Archaeology Seminar | Dr Amy Way
Dr Amy Way | University of Sydney and the Australian Museum
65,000-year-old stone tools show early humans had long-distance social networks across southern Africa during the Final Pleistocene
Examining why human populations used specific technologies in the Final Pleistocene is critical to understanding our evolutionary path. A key Final Pleistocene techno-tradition is the Howiesons Poort, which is marked by an increase in behavioral complexity and technological innovation. Central to this techno-tradition is the production of backed artifacts—small, sharp blades likely used as insets in composite tools. Although backed artifacts were manufactured for thousands of years before the Howiesons Poort, this period is marked by a phenomenal increase in their production. We test both social and environmental hypotheses to explain this phenomenon. We correlate environmental data with changing frequencies of backed artifact production at Sibudu and assess morphological similarity across seven sites in southern Africa. We find that these artifacts are made to a similar template across different regions and that their increased production correlates with multiple paleo-environmental proxies. When compared to an Australian outgroup, the backed artifacts from the seven southern African sites cluster within the larger shape space described by the Australian group. This leads us to argue that the observed standardized across southern Africa is related to cultural similarities and marks a strengthening of long-distance social ties during the MIS4.
Please note: The ‘Archaeology, Heritage and Museums Seminar Series’ and ‘Near Eastern Seminar Series (NESS)’ have recently been combined.
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The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).