Session: #292

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Process of Change from Late Acheulean to Early Middle Stone Age / Early Middle Palaeolithic in Africa and Eurasia [PaM]
This session aims to host presentations on one of the most crucial and intricate transitions in human history, from the late Acheulean to the early Middle Stone Age/ early Middle Palaeolithic. The combined approach on Africa and Eurasia offers the opportunity to overcome barriers caused by regional research traditions and compare views on hominin evolutionary trajectories and the nature of cultural change.
In Africa, the archaeological record indicates the coexistence of populations with different techno-behaviors; some are a continuation of Acheulean traditions until 200ka while others show an early development of MSA technologies before 300ka. The approach on transitional assemblages is difficult to standardize, and their interpretation is subject to a wide range of hypotheses, in which the biological transition from Homo erectus to the first representatives of Homo sapiens may also play a role. However, in Eurasia, different biological transformations are ongoing, and it is of particular interest to evaluate similarities and differences in the changes in material culture, in particular in view of the sub-contemporaneous development of prepared core technologies, flake, point or blade productions as main lithic strategies with regional variations in Africa and Eurasia by the end of the Acheulean. This raises questions on the links between culture and biology as sometimes perceived traditionally by Prehistorians, but also on the significance of the process of cultural change during this transitional period in terms of broad evolutionary dynamics.
The contribution of case studies from Acheulean and/or Middle Stone Age/Middle Palaeolithic from Africa and Eurasia, with a specific insight on the processes of changes, will certainly lead to improve our perspectives on this theme.
Africa, Eurasia, Palaeolithic, Transition, Material culture, Anthropology
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Katja Douze (Switzerland) 1
Liliane Meignen (France) 2
Ignacio de la Torre (United Kingdom) 3
1. Laboratory of Arcjaeology and Population in Africa, Anthropology Unit, Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva
2. CEPAM, UMR 7264 – Cultures et Environnements Préhistoire, Antiquité, Moyen Âge, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis
3. Institute of Archaeology, University College London