Primatology, Developmental Psychology, and the Birth of Cognitive Archaeology

Author(s): Kathleen Gibson

Year: 2015


Charting the emergence of human cognition from archaeological remains requires reconstructing the probable behavioral capacities of the last common chimpanzee/human ancestor and delineating the cognitive, motor, and social abilities that underpin the production of hominin material cultures. Hence, the birth and growth of cognitive archaeology has long depended upon research findings in other disciplines. This paper provides a brief overview of historical perceptions of adult and immature human and non-human primate cognitive capacities, brain plasticity and genetic assimilation. It suggests that the clearest evidence of emerging human cognition derives from archaeological remains indicating the construction of tools, materials, and activities from multiple physical, motor, and/or social units. Even among populations with essentially modern genetically-based neurological capacities, adult cognitive and motor skills would have varied depending on material and social inputs during infancy and childhood.

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Cite this Record

Primatology, Developmental Psychology, and the Birth of Cognitive Archaeology. Kathleen Gibson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395511)