The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul

Habgood, P. and Franklin, N. (2008) The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul. Journal of Human Evolution, 55 2: 187-222. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.006

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Author Habgood, P.
Franklin, N.
Title The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul
Journal name Journal of Human Evolution   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0047-2484
Publication date 2008-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.006
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 55
Issue 2
Start page 187
End page 222
Total pages 36
Editor F. Spoor
Susan Anton
William H. Kimbel
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject C1
210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Abstract There is a "package" of cultural innovations that are claimed to reflect modern human behaviour. The introduction of the "package" has been associated with the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition and the appearance in Europe of modern humans. It has been proposed that modern humans spread from Africa with the "package" and colonised not only Europe but also southern Asia and Australia (McBrearty and Brooks, 2000; Mellars, 2006a). In order to evaluate this proposal, we explore the late Pleistocene archaeological record of Sahul, the combined landmass of Australia and Papua New Guinea, for indications of these cultural innovations at the earliest sites. It was found that following initial occupation of the continent by anatomically and behaviourally modern humans, the components were gradually assembled over a 30,000-year period. We discount the idea that the "package" was lost en route to Sahul and assess the possibility that the "package" was not integrated within the material culture of the initial colonising groups because they may not have been part of a rapid colonisation process from Africa. As the cultural innovations appear at different times and locations within Sahul, the proposed "package" of archaeologically visible traits cannot be used to establish modern human behaviour. Whilst the potential causal role of increasing population densities/pressure in the appearance of the "package" of modern human behaviour in the archaeological record is acknowledged, it is not seen as the sole explanation because the individual components of the "package" appear at sites that are widely separated in space and time.
Keyword Modern human behaviour
Late pleistocene
Greater Australia
Human revolution
Symbolic storage
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Mon, 23 Mar 2009, 23:55:32 EST by Margaret Gately on behalf of School of Social Science