Re: Olduwan toolmakers

Date: Fri 13 Feb 2004 - 21:48:28 GMT

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    Dans un e-mail daté du 13/02/2004 19:21:30 Paris, Madrid, a écrit :

    > Interesting but not surprising that the technology then went in to stasis
    > for a million years or so. One can imagine (yes it is a
    > just so story) the reaction accorded to some bright spark who came up with a
    > new idea and was ostracised for their pains. Plenty
    > of that in organisational memetics survives to this day (Price, 1995). Put
    > another way is this the first example of the 'not
    > invented here' syndrome?

    If one expands this analysis, it is interesting to note that each successive stone industry came ever faster in time :

                  Stone industry time line
                              Beginning End Duration Olduwan 2500000 500000 2000000 Abbevilian 1000000 400000 600000 Acheulean 400000 150000 250000 Levalois 150000 80000 70000 Mousterian 80000 40000 40000 Aurigniacian 50000 20000 30000 Solutrean 25000 15000 10000 Magdalenian 20000 10000 10000 Mesolithic 10000 4000 6000 Neolithic 5000 2000 3000

    (Source: if some one knows a more scientific publication on this subject, I would be glad to use it...)

    I believe that the major difference between Homo Sapiens Sapiens and his predecessors Ergaster and before or even his cousin Neanderthal, and with that respect the difference of Neanderthal with his own predecessors, was a higher competence in imitation (Stamenof, Galese 2002). I have developed the idea of a typology of imitation capabilities according to the complexity of the model and the distance of the imitation from the model. A draft text on imitation, in English, is available on my website :

    ( htm).

    The imitation capabilities of very early hominids must have been quite basic, mainly immediate imitation with very limited degree of freedom with the model. As brain capacities increased imitation skills must have become progressively more flexible, allowing for adaptation and invention. It is likely that early on, the modern man also imitated the stone splitting techniques of his predecessors, in particular the Acheulean type, improving slightly on them over time. Then, arriving in contact with the Neanderthal, borrowed from them the most advanced in this field: the Levalois techniques. I know this goes against the current view that it was likely that Neanderthal borrowed its advances stone splitting technique from Homo Sapiens Sapiens
    (Lewis-Williams 2002), but this view is quite in question these days, with a revised analysis of the Neanderthal capabilities (Arsuaga 2001, Baffier 1999, Jaubert 1999). It is thus possible, on the contrary, that meeting with Neanderthal could have been initially the basis for enrichment of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, this last one taking advantage from the longer semi sedentary culture of the Neanderthal which had enabled tools refinments.

    The great difference between Homo Sapiens Sapiens and his Neanderthal cousin was probably residing in an even greater freedom in the imitation of the gestures of their models, allowing them more quickly to improve the techniques and the tools.

    Paul Trehin

    J. L. Arsuaga, "Le Collier de Néandertal, nos ancêtres à l'ère glaciaire", Odile Jacob, 2001, 344 p D. Baffier, "Les derniers Néandertaliens, le Châtelperronien", La maison des roches, Paris 1999 J. Jaubert, "Chasseurs et artisans du Moustérien", La Maison des Roches, Paris 1999 D. Lewis-Williams, "The Mind in the Cave", Thames & Hudson, London 2002 M. Stamenov, V. Gallese, "Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language", Advances in Consciousness Research 42, 2002. viii, 392 pp

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