Friday, May 1, 2020

Examining the Origins of Hafting in South Asia

J. Blinkhorn
Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology (2019) 2:466–481
13 July 2019


The appearance of hafting technologies marks a key shift in hominin behavioural evolution. Hafting first appears in Africa and Western Eurasia across the transition from Late Acheulean to Middle Palaeolithic technologies ~ 300–200 thousand years ago (ka). Hafting technology in South Asia may have emerged as a result of a local innovation, through cultural diffusion or a population dispersal. The resolution of the South Asian Palaeolithic records has improved significantly over the past decade, enabling examination of patterns of change through time in stone tool technologies. Although functional studies of tool use remain limited in the region, a range of indices of hafting appear in stone tool assemblages that offer the first means to evaluate the origins of hafting in South Asia. Rare examples appear in Middle Pleistocene contexts, but indices of hafting appear repeatedly in Middle Palaeolithic assemblages dating within the past 100 thousand years and are commonplace amongst Late Palaeolithic assemblages dating within the past 45 thousand years. This dataset remains too immature to authoritatively resolve between alternate models for the origins of hafting, whereas direct association with discrete hominin populations is hampered by the region’s scant fossil record. Nevertheless, this examination of the origin of hafting technology presents the means to reorient approaches to Late Pleistocene behavioural change in South Asia and integrate them within global debates regarding hominin innovation, demographic interaction and population expansion.

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