Anthropology: Current and Future Developments

Volume: 1

The First Mariners

This volume summarizes the history and findings of the First Mariners Project, which the author, Robert G. Bednarik, commenced in 1996 in order to explore the Ice Age origins of seafaring. This is ...
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The Origins of Human Modernity

Pp. 71-109 (39)

Robert G. Bednarik

Abstract

In an attempt to establish the origins of human modernity, the empirical evidence for cognitive abilities of early humans is examined. This leads to the appraisal of all currently known earliest instances of art-like productions by humans. But rather than simplistically defining them as forms of art, they are assessed as exograms, i.e. as memory traces stored external to the brain. A variety of extremely early paleoart objects from the three Old World continents are considered, focusing especially on the category of beads. This results in the finding that the abilities of the ancients are universally underrated, which is partly attributable to the effects of taphonomy on archaeological remains. Other distorting factors in archaeological explanation are explored, leading to the question: are there better ways to establish what happened in the human past?

Keywords:

Lower Paleolithic paleoart, exograms, beads, cultural sophistication, taphonomy, taphonomic logic, Déformation professionnelle, problems with archaeology, replicative archaeology.

Affiliation:

International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) PO Box 216 Caulfield, South Melbourne,VIC 3162, Australia.