Chapter 3. The origin of symbolically mediated behaviour

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The aim of this paper is to summarize what we do know about the origin of symbolic material cultures in Africa and Eurasia, and explore paths that could allow us to move from a situation in which the same evidence is accounted for by antagonistic scenarios to a research strategy that may produce, in the end, a unified theory for the emergence of this innovation. Our review highlights the need to develop an integrated research strategy in which assumptions on cognition based on taxonomic affiliation will play no role. The key tools to address this topic should be archaeology, palaeoenvironmental studies and new methods to integrate results from these disciplines. This appears to be one positive way to understand the mechanisms that governed cultural transmission and social learning between 160 and 30 ka.


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