The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior

Sally McBrearty, Allison Brooks
Journal of Human Evolution (2000), 39, 453-563
Academic Press, 2000

Recommended by Tom Givon in the FUNKNET mailing list, in August 2005.

Middle Stone Age
Later Stone Age

Archaeology, behavior and hominid taxonomy

p. 486
In this paper we present evidence to support the presence of modern human behaviors in subsaharan Africa at remote times far predating any such traces outside Africa.
[The] behaviors may perhaps have driven the anatomical changes seen in the fossils. We also suggest that these behaviors developed gradually over a substantial period of time and sporadically in different parts of the continent.

The origin of language?

Attempts to identify the earliest signs of language, whether from study of the brain, the speech apparatus, stone tools, or primate communication, contribute to a sense of continuity, rather than discontinuity, between human and nonhuman abilities.

Archaeological signals for modern behavior

p. 492
We would argue that modern human behavior is characterized by:

Summary and discussion

p. 529
H. sapiens appears early in Africa, but it has been argued by proponents of the "human revolution" that the behavior of these early people was indistinguishable from that of more archaic hominids.

[It] is clear that the main behavioral shift leading to modernity lies at the Acheulian-MSA boundary about 250-300 ka, not at the MSA-LSA boundary at 50-40 ka as many assume.

There is no logical reason to expect a single sudden event to represent what we see as essentially a cultural, not a biological process.

Papers ToC
Marc Girod
Last modified: Wed Aug 17 09:09:19 EEST 2005