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Stone toolmaking and the evolution of human culture and cognition

By Dietrich Stout

Abstract

Although many species display behavioural traditions, human culture is unique in the complexity of its technological, symbolic and social contents. Is this extraordinary complexity a product of cognitive evolution, cultural evolution or some interaction of the two? Answering this question will require a much better understanding of patterns of increasing cultural diversity, complexity and rates of change in human evolution. Palaeolithic stone tools provide a relatively abundant and continuous record of such change, but a systematic method for describing the complexity and diversity of these early technologies has yet to be developed. Here, an initial attempt at such a system is presented. Results suggest that rates of Palaeolithic culture change may have been underestimated and that there is a direct relationship between increasing technological complexity and diversity. Cognitive evolution and the greater latitude for cultural variation afforded by increasingly complex technologies may play complementary roles in explaining this pattern

Topics: Articles
Publisher: The Royal Society
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3049103
Provided by: PubMed Central
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