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. http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.com/pdf/13/9780199561995_chapter1.pdf
  • 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.
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