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Strong Differences Between Neanderthals and AMHs Cannot Be Inferred from Ethnographic Evidence for Skill and Learning in Hunting

  • Katharine MacDonaldEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)

Abstract

The majority of analyses of hominin learning processes focus on stone tools. However, stone tool production is just one of many skills that were important for forager survival and success in the past, of which hunting strategies are one of the few documented in the Palaeolithic record. This chapter focuses on hunting skills, as a supplement to lithic studies addressing learning processes in Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans. Based on the ethnographic record, the content to be learned while hunting includes a wide range of different sorts of skills and information, some of which are situation specific. The similarities and relatively subtle differences in the record for hunting behaviour between the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic make it unlikely that there was a substantial contrast in the content to be learned or processes involved in acquiring hunting skills. Among contemporary hunters, various older individuals undertake some teaching and also frequently provide small tools, take children on hunting trips, and tell hunting stories. Children enthusiastically engage in their own hunting exploits and games with weapons. The widespread distribution of such activities suggests benefits for the speed and quality of learning, among other factors. It is not unlikely that AMH and Neanderthals, for whom hunting was an important skill, also employed some of these processes.

Keywords

Hunting Skill learning Ethnography Children Middle and Upper Palaeolithic 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArchaeologyUniversity of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

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