Before Farming

An Australian perspective on modern behaviour and artefact assemblages

Before Farming (2006), 2006, (2), 1–10.

Abstract

The emergence of ‘modern behaviour’ during prehistory has been the focus of many explorations of the archaeological record, but there is little agreement as to when a fundamental change in behaviour occurred or what the archaeological signature of that change might be. This paper explores a comparison of the Australian and southern African archaeological records to reveal that claims for the revolutionary materialisation of complex symbolic capacities in the late Pleistocene are problematic. Using a case study of one particular technology, we show that the archaeological evidence does not reveal unidirectional technological changes that can be simply interpreted in terms of symbolic transformations in the comparatively recent past. We conclude that existing models of temporal change in artefact assemblages do not constitute viable tests of the major competing models of hominid evolution, such as replacement versus regional continuity models.

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Author details

Hiscock, Peter

O'Connor, Sue