Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Evolutionary Anthropology

The latest issue of Evolutionary Athropology came out online today. I bring it up because it contains two papers, one by P. Mellars, the other by J. Zilhão, that deal directly with issues that I'm currently writing about in my dissertation, albeit from a very different perspective. The papers represent good and timely summaries of where the "replacement" and "indigenist" scenarios of modern human origins in Europe stand in late 2006.

I had read the Mellars paper as a preprint, and there isn't much new to report about the conclusions reached in his paper. I'll post on it later in detail, but should mention now that I think that his relabeling of the proto-Aurignacian is wrong-headed, especially since it leads to no particular nuancing of his position as a result.

As for the Zilhão paper, I've just had a chance to glance at it, but in it he perpetuates the factually wrong idea that the lithic assemblage from Level V at Klioura I in Greece is Uluzzian (see Koumouzelis et al. 2001a, b). This perspective is unsupported by even a very casual evaluation of the record (Riel-Salvatore 2006a, 2006b), so its unfortunate to see it given such wide thrift in press. This is especially true since Klisoura is then taken to "date" the earliest Uluzzian. This is the result of using a narrow typological perspective and a culture-historical research agenda, where the goal of archaeology becomes the tracking of cultures over time and space rather than understanding past behavior.

In other news, I got a copy of the Bar-Yosef and Zilhão Towards a Definition of the Aurignacian volume (2006) in the mail yesterday, and I must temper my preliminary assessement of the volume posted a few weeks ago... the volume actually contins a wealth of stimulating papers, most of which directly grapple with the issue of defining the Aurignacian. The only thing that I was surprised not to see in the volume was a concluding chapter by the editors discussing what the agreement was following that meeting and perusal of lithic assemblages from throughout Eurasia. Oh well.


Bar-yosef, O., and J. Zilhão (eds.). 2006. Towards a definition of the Aurignacian. Proceedings of the Symposium held
in Lisbon, Portugal, June 25-30, 2002
. Trabalhos de Arqueologia 45. Instituto Português de Arqueologia, Lisbon (Protugal).

Koumouzelis, M., J.K. Kozlowski, C. Escutenaire, V. Sitlivy, K. Sobczyk, H. Valladas, N. Tisnerat-Laborde, P. Wojtal, and B. Ginter. 2001a. La fin du Paléolithique moyen et le début du Paléolithique supérieur en Grèce: la séquence de la Grotte 1 de Klissoura. L'Anthropologie 105:469-504.

Koumouzelis, M., B. Ginter, J. K. Kozlowski, M. Pawlikowski, O. Bar-Yosef, R. M. Albert, M. Litynska-Zajac, E. Stworzewicz, P. Wojtal, and G. Lipecki. 2001b. The early Upper Palaeolithic in Greece : The excavations in Klisoura Cave. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 28:515-539.

Mellars, P. 2006. Archeology and the dispersal of modern humans in Europe: Deconstructing the "Aurignacian." Evolutionary Anthropology 15:167-182.

Riel-Salvatore, J. 2006a. The place of the Uluzzian in the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Italy. Paper presented at the 71st annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Riel-Salvatore, J. 2006b. The Uluzzian as a manifestation of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Italy? Paper presented at the 15th meeting of the Union Internationale de Sciences Pre- et Protohistoriques, Lisbon, Portugal.

Zilhão, J. 2006. Neandertals and moderns mixed, and it matters. Evolutionary Anthropology 15:183-195.

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