Behavioural complexity in Eurasian Neanderthal populations: A chronological examination of the archaeological evidence

Langley, M., Clarkson, C.J. and Ulm, S. (2008) Behavioural complexity in Eurasian Neanderthal populations: A chronological examination of the archaeological evidence. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 18 3: 289-307. doi:10.1017/S0959774308000371

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Author Langley, M.
Clarkson, C.J.
Ulm, S.
Title Behavioural complexity in Eurasian Neanderthal populations: A chronological examination of the archaeological evidence
Journal name Cambridge Archaeological Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0959-7743
1474-0540
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S0959774308000371
Open Access Status
Volume 18
Issue 3
Start page 289
End page 307
Total pages 19
Editor John Robb
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Subject C1
210105 Archaeology of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Abstract Whether Neanderthals were capable of behaviours commonly held to be the exclusive preserve of modern humans - such as abstract thought, language, forward planning, art, reverence of the dead, complex technology, etc. - has remained a fundamental question in human evolutionary studies since their discovery more than a hundred years ago. A lack of quantitative data on Neanderthal symbolism and complex behaviour is a key obstacle to the resolution of this question, with temporal analyses usually confined to single regions or short time periods. Here we present an approach to the issue of symbolism and complex behaviours among Neanderthals that examines the frequency of key proxies for symbolic and complex behaviours through time, including burials, modified raw materials, use of pigments, use of composite technology and body modification. Our analysis demonstrates that the number and diversity of complex Neanderthal behaviours increases between 160,000 and 40,000 years ago. Whether this pattern derives from preservation factors, the evolution of cognitive and behavioural complexity cumulative learning, or population size is discussed. We take the view that it is not the apparent sophistication of a single specific item, nor the presence or absence of particular types in the archaeological record that is important. Instead, we believe that it is the overall abundance of artefacts and features indicative of complex behaviours within the Neanderthal archaeological record as a whole that should provide the mark of Neanderthal capabilities and cultural evolutionary potential.
Keyword Archaeology
Archaeology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit Publications
2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Social Science Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 54 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 53 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 27 Mar 2009, 00:05:53 EST by Margaret Gately on behalf of School of Social Science