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increasing rate of turnover that can be related to the increasingly unstable con-
ditions (therefore increased risk sensitivity) of the last glacial cycle (Chapter 6).
The increase in technological turnover in the Upper Palaeolithic additionally
re¬‚ects the changing social circumstances described in this chapter as well as
the increasing population density towards the end of the Upper Palaeolithic.
Diverse technological techniques were available to Moderns and archaic
populations derived from a common sapiens ancestor since at least 150 kyr as
proposed by Foley & Lahr (1997) and probably much earlier. The emergence of
120 Neanderthals and Modern Humans

modern-type behaviour in different places at different times and its subsequent
disappearance appears to be triggered by changing environmental conditions.
Many features considered to typify the Upper Palaeolithic are present very
early in Africa (McBrearty & Brooks, 2000). The presence of a well-developed
bone industry, dated at around 90 kyr, in archaeological sites in Democratic
Republic of Congo (Brooks et al., 1995; Yellen et al., 1995) brought this issue
to the fore. Henshilwood & Sealy (1997) subsequently reported the discovery
of two MSA bone points at the Blombos Cave in South Africa. McBrearty &
Brooks (2000) have since argued that many of the components of the Upper
Palaeolithic ˜revolution™ are indeed found in the African MSA tens of thousands
of years before their appearance in Europe, suggesting the gradual assembling
of the package of Modern Human behaviours in Africa with a subsequent
export to other parts of the Old World. They claim to identify evidence of blade
and microlithic technology, bone tools, increased geographic range, specialised
hunting, use of aquatic resources, long distance trade, systematic processing
and use of pigment, art and decoration. Most recently, Barham (2002a) has
claimed the early presence of a backed tool technology, usually associated with
late Pleistocene humans, in the middle Pleistocene of south central Africa and
has placed its origins at around 300 kyr. The parallel distribution of pre-Upper
Palaeolithic technology in both hemispheres would appear to lend support to the
view of an early presence of modern behaviour (Ronen, 1992). The Amudian in
Israel may date back to 150 kyr and Howieson™s Poort in South Africa to 75“45
kyr. Some authors have re¬‚ected that tools, such as blades, are simply more
sophisticated and frequent in the Upper Palaeolithic after 50 kyr (Bar-Yosef &
Kuhn, 1999; Ambrose, 1998; 2001). This suggests that the changes between
the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic are quantitative rather than qualitative, to
do more with changing environmental circumstances and cumulative effects
related to the spread of traditions than with changes in cognition. The presence of
400 kyr-old wooden spears in Schoningen, Germany (Thieme, 1997), opens up
the question of the reliability of observations largely based on the study of lithics.
Moderns could therefore adapt using either modern or archaic patterns of
behaviour. The differences between Middle and Upper Palaeolithic blade tech-
nologies appear to be simply related to economy of extraction (Ronen, 1992).
Such technological adaptations also occur across different human forms occu-
pying the same region and using the same Mode of Technology. Thus the dif-
ferences between the Mousterian of Moderns and Neanderthals in Israel would
appear to relate to different regional bioclimatic adaptations (Marks, 1992) and
may well relate to the nature of the prey and environments being exploited
(Shea, 1998).
We should not lose sight of the fact that lithic raw material availability, quan-
tity, size and shape of nodules and ¬‚int texture, affect ¬‚aking techniques and
Comparative behaviour and ecology 121

artifact morphology and can therefore exert an in¬‚uence on the observed assem-
blage patterns. In the P´ rigord Region of south-western France, for example,
e
enclosed sites are characterised by a range of Mousterian assemblages with
carefully reduced nodules and intensively trimmed implements, especially side
scrapers. In nearby open-air sites, with greater access to abundant raw materi-
als, assemblages are homogeneous and dominated by Mousterian of Acheulian
tradition, with many hand axes and fewer retouched ¬‚ake tools (Rolland &
Dibble, 1990).
Van Peer (1998) has described the situation in north-east Africa. Some of the
complex behavioural features studied in the Nile (raw material procurement,
settlement systems, etc.) were present from the early Middle Palaeolithic. To-
wards the end of the Middle Palaeolithic technological experiments with the
Levallois system were conducted in Lower Nile Valley. These were designed
to produce blades and enhance core productivity around 40 kyr. In north-east
Africa complexity was attained in different groups which have been equated to
Moderns and archaics. The Aterian is considered to be an adaptation to a dry
climate and may have been a solution that allowed Nubian groups to survive
deteriorating climate (Van Peer, 1998). Modern behaviour was therefore not
limited to Moderns alone in north-east Africa.
Changes in technology with changing environment have also been docu-
mented for Moderns and Neanderthals in the Middle Palaeolithic Levant (Shea,
1998) and for Moderns in Upper Palaeolithic Europe (Blades, 1999). Shea
(1998) attributed differences in the proportion of Levallois points in assem-
blages to differences in intercept and encounter hunting associated with steppe
and Mediterranean woodland habitats respectively. Shea (1998) attempted to
relate these differences to Neanderthals and Moderns but his sample was too
small to be meaningful. He, importantly, recognised the degree of variability,
and hence ¬‚exibility and adaptability, of Neanderthals and Moderns in response
to the exploitation of the two kinds of habitats. In reality Shea (1998) was exam-
ining a habitat mosaic at landscape level that would have included signi¬cant
ecotones where the alternative strategies would have met. Blades (1999) stud-
ied the Aurignacian in the P©rigord (France). Here cold and dry conditions
prevailed during most of early Aurignacian and were replaced by a warmer,
wetter, period for much of later Aurignacian. The general impression is of open
landscapes during the cooler stadial and more closed during the warmer inter-
stadial, apparently from cold steppe to warmer parkland environments (Laville
et al., 1980) in keeping with the trends described in the previous section. Rein-
deer frequencies were highest in the early Aurignacian, and red deer, roe deer
and wild boar increased in the later Aurignacian, re¬‚ecting a greater diver-
sity of local environments (Boyle, 1990) with grassy steppe vegetation plus
some arboreal elements, especially conifers in the plateaux and river valleys
122 Neanderthals and Modern Humans

and thermophilous deciduous trees in the sheltered valleys and south-facing
slopes (Wilson, 1975; White, 1985). The situation in the P©rigord mirrors the
increasingly open habitats with huge biomass and fewer species which were
the long-term trends in declining faunal variability in early Upper Palaeolithic
(Simek & Snyder, 1988). Blades (1999) concluded that ˜a complex mixture of
long-term climatic, annual seasonal, and topographic variability in¬‚uenced the
environments of Aurignacian social groups and the fauna they procured.™ and
that ˜. . . Aurignacian occupation in P©rigord suggests a relationship between
environmental structure and diet, at least as re¬‚ected in large herbivore fauna.™
Crucially in the context of the subject of this section, Blades (1999) found
that the proportion of distantly collected materials among the tool portion was
greater in the early Aurignacian and the proportion of the tool collection made
up of blade tools was also greater. The Aurignacian lithic tool repertoire was
considered to be a ¬‚exible one that was adjusted in response to the demands
of economy and environment (Blades, 1999). A relative increase in burins and
thick scrapers in the later Aurignacian may re¬‚ect a change in economy. Mo-
bility varied with season and climatic r©gime. Lithic raw-material variability
re¬‚ects these adaptations. Adjustments in settlement pattern and mobility were
in response to changing distributions of habitats and fauna (Blades, 1999). A
similar situation may have occurred in Riparo Mochi, Italy (Kuhn & Stiner,
1998).
Bleed (1986) has provided an interesting alternative way of looking at tech-
nology by providing two design alternatives for optimising the availability of
any technical system. He distinguishes between reliability and maintainabil-
ity. Reliable systems are produced so that they are guaranteed to work when
needed. Maintenance systems, on the other hand, can be made to function even
if damaged or inappropriate to the task being undertaken. Reliable systems char-
acterise populations that exploit resources that are ¬‚eeting but predictable by
encounter hunting, using special purpose hunting and processing sites. Staged
tool production and well-crafted weapons are characteristics of these systems.
Maintainable systems, on the other hand, characterise populations that exploit
scattered but ubiquitous resources in diverse faunal assemblages by forage
hunting. I suggest that reliable systems are characteristic of the Modern Human
systems of the open plains that I have described and that maintainable systems
are more likely in the case of Neanderthals, or indeed other hominids, exploiting
scattered but diverse resources over heterogeneous landscapes.
The intensity of lithic re-use and reduction also re¬‚ects features of the land-
scape and the methods of resource exploitation. Correlates of lithic re-use and
reduction intensity include raw material availability, use and rate of wear of dif-
ferent tool types, settlement patterns, mobility and intensity of site occupation,
differences in faunal exploitation strategies and prey dispersion (Rolland &
Comparative behaviour and ecology 123

Dibble, 1990). These are ˜ecological™ correlates that are expected to apply
across taxonomic boundaries and should re¬‚ect adaptation to particular local
circumstances.
Stout (2002), using a present-day ethnographic example of the adze makers
of the Langda Plateau in Irian Jaya, makes the point that there is a complex
interdependence between social structure and technology. Enhanced capacities
for the social facilitation of skill acquisition are de¬ning components of human
adaptation. We have here a basis for the burst of technological and symbolic
novelty that we observe in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe that is unrelated
to cognitive capacity. The presence of well-developed tool-making skills in
archaic humans raises questions about socio-economic context and mental so-
phistication (Stout, 2002) as I reiterate in this book. The social response to the
exploitation of the open plains would have provided a platform for the rapid de-
velopment and transmission of technological ideas and practices at a faster rate
than at any previous time. I would also predict that the rate of innovation and
transmission would increase exponentially or in some other non-linear manner.
Many of the developments of the Upper Palaeolithic occur some time after
the colonisation of the Eurasian Plains and the distinction between late Middle
Palaeolithic and early Upper Palaeolithic, as emphasised over four decades ago
by Bordes (1961), is not really that great. The fact that such developments did
not apply across the board to all Modern Human populations across the world
further emphasises the ecologically-mediated social context of the European
Upper Palaeolithic.
The establishment, through behavioural (technological) change, of a new car-
rying capacity or the occupation of ecologically new habitats, which implies a
change in resource exploitation, has been proposed by some authors (e.g. Lahr &
Foley, 1998) as a possible mechanism that could explain regional expansion of
human populations. I am of the opinion that such events would have been rare
when crossing regions with dramatically different ecologies (e.g. from the Mid-
dle East, across the western Asian mountains, into the North European Plain)
and that, in most cases, changing technologies were behavioural responses to
new circumstances that would have acted to reduce risk in unpredictable en-
vironments with subsequent advantages. Populations with the ability to adjust
in this manner would have been at a great advantage. In the case of the Upper
Palaeolithic palaeo-indians of North America, a highly portable technology was
the optimal solution to a strategy of residential and logistical mobility and fre-
quent home-range change (Kelly & Todd, 1988). The Aurignacian appears to
be a similar solution on the Eurasian Plain. Progressive specialisation to large
mammal hunting in open plains led to technological developments towards
highly ef¬cient and lethal weaponry systems, such as Clovis in North America
(Frison, 1989, 1998), microblades in north-east Asia and north-west North
124 Neanderthals and Modern Humans




Figure 5.4. Distribution of Aurignacian (A) and Neanderthal (N) populations c.
40 kyr in Iberia and south-west France in relation to bioclimate. Dark grey,
Mediterranean bioclimates; white, sub-Mediterranean bioclimates; pale grey,
temperate bioclimates. Bioclimates after Rivas-Mart´nez (1996).
±



America (Goebel et al., 2000), Solutrean in south-west Europe (Straus et al.,
2000), Epi-Gravettian in Central Europe (Montet-White, 1994) and possibly,
earlier, the Aterian in North Africa (Allsworth-Jones, 1993).
It seems clear that certain technological elements, if not all, had a clear
ecological signi¬cance and that there was indeed great facultative ¬‚exibility in
the use of particular tool kits, both among Moderns and Neanderthals. If indeed
technology is a re¬‚ection of ecology as well as of raw material availability, brain
wiring, manual dexterity and social context and, for one moment, we accept that
Neanderthals and Moderns were not that behaviourally dissimilar then it has to
be accepted that there is no a priori reason why technological convergence in
response to similar ecological pressures should not happen over and over again.
If this is indeed the case we are left with a major problem, that of separating
convergent technological evolution from mimicry (or acculturation). The debate
will only be resolved if chronology is resolved and there are exponents who will
undoubtedly argue the case in either direction at least in the case of south-west
Comparative behaviour and ecology 125

France (d™Errico et al., 1998; Mellars, 1999; Zilhao & d™Errico, 1999, 2000).
Perhaps part of the solution to that particular debate is a biogeographical one,
one of looking at the problem at the appropriate scale. It is indeed possible,
for example, to have Aurignacian ˜Moderns™ colonising northern Spain before
south-west France, especially as the bio-climates of northern Spain are more
similar to those of central Europe than are those of south-west France (Figure
5.4). So combining the evidence from these two geographically proximal but
bio-climatically dissimilar areas will only serve to compound the problem. I
think that the observation that I have made elsewhere (Finlayson et al., 2000a),
that the so-called transitional technologies, attributed to Upper Palaeolithic
Neanderthals, are distributed on the fringes of the great Eurasian Plain (Figure
7.3) requires an explanation and I think that the most parsimonious explanation
may indeed be along the lines of common solutions to common problems.


Symbolic and social behaviour

The Upper Palaeolithic of Europe is associated by many authors with a qualita-
tive jump towards symbolic behaviours, including art, that were previously ab-
sent or very rare (Byers, 1994; Ambrose, 2001). The contention is supported by
the presence of ornaments made of bone and ivory and parietal art in particular.
The implication is that there was a signi¬cant difference in the cognitive abil-
ities of the Moderns, who developed these systems, and the archaic hominids,
like the Neanderthals, who were incapable of such achievements (Chase &
Dibble, 1987; Mithen, 1996; Klein, 1999; Kuhn et al., 2001). Lindly & Clark
(1990) claimed that such behaviour was absent from all Middle Palaeolithic
humans, not just Moderns, and that the earliest evidence was from the Upper
Palaeolithic. However, they sought to decouple symbolism from the biological
taxa. I argue here that, as in the case of technology, these observed changes are
quantitative rather than qualitative and are the result, not cause, of changing
ecological and social circumstances. It follows that explanations that highlight
as yet undetected differences in cognition (Klein, 2000) are not required.
Some authors challenge that the abrupt changes in symbolic behaviour
claimed for the Middle“Upper Palaeolithic transition re¬‚ected cognitive dif-
ferences and claim to ¬nd much earlier evidence of symbolic behaviour.
McBrearty & Brooks (2000) summarised the African evidence. d™Errico et al.
(2001) reported an engraved MSA bone fragment from Blombos Cave in South
Africa, and Henshilwood et al. (2002) recently reported two abstract represen-
tations, older than 65 kyr, engraved in ochre also recovered from MSA layers of
this same cave. Riel-Salvatore & Clark (2001) have claimed continuity in mor-
tuary behaviour between the Middle and the Upper Palaeolithic (but see Gargett,
126 Neanderthals and Modern Humans

1989). Some authors have suggested even earlier evidence for the origins of
symbolic behaviour. Barham (1998) found four pieces of pigment associated
with technology at the transition of the Early Stone Age to the MSA in central
Zambia. The collection was later enlarged to 302 pieces and this led Barham
(2002b) to conclude that pigment use in humans spanned the archaic“modern
boundary. d™Errico & Nowell (2000) have also challenged the view of the late
emergence of symbolic behaviour with the Lower Palaeolithic Berekhat Ram
¬gurine, a piece of volcanic material from Israel that is claimed to have been
purposely modi¬ed to produce human features. The Lake Mungo 3 Modern
Human, dated at 50 kyr (Thorne et al., 1999; Bowler et al., 2003), was associ-
ated with ochre. This last observation seems to support Foley & Lahr™s (1997)
view that the absence of an Upper Palaeolithic in Australia is not indicative of
separation of biological populations prior to the development of modern cogni-
tive capacities. Thus, Modern Human behaviour developed through a process of
accretion of new behavioural systems and their biological bases and it follows
that there was no sudden appearance of ˜modern™ behaviour and its antecedents

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