Event Title

Phylotechnical Tree at Olduvai Gorge

Session Number

Project ID: BHVSO 18

Advisor(s)

Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged; University of Chicago

Discipline

Behavioral and Social Sciences

Start Date

22-4-2020 10:05 AM

End Date

22-4-2020 10:20 AM

Abstract

To better understand the Oldowan-Acheulean cultural transition.

The Oldowan-Acheulean transition is poorly understood relative to its significance in human evolution and cognition. Understanding the way stone tools changed through time is paramount to understanding the cultural and technological capabilities of early hominins. Previous attempts that describe this transition by using test subjects, are imperfect due to early hominins not having the modern context of technological use and innovation. This study circumvents that issue by describing and analyzing only tool shape in order to better describe the transition between Oldowan and Acheulean cultures. Specifically, it examines Olduvai Gorge lithics from 1.87 ma to 1.27 ma in order to construct a map of the most similar shapes over time. To isolate shape from other metrics, tool size is accounted and adjusted for, material selection was not considered, and two separate geometric invariants were used: major axis divided by the minor axis, and the major axis divided by the maximum thickness. The mapping of these tool relationships implies that scrapers are central to the transition between Oldowan and Acheulean cultures and that slow technological changes in the Oldowan could have allowed for the emergence of the Acheulean large cutting tools (LCTs).

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Apr 22nd, 10:05 AM Apr 22nd, 10:20 AM

Phylotechnical Tree at Olduvai Gorge

To better understand the Oldowan-Acheulean cultural transition.

The Oldowan-Acheulean transition is poorly understood relative to its significance in human evolution and cognition. Understanding the way stone tools changed through time is paramount to understanding the cultural and technological capabilities of early hominins. Previous attempts that describe this transition by using test subjects, are imperfect due to early hominins not having the modern context of technological use and innovation. This study circumvents that issue by describing and analyzing only tool shape in order to better describe the transition between Oldowan and Acheulean cultures. Specifically, it examines Olduvai Gorge lithics from 1.87 ma to 1.27 ma in order to construct a map of the most similar shapes over time. To isolate shape from other metrics, tool size is accounted and adjusted for, material selection was not considered, and two separate geometric invariants were used: major axis divided by the minor axis, and the major axis divided by the maximum thickness. The mapping of these tool relationships implies that scrapers are central to the transition between Oldowan and Acheulean cultures and that slow technological changes in the Oldowan could have allowed for the emergence of the Acheulean large cutting tools (LCTs).