Scaling up: material culture as scaffold for the social brain.

Coward, F., 2016. Scaling up: material culture as scaffold for the social brain. Quaternary International, 405 (Part A), pp. 78-90.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.064

Abstract

Many other species besides Homo sapiens are tool-users and even tool-makers, but one aspect of material culture still sets modern humans apart: our emotional and social engagement with objects. Here I argue that this engagement acted as a crucial scaffold for the scaling-up of human social networks beyond those of our closest relatives the chimpanzees to the global ‘small world’ of modern humans. Material culture plays a crucial role in conveying social information about relationships between people, places and things that extend geographically and temporally beyond the here and now – a role which allowed our ancestors to off-load some of the cognitive demands of maintaining such extensive social networks, and thereby surpass the limits to sociality imposed by neurology alone. Broad-scale developments in the archaeological record of the Lower Palaeolithic through to the early Neolithic are used to trace the process by which hominins and humans slowly scaled up their social worlds.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1873-4553
Additional Information:Available online 1 November 2015
Uncontrolled Keywords:Material culture; Social network; Palaeolithic; Neolithic; Distributed cognition
Subjects:UNSPECIFIED
Group:Faculty of Science and Technology
ID Code:23056
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:06 Jan 2016 12:41
Last Modified:21 Jun 2016 11:06

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