Ecological drivers of hunter-gatherer lithic technology from the Middle and Later Stone Age in Central Africa

Padilla-Iglesias, Cecilia, Grove, Matt and Blinkhorn, James
(2023) Ecological drivers of hunter-gatherer lithic technology from the Middle and Later Stone Age in Central Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews, 322. p. 108390.

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Central Africa is a key region for examining patterns of hunter-gatherer inhabitation and engagement with ecological diversity and environmental change. In contrast to adjacent regions, however, the archaeological record of prehistoric hunter-gatherer populations in Central Africa is underrepresented in studies of recent human evolution. This limited engagement with Central African archaeological records in part stems from the complexities of identifying, excavating, and dating hunter-gatherer sites in what are today often heavily forested environments, a focus on named stone tool industries from undated sites to structure the record, and highly limited means to associate dated hunter-gatherer occupations with proxy records of environmental conditions. Here, we present a novel synthesis of prehistoric hunter-gatherer stone tool assemblages from dated Central African sites and use climate model datasets to illuminate the environmental and ecological landscapes in which they were deployed. Our results suggest a significant ecological shift occurred from 14,000 years ago onwards, associated with a greater engagement with broadleaf forests. We examine the extent to which a range of geographic and paleoclimatic drivers can explain patterns of gross assemblage composition and the appearance of individual lithic technologies highlighting the significant role of changes in altitude, precipitation, seasonality, and ecology. Notably, considerable continuity can be observed between the habitat ranges of contemporary hunter-gatherer populations in Central Africa and prehistoric occupations that significantly precede the appearance of farming lifeways in the region.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 37 Earth Sciences, 4301 Archaeology, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 3705 Geology, 15 Life on Land
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2023 11:38
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2024 18:09
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2023.108390
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