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The Origins of Ground-edge Axes: New Findings from Nawarla Gabarnmang, Arnhem Land (Australia) and Global Implications for the Evolution of Fully Modern Humans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2012

Jean-Michel Geneste
Affiliation:
Centre national de la préhistoire, ministère la culture, et de la communication, Univ. Bordeaux, CNRS, PACEA, UMR 5199, F-33400 Talence, France Email: jean-michel.geneste@culture.gouv.fr
Bruno David
Affiliation:
School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia Email: bruno.david@monash.edu
Hugues Plisson
Affiliation:
Univ. Bordeaux, CNRS, PACEA, UMR 5199, F-33400 Talence, France Email: hugues.plisson@u-bordeaux1.fr
Jean-Jacques Delannoy
Affiliation:
EDYTEM - UMR 5204 du CNRS, Environnements, Dynamiques et Territoires de la Montagne, Centre Interdisciplinaire Scientifique de la Montagne, Université de Savoie F 73376, Le Bourget du Lac Cedex, France Email: Jean-Jacques.Delannoy@univ-savoie.fr
Fiona Petchey
Affiliation:
Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 3240, New Zealand, Email: fpetchey@waikato.ac.nz

Abstract

The grinding of stone to make sharp cutting edges did not evolve with the emergence of biologically modern humans in Africa, but late in the Pleistocene at the completion or nearcompletion of the Out-of-Africa 2 migration. Here we discuss the earliest securely-dated fragment of ground-edge axe from Australia, dated at 35,500 cal. bp, an age slightly older or comparable to the earliest ages for edge-grinding from the Pacific Ocean's western seaboard. In this region ground-edge axes did not evolve with the emergence of agriculture, nor for the clearance of forests, but, rather, as socially mediated technology, part of the development of symbolic storage that is the hallmark of the evolution of cognitively modern humans at the geographical end, during, or following, Out-of-Africa 2.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2012

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