Experiments in Stone-Flaking Design Space and Implications for Social Learning Models

Author(s): Mark Moore

Year: 2018


Social learning by modern humans led to the repetition and persistence of stone tool forms we see in the recent archaeological record. The emergence of similar patterning in early hominin assemblages is often assumed to track the beginnings of social learning. Less clear is what was being socially transmitted during this early period. One possibility is that hominins learned how to make objects according to a shared ‘mental template’. A second possibility is that specific sequences were learned, which led to repeated forms. Here we describe recent experiments that explored the interplay of stone-flaking intentions and the mechanical outcomes of fracture. By removing complex ‘intent’ from the experimental design, we demonstrated that repetitions in forms and sequences can occur by removing flakes in simple series, without complex goal-directed intentions, and that some of these forms mimic aspects of objects often assumed to reflect more complex cognitive processes. The emergence of repetitive form is possible through the transmission of simple stoneworking sets, or combinations of gestures, without an a priori conception of a manufacturing process or final goal, suggesting that complex forms of social transmission may not have been necessary until relatively late in evolutionary history.

Cite this Record

Experiments in Stone-Flaking Design Space and Implications for Social Learning Models. Mark Moore. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444462)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21137