An Unshakable Middle Palaeolithic?

Mary Stiner has just published a review paper in Current Anthropology about variation in the Middle Palaeolithic and whether the period can still be viewed as one of stasis. The review mainly deals with the zooarchaeological evidence from around the Mediterranean basin though does draw in broader comparisons with the wider European Middle Palaeolithic and North African and Middle East data. The paper raises some interesting points particularly in relation to how periods can look behaviourally static but in fact this relates to what you compare it to; in the paper the author argues that the MP looks static comapred to the Upper Palaeolithic but considerably more innovative when comapared to the Lower Palaeolithic. The paper highlights similarities in faunal consumption, mainly larger animals with smaller, slower animals interspersed. In particular, whilst both in the MP and UP focussed on large game animals in the UP there is a broader spectrum of resources exploited. The paper highlights intersting zooarchaeological patterns but, as is understandable with such a broad view perspective, there is a lack of lithic and other contextual data that might help tease out and understand these patterns more fully. Overall, the paper illustrates that the MP was complex and emphasises the point that these Neanderthal communities should be viewed, as much as possible, as distinct human groups not simply compared to the Upper Palaeoltihic populations.

Complete Reference: Stiner, M, 2013: An unshakable Middle Palaeolithic? Current Anthropology

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