The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

Synopsis

"This important book brings together a wealth of little-known and recent information that will prove invaluable to anyone interested in the Paleolithic."--Paul G. Bahn, author of "Journey through the Ice Age "

"This volume provides a much needed antidote to the Western European models and concepts that have dominated modern human origins research for nearly a century. Essential reading for anyone interested in the question of our origins."--G. A. Clark, coeditor of "Conceptual Issues in Modern Human Origins Research"

Excerpt

For students new to the study of modern human origins, it might come as a surprise to learn that only recently has there been any semblance of a consensus that the Mousterian—and the Middle Paleolithic more generally— is in some way definitive of archaic behavior. Indeed, prior to the mid1980s, one rarely encountered strict distinctions between “archaic” and “modern” behavior, and archaeologists seldom sought to assign the Mousterian and Aurignacian to these mutually exclusive categories. Archaeologists in western Europe have long recognized spectacular changes in the material record across the Middle and Upper Paleolithic boundary beginning perhaps as early as 45,000 years ago, but the recasting of the Mousterian as distinctly “archaic” and the Aurignacian as distinctly “modern” has really only come to the forefront of archaeological debate since the publication of the landmark study of mitochondrial genetic lineages by Cann et al. (1987) and the subsequent ascendance of the “Out of Africa” model of modern human origins (Mellars and Stringer 1989). With a few notable exceptions (e.g., Clark and Lindly 1989; Clark 1999), the better part of the past seventeen years has been dedicated to aligning the newly designated “archaic” and “modern” industries of western European Middle-Upper Paleolithic sequence with the predictions of the Out of Africa model. Having done so, many archaeologists conclude—although not without controversy— that the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in western Europe represents a rapid replacement of archaic with modern behavioral systems and therefore provides broad confirmation of the Out of Africa model.

The western European Aurignacian has served as the holotype, or template, for the initial wave of changes that mark the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic (e.g., Mellars 1973). The Aurignacian provides ample evidence of . . .

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