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Beads for a Plastic Mind: the ‘Blind Man's Stick’ (BMS) Hypothesis and the Active Nature of Material Culture

  • Lambros Malafouris (a1)

In this article I employ the example of the ‘Blind Man's stick’ (BMS) in order to redraw the traditional boundaries that separate brains, bodies and things. It is argued that the functional anatomy of the human brain is a dynamic bio-cultural construct subject to continuous ontogenetic and phylogenetic remodelling by behaviourally important and socially embedded experiences. These experiences are mediated and sometimes constituted by the use of material objects and artefacts (like the stick) which for that reason should be seen as continuous and active parts of the human cognitive architecture. Based on the above premises I use the example of the Blombos shell beads in order to explore the role of early body decoration in the emergence of human self awareness.

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Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • ISSN: 0959-7743
  • EISSN: 1474-0540
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal
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