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The Earliest Archaeological Sites

The Earliest Archaeological Sites . Chapter 3. The Beginnings of the Archaeological Record. Oldest stone tools, to date, from Hadar (Ethiopia) Believed A. garhi is the earliest African stone tool maker

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The Earliest Archaeological Sites

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  1. The Earliest Archaeological Sites Chapter 3

  2. The Beginnings of the Archaeological Record • Oldest stone tools, to date, from Hadar (Ethiopia) • Believed A. garhi is the earliest African stone tool maker • South African Sites have revealed bone and stone with evidence of modification, indicating use as tools

  3. The Earliest Forms of Stone Tools • Lithic Industry • An assemblage of stone tools made and used together • Oldowan, Mode 1 Industries, the earliest of these • Flakes and Cores • Choppers • Polyhedrons • Discoids • spheroids

  4. The Nature of the Early Archaeological Sites Initial discoveries were classified in terms of modern human behavior • Base camps • areas occupied for a number of weeks or months, where domestic activities occurred • Butchery or kill sites • included a concentration of a single species bones and a small number of artifacts • Living floors • include a concentration of artifacts associated with bones of a number of animals of different species

  5. The Interpretation of Protohuman Behavior • Food-sharing hypothesis • from evidence of kill sites • suggested some members of the group hunted and shared with others • FLK • living floor site • with suspect relationship between artifacts and bones • has been suspected to represent a scavenging collection

  6. The Basics of Working Stone • Hammerstone + Core = Flake • Unifacial and Bifacial Chopping Tools

  7. How Were the Olduvai and Koobi Fora Sites Formed? • Creation by natural forces, especially water • Accidental accumulations of artifacts occurred over a very long period of time • Scavenging carnivores may have left the bones • Later used by hominins • Bones and artifacts were first deposited by hominins • Later acted upon by carnivores • Many theories have been seriously reconsidered

  8. Who Created the Sites? The Roles of Carnivores and Hominins • Evidence that both carnivores and hominins acted upon the bones from these assemblages • Two opposing interpretations • Hominins killed, carnivores scavenged • Carnivores killed, hominins scavenged • Contests food-sharing models • Studies of butchery marks offers the possibility of an explanation

  9. Cut Marks on Bone:Butchery at Olduvai and Koobi Fora

  10. The Interpretation of Early Hominin Behavior: The DK Controversy • Site DK, in Bed 1 of Olduvai Gorge • Circle of stones, thought to be indicative of an early structure on the site • Many discrepancies have been elucidated, to suggest there was another explanation • The DK controversy is important • It shows how easily one can skew his/her interpretation when biased by preconceived notions of a collection from a site

  11. Explaining the Sites: Alternative Hypotheses • Richard Potts suggested available stone, for tool- making was cached in various locations • Quick processing of carcasses was undertaken, regardless of method of acquisition, and the site was abandoned before carnivores arrived • Called the Stone-cache Hypothesis

  12. Successful Scavengers? • Many hypothesis suggest scavenging was a possible mode of meat acquisition • Scavenging was a marginal activity • not enough meat was scavengened for food-sharing • Dehydration deaths of large-prey during the dry season • allowed meat to replace vegetation • vegetation was less plentiful during the dry months • Carcasses of mid-sized animals • stored in trees by leopards • accessible to hominins and protected from other scavengers

  13. Conclusions • Despite controversies in interpretation, the early archaeological sites reveal several aspects of early hominin life: • Stone tools were made and used • Meat was present in their diets • There exist differences in behavior between • hominins and • both modern humans and non-human primates

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