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Cognitive Archaeology and Human evolution, Beaune S. A. de, Coolidge F. and Wynn T. (Ed.) (2009) 3-14
Technical invention in the Palaeolithic: what if the explanation comes from the cognitive and neuropsychological sciences?
Sophie A. de Beaune 1

The evolution of the cerebral capacities of humans, from the first hominids to Modern Humans, is at the heart of our interrogations. How can we explain the fact that only hominids seem to have developed the capacity for technical invention, in contrast to our closest relatives the great apes? The archaeological data allow us to observe this phenomenon but offer very little in the way of a response to this question. By examining the possible contributions of other disciplines, particularly in the cognitive and neuropsychological sciences, we can ask if there exists a cause and effect relationship between the following phenomena: - The archaeological data indicate that the technical inventions realized throughout prehistory are increasingly frequent and complex from the first hominids to Modern Humans; - The cognitive perspective seems to indicate that the processes of analogical reasoning are increasingly frequent through time, either for "statistical" reasons (a greater population density leads to a greater probability of the meeting of two ideas), or for cognitive reasons; - Finally, the paleoanthropological data show that current neurological conditions developed progressively with the frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex becoming more and more accentuated from the first hominids to Modern Humans. We will explore here the possible contribution resulting from a confrontation of these different disciplines.
1 :  Archéologies et Sciences de l'Antiquité (ArScAn)
CNRS : UMR7041 – Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne – Université Paris X - Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
Sciences de l'Homme et Société/Archéologie et Préhistoire

Sciences cognitives/Neurosciences
Archaeology – prehistory – technical invention – cognitive abilities – neuropsychology
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