Home Bases And Early Hominids

Home Bases And Early Hominids Home Bases and Early Hominids is an article that looks at the earlier studies that suggests early hominids living in home bases and the new studies that may suggest different. The first archaeological sites from the Late Pliocene to the Lower Pliocene represented home bases suggesting that early hominids shifted their way of life to a way of life like present hunter and gathers (Potts, 338). However recent studies done from Olduvai Gorge suggests there are possible differences from early hominid to modern hunter and gathers. These differences have a significant meaning in the evolution of the hunting and gathering way of life. An archaeological site from the Paleolithic is usually defined by a concentration of stone artifacts (Potts, 338).

Henri Martin and Davidson Black, tried to infer hominid behavior and ecology from the ancient archaeological remains and assumed that the association of fossil animal bones with stone tools was an important source of information about hominid activities (Potts, 338). In the nineteen sixties early archaeological sites and the study of hominid activities was much more widely acknowledged. The archaeological remains at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania at Koobi Fora in Kenya, and in the Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia were about four times older than sites previously known. The time range of stone tool was pushed back greatly from five hundred thousand years to two million years. This brought about the very important question that every one was wondering how did these humans live? They wonder did these humans hunt and gather or live by foraging like present day baboons on the savanna. The link between early archaeological sites and hominid activities has been investigated in depth at Olduvai Gorge and Koobi For a (Potts, 338).

Potts research has focused on six stratigraphic levels at Olduvai, excavated by Leakey. Most of bones uncovered from these sites were broken some into small pieces before they were buried and fossilized. A wide diversity of species were represented: zebra, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, antelopes, pigs, giraffes, elephants, primates, and, carnivores (Potts, 339). Some aquatic animals and other small vertebrates were presented but the antelope are most abundant in the fossils. Five to ten species are identifiable in the bones from each level.

Tools were also found such as stream cobbles and other pieces of rocks that were flaked repeatedly but in a crude way. The most abundant type of artifact at each site is debitage. These flakes seamed to be used but not intentionally made to be used. Finally each site contained stone pieces of stone raw material, which exhibit no evident traces of flaking or use. Isaac has recently suggested that the first interpretations of these early archaeological sites relied on observation of modern hunter-gathers (Potts, 339). As far as it is known all hunter-gathers do their activities around a campsite or home bases.

As Potts describes debris builds up in well-defined places through out the habitat leaving behind stone artifacts and animal bones in clusters. Paleolithic archaeologists have drawn an analogy between modern day hunter-gathers and the remains from humans of earlier times. The concept of home base and the activities connotes have been important in the interpretation of the earliest archaeological sites. In particular sites such as Bed one at Olduvai it is widely recognized to provide evidence for the existence of home bases during the Plio-Pleistocene. This implies that a hunter gathering way of life has existed during ninety-nine percent of human history since the beginning of stone tool making (Potts, 340). This concept has two important aspects in paleoanthropology, one the sharing of food and two the safety offered from a protected base camp.

The home base would have been in a specific location and this would allow foragers to carry food. Also members of the social group would prepare and consume food there as well as, sleep, make tools, and meet with other group members. Reciprocity is a characteristic of human societies to which anthropologists attach great importance, this sharing of food by some to be a crucial expression, and perhaps the earliest one, of human reciprocity (Potts, 340). However others say that hunter-gathers eat their food while foraging and the extent of food sharing at these campsites is unclear, but it is known that in modern hunter-gathering societies at least some food exchange takes place. Potts argues that home bases do not necessarily have to be a permenant place were the food sharing and social activities take place, that these campsites may be temporary and only occupied for a few days.

He goes on to say that wherever it is located the campsite is a predictable base to which food is brought, even if it is exchanged between foragers or between families is not extensive at any time. In its second aspect the home base as a common meeting place of social activity is assumed to provide safety (Potts, 340). For example Washburn and DeVore provided us with an image of a home base to be a place were weak or the injured may be left to be taken care of, or a place were the elderly might be left. Potts explains that according to this view the origin of home bases correspond with an increase in the dependence of infants on social care and with cultural learning in hominid social groups. This can be debated as to whether this is picture portrayed with the emphasis on safety and food sharing is accurate of base camps of all hunter-gathers.

The thought of this interpretation of the archaeological sites from Olduvai and others has been extremely attractive for two major reasons. The first reason is that this home base interpretation implies long-term continuity between early hominids and modern humans (Potts, 340). This existence of campsites in the early archeological records implies that a basic component of hunter-gather subsistence and socioecology occurred. Like modern day hunter-gathers the adaptation of bringing back food and sharing it with others represents a natural conditioning with deep roots in our evolutionary past. Long term continuity in hominid behavior, supposedly substantiated by the existence of hunter-gathers two million years ago, is crucial to this view of human nature as expounded in the popular literature (Potts, 340). The second reason is that home base interpretation in accurate with other prominent ideas of human evolution.

For example the dietary change of eating more meat, this is viewed to be a significant change in hominid evolution. And the home base view supports this by the numerous amounts of animal bones found at archeological sites. Even more important the use of tools as well supports this theory and the way these humans used and modified their environment. A crucial part of survival is the care of children over a long period of time, and the idea of a home base supports this as well. Potts explains that there is no debate that food-sharing the use of tools and meat eating takes place today among modern humans, but the question is whether this complex of behaviors, existed two million years ago.

In order to test this archeological sites can be tested with the data concerning the formation of these and the ecological context of hominid activities. This study is called taphonomic studies these studies consider the geological and biological processes, which have helped to accumulate, modify, and bury archaeological remains. The goal of this is to assess the contributions of geological events, the activity of carnivores and hominids, and other factors to the formation of clusters of animal bones and stone artifacts. This studying helps to determine whether the artifacts being found are produced by hominid activity. If these artifacts did get there from hominids they need to assess what kind of activities took place there.

Researchers look at the fact that these artifacts could have been placed there in other ways such as wat …

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