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Learning by Heart: Cultural Patterns in the Faunal Processing Sequence during the Middle Pleistocene



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Blasco López, Ruth and Rosell, Jordi and Domínguez Rodrigo, Manuel and Lozano, Sergi and Pastó, Ignasi and Riba, David and Vaquero, Manuel and Fernández Peris, Josep and Arsuaga, Juan Luis and Bermúdez de Castro, José María and Carbonell i Roura, Eudald (2013) Learning by Heart: Cultural Patterns in the Faunal Processing Sequence during the Middle Pleistocene. PloS one, 8 (2). pp. 1-20. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://www.plosone.org/


Social learning, as an information acquisition process, enables intergenerational transmission and the stabilisation of cultural
forms, generating and sustaining behavioural traditions within human groups. Archaeologically, such social processes might
become observable by identifying repetitions in the record that result from the execution of standardised actions. From
a zooarchaeological perspective, the processing and consumption of carcasses may be used to identify these types of
phenomena at the sites. To investigate this idea, several faunal assemblages from Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain, MIS 9-5e)
and Gran Dolina TD10-1 (Burgos, Spain, MIS 9) were analysed. The data show that some butchery activities exhibit variability
as a result of multiple conditioning factors and, therefore, the identification of cultural patterns through the resulting cutmarks
presents additional difficulties. However, other activities, such as marrow removal by means of intentional breakage,
seem to reflect standardised actions unrelated to the physical characteristics of the bones. The statistical tests we applied
show no correlation between the less dense areas of the bones and the location of impacts. Comparison of our
experimental series with the archaeological samples indicates a counter-intuitive selection of the preferred locus of impact,
especially marked in the case of Bolomor IV. This fact supports the view that bone breakage was executed counterintuitively
and repetitively on specific sections because it may have been part of an acquired behavioural repertoire. These
reiterations differ between levels and sites, suggesting the possible existence of cultural identities or behavioural
predispositions dependant on groups. On this basis, the study of patterns could significantly contribute to the identification
of occupational strategies and organisation of the hominids in a territory. In this study, we use faunal data in identifying the
mechanics of intergenerational information transmission within Middle Pleistocene human communities and provide new
ideas for the investigation of occupational dynamics from a zooarchaeological approach.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Social learning, Middle Pleistocene, Human communities, Spain, Bolomor Cave, Gran Dolina
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:27983
Deposited On:20 Jan 2015 10:15
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:41

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