Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai
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The earliest sites at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania are among the best documented and most important for studies of human evolution. This book investigates the behavior of hominids at Olduvai using data of stone tools and animal bones, as well as the results of work in taphonomy (how animals become fossils), the behavior of mammals, and a wide range of ecological theory and data. By illustrating the ways in which modern and prehistoric evidence is used in making interpretations, the author guides the reader through the geological, ecological, and archeological areas involved in the study of humans.
Based on his study of the Olduvai excavations, animal life, and stone tools, the author carefully examines conventional views and proposals about the early Olduvai sites. First, the evidence of site geology, tool cut marks, and other clues to the formation of the Olduvai sites are explored. On this basis, the large mammal communities in which early hominids lived are investigated, using methods which compare sites produced mainly by hominids with others made by carnivores. Questions about hominid hunting, scavenging, and the importance of eating meat are then scrutinized. The leading alternative positions on each issue are discussed, providing a basis for understanding some of the most contentious debates in paleo-anthropology today.
The dominant interpretive model for the artifact and bone accumulations at Olduvai and other Plio-Pleistocene sites has been that they represent "home bases," social foci similar to the campsites of hunter-gatherers. Based on paleo-ecological evidence and ecological models, the author critically analyzes the home base interpretation and proposes alternative views. A new view of the Olduvai sitesâ that they represent stone caches where hominids processed carcasses for foodâ is shown to have important implications for our understanding of hominid social behavior and evolution.
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... species and possibly more. At least one of these species made tools, durable indicators not only of a degree of technological skill but also of the very fact that hominids were active in the vicinity of that final resting place for ...
... species of animals were contemporary with the hominid toolmakers. From 1959 through the early 1960s, fossils provided the first glimpses of those hominids. Actually, more than one species was found: the large-toothed robust ...
... species have been identified from the fossilized bones, especially large mammals that ranged in size from gazelle (over 12 kg) to elephant. Most of the faunal remains were broken before burial and fossilization occurred. Stone artifacts ...
... species and skeletal elements) 2. Criteria by which each of the foregoing factors can be assessed and its influence on site formation inferred 3. Collection of data pertinent to criteria that are diagnostic of site formation processes ...
... species could live (J aeger, 1976). Incidently, the presence of lake margin swamps in Bed I is also indicated by fossilized root channels of papyrus and other shore grasses (Hay, 1976). In the upper levels at FLK North, certain rodent ...