Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (620,000)
SFU (10,000)
ARCH (300)
ARCH 100 (100)

ARCH 100 Lecture Notes - Homo Erectus, Upper Paleolithic, Hand Axe

Course Code
ARCH 100
Ross Jamieson

This preview shows page 1. to view the full 5 pages of the document.
ARCH 100 January 24, 2011
“Out of Africa”: Homo erectus
- The first hominin to leave Africa
- Picture this as a gradual expansion of ecological territory, rather than a footrace across
- First question is WHEN
Dating volcanic events
- Most dates you will see for early hominins come from dating the volcanic deposits that are
deposited above or below the fossil beds
- Lucky for us that East Africa (and many other important fossil sites) have volcanic activity
- Potassium-Argon (40K/40Ar) dating
- Radioactive 40K atoms decay at steady rate, forming 40Ar in rock
- When volcano erupts, argo-40 escapes as gas, resetting this clock
Mojokerto, Java, Indonesia
- 1936 find of a Homo erectus skullcap
- In 1990s researchers returned, collected volcanic pumice from same context, dated it to 1.8
mya using Argon-Argon dating (a more accurate variation on K-Ar dating)
- Argument is partly about whether the volcanic event occurred much earlier, redeposited
sediment (?)
- Has become a debate among geologists
Dmanisi, Georgia
- Ongoing excavations since 1991 in medieval village
- Paleomagnetic dating of several volcanic ash falls indicate 1.7-1.8 mya
- Now have four craniz, parts of five postcranial skeletons (found 2006)
- 700-775 cc cranial capacities
- Stone tools, cut marks, and carnivore teeth marks suggest kill site, hominins maybe brought
to deposit by carnivores?
Ecological concerns
- The move of Homo erectus across southern Asian and into Europe means movement into
more temperate zones
- Implies more complex material culture, such as control of fire, tailored clothing, etc
- There is, however, no unequivocal archaeological evidence of this
Acheulean Tools
- Associated with Homo erectus, found throughout their range, Europe, Asia and Africa
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version

Only page 1 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

- “handaxe” is most famous part of “toolkit”, but had many stone tools
- Incredibly uniform design from 1.5 mya to 150 kya, very ODD
Acheulian Handaxe
- What were handaxes used for?
- Use-wear analysis looks at microscopic wear on edges, compares to modern examples of
hide-working, bone cutting, plant processing, etc
- Only clear conclusion is that, unlike early archaeologists’ assumptions, there is none of the
wear pattern associated with being “hafted” (attached to a handle”) and thus they are NOT
Acheulian handaxe
- Some suggest hurled like Frisbees into herd of animals to create chaos at watering holes
- Calmer suggestions include hand-held tools for digging, stripping bark, butchering animals
- Basically multi-purpose objects
The interesting thing about Acheulian handaxe
- Why did their shape stay the same for over 1 mya aerodynamics?
- There is no evidence of ANY type of hafted tools before about 400 kya in the world
- What does this say about Homo erectus cognitive capacity?
Does innovation make us human?
- Lack of hafted tools, incredible monotony of Acheulian handaxe over 50,000 generations
- This lack of innovation implies that Homo erectus cognition was far more complex than a
chimp, yet at the same time, far simpler than modern humans
Archaic Homo sapiens
- In Africa 500,000 BP
- Brain 1200 cc
- Burial ritual, Bodo, Ethiopia defleshing 250,000BP
Terra Amata, France
- Archaic Homo sapiens camp, brush shelters, 350 kya
- Shellfish, sea turtle, birds
- Torralba and Ambrona sites, Spain elephant hunters
Middle and Upper Paleolithic
- Middle Paleolithic (120-40 kya): Levallois tools, Neandertals
- Upper Paleolithic (40-12 kya): Modern humans, Creative explosion, Galciation and
movement between continents
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version