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ORIGINS AND REVOLUTIONS


What changed in the three million years of human evolution? Were
there tipping points that made us more recognisably human? In this
innovative study, Clive Gamble presents and questions two of the most
famous descriptions of change in prehistory. The first is the human
revolution when evidence for art, music, religion and language
appears. The second is the economic and social revolution of the
Neolithic. Gamble identifies the historical agendas behind research on
origins. He proposes an alternative approach that relates the study of
change to the material basis of human identity. Rather than revolutio-
nary stages, Gamble makes the case that our earliest prehistory is a story
of mutual relationships between people and their technology. These
developing relationships resulted in distinctive identities for our earliest
ancestors and continue today.
Gamble challenges the hold that revolutions and points of origin
exert over the imagination of archaeologists. He opens the door to an
inclusive study of how human identity, in concert with material
culture, has developed over the past three million years.

Clive Gamble is Professor in the Department of Geography at Royal
Holloway University of London. He is one of the world™s leading
authorities on the archaeology of the earliest human societies. His
many groundbreaking books include The Palaeolithic Settlement of
Europe; Timewalkers: The Prehistory of Global Colonisation; the 2000
winner of the Society of American Archaeology Book Award, The
Palaeolithic Societies of Europe; and most recently The Hominid
Individual in Context, edited with Martin Porr. In 2005, he was awarded
the Rivers Memorial Medal by the Royal Anthropological Institute
in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field. He was
elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2000 and in 2003 became co-
director of the Academy™s prestigious Centenary Project, From Lucy to
Language: The Archaeology of the Social Brain that seeks to find out
when hominid brains became human minds.
Origins and Revolutions

Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory


clive gamble
Royal Holloway University of London
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
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Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521860024

© Clive Gamble 2007


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First published in print format 2007

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Contents



page vii
Figures and Tables List
xi
Acknowledgements

part i. steps to the present
Prologue: The longest of long revolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

1 The Neolithic Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2 The Human Revolution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
3 Metaphors for origins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Summary to Part I: Three revolutions in Originsland . . . . . . . . . . . 80

part ii. the material basis of identity

4 Bodies, instruments and containers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
5 The accumulation and enchainment of identity . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
6 Consuming and fragmenting people and things . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Summary to Part II: Raising the bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

part iii. interpreting change

7 A prehistory of human technology: 3 million to
5,000 years ago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
8 Did agriculture change the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
Epilogue: The good upheaval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275

281
Bibliography
335
Index

v
Figures and Tables List



Figures

1.1 A chronological fleet of battleship curves. . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.1 Candelabra and hat-rack models in human evolution . . . 41
2.2 The appearance of modern behaviours in Africa . . . . . . 48
3.1 The cone of origins research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
3.2 Mapping Originsland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
3.3 The march of progress. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
3.4 The origin of humanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
4.1 Hybrid networks and symbolic force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
4.2 A house as extended metaphor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
4.3 Tetradic kinship structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
4.4 Corporal and material culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
4.5 Understanding arrowheads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
4.6 Interpreting bowls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
5.1 Three kinds of self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
6.1 Dancing space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
`
6.2 Burial at Saint-Germain-la-Riviere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
`
6.3 Organic jewellery from Saint-Germain-la-Riviere . . . . . 147
7.1 Technological innovations and change . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
7.2 The family of stone blades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
7.3 Progress and stone technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181


vii
viii Figures and Tables List

7.4 Cores and the body. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
7.5 Measures of edge efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
7.6 Textile motifs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
7.7 Engraved ochre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
7.8 Tattooed pots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
8.1 Neo-cortex and group size in primates. . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
8.2 Predicting group size for fossil hominins . . . . . . . . . . . 218
8.3 The appearance of language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
8.4 Theory of mind in fossil hominins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
8.5 The childscape and human identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
8.6 Sets and nets at Boxgrove. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238
8.7 Bricoleurs at Kostenki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
8.8 Sets at Blombos Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
8.9 Mammoth huts and bricolage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260
8.10 Shelter 131 at Ain Mallaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261
8.11 Stone containers in the Levant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
8.12 Growth and accumulation at Beidha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
8.13 Growth and fragmentation in Near Eastern locales. . . . 269
8.14 Enchainment in the Wadi Jilat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
9.1 The gradient of change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 278


Tables

1.1 A three-tiered approach to the study of change. . . . . . . . 18
1.2 Ten traits of the Urban Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
2.1 Recognising anatomically modern humans . . . . . . . . . . 37
2.2 Modern human cognitive and cultural capabilities . . . . . 39
2.3 Changes in the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition . 43
2.4 A check-list of fully modern behaviour . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
2.5 Two models for human ancestry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
3.1 Rhetorical devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Figures and Tables List ix

3.2 Analogy and homology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
3.3 Key events during human evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
3.4 A map of Originsland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
4.1 A pure relationship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
4.2 A hybrid relationship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
4.3 Metaphorical basis for change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
4.4 Instruments and containers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
5.1 The ground rules of identity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
5.2 Metaphors for social practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
5.3 Categories of self and person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
5.4 Western and Melanesian personhood . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
5.5 Resources in ego-centred networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
6.1 A general model of practice and action . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
6.2 An archaeological model of social practice and action . 139
6.3 Fragmentation and two technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
6.4 Studying hominin society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
6.5 Sets and a Lateglacial burial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
6.6 Burial patterns in the French Lateglacial . . . . . . . . . . . 150
6.7 Population structure in Lateglacial France . . . . . . . . . . 150
7.1 Marxism and change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
7.2 Chimpanzee material culture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
7.3 History of technological innovations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
7.4 The classification of 53 innovations as material proxies . 172
7.5 Three technological movements and their innovations . 174
7.6 Blades and bladelets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
7.7 Stone technological modes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
7.8 Planning depth and anticipation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
7.9 Major forms of Prepared Core Technologies (PCTs). . . 190
7.10 Patterns of land use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192
8.1 Resources and networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
8.2 Community sizes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
x Figures and Tables List

8.3 Ochre sets from Blombos Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
8.4 Raw materials at Klasies River Mouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
8.5 Flake-blades at Klasies River Mouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
8.6 Breakage rates at Klasies River Mouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254
8.7 Levant chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
8.8 Sedentism in the Levant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266
8.9 Modular housing at Beidha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
Acknowledgements



It is a great pleasure to be able to record my thanks to the many people and
institutions that have contributed towards this book. The award of a British
Academy Research Readership was essential to enable both travel and
reading and the time to rethink the questions of why agriculture happened
and the appearance of people like ourselves. As important was the
opportunity provided by Dr Julie Hansen, who invited me for a semester
as a Visiting Professor to research and teach at the Department of
Archaeology, Boston University, funded by a Humanities Foundation
Fellowship. My seminar class at Boston were among the first to hear the
ideas in this book and set me right on a number of points; Ben Vining,
Susan Mentzer, Satoru Murata, Menaka Rodriguez, Rita Pelosi and Sophie
Telgezter. I should also like to thank Curtis Runnells, Priscilla Murray and
David Stone for all their hospitality and good conversation. Across the
Charles River a special debt goes to the staff of the Tozzer library and to
Ofer Bar-Yosef at the Peabody Museum, Harvard: his encouragement is
infectious and his generosity with data and ideas helped this project
immensely. Unexpected travel opportunities came through C5 and the
filming of a documentary series ˜Where do we come from?™ broadcast in
2002. The production team of Michael Proudfoot, Jessica Whitehead,
Jim Sayer and James Routh made light of remote destinations and in six
months I saw more than I could have bargained for. I was also able to meet
with many friends and make new ones both off and on camera. To all of
them, thank you for your patience and your knowledge.
During the writing of the book I have moved from an Archaeology to a
Geography Department. At Southampton, I would like to thank many of
the staff and students who have helped me in working out the arguments of
this book. From the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins: John
McNabb, James Steele, Martin Porr, Annabel Field, Jenni Chambers,

xi
xii Acknowledgements

Anne Best, Fiona Coward, Rob Hosfield, Fotini Kofidou, Dmitra
Papagianni, Vicky Elefanti, Gil Marshall, Matt Pope, Phil Kiberd, Farina
Sternke, William Davies, Erica Gittins, Sonia Zakrewski and Yvonne
Marshall. From the Department of Archaeology: Elaine Morris, Andy
Jones, Yannis Hamilakis and Jo Sofaer. At Royal Holloway special thanks
are due to Felix Driver, Rob Kemp, David Wiles, Matt Grove, Dora
Moutsiou, Rob Imrie, Rebecca Sheldon, Scott Elias, John Lowe, Karen
Till, Jim Rose, Danielle Schreve, Nick Branch and many Landscape
Surgeons.
In 2003 with Robin Dunbar and John Gowlett of Liverpool University we
began directing the British Academy Centenary Project From Lucy to
Language: the archaeology of the social brain. Much of this book would not
have been possible without the stimulation of this project and the
invitations from Wendy James, Hilary Callan and Nick Allen to consider
kinship and from Steven Mithen to re-evaluate music in human evolution.
These are exciting times for human evolutionary studies and I would like to
record the stimulating discussions I have had with Robert Proctor, Robin
Dennell, Rob Foley, Marta Lahr, Trevor Watkins, Carl Knappett, Chris
Gosden, John Robb, Chris Knight, Camilla Power, Steve Shennan,
Alasdair Whittle, Brian Graham, Andy Garrard, Richard Bradley,
Marcia-Anne Dobres, John Chapman and the late Andrew Sherratt
whose judgement on the final version I would very much have valued.
I have been greatly assisted in the production of the book by Fiona
Coward who critically edited earlier drafts and Penny Copeland who
skilfully drew all the figures. I am very grateful to Patrick Kirch, Chris
Gosden, Tom Minichillo, Olga Soffer, Angela Close, Andrew Garrard,
Chris Henshilwood, Nikolai Praslov and Francesco d™Errico for supplying
and allowing me to reproduce their original illustrations.
Although every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyright
material, in a few instances this has proved impossible and I take this
opportunity to offer my apologies to any copyright holders whose rights I
may have unwittingly infringed.
My greatest thanks, as always, go to Elaine.

Note: All radiocarbon dates in this book are calibrated using the CalPal
programme and given as years Before Present (BP).
part i


Steps to the present
prologue


The longest of long revolutions



You don™t need a Weatherman
to know which way the wind blows
Bob Dylan Subterranean homesick blues 1965



To begin with . . .
One revolution invariably led to another. Fire drew some of our earliest
ancestors into the circle. Stone tools made them hunters and these handy
artefacts later became symbols, embellished by language and art. A life on
the move was eventually exchanged for a settled existence that promoted
agriculture, and the first civilisations followed. Then came the ancient
Empires with their bookkeeping, literacy and the institutions of state
power. The momentum they established led to industrialisation whose
global ramifications define the contemporary world.

There, as I see it in an extreme digested read, lies the familiar contribution
of three million years of prehistory to the larger human story. The
investigation of the past is based around the origins of great advances
such as technology, language, farming and writing; the where, when and
why of becoming human. The origin points for these questions are
investigated across the globe and are presented by archaeologists as step
changes. Origins and revolutions are sought after as both the source of
evidence and the causal device that, in the long corridors of prehistoric
time, transformed hominids into humans.
I embarked on this book to question this familiar approach and to
challenge what archaeologists regard as change. I cannot say exactly when
I grew dissatisfied with the search for origin points and the identification
of revolutions, but with hindsight I can see two points of departure early in


3
4 Origins and Revolutions

my career. The first came from archaeologist David Clarke who launched
his blistering attack on the cosy foundations of archaeological knowledge
more than thirty years ago. He shook his prey like a terrier.
Even those most complete and finished accomplishments of the old
edifice À the explanations of the development of modern man, domes-
tication, metallurgy, urbanisation and civilisation À may in perspective
emerge as semantic snares and metaphysical mirages. (Clarke 1973:11)

But Clarke only had archaeologists in his sights although, judging by the
rash of new revolutions that have been identified since his tragically early
death three years later, not many were listening. What was lacking from
his critique was the broader framework, which I discuss in Part I, where
revolution is accepted as an apt analogy in many disciplines across the
humanities and social sciences, and it is from this broad base that it derives
its staying power as a convenient concept.
Archaeology has made one long-lasting contribution to this historical
device through Gordon Childe™s Neolithic Revolution, formulated in the
1930s, that drew an analogy with the Industrial Revolution. More recently
there has been much discussion among archaeologists of a Human
Revolution and I spend some time unpacking these concepts in Part I,
together with origins research more generally, since they address what
many see as fundamental changes that need explaining. The two
revolutions, Human and Neolithic, have a cast of characters; among
them farmers, hunters, anatomically modern humans and hominins. The
last is now the widely used term to describe us, Homo sapiens, and all our
fossil ancestors. The more familiar hominid, that it replaces, includes us,
our fossil ancestors and the great apes.
That broader context of approval for the idea of revolution, and my
second point of departure, is apparent in the writings of another
Cambridge figure, Raymond Williams, occasionally glimpsed by under-
graduates in the early 1970s on his way back from the radio studio, and
whose books Culture and Society: 1780À1950 (Williams 1958), and The
Long Revolution (1965) were required reading. Williams spoke of ˜genuine
revolutions™ that transformed people and institutions, and he wove
together the democratic, industrial and cultural revolutions to show that
they could only be understood in relation to each other. His time-frame
was short, 200 years for the most part, but importantly his Long Revolution
was an unfinished project of continuous change that made us who we are.
He pointed out (1965:13) that we devote a great deal of our cultural
and intellectual life to criticising these revolutions in an attempt to
Prologue: the longest of long revolutions 5

understand ourselves. Williams was therefore quite content with
the shallow time depth of history to understand change: the process
conveniently structured by the ruptures of revolution. But in 1970 I was
an infant archaeologist interested in the long-term contribution of
our evolutionary history to what we are. Quite simply, why were the
devices of recent history suitable analogies for understanding the
much longer sweep of social and economic change that was available to
prehistorians? My own seed of change had been planted and now you have
the harvest.


Human identity and change
Archaeologists will tell you that they were put on this earth to explain
change. What they usually mean by that is their unflagging search for the
evidence of origins; the fieldwork quest for the oldest. And once found these
origin points, like well driven tent pegs, secure the ropes to explain the
changes that led in the first place to the point of origin.
In this book I will not be looking for the origin of anything. Neither will
I be examining existing nor proposing new revolutions as devices for

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