Measuring Lithic Complexity from the Lower Paleolithic through the Late Holocene


This is an abstract from the "The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis and Human Origins: Archaeological Perspectives" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The extended evolutionary synthesis emphasizes the importance of understanding how the interaction of biological and cultural inheritance systems have shaped human evolution. Within the animal kingdom, modern humans possess a unique ability to transmit and maintain complex cultural traditions (Tennie et al. 2009). When this capacity for cumulative culture appears in the hominin lineage remains unclear. Previous research suggests the complexity of stone tool traditions increased exponentially from the Oldowan onwards (Perreault et al. 2013; Stout 2011), with a marked increase during the Middle Paleolithic. But these studies focus on a small sample of sites and tool-making techniques, and do not include Holocene material. Here, we measure the complexity of a large sample of stone tool traditions spanning the entire archaeological record from the lower Paleolithic through the Holocene. We use two methods to measure cultural complexity: a coarse measure of complexity (applied to 217 assemblages), and a second more fine grained measure (applied to 27 assemblages). Preliminary results suggest a gradual increase in complexity from the Oldowan through the Late Holocene, with far more complex technologies arising in the past ~300 thousand years.

Cite this Record

Measuring Lithic Complexity from the Lower Paleolithic through the Late Holocene. Jonathan Paige, Deanna Dytchkowskyj, Charles Perreault. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450871)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24393