Evolutionary perspectives on technology and technological change

  • Kuhn S
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Abstract

It is my view that many so-called theoretical disputes in archaeology stem from the fact that participants in the debates are actually trying to answer different questions. Thus, I begin this essay with a brief discussion of the problems that most occupy my attention. My main research area is the Pleistocene prehistory of western Eurasia, although hunter- gatherer studies, both archaeological and ethnographic, inform my research on the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. I am especially interested in how the role of technology in human life has changed over the past 2.5 million years. Over that time artifacts have evolved from simple extensions of the human physical apparatus and relatively peripheral elements in the behavioral repertoire of the genus Homo to a central component in practically every interaction between humans and their environments as well as between humans and other humans. In short, artifacts have been transformed from simple extensions of hands, claws and teeth into material culture. This is obviously a long and complex story, but it is also central to understanding the human condition and how it came about.

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