Archaeological Evidence for Mind

Session Date: 
Feb 15, 2013

The Sapient Paradox. The emergence of our species Homo sapiens is generally set around 200,000 years ago in Africa, and its out-of-Africa dispersals around 60,000 years ago. Yet early indications of ‘mind’ in Africa, for instance at Blombos (70,000 BP: incised grid on ochre, shell beads) are meagre before the agricultural revolution (after 11,000 BP). Apart from Franco-Cantabrian cave art in Europe and its outliers (35,000-15,000 BP), few radical changes in behaviour seem to take place until the villages towns and cities which began (in the ‘tectonic’ phase) with that revolution in the Near East, in China, in Middle and South America and beyond. So what took so long? That is the Sapient Paradox. If the genetic basis of humankind was established 200,000 years ago, why is the tectonic phase of human development only 10,000 years old?

File 2013_02_15_06_Renfrew-Web.mp4140.6 MB