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A matter of space and time: How frequent is convergence in lithic technology in the African archaeological record over the last 300 kyr?

Chapter


Abstract


  • Stone artefacts are frequently used to identify and trace human populations in the Paleolithic. Convergence in lithic technology has the potential to confound such interpretations, implying connections between unrelated groups. To further the general theoretical debate on this issue, we first delineate the concepts of independent innovation, diffusion and migration and provide archaeological expectations for each of these processes that can create similarities in material culture. As an empirical test case, we then assess how these different mechanisms play out in both space and time for lithic technology across several scales of the African Stone Age record within the last 300 thousand years (kyr). Our findings show that convergence is neither the exception nor the norm, but a scale-dependent phenomenon that occurs more often for complex artefacts than is generally acknowledged and in many different spatio-temporal contexts of the African record that can crosscut the MSA/LSA boundary. Studies using similarly-looking stone tools to recognize past populations and track human dispersals in the Stone Age thus always need to test for the potential of independent innovation and not assume migration or diffusion a priori.

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Will, M. & Mackay, A. (2020). A matter of space and time: How frequent is convergence in lithic technology in the African archaeological record over the last 300 kyr?. In H. S. Groucutt (Ed.), Culture History and Convergent Evolution: Can We Detect Populations in Prehistory? (pp. 103-125). Switzerland: Springer.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9783030461256

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85090253372

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers1/1583

Book Title


  • Culture History and Convergent Evolution: Can We Detect Populations in Prehistory?

Has Global Citation Frequency


Start Page


  • 103

End Page


  • 125

Place Of Publication


  • Switzerland

Abstract


  • Stone artefacts are frequently used to identify and trace human populations in the Paleolithic. Convergence in lithic technology has the potential to confound such interpretations, implying connections between unrelated groups. To further the general theoretical debate on this issue, we first delineate the concepts of independent innovation, diffusion and migration and provide archaeological expectations for each of these processes that can create similarities in material culture. As an empirical test case, we then assess how these different mechanisms play out in both space and time for lithic technology across several scales of the African Stone Age record within the last 300 thousand years (kyr). Our findings show that convergence is neither the exception nor the norm, but a scale-dependent phenomenon that occurs more often for complex artefacts than is generally acknowledged and in many different spatio-temporal contexts of the African record that can crosscut the MSA/LSA boundary. Studies using similarly-looking stone tools to recognize past populations and track human dispersals in the Stone Age thus always need to test for the potential of independent innovation and not assume migration or diffusion a priori.

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Will, M. & Mackay, A. (2020). A matter of space and time: How frequent is convergence in lithic technology in the African archaeological record over the last 300 kyr?. In H. S. Groucutt (Ed.), Culture History and Convergent Evolution: Can We Detect Populations in Prehistory? (pp. 103-125). Switzerland: Springer.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9783030461256

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85090253372

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers1/1583

Book Title


  • Culture History and Convergent Evolution: Can We Detect Populations in Prehistory?

Has Global Citation Frequency


Start Page


  • 103

End Page


  • 125

Place Of Publication


  • Switzerland