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Is innovation always the solution? Examining non-specialized lithic technologies of the Malawian Middle Stone Age.

Author(s): Sheila Nightingale ; Jessica Thompson ; Alex Mackay ; Flora Schilt ; Elizabeth Gomani-Chindebvu

Year: 2016

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Interpretations of specialized lithic technologies are based in part on the assumption that environmental change modifies local carrying capacities and requires foragers to adjust their resource acquisition strategies in response. Such models often account for innovation, in the form of specialized, standardized, and increasingly complex tool forms and foraging strategies, in environmental terms: environmental pressure produces demand for innovation, and when pressure subsides, technological requirements are relaxed. During the African Middle Stone Age, innovations are asynchronous, geographically disparate, and often ephemeral. The archaeological record from the later MSA of Malawi is notable for its lack of specialized technological components—blades, points, and standardized tool forms are all absent from excavated assemblages. These patterns require a deeper interrogation of the possible range of technological and foraging responses through the environmental variability of the Late Pleistocene. Using data from over forty excavations and test pits, we question the assumptions of climate-driven models of technological elaboration, with particular focus on hyper-localized acquisition of raw materials and intra-assemblage consistency in reduction systems.

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Is innovation always the solution? Examining non-specialized lithic technologies of the Malawian Middle Stone Age.. Sheila Nightingale, Jessica Thompson, Alex Mackay, Flora Schilt, Elizabeth Gomani-Chindebvu. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403441)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America