AMHs are doing, “aping”
Innovation (on their own)

Or these sites could be AMH, according to this article

If it were AMH, Neans are claiming their territory, and that’s why we find their bones in the sites – territory marking is an internal cultural process

Diachronic: change through time: a later occupation changes the strata layers

How can we resolve this debate?

The site is gone, and we only have photos, etc – but that’s precisely what’s being called into question
So (remember the concept map) we make a testable hypothesis

The attribution of the Chatelperronian is keyà(an interpretative fault line)

If Nean: means AMH and Nean co-existed in Western Europe for thousands of years
If AMH: Nean was gone before AMH got there

There are very few Nean sites for the overlap period:

Zafarraya Cave, Spain & Vindija Cave, Croatia:

33-27 kya & 29 kya Nean remains
Classic Mousterian industry, very late Nean
Cultural process summary:

Occam’s Razor

The hypothesis which requires the fewest assumptions
You go with the simplest one unless good reason to do otherwise
The article’s idea about territory marking makes many assumptions – it is not the simplest explanation


Upper Paleolithic

Starting 40kya, we have blade-based toolkit, faunal tools (tools made out of fauna/animals), art
Aurignacian Industry (40-26kya):

Dufour bladelets (tiny blades)

These things are part of compound tools; they attach them to spears, etc

Split-based bone points
Very widespread; covered all of Western Europe and into Western Asia a bit

Gravettian Industry (26-23kya):

Small hunting points
Atlatl spear thrower
A relatively abrupt shift in material culture
Italy and Greece

Solutrean Industry (23-20kya):

Leaf-shaped bifacial points
Shouldered points
Solutrean Hypothesis for the north American expansion = Europeans were the first to go to the New World, not the natives
Solutrean vs. Gravettian:

They are change through time, but they are also regionally specific

Magdalenian Industry (20-11kya):

Bone harpoons with elaborate bars – even more stylized
Cultural process:

Maybe need to fish now, find new niche
Acculturation – cultural diffusion between neighbours

Could be movement of people (one group takes over another’s space) or just this sort of movement of ideas

Historical contingency: one guy just comes up with an idea
Pretty widespread

Upper Paleolithic sites:

Hohlenstein, Germany (40-36kya):

Lion-human hybrid – the earliest art object
Shows considerable complexity (imagination)

Hohle Fels, Germany (40-35kya):

The earliest Venus figurine; made of mammoth tusk

Interpreted as a fertility symbol
Lacks head and feet
May have been pendant

The earliest musical instrument ever found in archaeological records

Vulture bone flute

Dolni Vestonice, Czech Republic (29-25kya):

Gravettian Venus figurine – they are still making them in the Gravettian period!
Ceramic still no feet 10,000 years later – consistent over a lot of time! And space, since this is now Czech Republic
But she has a head

Chauvet, France (38-33kya):

Cave art (and this sort of cave art is very widespread across many sites)
Elaborate animal scenes
Why did they paint this?

Hunting magic (for pre-hunt good luck)
Fertility magic (some of the animals depicted are pregnant)
Shamans and trances (shamans lived here, and they got high and hallucinated, and drew them)
Mythogram of paleolithic worldview (it’s a depicted image of their worldview; e.g. the opposition of men vs. women, some animals represent men, some represent women)

Mezherich, Ukraine (15kya):

Open air site
Made of mammoth bones
Only 2-3 structures occupied at once

Small group size, under 10 people
There are a lot of these at this site, though only 2-3 were occupied at the same time

This tells us about the organization – only two family units would live together, maybe cousins

New hunting targets:

Carbon:nitrogen isotope analysis can tell us where their protein comes from

It can tell you even what type of meat

Nean: ate large herbivores only
AMH: ate terrestrial and aquatic, and plants

They were eating a broader mix of foods

Pestera cu Oase, Romania (40.5 kya):

Earliest AMH in Europe, contemporary with Nean
Highest N-15 of any human or animal in the study
This guy was occupying a completely different ecological niche (from Neans and later AMHs who came to Europe) for majority of food – likely freshwater fish

So maybe people were travelling along the river systems

Maybe that was their motivation for expanding into Europe

Cultural Processes of the Transition

What drove the transition from Nean to AMH?
Nean replacement for sure, but in what way?
What data could help confirm or refute these models?

Direct conflict over resources

Data required to evaluate this: look at both their diets

Absorbed with demographics

Demographics = population
Neans absorbed bc more AMHs; they were assimilated
Data necessary to evaluate: genetics to see hybrids, since we can’t find transitional in the skeletons

Nean couldn’t handle climate change

Neans died out before AMH got there, bc their ecological niche shrunk to nothing
They survived through two glacial cycles though! Maybe this one was different, bc they had become more sedentary?

Diet breadth gave AMH an advantage
Rich and diverse material culture of AMH
Symbolic representation sign of language & social networks

Textbook, Chapter 5 (5.4 – 5.6)

In Eastern Europe, the transitional industry is known as the Szeletian (bifacial points)
In Italy, the transitional industry was the Ulluzian (arched-backed knives and bone points)
The Chatelperronian is in France and northern Spain
Debate over the chronological position of the Chatelperronian in relation to the earliest UP industry, known as the Aurignacian

In all but two sites, the Aurignacian is stratigraphically above the Chatelperronian
In two exceptions, a Chatelperronian level is sandwiched between Aurignacian levels

This interstratifications of Chatelperronian and Aurignacian levels suggests that these two cultures lived at the same time in this area à possibility of interaction

In some areas, Neans and AMHs coexisted together for a while; in other areas, there was no evidence of interaction or replacement for a while – these are “refugia” (isolated areas)

Two refugia are: Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) + Ebro River, Croatia
Zafarraya Cave (Spain):

Nean remains dated btwn 33,000 and 27,000 years ago
This suggests that in this area, Neans survived long after the arrival of modern humans in Europe

Vindija Cave (Croatia): Nean remains 29,000 years old

The multiregional model is the least likely:

Absence of any trend toward modern human morphology among late Neans
The genetic evidence based on both mtDNA and Y chromosome DNA argue against a local evolution of Neans into modern humans

The out of Africa model has the most support:

It’s clear that AMH evolved in Africa long before they came to Europe

Fossil and genetic evidence support the Out of Africa Model
The archaeological evidence supports the hybridization model (transitional industries, refugia – they all point toward interactions btwn AMH and Nean)
The first modern human hunter-gatherer societies that lived in Europe are known collectively as the Upper Paleolithic
UP industries include microliths and bone tools, unknown in the Middle Paleolithic

Interesting that both of these tool types are known from the Middle Stone Age of Africa (bone tools, Katanda and Blombos; microliths, Howiesons Poort)

Human burials are absent from the Anrignacian

Beginning in the Gravettian, burials of indivs or groups are found with rich ornamentation

You can’t say that there is something inherently within modern humans that allowed them to suddenly have cave art and mobile art in the Upper Paleolithic – since modern humans lived in Middle Paleolithic for 100,000 years! With less advanced things
Hypothesis (Klein): a mutation occurred in modern humans 50,000 years ago – it didn’t change body morphology or size of the brain; it changed the organization of the brain, and gave us the cognitive capacity for language

This capacity for language led to the replacement of the Neanderthals, and the use of symbolism
Strength of this idea:

UP as part of a global transformation of human culture
UP linked with the African Later Stone Age, which also saw an increase in symbolism, and linked also with the colonization of Australia and the Americas

But difficult to test

Why Can’t We See Movement? & Anatomically Modern Human Dispersal

Dispersal as a cultural process: migration
In the material layers:

Innovation looks like a new tool
Cultural diffusion also looks like that – new tools
Migration: you could see migration when new stuff shows up in a site, where there previously wasn’t anything
So all three of these look the same, if we are looking at one site, one column! How to tell the difference?!

Migration = geographic expansion of populations as they increase in numbers

Demic diffusion
This is over generations
Not heroic colonizers
We’ve already covered a few dispersals:

AMH into Europe (OoA II)
Erectus into Europe and Asia (OoA I)

But what is the process through which dispersal happens?

Why can’t we see movement?

Archaeology sees the end product of an occupawtion

The longer the occupation, the more likely we are to find the site
Of those, we see a biased sample
Chance of seeing first regional occupation is zero

Migration is primary cultural process, no evidence for it (almost)

What does dispersal look like archaeology and genetically?

Who the first colonizers would be into an area?

Given the demic diffusion model (not heroic colonizers), the speculative characteristics of colonizers would be:

Juvenile males
Very low population
Minimal impact on landscape
Not in predictable locations

After you know a region, you know the landscape, you know the best spots – but the first colonizers would just camp in the first spot they find

Dispersal = a single species dramatically expands its geographic range and the range of ecological niches
Why do they expand out into new areas?

Population increase
Climate change

Climate change expands niche or makes original niche unstable

Difficult to correlate climate to specific sites
Especially if it’s not actually the first occupation
But happened during an interglacial (OIS 3)

Mellars’ mtDNA lineage “L”

Supports the demic diffusion model

AMH Dispersal Out of Africa

AMH leave Africa and their first stop is the Middle East

Middle East as early as 120kya; they are they to stay by 60,000

An alternative route is a crossing – southern route through Arabia

Open during early OIS 5 – interglacial
Authors assume this is AMH
Jebel Faya, United Arab Emirates (125 kya)

But at this time, the AMH tool kit was the same as Nean’s – more variation, but still pretty much the same – so hard to attribute this to one species

AMH in East Asia: their modern behaviour had some new categories necessary for East Asia:

Adaptation to high altitudes; you need a broader tool kit and more behavioural flexibility
Water craft

Earliest AMH in East Asia

Liliang, China (68+ kya; earlier than 68 kya)
Sketchy biostratigraphic dating – indirect, used other animals

An early modern human

Tianyuandong, China (42-39kya)
Lacks some AMH traits, has others
This implies that a simple spread of modern humans from Africa is unlikely

Suggests multiple waves of migration to East Asia
This is why this is an early modern human, not an AMH

China: continuous occupation beginning 70 kya (Levallois flake)

It’s only around 40kya that we see true AMH stuff: bone tools, perforated animal teeth
Wu sees continuity btwn H. sapiens erectus and H. sapiens sapiens
Continuity with hybridization; suggests they weren’t replacing, but they were interbreeding

Zhoukoudian Locality 1, China (750 – 290 kya):

Long term occupation of H. Erectus

Zhoukoudian Upper Cave, China (30 – 12 kya):

Polished deer mandible and antler
Bone needle
Certain morphological characteristics in common with H. Erectus

Some argue support for multiregional model

No fossils from 290-30kya

That’s a long hiatus
Suggests erectus died out and AMH moved in long after they were gone

Wu: continuity with hybridization:

Morphological mosaic btwn typical erectus and sapiens
Oldowan persisted from 1.15 mya to 40 kya
At 40 kya, Oldowan still dominant, but others added
Sees incoming populations from Africa interbreeding with local populations (not replacing, not walking in on an empty landscape; merging cultures, etc)

A big nail is thrown into this with this discover: Ngandong, Indonesia (46-27kya):

Erectus survived here much later (classic Erectus, not hybrids)

Comtemporary with AMH in China

Refutes multiregional model if accepted

Bc H. Erectus is still Erectus when AMH present (two separate lineages)

We have Neanderthal AND Denisovan DNA in our ancestry

The hybrid babies had to have ended up with modern human populations – bc otherwise they would have become extinct
Denisova cave is this new third species was discovered – and modern Denisovan genetics were found in people in two islands off of Australia

The route btwn Denisova Cave and Australia – nothing was found there yet
This route is all: China!

But they haven’t found anything there (yet)

Unequal mixing: we have more Nean than Denisovan
The more outward you go into Oceania’s islands, the more Denisovan DNA you find

This disparity: due to migration
Siberia (where Denisova Cave is) and tropical islands both held Denisovans! So they must have been widespread at some point
These Oceania islands farther along (coming from Asia) – this is a funnel shape
And if there were Denisovans living here when AMH arrived, this funnel had an effect on interbreeding
As they travelled far into Denisovan territory, there was more and more interbreeding

Longlin Cave and Maludong, China (14.3-11.5 kya):

Species debated
Mix of archaic and AMH features

Rounded skulls with prominent brow ridges
Short, very broad and flat faces
Broad noses
Jutting jaw, no chin
Brains moderate in size
Large molar teeth

Living while the rest of China was farming – this was an isolated area
Hybrid of Denisovan and AMH? No DNA

Hobbits! – Flores, Indonesia (38-18kya):

Tiny, tiny hominins descendent from H. Erectus
They are only found on this one little island
Contemporary with AMH, though they were there for a long time before this, from other sites
Some argue new species, H. Floresiensis (some argue it’s the same species, just tiny)
1 meter tall
Tiny 380 cc brain (AMH: 1200 – 1400)

Like a grapefruit
Small even considering their shrunken size

Huge feet (like hobbits) – almost the same size as AMH

AMH with microcephaly (disease that causes brains to not grow very large; and then their bodies don’t grow as much as a compensation)

Unlikely: morphology suggests that it’s a much older hominin

Island isolation caused size reduction

Sea level used to be a lot lower such that all these islands used to be one peninsula of land – this is the Wallacea line
But Flores was just outside this line – it was always an island, and then it became even more distantly separated when the sea level rose
So fewer resources there, isolated alone

So natural selection favored small creatures, bc they needed less resources
Support for this: elephants on this island also decreased in size

And rats actually increased in size

Strong pressure of natural selection on this isolated island

Flores, Indonesia – tools (95 – 17kya):

Crude but impressive given brain size reduction
Moore et al (2009) argue simple tools hide complexity in manufacture

Elaborated step up from H. Erectus technology

When AMH finally arrives they replace the hobbits

But some continuity in the new manufacture techniques

Whether this represents interbreeding or learning is unsure


Dispersal happens over generations
Interesting things happen when dispersing into occupied regions


Chronological control is key and East Asia doesn’t have it
Denisovan and Nean: maybe just weird great-great grandparents (1-9%), but they’re still family!

Context Is Everything & Oceania and New World

Context is much more important than the artifacts themselves
Artifacts in isolation tell us almost nothing about the archaeological record
Context = the relationship of an artifact or site to its special, temporal and environmental surroundings

Soil matrix (the soil around it)
Spatial relationships to other artifacts and fossils in the strata
Spatial relationships to physical landscape
Temporal relationships to pattern of cultural change
Climate and ecological reconstructions
What’s not found is equally important – negative evidence

Survey to test hypothesis
Cultural Resource Management (CRM): 85% of more of archaeological data today

Archaeologists need to be involved when building, to make sure cultural remains are kept intact

Biased spatial sample

We dig where hydro companies want to build, to make sure nothing’s there
But hydro only builds inland – so we don’t look much at the coast

The purpose of excavation is not to retrieve artifacts but to preserve context

Provenience: the location of an artifact, feature or site in 3D space

This is recorded in a number of ways:

Hand mapping: string, measuring tapes, plumb bobs for feature-level maps and profiles
Total station: surveyors machine for precise mapping
Geographic information systems: GPS, GIS, spatial analysis for site or regional level

Sampling rules:

Never dig it all: because future archaeologists will have better methods, and we don’t want to lose all that potential information – it’s for the anticipated improvement
Control statistical significance for extrapolation (we just take what we think will be interesting – need to control for that):

Random sampling: most basic one; you take the area where you think people where living in, and you get grid coordinates and estimates using machines
Stratified random: divides site into different areas you think will be interesting, then you take random samples within those
Systematic : every 10 meters in a grid, for example
Bc we don’t have time/resources to excavate an entire site

Horizontal vs. vertical excavation:

Horizontal: uncover a broad spatial area but only at one strata
Vertical: excavate a deeper unit through several strata, smaller spatial area

Taphonomy and bias:

Taphonomy: the study of how organic remains decay; what happens to those material remains at point of deposition (once the people who made them, left them behind)

g. did all the wooden tools decompose? Acheulian handaxes in East Asia may have been made of bamboo, which is why we haven’t found any handaxes there
Erosion, sedimentation
Soil chemistry and decomposition

Extremes are what preserve: extremely wet, extremely dry, extremely hot, extremely cold


g. the Shanidar 1 burial with pollen
Animal burrows, rodents, etc

General human development on the landscape before we had CRM

Pompeii fallacy = the idea that most archaeological sites are like a time capsule

This almost never happens in archaeology
What we have usually instead is a palimpsest

All the occupations are stacked on top of each other
Hard to tease this apart and identify which bits are from which occupation

Colonization of Oceania across the Wallace Line

Nauwalabila I, Australia (60-53kya):

Flake tools
Context: other side of Wallace Line (the boundary, you could not go without a boat)

No erectus
Only AMH

This is the first site we have on the Australian side of the Wallace line

Erectus never made it across; only AMH did


Across water, 90km (not visible)
Or multiple 10 km of water (separated by islands, so visible) – north route

10,000 years before AMH arrives in Europe

Lake Mungo, southern Australia (50-40kya):

Three burials

LM3 40kya
Red ochre in the burials (this is a modern symbolic thing)

Flake and core tools
Hearths, animal bones, fish
Articulated skeletons (articulated means “put together”)
The fish is modern too, but cores and flakes not so much – only some modern traits made it across the Wallace Line

New Britain Island, Melanesia (29 kya):

Context: not visible from land

You have to have confidence that you’ll occupy the island successfully and survive, etc – when you go somewhere and you can’t see back

So you need a certain population size to be sure you can occupy the space, and to be sure you can have enough kids, etc

Why did they go?

Resources: this island had really great obsidian (which is the ideal stone tool material)

Currents of Oceania have an effect on its colonization

Solomon Islands & Bismark (20kya):

Obsidian from New Britain
Bones from New Guinea fauna (New Guinea is far by boat; obviously trade systems in place)
They have mastered sea-faring: how to cross large water and make it back safely, how to navigate it all

New World Colonization

Siberian life (36kya):

Denisovan and Neanderthals in Siberia as late as 48-30 kya
Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition ~36kya
Horse, woolly rhino, bison, yak, extinct antelope, sheep, hyena, wolf, marmot, hare
What tools present here? Blade cores
What were they used for?

Shortly after this, 12-15kya, people crossed an area called Beringia (which is now under water, but was a grassland environment full of the above species)

Two routes that people could have taken into the new world, once they crossed Beringia and got to Alaska:

Ice-free corridor (like a narrow hallway)
Coastal route: more recent idea

Before the ice-free corridor opened up (17.0kya), we potentially have an occupation at Meadowcroft (in Oregon) – support for the coastal route hypothesis

By 15kya, we have Monte Verde, and Buttermilk Creek occupied – ice-free corridor still not opened up
The first Clovis site is 13kya

Beringia is still attached, north America is still attached to Siberia
Right after the ice-free corridor opened up, we find these sites
As the glacier recedes, water levels rise and Beringia is separated

Classic Clovis-first mode:

The first people to make it to the new world followed megafauna across Beringia and through ice-free corridor
Highly mobile hunting populations did this; small groups, limited toolkit
Clovis had killed the megafauna – this hypothesis was from the fact that the megafauna disappeared shortly after the Clovis
Big spear points to kill mammoth
Overkill hypothesis

Broken Mammoth Cave, Alaska (14-12.8kya): supports the classic Clovis-first model:

Earliest known site on east of Beringia, just as bridge closed
Large bison and elk bone assemblage (25%)
Additionally small game (30%), birds (10%)
Extensive hearths, tool making, butchering, caches of tools and meat, and clothing manufacture
Spring occupation only
The Clovis point was thought to be an innovation that hunters made once they got there, to kill the megafauna

Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Penn. (23-15.5kya):

Excavations started 1975
Oldest site by far at the time
Completely refuted accepted Pre-Clovis model
Even now only 40% of archaeologists accept it as evidence of pre-Clovis occupation

The Meadowcroft Debate:

What is the context under discussion?

The bottom couple layers (before the ice-free corridor was open; the ones that shatter the Clovis-first model) is what they are arguing about

What part of the methodology is being criticized?

There’s a creek 15m below the site; excavation dug down 12m

And creeks tend to rise in the fall
So when occupations would have been there, the water table would have rose and contaminated the evidence

Coal is another source of carbon – coal is a very old source of carbon

So the presence of coal would have made it seemed older

So they are criticizing their interpretation of context

What is their response?

Re coal criticism: they would have found coal particles
Re water table shift idea: selective contamination of just that layer is unlikely

Only the dates that refute the model are contaminated? Don’t think so
Suggestion that the contamination started low and rose up, but not all the way – but why would the lowest layer have the most contamination? Haynes hasn’t discussed a feasible mechanism that would explain selective contamination that all the while maintained the correct order

Do you buy it?

At the time of discovery, Meadowcroft was an isolated site – it isn’t anymore

Buttermilk Creek, Texas (15.5kya):

Published 2011
Ice-free corridor closed
Clearly pre-Clovis occupation

OSL dates can’t be contaiminated
Modern methods, no contamination

15,528 lithic artefacts (so it’s also not a small site)

All small and light
Interpreted as part of mobile group

Monteverde, Chile (15kya):

First widely accepted pre-Clovis site (70% of archaeologists accept this one)
And it’s in Chile!

They obviously had boats – bc to run that distance would take too long
Strong support for coastal route

Communal hearths and small fireplaces within it
On the river
Remarkable preservation – we see wood! Bc this site was flooded, it has great preservation of organics
Child’s footprint
Scraps of vegetable matter – turned out to be a 15,000 year old potato
Chewing tobacco: two parts seaweed, one part (medicinal) leaf, one part potato
A half-chopped through piece of wood
Horn of an animal made into a tool
Bone points (for fishing)

Typical Clovis (13.1-12.5kya):

Pre-Clovis sites change context of interpretation for Clovis sites

The typical Clovis interpretation was:

They were chasing large prey, with spear points
They were highly mobile hunters, and that’s why they entered North America, bc they were chasing these megafauna
Maybe this bloodthirsty mammoth killer model is overblown

Given that we know people were in North America already

Maybe really, it was in situ development
And if you re-look at it, Clovis sites had organic materials, evidence that they were eating plant foods

You also find small mammals
Only a dozen mammoth kills known

Textbook, Chapter 6 (6.2 – 6.3)

Migration routes to both Australia and the Americas led through East Asia
In glacial times, when sea levels were low, most of Southeast Asia was one landmass = “Sunda”

Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania = “Sahul”
These two landmasses were separated by the Wallace Line

Human occupation of Australia began 60kya, and they covered the continent quickly (within 10,000 years)

They therefore arrived in Australia 10,000 before they arrived in Europe
This may support the multiregional hypothesis – maybe they evolved locally in East Asia

Or could be multiple migration waves

At the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, there was widespread extinction of megafauna (huge animals; e.g. rhino-sized kangaroos)

In Australia, they became extinct between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago

Just after human arrival, and before the climate change (so climate cannot explain this so well)
This suggests that humans caused their extinction, but there is almost no evidence of humans hunting megafauna

Maybe humans somehow altered the ecology of Australia, and this caused megafauna extinction

Maybe it was through the humans’ fire-stick farming

People ventured farther out into Melanesia only 3500 years ago, when the Lapita culture spread across the region

Then these Lapita people spread out and migrated father

This cannot be explained simply by population growth – the growth doesn’t fit with the rapid rate of expansion
It may have to do with their social structure: the firstborns are heavily favored, so junior siblings might venture off

The New World:

3 models for human occupation of the Americas:

Clovis-first model

The Clovis culture (13.5-12.5kya) is the initial human occupation of the Americas
If true, we would expect to find tools in Siberia and Alaska before 13,500 years ago, the date of earliest Clovis sites

The earliest Beringia settlement is Broken Mammoth Cave in Alaska

The stone tools here are Nenana culture, which dates to between 14,000 and 12,800 years ago
Nenana = the earliest culture in Beringia

Pre-Clovis model

The initial human occupation of the New World dates back earlier than 13.5kya
Pedra Pintada:

This site does not claim to be earlier than Clovis, but it shows that around the time of Clovis, humans were here eating plants and fish as well! Challenges the notion that the earliest occupation was by Clovis hunters – Clovis hunters many be one of several regional traditions
This is also supported by Quebrada Tacahuay – people in Peru were hunting seabirds and fishing, possibly with use of netting, roughly contemporaneously (12.7-12.5kya) with Clovis

With Monte Verde, Chile, people’s main argument was that it’s implausible that humans would get to Chile before the Great Plains, if the ice-free corridor was the only route

In response to this, the idea of coastal migration came up!

One objection to this idea: glaciers may have blocked the coast, so they would have had to use boats
Also problem: no evidence of any early sites on the West Coast from Alaska to California

But the sea level was lower then, so any coastal occupations would now be submerged

Could be that people migrated along the coast and branched off to inhabit inland regions they encountered along the way

Clovis would simply be one of these branches

Early arrival model

human presence in the New World by 30,000 years ago
A minority position
Both the Clovis and pre-Clovis models agree that human occupation of the Americas took place during the later stages of the last period of glacial advance (the Wisconsin glaciations, or OIS 2)

This implies that the Americas were the last continents to be occupied by humans (except Antarctica)

This model states that it was much earlier, as early as 50,000 years ago, in OIS 3
Pedra Furada (Brazil): dating between 48,000 and 35,000 years ago

The only real evidence, fire patches and stone pieces (that they claim are stone tools)
But the fires could be natural, not human-used
And it’s likely that the chippings found on the stones are the result of the impact of cobbles as they fell down the cliff

They are “geofacts” – objects created by geological forces (vs. artifacts, made by humans)

Solutrean hypothesis:

Since antecedents of Clovis points were not found in Siberia and Alaska, and since the ice-free corridor route isn’t convinced to be a viable route, the Solutrean hypothesis was proposed
The origin of the Clovis people was not Siberia, but rather Western Europe
Clovis points are similar to Solutrean tools
But this would require crossing of the Atlantic, which is unlikely – and the similarities could simply be parallel invention

Also, there are differences between the two types of tools, and the Solutrean industry ends 5000 years before the beginning of the Clovis

There is tentative skeletal evidence that there were multiple waves of migration to the Americas
In the Americas (vs. Australia), there is evidence that Clovis people hunted megafauna – seems clear that that led to their extinction

Some archaeologists doubt that their extinction was the result of overhunting
It’s possible that an extraterrestrial impact event (a meteor, maybe) caused their extinction

Maybe a meteor caused fire and sudden climate change, and this in turn killed megafauna
There is some evidence for this, but the layers showing this could simply be constant and noncatastrophic rain of micrometeorites
Also a problem: the extinction was shown to be gradual, not catastrophic

Also: no decrease in human population at the end of the Clovis
Also: the “black mat” layers could be formed by a higher water table vs. burning

Megafauna in the Americas became extinct 13,000 years ago
Gainey Complex = an eastern North American culture contemporary with the Clovis culture
Clovis cultureà Folsom (12.5-12kya)

These and other regional cultures are referred to collectively as the Paleoindian time period
After the Paleoindian comes the Archaic

Late Paleoindian (10,000 years ago) shows evidence for mass kill sites
Late Paleoindian technology: tools used for hunting

Folsom points are the most sophisticated stone tools ever made
They also made huge nets

Criteria that distinguish Paleoindian from Archaic:

Increased reliance on small animal and plant foods
Technology for food processing, including grinding stones and stones used for cooking
Reduced mobility
Systematic burial of the dead

Wilson-Leonard site: an Archaic level (the Wilson component) lies between two Paleoindian occupations

The Archaic occupation: 11.5 – 10.25 kya
Shows that the transition from Paleoindian to Archaic was lengthy and they overlapped

In the Archaic, evidence of copper tools
The Arctic was not settled into 5,000 years ago

These societies = Paleo-Eskimo
2500 years ago, changes in these societiesà appearance of the Dorset culture across much of the Arctic

Began developing small winter villages insulated with snow
Reflects changes in adaptation and social organization, in response to unstable climate conditions
Heating from oil lamps (made from hunting animals that are rich in fat)

The ancestors of contemporary Inuit were known as the Thule; they spread across the Arctic from Alaska 1000 years ago

They arrived with new technology

A skeleton from the Arctic from 4000 years ago was found – DNA sequenced

No genetic relationship between it and the modern Inuit (that came from Alaska), but shared genetics with inhabitants of the Arctic regions of East Asia
Supports the idea that the early settlers were from Siberia, and that then the Thule replaced the Dorset
The arrival of the Thule coincided with a warming trend in climate

Is Agriculture Better Than Gathering? & the Fertile Crescent

AMH occupied the modern world; not Neans or Denisovans, they are gone by now

But some Denisovan genes

This makes sense, given that Denisovans were in Siberia!
Likely that as AMH passed through Siberia, they interbred – and those descendents are the ones that made it into the New World
So AMH, but with a little bit of Denisovan

Higher frequency of Denisovan genes in South America à supports the idea of multiple waves of migration


Agriculture appears all over the world at roughly the same time

The Near East is the earliest
Different crops in different places; independent innovations all at the same time

Was agriculture actually an improvement for humanity? Negatives in terms of:

Risk (re food) (not a lot of risk in hunter-gatherer populations)
Personal satisfaction

Domestication = the process of altering the characteristics, through selection (though not always intentional), of a plant or animal until they are dependent on humans for their protection and reproduction

Agriculture is both plants and animals

Types of domestication of plants:

Seed dispersal

Rachis: the bit of the stem that holds all the seeds together

It shatters when the seeds are ripe, allows the seeds to disperse in the wind

In a domesticated plant, you make the rachis tough and unbreakable, so that the seeds don’t go all over the place

Because humans beat down the plant to break the rachis, so the seeds can be collected all in one place
This is evidence for domestication of plants, when we find this


You cut off a branch and plant it, so it grows a new tree

Paleoethnobotany techniques: to figure out what plants were being eaten


Organics float, soil sinks
Charred organics don’t decompose
Dump measured volume of soil into drum of water, stir, and skim
Abundance (to figure out reliance on plants) / cubic meter quantified intra- and inter-site


Pollen does decompose
Look at bogs, lake or ocean floors
Sites if preservation allows
g. if you see a dramatic reduction in tree pollen, you know they were cutting down trees


Part of plant made of silica

As they take water up into their roots, silica accumulates in certain portions of the plant

Unique shapes in each genus

By identifying the shape, we can categorize them

Sometimes found embedded in teeth plaque, or on tools

The plaque would build up and keep the stuff there – before people used to brush their teeth

Plant DNA:

DNA extracted from seeds, pollen, or wood
We can trace plant populations/evolution, just like we do with humans
Species identification
Track origin and spread
You can tell if it’s wild or domesticated plant from this information

When animals are domesticated, they become:

Weaker and smaller
Faster maturity
Mortality profiles: dead young males

Bc males are hard to control, and you don’t need many males to reproduce
And they don’t produce milk, etc

Extended geographic range (bc humans are controlling their movement)
DNA as well

The shift from hunter-gathering to the Neolithic (or agricultural) way of life – has been called a revolution

Bc it shifts every way of life


Shift in control of food source
Mitigation of risk

Storage of surplus isn’t possible in hunter-gatherer life

You can extract more calories per unit area, but was area limited?
Food quality decreased

Mobility is a key shift as well – the amount that you have to move around to feed yourself and your family
In agriculture, you don’t have to move for food

And in fact, you can’t move, because of your food

Your food is stationary, so you must be too

Since you can extract more calories per area, you see a correlation with population increase

Carrying capacity redrawn

Control of resource
Processing technology

With the reduction in mobility, can’t run away from conflict

This changes the social organization of society
You start to need rules, and people to enforce those rools

Then status comes into play, bc only some people can control the rules
Then once you have status, you automatically have hierarchy

Community labour

Lots of people working on one project; the people were probably coerced in some way
More in symbolic architecture

Surplus and status buy more symbolism

You have specialists in symbolism

All these things fall under the umbrella of cultural complexity
Cultural complexity = a measure of the number of cultural traits, and the number of relationships between them

Increases gradually, in general
Tricky term in practice – how do you measure this?
Increase in complexity DOES NOT EQUAL progress

History of perspectives on the Neolithic transition:

Childe, 1942: The escape from the impasse of savagery was an economic and scientific revolution that made the participants active partners with nature instead of parasites on nature
1980s: Rindos argued that:

Shift to agriculture was unintentional

Before agriculture, nobody knew that you could domesticate plants!
People evolved with the wild plants – a co-evolutionary, symbiotic relationship that changed both humans and plants/animals

Humans receive food
Plants and animals receive nurturing

An evolutionary accident

Ingold (1980s):

Hunter-gatherer’s trust in nature: at equal footing with nature
Agriculturalist’s domination: superior to nature (controlling nature)

It’s about the individual relationship with nature, that’s what the shift was about

The shift also represents a shift in how we see space:

Hunter gatherers perceive space as a series of points in a landscape, and the paths they take between them

No conception of area / boundaries/ bounded territories

In agriculture, there’s implied ownership over space, if you’ve been working on your farm

Sahlins: gets back to the question, was agriculture actually better

Hunter-gatherers the “Original affluent society”
Sporadic 4-5 hours a day of work (know when and where food will be)
Few wants, easily satisfied
Ethnographic examples all marginalized and not representative of pre-agriculture

Drivers of change:

Climate change

Holocene climate warmer and more stable
Makes sense in terms of synchronous timing (the way agriculture arises all over at the same time)

There is no other factor that would explain this – it has to be external and on a large scale, and climate is the go-to for this

Hunter-gatherers were doing well too

Population pressure

Assumption that agriculture caused pop increase wrong
Seems that population usually increased first – and then agriculture was taken up by an increased sedentary population

Mosaic explanation: growing acceptance that different factors, or combinations of factors, drove the transition in different places
Summary – carrying capacity extended

Unleashed a cultural adaptive radiation
Towards what depended on local circumstances

Fertile Crescent

Early models:

Agriculture = food surplus
Led to sedentism, population increase, status, complexity

Fertile crescent doesn’t fit this model

So we have to revise models with new data

Order wrong

Increasing of the breadth of the diet (both plants and animals) without significant change in housing
Architecture and complexity
Then agriculture (domestication of plants

Rate wrong (it was more gradual than we thought)

Fertile crescent geography (it’s in the middle east):

Ice caps from surrounding mountains caused floods

Rich soil

Because of Holocene, we have wet winters, dry summers
Full of wild cereals

Kebaran phase (25-15kya):

Followed by the geometric Kebaran (tools in triangles and rectangles)
The first stage in the shift from hunter gatherer to Neolithic
Covered the entire western portion of that fertile crescent
Ohalo II, Israel (23kya):

60,000 seeds and fruits around a grinding stone
Blade manufacturing area opposite
Male vs. female tasks? Men making lithics for hunting purposes, females making the plants?
Incredible number and diversity of plants being consumed

Wadi Mataha, Jordan (17kya):

Hog-tied man

His shoulders are overlapping – so they’d have to be tied behind his back
Interpreted as a murder
Broken stone bowl
Flint blade
One arm significantly stronger than the other

Ingold’s shift towards ownership of land?

We don’t see a lot of interpersonal violence until we get to agriculture

We start to have disputes, and you can no longer move away from conflict

Abundant plant and animal foods (all wild varieties)
No apparent status differences within sites
Sex-based division of labour
Really strong arm could indicate a specialist

Natufian (15-12 kya):

Ain Mallaha, Israel (14-11.5kya):

12 stone buildings at Mallaha (TPS)

The earliest stone buildings
5-6 m in diameter

What does this represent for the people who lived there?


Maybe they are now eating at home
You can store food better
Means they have a lot of confidence in their food base; it’s successful agriculture

Social organization

Family units (10 people can fit) – they are divided, since there are 12 buildings, not just one bigger one


They were sedentary, stayed in one place permanently
Year-round occupation


They figured out how to build houses
Better tools

If you know you aren’t moving around, you can have a bigger toolkit – you no longer have to carry it around with you

Significant time and effort

What else must change?

Not a lot of status, since they are all roughly the same size


Sickle gloss (sickles are to cut wheat)
Ground stone:

Fundamental shift in stone tool manufacture

Different material & manufacturing technique
Much heavier
Shaft straighteners, mortar & pestles

Great amount of energy to build these

Long distance trade:

Particularly shell beads from Mediterranean & Red Sea

Social hierarchy:

Population increase
Largely egalitarian still
Natufian princess

“Fifty tortoises, the near-compete pelvis of a leopard, the wing tip of a golden eagle, tail of a cow, two marten skulls and the forearm of a wild boar which was directly aligned with the woman’s left humerus… A human foot belonging to an adult individual who was substantially larger than the interred woman was also found in the grave”
She must have had higher status


Natufian princess (things were put in her grave symbolically) & necklace of course
Ain Sakhri lovers: world’s oldest depiction of people having sex


No intensive domestication of plants or animals

Except for dogs (bc we have a dog buried with a man)
Minimal evidence for the domestication of rye at Tell Abu Hureyra

Gazelle is still the main meat staple (which was never domesticated), lots of wild plants

Sedentism and population increase could mean all kinds of rules
Status implies a population increase
Grinding grain is very labour intensive, compared to gathering wild plants – that’s not great, re quality of life
Then again, doggies – good, re quality of life

Pre-pottery Neolithic A (12-10.8 kya) (PPNA):


Bigger blades (vs. tiny lunates), more serrated, more sickle-gloss
Lots of arrowheads

Gazelle, fish, birds

A much expanded ground stone toolkit

Axes for tree clearing
Grinding stones (grain)
Significant effort involved in making groundstone

Village organization:

Bigger settlements, 20-30 families
Community structures (TPS)

What’s the motivation?

They frequently contained storage areas, but they also had burials in them
They serve functional + symbolic purpose

Who builds them? Because they are not for individuals

Can the design, construction plan, and organization of work be done with leaders?

You need somebody to direct it, can’t do this in an egalitarian way

Can be protection from floods, attacks (could be a defense for the village), or ritual (burials)?

Whichever you interpret it to be used for, this effects the implications for leadership
Ritual and defense requires leadership; a community can together probably build protection from floods

Headless guy in burnt and destroyed structure

Interpersonal violence
The guy was decapitated and burned in a community structure – the building was set on fire on top of him

Körtik Tepe, Anatolia (12 kya) – PPNA Ritual

Skulls hidden in floors and walls
Array of symbols, grave goods


Only figs (cuttings)
Harvested wild barley and wheat

Sedentism continues, population size increases
Inter-personal violence seems to have increased along with it
Self-expression in the form of symbolism increasing
Lots of skulls in your floor
All the figs & gazelle you could eat

Pre-pottery Neolithic B (10.8-8.5 kya):


Stylized blade-based arrowheads


Plaster, layer after layer

Patches here cover floor burials

Plaster is directly datable because burned in manufacturing

Abu Hureyra, Syria

Shift from circular to rectangular buildings in this phase
Up to 5000 people in 1440 houses

These are cities!

Badja, Jordan

Multiple story buildings

PPNB Ritual

Plastered skulls
Buried in floors, dug up, and redeposited
Groundstone axes in walls
Carvings of people in bone

Domestication finally (10.8-8.5 kya)

Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, lentil, pea, bitter vetch, chickpea
Goat, sheep, pigs, cattle
Possibly related to population decline in gazelle

Village life getting crowded
Work tending fields and animals
But no more gazelle hunting
Possibility of specialist religious elite controlling skulls

Late Neolithic (8500 – 7000 years ago):

Decline in settlement size / population

Ecological degradation & deforestation?
Or herding? Animals need more grass space


Innovation of pottery and new symbolism
Plaster out, pottery in


Arrowheads out (means they are no longer hunting, they have domesticated animals), sickle blades still in production

Çatalhöyük, Turkey (9-8 kya):

Daily ritual life

Bulls in the walls
Cows as ritual (not food), goats as food
Wall paintings

A lot of goat meat
Continuing all domesticates
Cooking and eating in pottery
Greatly expanded symbolic repertoire

Appears to be engrained in everyday life

Dense settlement could lead to disease outbreaks, sanitation issues, physical labour

Hodder’s opinion: “One of the conditions that made agriculture possible in the Middle East was a changed relation to time and history. Rather than immediate and short-term relationships, societies in the region developed a strong sense of temporal depth tied to specific places well before domesticated plants and animals emerged”

Particular places become very important; symbolic relationship to a particular place

Summary – sequence of agricultural transition:

Actual domestication seems rapid (in PPNB)

Interpretation for this: innovation & stimulus diffusion

Stimulus diffusion: once you have an idea, you can exploit that idea into all kinds of new realms

So once one crop was domesticated, it immediately became apparent that you could do this for other species

Pop size and sedentism gradual and out of expected sequence

Villages preceded agriculture

Is agriculture actually progress? Is it better?

Settled villages led to increases in violence, disease, social hierarchy
Perhaps increase in symbolism was part of coping mechanism for more challenging life?

Or maybe symbolism was just a way for the elite to leverage collective labour

Textbook, Chapter 7 (7.4 – 7.6)

The Early Neolithic = PPNA + PPNB

The beginning of the PPNA corresponds with the end of the Younger Dryas event
The PPNB corresponds to a period of improved climate

Small, dispersed communities may characterise the Late Neolithic, replacing the nucleated large village communities of the Early Neolithic
During PPNA, the size of settlements increased and the first evidence of communal structures appeared (though houses continued to be circular)
In PPNB, settlement size increased more – the shift from circular to rectangular houses allowed the site to be more densely packed
No evidence of status in Early Neolithic villages – all houses looked the same
Early Neolithic period = the “birth of the gods”; ritual behaviour in 3 categories:

Hidden rituals:

Ritual objects in pits or under floors
g. plastered skulls buried beneath floors
In some cases, plastered skulls were removed from their hiding places and then carefully re-deposited, maybe as an aspect of ancestor worship

Maybe it was through reverence for the ancestor, that these societies maintained cohesion

g. unused axes hidden within walls – these may have had a magical function

Display rituals:

PPNA: Jericho tower, and others like it, as visible symbols of the community (regardless of their practical function)
PPNB: the context for display now is within temples or sacred precincts

Suggests that access to visible signs of divinity was controlled – perhaps the elite of Early Neolithic society was a ritual elite

Daily life rituals:

Clay figurines had symbolic meaning

Animal domestication developed somewhat later than plant domestication

Sheep and goats domesticated in the later part of PPNB

Pigs and cattle were domesticated by the end of PPNB

The domestication of sheep and goats followed a fall-off in gazelle populations

Collapse of the Early Neolithic settlement system was the result of ecological degradation caused by deforestation

Could be that by producing plaster, humans deforested
An alternative idea: it wasn’t a collapse, but a shift to a way of life focused on the grazing of herds of domesticated animals
At the same time as the settlement system collapsed, there was the introduction of pottery (it replaced plaster production) and changes in the production of symbolic artifacts

Symbol system: no more skull removal and ornamentation; small figurines of stylized humans rather than animals

Also change in stone tool manufacture during the Late Neolithic:

The skillful production of blades disappeared, arrowheads became rare
Most tools are now expedient tools made on locally available materials with minimal investment of energy
Sickle blades remain common and often have a serrated edge

In central and western Turkey, there is continuity in dense village settlement through the Late Neolithic – Catalhoyuk (9000-8000 years ago):

Goddess figurines – some argue that Neolithic society was focused on a goddess cult
Main source of meat was domesticated goats

During the Late Neolithic, there is continuous decline in the role of hunting for subsistence
May be that the climate stress of the Younger Dryas corresponding to the end of the Natufian and the beginning of the PPNA was a trigger in the development of villages
Agriculture developed as a consequence of people living in villages

Villages preceded agriculture in the Middle East

From History to Science & Neolithic Diffusion
History of Archaeological Theory

Archaeological theory = ideas that archaeologists have developed about the past and about the ways we come to know the past

Archaeology needs a consistent way of interpreting the archaeological record

A “theory” is this explanatory framework we use to interpret data

Antiquarianism (16th – 18th centuries):

Treasure hunters, for personal collections or museums
They weren’t concerned with the daily life of people in those days – they wanted the big cool stuff
Eventually, identified stone tools & established stone, bronze and iron ages

Darwin’s evolutionism (19th century):

Darwin: established a theory of change – change isn’t just a series of historical accidents; there’s a system behind change
De Perthes: described association of stone tools and extinct mammoths
Lyell: a geologist, used geological strata to give weight to de Perthes
Morgan: defined social evolution as a unilateral transition from savagery (hunter-gatherer)à barbarism (anyone who had pottery; essentially agriculture)à civilization

He thought you couldn’t get to civilization without passing through the previous two steps
And if there are any savagery tribes left, it’s just because they couldn’t figure out how to get up the chain
Now we know there are multiple ways to get there

Cultural-historical approach (late 19th – 1949):

First real theory of archaeology and archaeological remains
These guys are interested in describing artifacts, and all artifacts (not just impressive-looking tombs and stuff)
Seriation established relative chronologies
Typology classified artifacts and defined “cultures”

Very fine division in their classification scheme

g. we still use types, we use handaxes
But they use double convergent handaxes, single side-scapers, etc.

Gordon Childe description of artifacts à societies of people
Neolithic revolution: Childe’s Marxist interpretation of agricultural origins

Processual archaeology (1949 – 1985):

Started when radiocarbon dating was figured out
Scientific methods, emphasized deduction, hypothesis testing
Identify general laws and models of cultural dynamics
Result was focus on adaptation to environment, symbolism ignored

They defined external forces but ignored internal forces of culture

Ethnoarchaeology: relating ethnographic observations to archaeological record

They’d go observe current hunter-gatherer groups

Post-processualism (1985 – 2000):

Emic perspective: view of prehistory as history (not science)
Cultural relativism (not judging other cultures from our perspective; each culture should be evaluated in its own terms, against broad comparisons)

& recognition of archaeologists own biases (our biases are build into our interpretations)

Role of women and children had been ignored; fix gender bias in interpretation
Agency: purposeful individual action within society

Evolutionary archaeology (2000 – present):

Kind of processual archaeology, rebranded (and with its criticisms incorporated)

Internal drivers are thrown into computer models, they look at things processual archaeology ignored

Cultural evolution as analogy to biological evolution
Human behavioural ecology (humans as animals within the environment)

g. optimal foraging, diet, risk-gain, etc

Gene-culture coevolution

A recognition that our genetic makeup is affected by our cultural behaviour
How we have modified our environment affects us
Gene and culture can’t be separated, they work together

Cultural phylogenies

Using biological algorithms that are used to generate species trees
Evolutionary tree for material cultures

Niche construction

People modify their environment in order to better suit them, as biological consuming entities

Neolithic Diffusion

Agriculture was first innovated in the Middle East

Spread of this Neolithic material culture to Europe:

8500 years ago: southeastern Europe
7500 years ago: western Europe
6000 years ago: Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland

Along with this, we can map the spread of different lineages of mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA

mtDNA à maternal history
Y chromosome DNA à paternal history
DNA gets diluted as it moves from Middle East to Europe

Bc farmers traveling into Western Europe intermarried as they went

We also have language maps:

The indo-European language family went into Europe and diverged as the romantic languages

All three (material, DNA, language: the Neolithic package) follow the same pattern of spreading from the Middle East throughout Europe

The Neolithic package: shift in all aspects of life:

Social organization

This pattern is like the middle to upper Paleolithic transition

A complete shift, same spread

Neolithic diffusion models (these are primary cultural processes):

Independent innovation
Demic diffusion
Cultural diffusion

Kossina (1940s): Germans conquered Europe in the Neolithic, coming from the noble stock of German blood

Saw German stuff appearing elsewhere, he interpreted that as Germans conquering

Childe’s Neolithic revolution:

Control of food production as the cause of this revolution
Agricultural surplus allowed population to increase and culture to complexify
Migration and replacement from Middle East
Influenced by Marxism

Renfrew’s model (in the processual archaeology school):

Britain first (1970s):

Britains independently innovated our megaliths and burial practices
They didn’t like that stonehedge was a Middle East export
Britain is special

Language dispersal hypothesis:

Changed his mind by 1990
Mapped spread of Indo-European language family and connected it to Neolithic
Package of material culture and language, later added DNA to his theory
Everything coming out of Middle East as one giant thing, replaced the Mesolithic culture

Later added DNA to the replacement package

Zvelebil, Richards, and Heggarty: cultural diffusion

The replacement models too simplistic

Interbreeding and acculturation should play a role

Political climate played a role in this shift

Increasing perception/respect for hunter-gatherers
Cultural relativism:

Modern day indigenous groups
Colonization no longer in vogue

Mesolithic Europe

Invented bc they needed something between the Upper Paleolithic blades and the Neolithic groundstone
Culture-historical category

Upper Paleolithic: Blades
Mesolithic: Faunal tools
Neolithic: Ground stone

Childe’s “Dawn of Europe” solidifies definition and the variability of the timing
General material evidence (12 kya – Neolithic):

Faunal toolkit further diversified & specialized

Gave up on stone tools, except to sharpen faunal tools

Flaked tools used to make faunal tools

Groundstone axes and celts, both for woodworking
Increasing size and duration of settlements
Diet breadth extended

Focus on fish with nets, fish spears, weirs
Variety of animals & plants

Hunter-gatherer populations were flourishing under the Holocene climate

Franchthi Cave, Greece (11 kya):

Broad spectrum foraging: red deer, cattle, pigs, snails, shellfish, pistachios, almonds, pears, wild oats, wild barley

And tuna! This means they’ve figured out how to do deep-sea fishing!

Obsidian traded over 100km of Mediterranean

Burning England

Extensive landscape modification using fire

Brings game
Post-fire ecological succession edible plants

This is niche construction: you change your environment to suit you

Now it’s active (vs. passive)
This is correlated with the Holocene climate being favourable

The Danube river is the highway by with the Neolithic package entered Europe
Lepenski Vir, Serbia (8400 – 7600 BP):


On the Danube – so wide variety of fish species
But later, they switch to a diet of deer
As well as a broad spectrum foraging diet

Spatial organization & Structures

Many structures occupied simultaneously
Sedentary, permanent
Uniformity in the design of their houses
Communal space (an open plaza) in the middle of the village (same look as the houses, all the same)
Streets with paving stones from the communal space


As with the Neolithic, we have more well-defined pattern burials

Burials in floors, etc

One burial of a man shaped like a triangle! They put his legs together, etc – maybe bc it’s the same shape as the structures – symbolic aspect
Nothing elaborate like the Natufian princess


Statues of human-like fish
Fish is important in their symbolic repertoire – it’s a fishing village, they live on the river, it’s the main point of their diet, etc
These structures are “megaliths”
These statues are spread out across the site – it’s not that one house has all of them à implies that everyone is still generally equal in status (everyone has access to the rituals and symbolic aspects of life)

Everyone has same status, but there is a very strict way to build your structure

Intricately patterned rules

Terminal phase:

Neolithic sites appear contemporary with later stages

Agriculture has arrived, but they haven’t been replaced by the Middle Eastern farmers – they just keep on doing their thing

Reminiscent of the Chatellperonian problem

Cultural diffusion vs. migration/replacement?

This time, no morphological differences
If trade goods are showing up, people must have been showing up with them – but we don’t know how they interacted
The fact that they were already very advanced, means that they would have easily just adopted agriculture

Prior complexity facilitated cultural diffusion?
The fact that they were complex means they would have been hard to just replace
Their complexity complicates things

The fact that seeds came to them doesn’t mean the whole Neolithic package came too


River and land resources provided abundant food
Highly complex sedentary hunter-gatherer society

Possible small status differences based on size of house

What effect would this have on their resistance or ability to change?

Neolithic Europe

Linear Band Keramic (LBK) Culture (7200 – 6500 BP):

A style of pottery
The first phase of Neolithic
In addition to pottery, we have Middle Eastern plants & animals
Independently innovated housing (they are not using Middle East style housing)

Instead they had longhouses (in villages)
Kinship & social structure within a 30m longhouse (This is massive)

Is this more similar to the Mesolithic housing, or to the Middle Eastern Neolithic we saw earlier? They are more like a scaled-up version of the Mesolithic

Hybridization of architecture styles

Diachronic change in the statigraphic record – we don’t see waves-of-advance

So different models are using the same data!

Cultural diffusion

Sees continuity in local traditions (housing)

Migration models

Sees abrupt shifts in local traditions (ceramics, domestication)
But what is “abrupt” enough for replacement?

Biases that made different researchers see different models:

Human capacity for innovation, adaptation

If you see hunter-gatherer to be savage and backward, then you don’t give them much credit to adopt a new way of life

Biases for or against colonization
21st century, everything is caused by climate change

Hybridization model:

Adaptable Mesolithic hunter-gatherer, coming into contact with Neolithic agriculturalists and having friendly trade, interaction, and intermarriage
This might be a bit of a utopian view

May be a bit of post-colonization guilt thrown in there

Massaker von Talheim, Germany (7000 BP):

Massacre at Talheim: small scale genocide, many individuals thrown into a pit
Initially suggested Mesolithic vs. LBK (this may be LBK vs. LBK)
Chazan points out this is absent from Lepenski Vir

The Mesolithics did not have this level of violence

Schletz-Asparn, Austria: 300 dead (this is LBK)
Herxheim, Germany: 450 dead (this is LBK)
It might have been contagion containment, except for a skull with an axe in it – this was no infection control

DNA evidence:

Decline of DNA frequency suggests hybridization

Since this was a gradual decline, doesn’t seem like replacement – points to intermarriage

Mesolithic derived vs. middle eastern
Lactase persistence in Europeans! Those of us who aren’t lactose intolerant, we must be from European stock!

Lactase persistence developed only where there are cows

Mosaic of explanations (over space): different parts of Europe underwent the transition in different ways
Mosaic – Arias 1999

Mesolithic populations: some would promote or inhibit cultural diffusion over space

Water-centric populations had an alternate route to cultural complexity

This populations had a different pattern of transition

Eventually, most of Europe did transition into agriculture

But different ways: adoption or replacement in different areas

Three types of transitions:

Replacement (more likely in the inland territories)
An early wave of Neolithic farmers intermarried and culturally diffused their traditions until they were adopted
Cultural diffusion along Mesolithic trade routes influencing change

Mosaic – Gronenborn 1999

“A combined migrationist/diffusionist model is presented, arguing for an emergence of a farming economy among hunter-gatherer populations in Transdanubia and the subsequent spread of this economy through migration. The new settlers interacted with local Mesolithic groups and adopted and incorporated local material culture and sometimes even aspects of local Mesolithic economy, a process which continued throughout the Early Neolithic”

Mosaic simulation – Lemmen et al 2011

Simulation model shows interaction of three types of individuals:

Migrating farmers (replacing)
Mesolithic hunter-gatherers (adopting)
Farming Mesolithic converts (Mesolithic populations converted to farming through learning/acculturation, and then these groups travelled and acculturated other Mesolithic groups)

Makes sense that Mesolithics would be more successful in converting Mesolithics!

Converts played a key role in acculturating hunter-gatherers (HG)

“A small share of introduced technology is sufficient to spark local invention and trigger the transition”

Stimulus diffusion concept

“…predominant adoption despite migration”

You didn’t need migration in order to have adoption

History of Neolithic Diffusion:

History of theory has played a large role in interpretation of Neolithic transition

Passed over each cultural process several times, as history has progressed – as the political climate changed, essentially

The medium/mechanism of both cultural diffusion and hybridization is inter-group contact

Do they share their information, or their information and their genes?

Textbook, Chapter 7 (7.7)

According to the replacement perspective, the driving force behind the expansion = the population increase associated with farming
Language dispersal hypothesis: the spread of agriculture as the movement of people carrying with them an entire way of life, including farming, religion and language

In this model, a gradual wave of advancing farmers replace passive defenceless HGs

Evidence of burning in the Mesolithic HGs muddies the division between HGs and farmers

Clearly, the Mesolithic HGs were capable of actively manipulating their environment

Domestication of plants and animals emerged in the Middle East; yet maybe these Mesolithic HGs innovated some of this on their own – debate on this topic

A compromise position: the shift to agriculture in Europe is an interaction btwn incoming populations and innovative HGs

But what kind of interaction? There is evidence both of trade, and of violence, between Mesolithic (HGs) and LBK (farmer)groups

Learning from Comparison & Neolithic Africa vs. the Fertile Crescent

Inter-site comparisons: look at the similarities and differences between two or more sites

Expands the sample size
Allows us to build a broader understanding of how and why
Explore possible drivers of cultural change by seeing how things turned out similarly or differently over space and time

Regional level synthesis:

Aggregate archaeological data over a larger region
Study synchronic and diachronic variation in cultural traits
Often difficult to do in practice

Differences in documentation
Availability of reports and raw data

Ethnoarchaeology (type of comparison): studying living groups to see the “archaeological” record forming

Socio-cultural ethnography

Depositional bias (what do people throw away vs. toss in the woods, what is organic and not likely to keep in the record)
Technology manufacturing

Why do we do it?

Interpretation difficult with no reference point

Stone tools once thought to be caused by lightening

Archaeologists are less familiar with hunter gathering than hunter gatherers are

Insight into perceptions of natural world
Cultural contact influences spread of ideas and trade goods
How to use prehistoric tools

Source of hypotheses to test against material remains

Expands limits of our imagination

Things we learned from ethnoarchaeology:

Ground stone manufacture
Bead manufacture
Atlatls (bannerstones)
Poison tipped points

Preservation bias:

Case study in Ethiopia:

“tef” was a particular grain; roasting it isn’t necessary to manufacture into flour and bread
So the charring of the seed, etc – wasn’t done

So looking at the record, we would see other grains, but we wouldn’t see tef

So: potential immensity of the gap between what we find and what there was

Tyranny of the ethnographic record:

Range of possible behaviours much broader

Much more possible than what we see in current HG populations
Past conditions different

Reproduce ethnoarchaeology in the archaeological record
Emphasized bottom-up approach of “strong inference”

Experimental archaeology (another type of comparison):

Replicating aspects of material culture to better understand them and the behaviour needed to make them
Hands-on approach
Flintknapping is a very common skill among archaeologists

Things we learned from flintknapping:

How to recognize:

Variation in manufacturing
Tools used in manufacturing

Importance of debitage patterns (debitage is the debris)
Strength of Neanderthals
Importance of raw material
Conservation of raw material

Use-wear studies:

Replicate use of tools to study damage and polish development
Another type of experimental archaeology

Another type of experimental archaeology = re-enactments

Neolithic Transition in Northern Africa

Fertile Crescent:

Favourable environment allowed for intensive harvest of wild grains and pulses

This allowed for sedentism
With this came population increase, complexity increase, organized villages and symbolism, and then after that, domestication

Extensive human occupation of the Sahara (14-4.5kya)

It used to not be a desert – it used to receive a lot of rainfall
As rainfall increased, settlements increased
Gobero (9700 – 8300 ya / 7700 – 6300 BCE):

We actually have a fishing village during this wet phase

Bone harpoons, hooks

Abandoned as desert took back over
Reoccupied again 6kya with cattle added
Changing rainfall patterns

Pastoralism: herding domesticated animals to grazing and watering locations and subsisting off milk, blood, and meat when necessary

These guys follow their animals over long distances


Villages similar to Natufian

15 houses in two rows
Storage pits
Broad diet breadth
Grinding stones

But they already had pottery – in Africa it was right there from the beginning

Nabta Playa, Egypt (10800 – 6200 cal BP):

Controversial but important site
Argued for independent domestication of cattle at 11k cal BP
Early pottery of Khartoum style
Wells, status, megaliths
Early Neolithic (10800 – 8900 cal BP):

Lithic and bone scatters around hearths
Wild millet and legumes
Seasonal settlements when water present
Wells haven’t shown up yet
Early pastoral phase

El Adam type settlements (10,800 – 9800 cal BP):

Endscrapers made on recycled MP tools!
Few grinding stones
Early Khartoum pottery

Status rather than functional given rarity

Possibly early domestic cattle
Mostly gazelle and hare, plus a few bones of jackal, turtle, small rodents, and birds
Interpreted as pastoralists visiting seasonal grazing grounds

Used for by-products rather than meat primarily

“Not widely accepted” that this was cattle

Recent mtDNA of the cattle: suggests separate African domestication (vs. Middle East)

Then arid period when the site was not occupied
Then: El Ghorab type settlements (9600 – 9200 cal BP):

After an arid hiatus
Reoccupied with toolkit of elongated scalene triangles, microburins, grinding stones
Few shards of pottery
Same cattle and desert adapted small fauna

Seasonal water settlements

Then aridity again!

Then: El Nabta type settlements (9100 – 8900 cal BP)

Large oval huts and smaller round huts
Bell-shaped storage pits
Deep wells (2.5 m), some with shallow basins beside for cattle
This allowed for year round occupations (except during summer floods)
Bone points, pottery
20,000 wild seeds of grasses and legumes as well as tubers and fruits representing 80 different morphological types
Possibly domesticated sorghum
Wild or domestic, they were harvesting for long-term storage

The next phase: middle Neolithic (8300 – 7600 cal BP):

Gazelle declines (as in NE, but could be hunting or the aridity cycles)

Wider variety of animals took their place

Introduced domesticated goat or sheep from NE, becomes important meat food
Cattle bones still rare, suggesting by-products favored

No plant remains due to preservation but storage and grinding stones

Houses common in clusters of six plus

Site E-75-8, El Nabta:

No houses, but lots of stone lined hearths
After most sites with no cattle, this one lots of cattle bones

Maybe this was desperate times, and they needed to eat the cattle
Maybe this was a long term occupation and the cattle bones just accumulated over time
Maybe this was symbolic – maybe this place was a ceremonial centre when communities aggregated, where they ritualistic-ly slaughtered cattle and ate them (excavator interpretation)

Late Neolithic (7500 – 6200 cal BP):

Another period of aridity
Larger hearth only sites
Projectile points interpreted as weapons as defense
Site E-75-8 reoccupied and expanded

Same aggregation site occupied
Calendar circle and other megaliths added
Huge blocks make usually empty enclosures

Most burial spaces empty

Complete young adult cow buried in a claylined and roofed chamber below a mound

Six other mound also have buried cow remains

Carved stone slab buried 3.5m below surface

Shaped like a cow? A mushroom?

Nabta playa – summary:

Early occupations took cattle to the Nile valley during dry seasons, traded for pottery
Later innovated deep wells and didn’t need to go to Nile (and potentially have conflicts with the agriculturalists there)

Seasonal population aggregation developed into calendar circle and cow burials

Uan Afuda, Libya ((9000-8000 ya):

Excellent preservation, even longer occupation sequence
“Middle Paleolithic – Aterian?” (Undated)

Aeolian sands (wind-blown) are mixed with MSA lithics
Mixing sands left no other evidence

“Epipaleolithic” (9700-9200 BP):

Microlithic tools
Specialized hunting camp for Barabry sheep (100% of fauna found)

Preservation excellent, only plants were for fire (evidence of absence)
Small hut with multiple unstructured hearths

“Mesolithic Pottery Bearing” (8765-8000 BP):

“Fill” is mix of dung and plants
Specialised fire areas, stone structures
Intensive use of wild plants, grinding cereals
Shift from “procurement” to “processing” of wild foods

Basketry could suggest storage
Painted eggshell
Decorated ceramic
Dung & grass in the back of the cave

“Early Pastoral” (7700-6400 BP):

Pick up the sequence at other sites
Domesticated sheep introduced from Near East (Smith)
Genetically unrelated to today’s African domesticated species
Merimde beni-Salam, Egypt:

Village with domestic cattle, sheep, and pigs all from Near East

Simple graves: bead, an amulet, or a reed mat
Rock paintings of people with cattle
Proximity to early farming sites in the Nile flood zone suggests domestic animals brought in by farmers before being picked up by hunter-gatherers away from the Nile

“Middle Pastoral” (6100-5000 BP):

Alternately occupied lake zones and mountain regions
Fishing around the lakes, mountains for grazing sheep and goats

Exotic lithic materials from lake zones found in all sites
Lake sites also had pits for large ceramic vessels, and hiding places for a few grinding-stones and hand querns

“Late Pastoral” (5000-3500 BP):

Rainfall reduced, lakes dried up

You would think since water is essential for cattle, a reduction would reduce pastoralism
But actually it did the opposite- it allowed the spread of pastoralism through Africa

Because before, the tsetse fly was a natural southern boundary (this fly bad for cattle)
But with reduced rainfall, reduced tsetse fly – cattle can now spread

Helped spread cattle-based pastoralism because the tsetse fly now gone
Focus also shifted towards Nile and other river valleys

Summary of Neolithic Pastoral Africa

Consumed wild grain and animals, fish at times
Small villages formed around lakes

Grinding stones evidence of extensive grain processing
Pottery was first for status, then storage (more functional)
Hunting with pre-domestication control of wild animals (Sheep and possibly cattle)
Domesticated species introduced from Near East, easily adopted
Pastoralism widespread before large farming communities

Middle East (ME) (or Near East, NE)

Wild use intensifies (plants and animals both) (due to Holocene climate change, favourable conditions made wild plants widespread and dense, and gazelle population boomed)
Pre-pastoral conditions

Population increase
Smaller population increase

Complexity increase (pottery not here until after domestication)
Not to the same degree, but pottery as status

Pottery as storage

Community structures
Small village

Same   à true pastoralism


Often new technology is like that (like pottery): first for status, then when it becomes commonplace, it becomes more functional

Textbook, Chapter 9 (9.1)

There is a lot of flexibility in the sequence of events leading to the shift from hunting and gathering to farming
In Africa, pastoral societies based on domesticated animals developed without plant domestication
The development of agriculture in Africa involved the indigenous domestication of plants and possibly animals, as well as the adoption of domesticated plants and animals from the ME
The current arid environment of the Sahara developed only 4500 years ago

Between 14000 and 4500, there was more rainfall, and thus human occupation

During the period of increased rainfall, small villages of HGs developed across Northern Africa

The sites resembled the Natufian societies of the ME (re their size, structures, exploitation of wide range of resources, and use of grinding stones), except they had pottery (which only developed in the ME in the Late Neolithic), and storage pits

g. of this = Nabta Playa, site E-75-6, 9000 years ago

Uan Afudaà pre-agricultural societies of the Sahara, between 9000-8000 years ago

One finding was wild sheep in a pen – so although no domestication, they were employing some form of animal management by capturing animals and keeping them in a pen

Gobero, a fishing village, 9700-8200

The site was abandoned due to aridity 8000 years ago

The earliest evidence of domestication of animals in the Central Sahara = 7000 years ago

No evidence of domesticated plants

First farming villages:

First domesticated plants in Egypt = 7000 years ago
Idea = HGs domesticated plants as a “backup”, and then it took off
In Western Africa, the earliest plant domestication = 3500 years ago

In Africa, as in the ME, small villages predate the domestication of plants and animals

Life, Bureaucracy, and Pharaohs – Ancient Egypt

There was a gradual development of the empire – it didn’t come from the sand or the skies

Gradual emergence from typical cultural processes

Ancient Egypt was in the Nile Valley

The increased rainfall allowed the desert sections to be more habitable – we talked about this yesterday

The Pre-dynastic phase of Egypt:

Rulers trying to control territory
It starts

3000 years of civilization building
The role of the people in Ancient Egypt is still a bit of a mystery
Role of writing in archaeology:

No one has had writing so far
Archaeology is interpretation of spatial patterns – writing is like cheating

Shifts to the tradition of historical archaeology

Archaeology confirms things, but we know all about Ancient Egypt from writing
The Rosetta Stone = a huge piece of rock that has the same text, written in 3 different languages (ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek, and a Mesopotamian language)

We understood one of the three languages, so this allowed us to build a dictionary of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics

Ancient Egyptian civilization is built on the Nile

Every year, a huge excess of water comes in to the banks of the Nile, and floods the banks – this makes the flood-banks – a new layer of nutrients washes up onto the shore
There was a strict boundary between habitable floodplains, and barren desert (this is a strict external force)

But if you build stone structures in the floodplains, they get washed away yearly
So houses are right at that floodplain-desert boundary

2 halves of the empire

Upper Egypt = upper part of the Nile

As you go up the Nile, strict boundary between floodplains and desert

Lower Egypt = down part of the Nile (where it ends at the Mediterranean)

Less strict boundary, because it widens
Cataracts – pieces of land to the South, un-crossable

Pre-dynastic dynasty: family linage of kings

Overlaps with the pastoral phases

Then early dynastic
Then first intermediate – when the dynasty collapsed, period of chaos
Oscillating cycles of empire consolidation, and then collapsing again
Predynastic (4500 – 3000 BC):

Similar to ME Neolithic
Imported domestic plants and animals from ME
Usual debates over acculturation vs. replacement

More likely that it’s Egyptians adopting, bc slow adoption of elements of Neolithic package
Also DNA supports this, says that Ancient Egypt was built by Egyptians

Burials in structures
Faiyum A Culture (5200 – 4000 BC):

Mix of agriculture and HG
Broad spectrum diet (abundance of wild, mixed in with some domesticated stuff)

Merimde culture (4800 – 4300 BC)

A neighbouring contemporary culture with the Faiyum A
Cool art culture: human masks, etc

Then there were a series of other archaeological cultures

Short lived, and defined by pottery styles
Early sedentism, mud-brick
Burials outside villages (in more cemeteries)with grave goods
Extensive trade in obsidian, pottery, gold, and copper
Reduction in rainfall

All those people from the Sahara (that we talked about yesterday) had to move into the Nile Valley

Except the pastoral communities more inland
Increased competition is maybe the origins of the Egyptian state (competition over resources and dense settlements – coincides with building of hierarchies, and control of things, etc)

Dependence on Nile Valley farming

Early dynastic (3000 – 2575 BC):

King Narmer unites Upper and Lower Egypt

The first Pharoah of Egypt
Before, were small centres of control, and the two halves had been fighting for territory, etc

Consistent struggle between the two regions for power

Typical of early days of an empire
Internal divisions, control tends to oscillate between the two

Cycles of centralized power, state collapse, and re-centralization often in the other part
The first burial architecture (origins of pyramid building) was modest – a stone tomb underground, excavated in early 1900s (so unknown date)

“Hierakonpolis” – unknown date, and unknown king
On the walls of this tomb, was an elaborate painting – of a battle-scene on boats

Next one: Abydos (3050 BC)

Not a pyramid, but a monumental structure

First large scale burial construction

We also find a fleet of boats buried in the desert, just after this structure

The first pyramid: Djoser Complex (2668 – 2649 BC)

Ziggurat: a step pyramid (vs. the smooth side pyramids we see later)
Seen in Central America
Behind an enclosure wall

Emphasized the status division, the sacred area controlled by the elite, vs. the rest

Snefru’s Bent Pyramid (2613 – 2589 BC):

First attempt at a smooth pyramid
First non-step pyramid
For structural reasons, they decided to shift the angle, so it wouldn’t collapse

Giza – Khufu’s Great Pyramid (2589 – 2566 BC):

The first one built (at Giza) was the biggest one built
Blocks of stone, vs. mud

Encased in polished limestone
Maybe capped with gold

Can’t see this now; all we have is a missing peak, and hieroglyphics depicting a gold cap

3 main burial chambers

The one deep underground was never finished
One higher up in the centre of the pyramid – thought to hold this king, but he wasn’t there when we found it
One higher up for the queen

Giza – Khafre (2650 – 2480) & Menkaure’s (2532 – 2503 BC) Pyramids

Khafre’s slightly smaller, similar build
Menkaure’s faced with granite slabs, but unfinished

The granite only goes partway up the side
The pyramids were build during the life of the Pharoah

When he died, they stopped working on it and started on the new guy’s pyramid
Thought that he died while it was being built

Valley of kings (1532 – 1070 BC):

Pyramids had gone out of style
They got smaller and smaller, until they started just using the valley
63 known tombs, latest found only in 2005
King Tu-tankhamun (King Tut), boy king, was buried here

Life in Ancient Egypt

Controlled by empire bureaucracy
Pharaoh is human reincarnation of the god Horus

Pharaoh is supposed to maintain balance, and order and justice in the world (against chaos and disorder) (maintains ma’at)
But in daily life, he really controls an army of accountants
Travelled to inspect, tax, perform ceremonies

Scribes accounted for everything, used to control population

Tracking grain from field to bread and beer
Most early writing is fore accounting
It’s the accountants that ruled the empire

The division of labour is also interesting – the people who built the pyramids

Their daily labour was divided into equivalent portions and sub-portions

Team, sub-team, sub-sub-team

Amazing logic to it

We can track their work with graffiti on the blocks

They were placed on the internal surfaces, the surfaces that wouldn’t show
“Drunks of Menkaure”, and “Friends of Khufu” – examples of team names

The unfinished burial chamber in the Great Pyramid really shows how work was divided (into 4 equal labour portions)

The 99% (the non-elite):

They can’t have just built pyramids
We just don’t know a lot about their lives
No urbanism (not large cities; this was an empire ruled over farming lands)

Lahun, Upper Egypt (2030 – 1840 BC):

Village for the pyramid’s workforce
Well preserved 800 m from the Pyramid of Lahun

Excavated by Petrie in the late 19th century

Wooden boxes with infants in the floors
Preserved papyri (documents written on papyrus)
The layout of the city:

Walled-in village with regularly organized houses of mudbrick
Internal wall separated the village

1/3 had many single room houses
2/3 had fewer but larger multi-room “villas” (much more comfortable)


This walled-in section of the city = the labourers
The bigger area (but with fewer houses) = the elite

Construction technique similar to Mesopotamia

Maybe slaves were captured in warfare, and brought to the site to build the pyramid

Suggests the slaves had their own material culture

But the pyramid at Giza thought to be built by Egyptians, not by slaves

The workers at Giza had much higher status
“Friends of Khufu” is not slaves
Conscript / volunteer labour during flooding of the Nile (when they couldn’t do their regular farming tasks)
DMJM estimated 4-5 k people (not a huge number) built in 20-40 years
Cemetery nearby has 600 people, some with healed injury

Amarna, Upper Egypt (1363-1347 BC)

City abandoned after Pharaoh Akhenaten died (“the heretic” pharaoh)

This Pharaoh tried to make a lot of religious reforms – he tried to make it a one-god form
People didn’t like this, so after he died, everyone left and no one came back
So good preservation – workshops, bakeries, houses left intact

Multi-storied buildings, backyards with wells

Known for his wife, Nefertiti
Workers village: neat little rows of structures

Roofs made of reef thatch
Areas for keeping pigs

Summary – 99%

We don’t know a lot other than worker’s villages
Biased spatial sample

Nile floods destroyed floodplain settlements
Space beyond floodplain still lived in today

Slaves/conscript labour vs. patriotic volunteers?

Lahun: 2030-1840 BC, Upper
Giza: 2589-2566 BC, Lower

So they were separated by both time and space – these could be factors in the difference

Textbook, Chapter 11 (11.2)

To the south, the limit of Upper Egypt is defined by a series of cataracts (rapids)
To the north, the Nile Valley spreads into several branches, forming the Delta region as it flows toward the Mediterranean Sea
Egypt’s geography is unique – it has boundaries to the east and west in the form of desert, and to the south by the cataracts

This makes the risk of foreign invasion very minimal

The annual flooding of the Nile replenished the soil, so problems of salination found in southern Mesopotamia are not present here

This also means that irrigation systems weren’t necessary
The Nile Valley had no mineral resources, but the desert did, and the Egyptians used this

The Predynastic is poorly understood, but towards the end there were 3 kingdoms along the Nile Valley
The end of the Predynastic and the beginning of the Early Dynastic is marked by the unification under King Narmer
3 cycles of integration and collapse:

Periods of integration: Early Dynastic/Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom

Old Kingdom: Lower Egypt held the power
New Kingdom: Upper Egypt held the power
During the Middle and New Kingdoms, Egypt went to conquer through the North, coming into conflict with Mesopotamia

Also during Middle and New, Egypt was active in creating trade networks

Periods of collapse: First Intermediate, Second Intermediate, Third Intermediate

An Egyptian Pharaoh, upon his death, became the incarnation of the god Osiris, the god of the dead

He also had a special relationship with the sun god Ra
He fights for ma’at – fights against isfet, the force of chaos embodied by the snake-demon Apophis, which threatened the equilibrium of the cosmos

Extended family remains an essential social unit

Some even say that the conception of kingship was based on an extension of the household
Labour groups were organized perhaps by clan or extended family

Hieroglyphs were based on combinations of logograms (signs that represent a whole word), phonograms (signs that represent sounds), and determinatives (signs that indicate the exact meaning of a word)

Documents were written on papyrus, a reed native to the Nile Valley
Hieratic (a more efficient form of writing) was developed in the Fourth Dynasty for scribes; hieroglyphics were still used for monuments

Giza Pyramids:

The largest (and earliest): Cheops
The second largest (and second earliest): Cepheren
The smallest (and latest): Mycerinus

One of the most famous features at Giza is the Great Sphinx
At least some of the workers were paid in food rations
Egypt was a territorial state rather than a city state
Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital of Egypt, cannot be reached (it’s too far below the water table) – but we have uncovered Amarna (of the New Kingdom) in Upper Egypt

Amarna was founded as a new capital by the heretic king Akhenaten

He focused on Aten, the visible disc of the sun
New style of art; he and Nefertiti were depicted with oddly elongated features
After his death, his reforms were rejected, his monuments smashed, and his city at Amarna abandoned

We don’t know whether cities like Amarna existed before the New Kingdom
Kinship continued to play an important role long after the formation of the state

Why Jared Diamond Is Full Of It – Chaco Canyon, Easter Island, Incan Revolution, and Classic Maya

Jerry Diamond has become the public face of archaeology, and we don’t like that
Guns, Germs and Steel (1997):

Have vs. Have Nots
Argues Western Europe was luck in geography (not superior, just lucky)

Led to technology advances which allowed for world conquest
This is good; this is true that technology advances were a bit of luck, and that races aren’t all that different
Gives alternative to racist ideology of “racial” differences in ability in intelligence

But criticized for factual errors and overall flavour of Environmental Determinism

The extreme of external change forces we talked about before
It’s too simple – there is variation around the world not due to climate

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005):

Description of “collapsed” societies of the past with warnings of modern day hubris

Environmental degradation with over-exploitation
Climate change
Ego-driven rulers
Failure to respond to warning sings

Fault of the people – they didn’t react well (yes it’s environment, but peoples’ fault)
Criticized for factual errors and overall flavour of Environmental Determinism

The message sounds convincing bc it connects with our feelings (everyone’s worried about climate change, etc)

But the specialists of the particular case studies that he is supposedly citing details from: they point to factual errors, errors of omission, and a general lack of relevant context

After Guns, Germs and Steel, archaeologists argued it, but there was no collaborative counter-effort

But after Collapse, they did that – they made a volume of articles, but it was still too academic-y, and it didn’t have a huge impact on the general population

Specialists take on each of Diamond’s case studies
General disagree with Diamond’s use of “collapse”, “choose”, and “success”
Instead they argue that almost all societies exhibit “resilience”

The masses will make it, they will just go somewhere else and reinvent themselves – they will manage

Case Studies

Anasazi vs. Pueblo

According to Diamond:

The last (particularly strong, 50 years) drought was the last straw, to a population already weakened by social and political strife
And there was too many people, they couldn’t be supported by the environmental change
In building all of those small rooms, they cut down trees

Deforestation is a contributing factor in erosion, and the erosion caused entrenchment of the river through the canyon – which meant they couldn’t get water anymore

So the people leaved Chaco canyon (the city) in drones

Critique by Wilcox:

Challenges the idea that Chaco canyon was a significant population centre – it was a ritual place, that never would have supported large-scale agriculture

Evidence that the food was brought in (vs. grown in Chaco): isotope studies

It was European settlers (moving westward) that had been diverting huge amounts of the water for irrigation

And the cattle upstream caused erosion downstream

The drought was not that impressive
The descendents of these people are still alive today

People spread out and did their own thing in neighbouring communities, after the ritual centre was no longer usable

Secretive over rituals and symbols, even within a community
It’s not a collapse of population, it’s a collapse of the sharing of ideologies (they started keeping them secret)

Loss of pots of the Pueblo was interpreted as population collapse – really, it just could mean that moved! This is a flaw in archaeological practice

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Settled by Polynesian sailors (2000 km to nearest island, very isolated)

One of the last islands to be settled – talked about in the Oceania lecture
The winds to get there are against you – it was only settled by one group, once – it’s incredible it was ever settled at all bc of the winds and distance

They were agriculturalists: they diverted seasonal streams to irrigate agricultural fields

Raised chickens, hunted local sea birds at first

According to Diamond:

Deforestation, due to hubris of the rulers, competition to make the biggest monuments/statues
Society consumed with religious fervour (the monuments were thought to represent the ancestors) and status
Carved giant statues out of rock

People fought (and killed) over resources and land and access

Critique by Hunt & Lipo:

The rats caused the deforestation by eating the nuts

And people can move Moai (the statues)without wood (like aw fridge, by pivoting) – unlike Diamond’s version

Population actually increased in spite of this
When the Polynesians came, they brought rats
The rats had a much larger role to play in deforestation

It was compounded by people burning wood for fires – but smaller role

Rats didn’t have any natural predators – common problem in islands (happened in Hawaii)
The only remaining trees/plants were the ones that rats don’t like

And the highlands remained – bc the rats couldn’t reach it

When European settlers arrived, they brought diseases – last straw

Population of 300 mostly killed by European disease

Conquistadors vs. Inca

Pizarro, leading a ragtag group of 168 Spanish soldiers (really, mercenaries/adventurers), was in unfamiliar terrain, but slaughtered thousands of Incans
Critique by Cahill:

Really, it was the Incans that were complex, and the Spaniards that were new and rural and developing
Incans were a more advanced civilization than Spain
A lot of natives fought against the Incans, bc the king (Atahuallpa, from Ecuador) had just finished a massive civil war – he had just taken out the previous king

Both sides of the war were diminished in numbers, exhausted, less organized than usual
They weren’t expecting this
The king was at a resort, relaxing from the war

The Spaniards conquered through bureaucracy

By managing internal strife that already existed, they managed to create internal divisions – divide and conquer strategy
So when they got to the king’s camps, they had natives that had just lost to the king and were pissed about it

Diamond ignores all of this stuff and just says that it was the technology (domesticated horses and weaponry)
Also: who wrote about this valiant conquest? The Spanish conquistadors! There was no other writings about this, no mass grave found, etc

You have to take these stories with a grain of salt
These guys were adventurers, their purpose wasn’t to be historians

The role of the Europeans in this is greatly exaggerated
Diamond de-contextualizes events in order to have them better fit his message
There was a revolution a little bit into the Spanish conquest – Indians revolted, and those who had suppressed the revolution were not Spanish, but the higher-status Incans who had allied with Pizarro

This was really a continuation of the previous civil war

Classic Maya Collapse

Diamond’s account:

Rampant warfare

Pattern of escalating warfare, spiralled out of control

Ego-driven rulers
Deforestation in order to make thick plaster – liberal use of plaster

As it nears collapse, plaster is thin, not used liberally anymore
The Mayans were adapting to the change they had provoked

The problem of severe deforestation was compounded by the Mayans’ increasing population

When deforestation happens, you get erosion, etc
Disease and malnutrition then occur – food crisis

By 950 AD, not just Copan, but many Mayan cities had been abandoned
Warfare a symptom, not a cause

People fight bc they need resources

The kings produced short-term interests (building a bigger temple than the king next door), and ignored the important long-term stuff
Environmental degradation from over-farming and plaster manufacture

Critique by McAnany and Negron:

Rampant warfare:

No evidence for widespread warfare
The struggles were more personal

g. a small group capturing another king, and demanding ransom (they only killed once)
Warfare was to demonstrate their might, vs. to kill

Bc kings were directly involved in their soldiers’ combat, they picked their fights carefully
More like small-scale raids
Over time, there are increasing numbers of descriptions of warfare

That’s all Diamond is using; there are no bodies

But there are also increasing numbers of descriptions of everything (every aspect of daily life); not just warfare

The proportion of the writing that was dedicated to warfare – didn’t increase

There was intermarriage between city-states, this created alliances – these descriptions also increased
And the statue of the king holding a spear – that was just symbolic

His name was “He of Many Captives”; not killing

Environmental degradation:

They were actually conserving their environment

Ego-driven rulers:

The abandonment of these cities – they moved more towards cities around water, they left the inland less populated
They moved to cities more centralized on the trade route – i.e. on water
These people are still around!
Diamond talks about how a drought made people lose faith in the king, who was supposed to be divine and make it rain

But really, it was a bit of a mosaic

In some areas, there was still rainfall, and it carried on just fine, etc
More complicated than that


Diamond failed to give adequate context
Placed his message ahead of his data

“Cherry picked” data

Numerous (often accused of deliberate) misrepresentation of archaeological data to support his message
Some kernels of truth to his message and his interpretation

“If you torture the data long enough, nature will confess”

Anthropologists don’t seek overarching laws, they like to contextualize, complexify, relativize, particularize, etc

They look for specifics – anthropologists don’t deal well with looking for broad laws

To do that, yes, you have to simplify

Cultural Evolution: Arctic and Sub-Arctic

Does culture change systematically?

Does culture evolve like biology?

The process of evolution (not the drivers): stages:

Source of variation

For biological: mutation
For cultural: innovation (that’s how cultural traits come up – people invent it)

Inheritance: selective parts of that variation needs to be inherited

For biological: from parent to child
For cultural: the cultural trait gets passed down from parent to child (vertical transmission), but we also have oblique transmission (adult to child, not necessarily parent), and horizontal transmission (in between groups)

Selection and reproduction

For biological: beneficial mutation = more kids
For cultural: selected for because it’s desirable

Time scale (important in the distinction btwn biological and cultural evolution)

For biological: on a generational time-scale – takes many generations

And the length of a generation depends on the species

For cultural: it’s within the lifespan of the individual

It doesn’t have to be that the infant comes with the shining new idea
An adult innovates over his lifetime
This is a key difference between biological and cultural: you don’t need inheritance on a generational scale


For biological: better able to cope with environment
For cultural: can also be an internal driver, not just external

Mechanisms of change today:


g. stone tools, building larger multi-family houses (instead of smaller ones) in the Mesolithic

Learning with modification

Like broken telephone, message gets replicated, and over each “generation”, it’s changed a bit
Going from small houses to large ones could also be learning with modification – learning with modification is part of the innovation process


Random, when population size is small)
When population is large, law of large numbers keeps everything roughly the same
In a small population, random things could happen: smartest guy falls off a cliff

In a large population, these things even out
But in a small one, an event like this can really effect things

g. H. Floriensis – their tool kit diminished, they stopped using some tools they had brought with them from the mainland (they also started making new ones)

This “stopped using” part is the drift

Natural selection
Sexual selection

Coastal ecotone advantage:

Land and sea resources – you get the benefits of both worlds
Marine food comes to you (you don’t have to go chasing it through the forest)

This shifts the game in what’s possible

Large shift in material culture and behaviour – maritime revolution in cultural behaviour (probably gradual)

The first part of this shift is in economy:

Marine mammals: seal, walrus, porpoise, whale
Fish: salmon, other “anadromous” species
Birds: great auk, puffin, loons, mergansers, geese, eggs, etc

Migratory flocks come in yearly

Shellfish and urchins
Terrestrial fauna: caribou, musk ox, beaver, rabbit, martin
Marine flora: kelp
Terrestrial flora

Maritime revolution: mobility

Seasonal reduction in mobility
Food comes to you

Maritime revolution: surplus

Marine resources abundant when they come

Storage is key

Bc you can store food, you can store more than you need: accumulation of surplus (evolution)

This leads to more calories à more population à more cultural complexity (more rules that have to govern society, status differences, social hierarchies)

How many revolutions have we had in material culture so far?

Neolithic revolution, the invention of agriculture
Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition
Discovery of the New World – this is a great example of drift – it was a small population that made it into the New World, and their material culture shifted

Marine adaptation has potential, but there’s only so much you can take from the environment

With agriculture, you can modify the environment to suit your needs, make it have more resources (fertilizer, irrigation, etc) – but you don’t have the same control over marine environment

You can build better nets and harpoons to better catch the resources that are there, but you can’t make it give you more resources

There’s no niche construction

In practice, not every place in the world is appropriate for marine adaptation

There’s a lot of variation over space – some places you can occupy seasonally, some you can stay at year-round
Only in arctic and sub-arctic regions, do you have that abundance of marine resources
The northern latitudes – and almost all of them have had marine adaptation occupied at some point in pre-history

Northeast New World:

Maritime Archaic, Newfoundland:

Elaborate burial tradition
Associated with marine mammal hunting
Long-distance trade
Lasted almost 7000 years (more than double Dynastic Egypt)

At first, post-Clovis technological culture

Then 7000 years ago is when we see the first evidence of this elaborate burial tradition: L’Anse-Amour, Labrador (also the first burial in the New World):

12 year old child buried

With red ochre sprinkled on top of him
Buried with bone “toggling” harpoon head, walrus tusk, fish bones, and a whistle

7000 ya, this burial tradition begins

By 5000 ya, they’ve made it all the way up the coast, to Ramah and Saglek Bays (completely inhospitable bays) – no food resources here

People came here just for this rock, and then it gets traded all the way down to Maine – you don’t come here for food, just for this rock

Sandy Clove, Labrador (6kya):3 longhouses, they are clearly multi-family structures

So maybe this is a communal industry, to get the maritime resources together
A seasonal, sedentary society

Port au Choix, NFLD (4kya, but this site was here for a long time after):

Remarkable preservation
It’s a cemetery of over 100 people (that were put in over a long period of time – people came back to this place to bury their dead)

People lived here for part of the year, and if they died here, they were buried here. And even people who died elsewhere were brought here
Many grave goods, red ochre

Some graves do have more grave goods than others (so there is status), but no status differences by age or sex

So no systematic way in which status is attributed
A 12 year old have many grave goods – means inherited

Suggests early division within the society of status and hierarchy

The Arctic: not a continent; mostly ocean, with parts of North America, Europe and Asia. The ocean is largely frozen.
Antarctica: a continent, not owned by a country

Polar bears and penguins don’t live together – they each live on one end

You can define the Arctic in 3 ways:

Arctic circle (66 degrees)
Average temperature in July is less than 10 degrees Celsius: the AMAP line

Arctic areas have the following in common:

High levels of seasonal temperature variation

Summer adaptation
Winter adaptation

Low carrying capacity
Greatly affected by climate change
Reliance on marine resources
Affected by isostatic rebound

The earth’s crust is like a spring
When glaciers form on top of them, it gets pressed down
When they melted, the spring rises – but over thousands of years, so Finland is still rising – the land is pushed up

Some land becomes closer to the shoreline – becomes more shallow water; this supports more marine life

Isostatic rebound = coastal displacement

In Northern Finland, the coast is moving East, even today

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

The Neolithic revolution was happening

Intro of agriculture allowed for a more sedentary lifestyle, which leads to a whole bunch of cultural innovations like:


Means surplus resources
Means centralization of energy (to get people working together), and a hierarchy/power

New technology

Ceramics: a sedentary population’s tool

Bc it takes a long time to make them + dry weather (which is not common in Northern Finland)
Also bc they are heavy
But they can be sealed, so they can carry liquids

They modified the ceramics by adding a material to make it less heavy – shows innovation


Special activity sites – different sites nearby (but across the river) had mainly one thing (one site had lithics, one had ceramics)
Are these special workshops? If so, why across the river?
So tentative evidence of special activity sites

These innovations were adopted by the marine villages – why weren’t they innovated by marine? Why by agriculture? Lots of questions

Inuit archaeology in Northern Quebec:


Arrived in Nunavik, c. 2300 BP
They didn’t have bows and arrows, despite the fact that populations before and after them on all sides, did
They didn’t have drills – they gouged all the holes they had to have – even though they had the rocks to make drills
They had tiny blades they would attach to bone (as opposed to making larger tools) – microliths
They had a well-developed artistic tradition – they had time and surplus, so why the lacking tools?
These guys, and the Thule, were more mobile than people in Finland


Arrived in Nunavik, c. 700 BP, replaced Dorset
They have legends that referred to people that were there before (i.e. Dorset), the people that made the drivelines (for them, they think)

So there was contact

Ancestors of modern Inuits
Had drills, unlike the Dorset

The evidence:

The site is quite a bit from the waterfront
A few historic, European-made artifacts
Some traditional artifacts
Traditional artifacts made with historic materials
Whale bones in higher areas of site
Caribou bones in lower areas of site
A lot of walrus, a bit all over the place
No evidence of dwellings or architecture

What was the purpose of this site? When was it occupied? Why is it so big?

At least one occupation was winter – so they would kill the walrus and the whale and drag them up the hill to butcher collectively

Whale bones are bigger, so they wouldn’t slide down when the slow melted

Caribou hunted in the summer, and they were killed where they were
We see no houses bc they were made of snow! Igloos

Textbook, p174 – 179

See Notes from Chapter 6 (6.3, the section “the New World”)


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