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Mode 3 Technologies and the Evolution of Modern Humans

  • Robert Foley (a1) and Marta Mirazón Lahr (a2)

The origins and evolution of modern humans has been the dominant interest in palaeoanthropology for the last decade, and much archaeological interpretation has been structured around the various issues associated with whether humans have a recent African origin or a more ancient one. While the archaeological record has been used to support or refute various aspects of the theories, and to provide a behavioural framework for different biological models, there has been little attempt to employ the evidence of stone tool technology to unravel phylogenetic relationships. Here we examine the evidence that the evolution of modern humans is integrally related to the development of the Upper Palaeolithic and similar technologies, and conclude that there is only a weak relationship. In contrast there is a strong association between the evolution and spread of modern humans and Grahame Clark's Mode 3 technologies (the Middle Stone Age/Palaeolithic). The implications of this for the evolution of Neanderthals, the multiple pattern of human dispersals, and the nature of cognitive evolution, are considered.

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