S. Carvalho will be talking at the Ground Stone Tool Studies (Workshop)

The programme can be read here.


Fifteen years of tracing archaeologically invisible steps in the technological evolution of early hominins: where should we be heading next?

Susana Carvalho1,2,3

1Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab, School of Anthropology, Oxford University https://primobevolab.web.ox.ac.uk
2Gorongosa National Park, Sofala, Mozambique

3ICArEHB, Algarve, Portugal

Percussive tools, aka pounding technology, are ubiquitous in the archaeological record, from the Pliocene (ca. 3.3 Ma) to the present. Traditionally, these tools were neglected due to their inner trait of being 'modified by use' and not 'prior to use' and were considered less sophisticated and less optimal to understand cognitive complexity and strategies of raw material selection, use, and abandonment. Paradoxically, percussive technologies allow for a rare comparative approach between human and non-human primate technology, including the use of stone and robust wooden anvils and hammers to crack nuts. Over the past 15 years much progress has been accomplished, both regarding the quality of these studies and the methods to analyse hominin archaeological assemblages and non-human primate behaviour (e.g. GIS, Deep Learning & Machine Learning, see Schofield et al. 2019, experimental). Equally, we have progressed with respect to what we know about the behaviours, socially and functionally (see Thompson et al. 2019), and the ecology that produces the damage we see and wish to interpret from past records (for reviews and key publications see Benito-Calvo et al. 2015; Carvalho and Beardmore-Herd 2019; Carvalho and Almeida-Warren 2019; Carvalho et al. 2008, 2009, 2012, 2019). In this talk, I will review the state of the art, and discuss data on processes of raw material selection, of use, reuse (recycling), discard, as well as some of the ecological variables affecting the location and formation of pounding tool sites (as per Almeida-Warren et al. 2019). The boundaries of science are being pushed further by including in this equation perishable materials and the possibility is open to analyse damage in wooden materials that could preserve in archaeological collections (see work by Pascual-Garrido 2018, 2019, and Luncz et al. in prep). I will end with a provocative idea: there may be behaviours that are not the product of tool-use, that could leave damage that is identifiable and measurable, and could fossilize, and I will provide a concrete example of ongoing research on this front (Muschinski et al. 2019). Finally, I discuss similarities and differences between the human and non-human primate records, and the hypothesis that our LCA (Pan-Homo, 7-12 Ma) was already a user of percussive technology (Rolian and Carvalho 2017).

References cited:

Almeida-Warren K, Matsuzawa T, Carvalho S. September 2019. A Home Range approach to the ecology of site selection in wild chimpanzee nut cracking. European Federation of Primatology/Primate Society of Great Britain Meeting

Benito-Calvo A.*, Carvalho S.*, Arroyo A., Matsuzawa T., de la Torre I. First GIS analysis of modern stone tools used by wild chimpanzees in Bossou, Guinea, West Africa. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121613. doi:10.1371

Carvalho S, Braun D, Kaplan R, Beardmore-Herd M, Plummer T, Biro D and Matsuzawa T. 2019. Stone selection by chimpanzees reveals parallel patterns to Oldowan Hominins. Meetings of the European Society for Human Evolution, Liège (Abstract). 7

Carvalho S., Beardmore-herd M. (2019). Technological Origins: Primate Perspectives and Early Hominin Tool Use in Africa. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. Ed. Thomas Spear. http://oxfordre.com/africanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/97880190277734.... e9780190277734-e-75.

Carvalho S. and Almeida-Warren K. (2019). Primate Archaeology. In: Choe, J.C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, (2nd ed.). vol. 1, pp. 397–407. Elsevier, Academic Press. ISBN: 9780128132517.

 Carvalho S., McGrew W.C. (2012). The origins of the Oldowan: Why chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) still are good models for technological evolution in Africa. In: Domínguez-Rodrigo, M. (Ed.) Stone Tools and Fossil Bones: Debates in the Archaeology of Human Origins. Cambridge University Press. Pp.222-244.

Carvalho S., Biro D., McGrew W.C., Matsuzawa T. (2009) Tool-composite reuse in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Archaeologically invisible steps in the technological evolution of early hominins? Animal Cognition 12: 103-114.

Carvalho S., Cunha E., Sousa C., Matsuzawa T. (2008) Chaînes Opératoires and resource exploitation strategies in chimpanzee nut-cracking (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Human Evolution 55: 148-163.

Costa C, Braun D, Matsuzawa T, Carvalho S, Almeida-Warren, K. 2019. Water sources and tool site distributions: hominins and chimpanzees compared. Annual Meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society, April 9-10, Albuquerque, NM.

Muschinski J, Biro D, Lewis-Bevan L, Carvalho S. Could it be culture? An inter-troop comparison of baboon behaviour in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Poster Session. European Federation of Primatology/Primate Society of Great Britain Meeting.

Rolian C. & Carvalho. S. (2017). Tool use and manufacture in the last common ancestor of Pan and Homo. In: Muller M., Wrangham R., Pilbeam D. (Eds.), Chimpanzees and Human Evolution. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674967953. Pp. 602-644.

Schofield D., Nagrani A., Zisserman A., Hayashi M., Matsuzawa T., Biro D., Carvalho S. (2019). Chimpanzee face recognition using deep learning. Science Advances

Thompson J., Carvalho S., Marean C., Alemseged Z. (2019). The origins of the human predatory pattern: The transition to large animal exploitation by early hominins. Current Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1086/701477

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