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Lecture 5

ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Anatomically Modern Human, Middle Paleolithic, Stone Tool

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Shawn Lehman

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ANT100Y1Y Outline for ARCHAEOLOGY Lecture #5
Anatomically modern Homo sapiens originated in a single population in east or south
Africa, around 160-200 KYA
- leave Africa by 90 KYA, spread around the world
- Earliest modern Homo sapiens are not immediately associated with the full range of
“modern behaviour”. They are still associated with Middle Palaeolithic stone tool types.
- “New” aspects of material culture accumulate gradually (e.g., elaborate bone tools,
indication of art), at least in part because evidence does not preserve.
Interaction of modern humans with Neanderthals?
- Not completely clear, but genetic studies indicate not much interbreeding.
- In many areas, modern humans probably displaced Neanderthals and other pre-Homo
sapiens rapidly.
- Last Neanderthals went extinct around 35 KYA, within about 5 KYA of spread of
modern humans to Europe.
- Interaction? interbreeding? conflict? competition? This process is still poorly
Once Homo sapiens has been around for millennia, and most aspects of modern human
behaviour have developed, we have the:
Upper Palaeolithic Period
- begins around 50 KYA in Africa, 40 KYA in Southwest Asia and Europe
- clearly associated with modern humans
Major Trends in the Upper Palaeolithic
1) Increasingly specialized stone tool technology
- emphasis on Blade Technology
- blades are finely crafted, parallel-sided flakes, average 10 cm long
- require elaborate preparation of the core
Why blades?
a) conserve raw material (get more working edge from a given amount of raw material)
b) produce more versatile tools
c) regularity in tools allows hafts (handles) to be re-used

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ANT100Y1Y Outline for ARCHAEOLOGY Lecture #5
- blades and other tools often retouched by pressure flaking
- blades are used to make a variety of tools, e.g., backed blade (knife), endscraper, burin,
weapon points
2) More complex organic industry
Many new classes of bone / antler / wood tools, including:
- bone projectile points - barbed etc.
- bone needles - tailored clothing
- after 20 KYA - spear-throwers (atlatls)
3) More frequent composite tools
- hafting
4) More complex settlement patterns
- each region saw a specialized pattern based on:
a) access to fresh water
b) game resources (esp. water crossings for game, spawning streams, game jumps)
c) sunlight - south-facing caves
- home bases were occupied for long periods, plus temporary special purpose camps
throughout territory
- this differs from earlier hominins who moved more often and whose sites did not differ
from one another as much
- these factors would have led to increasing sedentism (living for extended periods in a
single location)
5) More complex dwellings
- evidence for dwellings becomes more common
- tents, sod houses, large, complex bone structures
- example: mammoth hunters in Central Russia and Ukraine: 18-14 KYA:
Mezhirich site: large houses constructed almost completely of mammoth bone - 4 to 7
metres across - could each hold several families
- much evidence of trade, elaborate symbolic systems
6) Ever higher population densities
- more sites, larger sites
- people are settling into new lands, understanding resources
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