Social Mechanism of Information Transfer in the Paleolithic: The Influence of Raw Material Quality


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Humans are distinct in their ability to transfer information between individuals with remarkable fidelity. Although this feature defines our lineage, the antiquity of this distinction is not well known. This is due to difficulties in deciphering levels of information transfer in Paleolithic assemblages. Recently, several new techniques were developed to investigate this phenomenon in stone artifact assemblages. These methods take account of the nuanced details of how artifact manufacture is learned. One such method is the "Behavioral Approach to Cultural Transmission". This method has been widely applied because of its ability to measure aspects of information transfer in a variety of contexts. Despite its widespread use, we know very little about how features of raw material may influence the variables used in this method. Here we investigate patterns of information transfer in controlled knapping experiments. We conduct mechanical tests of raw materials to understand how and why different raw material properties influence the variables used to determine information transfer. In particular, aspects of the platform maintenance domain are sensitive to differences in raw material hardness and elasticity. A detailed understanding of the impact of raw material properties will allow a broader application of this approach to various assemblages.

Cite this Record

Social Mechanism of Information Transfer in the Paleolithic: The Influence of Raw Material Quality. George Biddle, Umazi Munga, David Braun, Olivia Weibe. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449806)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 24.082; min lat: -26.746 ; max long: 56.777; max lat: 17.309 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24773