Understanding ancient hominin dispersals using artefactual data: a phylogeographic analysis of Acheulean handaxes

Lycett, Stephen J. (2009) Understanding ancient hominin dispersals using artefactual data: a phylogeographic analysis of Acheulean handaxes. PLoS ONE, 4 (10). pp. 1-6. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Background Reconstructing the dispersal patterns of extinct hominins remains a challenging but essential goal. One means of supplementing fossil evidence is to utilize archaeological evidence in the form of stone tools. Based on broad dating patterns, it has long been thought that the appearance of Acheulean handaxe technologies outside of Africa was the result of hominin dispersals, yet independent tests of this hypothesis remain rare. Cultural transmission theory leads to a prediction of a strong African versus non-African phylogeographic pattern in handaxe datasets, if the African Acheulean hypothesis is to be supported. Methodology/Principal Findings Here, this prediction is tested using an intercontinental dataset of Acheulean handaxes and a biological phylogenetic method (maximum parsimony). The analyses produce a tree consistent with the phylogeographic prediction. Moreover, a bootstrap analysis provides evidence that this pattern is robust, and the maximum parsimony tree is also shown to be statistically different from a tree constrained by stone raw materials. Conclusions/Significance These results demonstrate that nested analyses of behavioural data, utilizing methods drawn from biology, have the potential to shed light on ancient hominin dispersals. This is an encouraging prospect for human palaeobiology since sample sizes for lithic artefacts are many orders of magnitude higher than those of fossil data. These analyses also suggest that the sustained occurrence of Acheulean handaxe technologies in regions such as Europe and the Indian subcontinent resulted from dispersals by African hominin populations.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: Shelley Malekia
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 11:42
Last Modified: 29 May 2014 15:13
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/30882 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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