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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Drawing a Bead on Ancient Symbolic Behavior

Why was there such a long gap between when humans started looking anatomically modern--as early as 200,000 years ago--and when they started acting behaviorally modern, which some researchers still think was not until after 50,000 years ago when a so-called "creative explosion" in Europe supposedly took place?

As I have written numerous times in articles for Science, the gap might not be as wide as once thought, as earlier evidence for symbolic behavior continues to come to light. On Science's Origins blog, I discuss a new paper on this topic, which reports the discovery of personal ornaments--a signature of modernism--at four sites in Morocco dated up to 85,000 years ago.

Photo: Ancient beads from Morocco/D'Errico and Vanhaeren

1 comment:

The Elephant said...

"Why was there such a long gap between when humans started looking anatomically modern--as early as 200,000 years ago--and when they started acting behaviorally modern, which some researchers still think was not until after 50,000 years ago when a so-called "creative explosion" in Europe supposedly took place?"

I think that it's the same force that caused most of societies great explosions in knowledge- the Renaissance, the great explosion in scientific knowledge before, during and immediately after WWII. Closeness of communities over a geographical distance, an acceptance and open-ness to the ideas, a collection of great minds innovating, and an increase in the richness of a state and/or scarcity of resources that make humans willing to invest in innovation.