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Stone Tools and the origin of human Culture

Grant


Scheme


  • Australia Germany Joint Cooperation Scheme

Abstract


  • Culture is one of the defining features of our species. However, it remains hotly debated when culture arose in the human lineage. Central to this debate is the question of whether early archaeological stone tool technology involved cultural learning (i.e., imitation, teaching), a trait that is essential for human cultural complexity [1]. Found in Africa ~2.6 million years ago, the earliest stone tool technology, known as the Oldowan industry, has been described by some to show evidence of early cultural learning [2]. Yet, others have argued that the Oldowan represents a behaviour that is no different from the rudimentary tool use of living apes [3]. This project will clarify this question with an integrated interdisciplinary approach. First, we will evaluate the fundamental properties of the Oldowan technology through systematic experiments. This involves quantifying the effect of different flaking parameters on Oldowan tool production under a controlled setting. Second, we will translate the experimental outcomes to simulate Oldowan stone tool production under different models of learning (cultural learning vs. individual reinvention) as defined in comparative psychology and primatology. This body of knowledge will then be applied to examine archaeological datasets for evidence of cultural learning among Oldowan stone tools.

Date/time Interval


  • 2020

Contributor


Geographic Focus


Sponsor Award Id


  • 57511625

Local Award Id


  • 131663

Contributor


Scheme


  • Australia Germany Joint Cooperation Scheme

Abstract


  • Culture is one of the defining features of our species. However, it remains hotly debated when culture arose in the human lineage. Central to this debate is the question of whether early archaeological stone tool technology involved cultural learning (i.e., imitation, teaching), a trait that is essential for human cultural complexity [1]. Found in Africa ~2.6 million years ago, the earliest stone tool technology, known as the Oldowan industry, has been described by some to show evidence of early cultural learning [2]. Yet, others have argued that the Oldowan represents a behaviour that is no different from the rudimentary tool use of living apes [3]. This project will clarify this question with an integrated interdisciplinary approach. First, we will evaluate the fundamental properties of the Oldowan technology through systematic experiments. This involves quantifying the effect of different flaking parameters on Oldowan tool production under a controlled setting. Second, we will translate the experimental outcomes to simulate Oldowan stone tool production under different models of learning (cultural learning vs. individual reinvention) as defined in comparative psychology and primatology. This body of knowledge will then be applied to examine archaeological datasets for evidence of cultural learning among Oldowan stone tools.

Date/time Interval


  • 2020

Contributor


Geographic Focus


Sponsor Award Id


  • 57511625

Local Award Id


  • 131663

Contributor