Can we talk about modern human behavior in non-Homo sapiens?

Author(s): Marc Kissel

Year: 2018


Discerning what makes Homo sapiens distinctive among the rest of the species on the planet has

been a difficult task. One suggestion has been our use of symbolic culture, the use and transmission of symbols intergenerationally. There is much discussion, however, about who the first ‘symbol users’ were, partly due to debates as to what actually makes something ‘symbolic.’ In this paper, I discus how anthropologists first came to use symbol as the sine qua non of modern human behavior. Then, using archaeological and fossil data from the Old World, I show that many of the behaviors that are often suggested to be the sole purview of Homo sapiens have their genesis in the more remote past. Drawing from semeiotic theory and the extended evolutionary synthesis, I argue that applying a more integrative theoretical framework can allow paleoanthropologists to discuss the behavior of our hominin ancestors without assuming too much or too little about their ‘humanness.’

Cite this Record

Can we talk about modern human behavior in non-Homo sapiens?. Marc Kissel. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445322)

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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): 21255