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Osseous projectile weaponry from early to late middle stone age Africa

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Discussion about early projectile technology typically includes criteria used to distinguish artefacts used as hafted points from those employed for other purposes, associated faunal and lithic assemblages, palaeoenvironment, age of the material, associated hominins and their cognitive capacities, criteria used to identify complex technology and cognition, and how innovative technologies might have developed and spread. Here we summarize what is known about osseous weaponry in the African Middle Stone Age, and discuss the implications of these items for the origin(s) of modern cognitive complexity. Results indicate the use of bone spear points in the Aterian and Still Bay, and bone-tipped arrowheads in the Howiesons Poort and the Early Later Stone Age. The appearance and disappearance of projectile technology suggests that it likely emerged more than once, as an adaptation to local environments, rather than being the outcome of a process in which technology advanced in step with developing cognition.




Backwell, L., & d’Errico, F. (2016). Osseous projectile weaponry from early to late middle stone age Africa. In Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology (pp. 15–29). Springer.

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