Article published in:In Hot Pursuit of Language in Prehistory: Essays in the four fields of anthropology. In honor of Harold Crane Fleming
Edited by John D. Bengtson
[Not in series 145] 2008
► pp. 373–379
Can Paleolithic stone artifacts serve as evidence for prehistoric language?
In this paper a hypothesis is offered concerning the geographic distribution of a Paleolithic language. Two models are commonly used for explaining invention and spread of new techno-typologies: emergence in a core area (invention), and appearance simultaneously and independently in various places (diffusion). The spread of new techniques, tool types, and ideas assumes the existence of verbal communication. The current evidence indicating that a Mousterian industry with Levalloisian techniques was the “mother-culture” from which the Initial Upper Paleolithic emerged, may hint that an unknown but hypothetical language was the source of the Upper Paleolithic languages. This proposal is based on the common knowledge among today’s flintknappers that the learned skill of making stone tools is acquired not only through watching and mimicking the artisan’s gestures, but also through oral explanations that accompany the teaching process.
Published online: 03 December 2008