Cognitive Development and Symbolism in the Pre-Upper Palaeolithic

01st June 2007

Ben Watson

BA(Hons), Centre for Classics and Archaeology, University of Melbourne, October 2003

This thesis investigates hominid cognitive development and the emergence of symbolism prior to the Upper Palaeolithic period. It involves a global review and examination of a wide range of Pleistocene evidence for early symbolism, language, and non-utilitarian behaviour, including that from Australia. Both palaeoanthropological evidence and material culture are discussed in relation to their significance for the evolutionary emergence of symbolic cognition. Discussion of palaeoanthropological evidence includes the relevance of cranial endocasts, encephalisation, skull morphology, and vocal tract reconstruction. Discussion concerned with material culture includes the role of palaeoart, colour symbolism, mortuary practice and stone tools. Collectively the wide range of evidence has important implications for the study of cognitive evolution. It is argued that the evidence strongly supports a model for a considerably early emergence of complex symbolic behaviour in various regions of the world well before 40,000 years ago. The thesis contends that the cognitive capacities for symbolic behaviour developed gradually and emerged considerably earlier than the Upper Palaeolithic, with the cognitive preconditions appearing c.2.5 million years ago, and fully symbolic cognition developed by as early as the Lower Palaeolithic.

Ben Watson
Cognitive Development and Symbolism in the Pre-Upper Palaeolithic
June 2007
64
62
Thesis Abstracts
You must be a member to download the attachment ( Login / Sign up )