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ARCH 100 - January 24, 2011.docx

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ARCH 100
Ross Jamieson

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 continents - 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 - “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 “axes” 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 Levallois - Middle Paleolithic, 120-40 kya - Flakes used for varied tool kit -
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