Before Modern Humans: New Perspectives on the African Stone Age . By Grant S. McCall. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 2014, 391 pp. ISBN 9781611322224. US$ 99.00 (Hardcover).

Before Modern Humans: New Perspectives on the African Stone Age . By Grant S. McCall. Left Coast... Before Modern Humans ranges widely over major issues in the archaeology of human origins. Though the title suggests an exclusively African focus, McCall discusses evidence and issues from a wider geographic range. McCall is a leading advocate of an "organizational" approach to prehistory. Rather than trying to construct quasi-historical narratives of human evolution in which stone tool industries are stand-ins for actual evolutionary actors, McCall and scholars like him focus on the organizational properties of particular behaviors, such as toolmaking, subsistence choices, settlement patterns and the like. Working from principles derived from comparative methods in ethology and ethnography, they develop models for the strategic costs and benefits influencing those behaviors, and then test hypotheses about behavioral change and variability. Before Modern Humans is an example of this approach writ large. The book discusses many issues, but the two to which McCall devotes the most attention are differences between Earlier and Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages, the "scavenging/hunting" debate about Lower and Middle Pleistocene zooarchaeological assemblages. Throughout much of Africa, the period 0.2­0.3 Ma marks an inflection point in the stone tool evidence. Large accumulations of handaxes, other relatively thick and heavy stone tools are first augmented, then replaced, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of African Archaeology Brill

Before Modern Humans: New Perspectives on the African Stone Age . By Grant S. McCall. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 2014, 391 pp. ISBN 9781611322224. US$ 99.00 (Hardcover).

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 13 (1): 121 – Nov 1, 2015

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1612-1651
eISSN
2191-5784
DOI
10.3213/2191-5784-10271
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Before Modern Humans ranges widely over major issues in the archaeology of human origins. Though the title suggests an exclusively African focus, McCall discusses evidence and issues from a wider geographic range. McCall is a leading advocate of an "organizational" approach to prehistory. Rather than trying to construct quasi-historical narratives of human evolution in which stone tool industries are stand-ins for actual evolutionary actors, McCall and scholars like him focus on the organizational properties of particular behaviors, such as toolmaking, subsistence choices, settlement patterns and the like. Working from principles derived from comparative methods in ethology and ethnography, they develop models for the strategic costs and benefits influencing those behaviors, and then test hypotheses about behavioral change and variability. Before Modern Humans is an example of this approach writ large. The book discusses many issues, but the two to which McCall devotes the most attention are differences between Earlier and Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages, the "scavenging/hunting" debate about Lower and Middle Pleistocene zooarchaeological assemblages. Throughout much of Africa, the period 0.2­0.3 Ma marks an inflection point in the stone tool evidence. Large accumulations of handaxes, other relatively thick and heavy stone tools are first augmented, then replaced,

Journal

Journal of African ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Nov 1, 2015

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