Convergence in Prehistory


These are two cordiform handaxes from different sites. The honey colored cordiform comes from the Ridge-Quarry approximately two kilometers south-west of Romsey and is dated to the Hoxnian/Wolstonian complex, while the other Handaxe is from an early Wurmian site in Northern France. The most possible explanation of the similar form of these implements is convergence and not cultural transmission.

There is no explicit theory of technological convergence in prehistoric societies. The term of technological convergence will here be used to describe the fact, that human populations that are separated in space and time find typological similar solutions towards performing similar tasks. For example some small axes of the Ertebölle culture resemble similar axes from the Levantine PPNB.

What are the reasons of technological convergence?

  • Universal cognitive and neural foundations of technological behavior: The emergences of new techniques (fMRT, PET) in Neuroscience research will certainly increase our knowledge of neuronal networks that are involved in decision making during stone tool production. One example is a FDG-PET study about Oldowan toolmaking by novices. Here the production of Oldowan tools increased activation of ventral premotor and inferior parietal elements of the parietofrontal praxis circuits in both the hemispheres and of the right hemisphere homologue of Broca’s area.
  • Limitations in the number of possible technological solutions in the productions of bifacial tools. The majority of handaxes can be easily classified according existing type-lists
  • Functional requirements. Stone artifact designs are often dictated by the need to create a working edge suitable for a specific task.

About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
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