African archaeology by D W Phillipson

By D W Phillipson

During this totally revised and elevated version of his seminal archaeological survey, David Phillipson provides a lucid, absolutely illustrated account of African prehistory, from the origins of humanity to the time of ecu colonisation, and demonstrates the relevance of archaeological examine to an figuring out of Africa today.

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For years the question was fudged by invoking contrasts between tool-using, toolmodifying and tool-making, but the old definition has finally been rendered untenable by the demonstration that a Bonobo chimpanzee can learn to make stone tools, admittedly under laboratory conditions (C. and H. Boesch 1990; Toth et al. 1993). It must also be stressed that the earliest tools are not easily recognisable in the archaeological record: only stone artefacts are generally preserved and, in most circumstances, readily recognised.

However, the previously held belief that such small The emergence of humankind in Africa Fig. 16: Plan of a stone circle on an occupation horizon at site DK in Bed I at Olduvai Gorge (after M. D. Leakey 1971). This may represent the base of a shelter constructed of branches. 41 42 afric an archaeolog y creatures were more abundantly represented in the oldest sites at Olduvai, being then gradually supplanted by larger species, is not supported by recent investigations. Central and south-central Africa Although early hominid fossils have mainly been recovered at sites in eastern and (as will be shown below) South Africa, artefacts of demonstrably PlioPleistocene age are also known from two places in the intervening regions.

Sapiens. While, in view of the problems outlined above, this abandonment of Linnaean classification might be welcomed, it must be questioned whether the new term has actually improved understanding. It has the welcome advantage of emphasising the virtual identity of all modern people (but see A. W. F. Edwards 2003), avoiding implications that some ‘races’ might be more or less ‘primitive’ than others. On the other hand, it has had two particular effects which give rise to concern. Because it has not been accompanied by a corresponding revision of terminology relating to earlier representatives of the genus Homo, it has imposed a conceptual barrier between modern people and their ancestors.

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