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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:54990
Doc. No:TL24944
Call number:‭NR52533‬
Main Entry:T. Alexandra Sumner
Title & Author:Learning and cognition among Middle Palaeolithic stone toolmakers of Egyptian North AfricaT. Alexandra Sumner
College:University of Toronto (Canada)
Date:2009
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2009
Page No:506
Abstract:The present study concerns individual and group technological performance, and the social environment in which learned technological knowledge is achieved and shared among Middle Palaeolithic flintknappers. The site of Taramsa Hill in Upper Egypt provides a unique collection of lithic refits through which aspects of early human cognition, learning and information exchange are examined. The Levallois strategy represents the technology employed at the quarry and workshop site, along with its transitional form, the Taramsan strategy. Drawing from the fields of psychology and the cognitive sciences, and employing photogrammetric and 3D computer applications, I examine aspects of the individual flintknapping event, including the installation and maintenance of upper-surface convexity and the management of core volume. I present results from studies in product standardization, cycles of preparation and endproduct exploitation, and core sector exploitation. I discuss technological commonalities and variation, tracing the chaîne opératoires of each event in light of specific cognitive correlates, including proceduralization, multi-tasking, and motor action schema . These processes directly relate to technical savoir faire (know-how) and technological connaissance (knowledge) (Pelegrin 1993; Boëda 1995; Chazan 1997). Tied to current debates concerning the capacity for modern human behaviour prior to the Upper Palaeolithic, the present study demonstrates the complex nature of the cognitive versatility dominating the work of a group of late Middle Palaeolithic flintknappers. Taken from a study of thirty-one sequences, I identify nine expertly knapped cores, the study of which forms the basis of the dissertation. Adding to the views of others, I provide evidence to support the Levallois strategy as being only a general concept, used by each knapper as a framework to formulate a strategy tailored to the particular knapping event. Each example of the Levallois strategy is, in fact, a collection of "blocks of technological knowledge" or sub-strategies, stored and retrieved from long-term memory and combined by the knapper to suit the particulars of the unique knapping event. The presence of many endproducts, and near-complete reductions, suggests a purpose for the site beyond that of mere technological function. I interpret Taramsa Hill to be, in part, a location for learning technological behaviours. Evidence for the exchange of technological information set within unified system of learning, is exhibited in patterns of core maintenance and reduction design. Each core signifies an individual knapper, but also represents knowledge shared among a group of prehistoric stone toolmakers.
Subject:Social sciences; Psychology; Egypt; Technology dissemination; Learning; Cognition; Middle Palaeolithic; Stone; Toolmakers; North Africa; Archaeology; Social psychology; Cognitive psychology; 0324:Archaeology; 0633:Cognitive psychology; 0451:Social psychology
Added Entry:University of Toronto (Canada)