This volume brings together diverse contributions from leading archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists, covering various spatial and temporal periods to distinguish convergent evolution from cultural transmission in order to see if we can discover ancient human populations. With a focus on lithic technology, the book analyzes ancient materials and cultures to systematically explore the theoretical and physical aspects of culture, convergence, and populations in human evolution and prehistory. The book will be of interest to academics, students and researchers in archaeology, paleoanthropology, genetics, and palaeontology. The book begins by addressing early prehistory, discussing the convergent evolution of behaviours and the diverse ecological conditions driving the success of different evolutionary paths. Chapters discuss these topics and technology in the context of the Lower Paleolithic/Earlier Stone age and Middle Paleolithic/Middle Stone Age. The book then moves towards a focus on the prehistory of our species over the last 40,000 years. Topics covered include the human evolutionary and dispersal consequences of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Western Eurasia. Readers will also learn about the cultural convergences, and divergences, that occurred during the Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene, such as the budding of human societies in the Americas. The book concludes by integrating these various perspectives and theories, and explores different methods of analysis to link technological developments and cultural convergence.
Chapter 1. Introduction: Into the tangled web of culture-history and convergent evolution
Chapter 2. The unity of Acheulean culture
Chapter 3. Problems and pitfalls in understanding the Clactonian
Chapter 4. Culture and convergence: The curious case of the Nubian Complex
Chapter 5. Lithic variability and cultures in the East African Middle Stone Age
Chapter 6. A matter of space and time: How frequent is convergence in lithic technology in the African archaeological record over the last 300 kyr?
Chapter 7. Technology and function of Middle Stone Age points. Insights from a combined approach at Bushman Rock Shelter, South Africa
Chapter 8. Raw material and regionalization in Stone Age East Africa
Chapter 9. The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition: A long-term biocultural effect of anatomically modern human dispersal
Chapter 10. Threading the weft, testing the warp: Population concepts and the European Upper Palaeolithic chronocultural framework
Chapter 11. Communities of interaction: Tradition and learning in stone tool production through the lens of the Epipaleolithic of Kharaneh IV, Jordan
Chapter 12. Toward a theory of the point
Chapter 13. Learning strategies and population dynamics during the Pleistocene colonization of North America
Chapter 14. Culture, environmental adaptation or specific problem solving? On convergence and innovation dynamics related to techniques used for stone heat treatment
Chapter 15. Style, function and cultural transmission
Dr Huw S. Groucutt is the group leader of the Max Planck ‘Extreme Events Research Group’ in Jena, Germany. He received his Bachelors in Archaeology and Masters in Paleoanthropology at the University of Sheffield in 2007 and 2008 respectively, and his PhD in Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford in 2013. He was then a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC funded Palaeodeserts project (2013-2016) and then a British Academy postdoctoral fellow (2016-2019), both at the University of Oxford. He has co-written over 50 journal articles and co-edited four books and journal special issues. Dr Groucutt's research interests include human evolution and prehistory, stone tool technologies, human demographic changes in the Saharo-Arabian belt, and the relationship between hominin demography and environmental change.