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Social Brain, Distributed Mind$

Robin Dunbar, Clive Gamble, and John Gowlett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264522

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.001.0001

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Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Chapter:
(p.412) (p.413) 20 Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds
Source:
Social Brain, Distributed Mind
Author(s):

John Chapman

Bisserka Gaydarska

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.003.0020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the fragmentation premise — the idea that the deliberate breakage of a complete object and the re-use of the resultant fragments as new and separate objects ‘after the break’ was a common practice in the past. It also summarizes the main implications of the fragmentation premise for the study of enchained social relations and of the creation and development of personhood in the past. Enchained relations connect the distributed elements of a person's social identity using material culture. These concepts of fragmentation, enchainment and fractality are used to think through some of the earliest remains of objects in the world. Following the philosopher David Bohm, the discussion supports the co-evolution of fragmentation in both consciousness and in objects, and compares Bohm's three-stage ideas to Mithen's model of cognitive evolution and Donald's model of external symbolic storage.

Keywords:   fragmentation premise, enchained social relations, personhood, material culture, David Bohm, cognitive evolution

Introduction: From Rubbish to Meaning

IF ANYTHING CHARACTERIZES archaeological remains, it is their fragmentary nature. Whether the fragment in question is the fragment of a pot, a fragment of a house or a part (fragment) of a graveyard, it ultimately leads to the reconstruction of a fragment of our past. It is a surprise, then, that for a very long time that fragments constituted ‘rubbish’ in archaeology, probably because of ‘the commonplace that archaeology is concerned with the rubbish of past generations’ (Thomas 1999, 62). This perspective drastically curtailed the potential of archaeologists to construct interesting narratives based on fragments.

Three converging debates in archaeology and sociology set the agenda of a new research perspective—that of the fragmentation premise. The first debate occurred in sociology in the 1970s and was concerned with the cultural definition of rubbish. Here, waste management was closely related to cultural order and the consistent labour of division required to regulate matter that was out of place (Munro 1997). The other two discussions took place within archaeology and have established the basis for most mainstream research in the discipline into the 21st century. The debate over the particularities of site formation started earlier and enjoyed long and exhaustive attention. Encapsulated in a sentence, taphonomic modification and object dispersion are central to our understanding of the archaeological record—not as ‘a living assemblage’ (e.g. left as it was used in the past) but as shaped by the results of deliberate practices and post-depositional modifications (Schiffer 1987). The other key discourse in archaeology with crucial implications for the fragmentation premise was the post-processual insight into the active role of material (p.414) culture—e.g. grave goods do not reflect status but rather negotiate status (Hodder 1982).

This post-processual mode saw the first attempts to study the meaning of fragments, rather than simply accept them as rubbish. A good example is Talalay's recognition of the unbalanced selection of right and left figurine leg fragments in the Greek Neolithic (1993). Following up this trend, the 5th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists hosted a session on ‘Fragmentation’. The papers demonstrated that deliberate fragmentation of objects and re-use ‘after the break’ was a characteristic of many prehistoric and early historic societies in Eurasia, over a much longer timescale, and over a much wider area, than had previously been thought.

An extended summary of these early attempts to find the social meaning of fragments in archaeology was Chapman's monograph Fragmentation in archaeology (2000). Based mostly on materials from the Balkan Neolithic and Copper Age, the book sought to ‘make sense’ of the numerous patterns of fragmentation found in site assemblages by first formulating five possible reasons for the presence of fragments in the archaeological record (2000, 23–7); and, second, trying to explain why and how deliberate fragmentation is a socially anchored practice (2000, 37–58). While accidental breakage is not to be excluded, experimental work has proved that such an explanation is not universally applicable. Objects are buried because they are broken (Garfinkel 1994), ritual ‘killing’ of objects occurs (Hamilakis 1998) and fragments are dispersed to ensure fertility (Bausch 1994). Although well attested in the archaeological record, such behaviours received little attention before their recognition as deliberate social practices (Chapman 2000). The innovative explanation of fragmentation added to the list of social practices was enchainment—a concept more readily accepted and internalized in social anthropology than in archaeology (see Strathern 1988).1 Personal enchainment through gift exchange was argued to be valid also for the exchange of fragmentary objects. A fragment may stand for the complete object in one place and thus presence the persons and places of the object's origins and later biography in other places. This is an example of people interrelating through fragment enchainment.

(p.415) Once deliberate fragmentation was established as a regular prehistoric and later practice and the full range of artefacts from a completely excavated site were recovered, then the basic question for every fragmentarist arose—where are the missing fragments? To answer this question and to address some of the criticisms of the first fragmentation book, a series of museum and archival studies were undertaken that evolved into the second fragmentation book—Parts and wholes (Chapman & Gaydarska 2006).

The book is centred around site-based re-fitting studies undertaken on two classes of material usually considered as having a specific meaning or high value—fired clay figurines and Spondylus shell ornaments. As many published and accessible re-fitting studies from around the world as possible were also included in the book in an attempt to define practices of disposal/discard and meaningful fragment re-use on the basis of the patterns of the most widespread fragment dispersal and re-fitting. Despite a variety of research aims and final conclusions, all the re-fitting studies supported the fragmentation premise, which is characterized by deliberate fragmentation and fragment curation as well as the practical use of fragments, including children's play with fragments. The main arguments for the fragmentation premise, and its implications, are summarized in the following two sections, before turning to a new research application.

The Fragmentation Premise

A few terminological clarifications relating to site formation and the type of contexts of discovery in archaeology are necessary before we move to the main points of the fragmentation premise. We start with the classic example of the so-called closed find contexts—burial pits. Another type of closed context is the burnt house. These are contexts that are believed to suffer little or no later intervention and therefore appear as they were left in the past.

The next forms of context are the semi-opened contexts, usually associated with unburnt house debris, pits with documented stages of infilling and middens. The semi-opened archaeological structures are prone to later deliberate or unconscious disturbance, during which whole or fragmented objects can be removed or added to the initial assemblage.

The last type of context is the open contexts, represented by the open settlement space or any other open surface in the past. Any whole object or object fragment left on the surface outside a building could have been moved there from another context.

(p.416)

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Figure 20.1. Decorated megalithic slabs broken and re-used, Breton Neolithic (source: Scarre 1998, upper figure, p. 62)

(p.417)

Table 20.1. Inter-site re-fits

Sites

Date

Material

Inter-site distances

Achtal (4 caves)

Gravettian

flint

5 km

Gyrinos Lake (6 sites)

Mesolithic-Neolithic

flint

6 km

Aldenhovener Platte (2 sites)

LBK

flint

0.5–3 km

Locmariaquer (3 sites)

Neolithic

decorated menhir

5 km

Trent valley (2 sites)

Late Bronze Age

bronze sword

5 km

Velsen fort (4 sites)

Early Roman

Samian bowls

3–8 km

The arguments that we advance for the reality of deliberate fragmentation and frequent re-use of fragments are sensitive to context and based upon four kinds of data: (1) re-fits between fragments of the same object found at different sites; (2) re-fits between fragments of the same object found in different contexts within the same site; (3) orphan fragments (i.e. parts of an object whose other parts are missing) from settlements with total excavation and good recovery methods; and (4) orphan fragments from closed contexts.

In seven of the cases outlined in Chapman and Gaydarska (2006), there is physical matching of different fragments of the same broken object found on different sites (from 2 to 6 fragments; Table 20.1). The most striking case in this group is the examples of decorated megalithic slabs from the Breton Neolithic, whose engraved patterns were broken across the image, with one part built into one monument and the other half used to construct a second tomb—the largest example of fragment re-fitting yet identified in prehistoric Eurasia and one of the most revealing for enchained relations between people, places and objects (L'Helgouach & Le Roux 1986; Figure 20.1). The longest distance currently known to separate fragments of the same object is 63 km, with waste flakes found at a habitation site re-fitting with a quartz cobble at a separate workshop site in the Chuckwalla Valley, southern California (Singer 1984).

The most numerous cases (n = 23) outlined concern re-fits of fragments found within the same site (Table 20.2, Figure 20.2). Secure examples linking mortuary and/or burnt house contexts are still relatively rare, but are important for demonstrating the incidence of deliberate fragmentation and the re-use of fragments at the site level. It is also highly probable that the far larger number of cases of re-fitting fragments linking semi-closed contexts also supports deliberate fragmentation practices rather than children's play or other less structured mechanisms of fragment dispersion, because the fragments were often found in deep, sealed layers of different pits.

(p.418)

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Figure 20.2. Late Eneolithic vessel from Durankulak, NE Bulgaria: one fragment was found in Grave 584, the other in a Horizon VII stone house on the nearby tell (source: Todorova et al., 2002, pp. 59–60 and Tabl. 99/11)

(p.419)

Table 20.2. Intra-site re-fits from closed and semi-closed contexts

Sites

Date

Material

Type of context

Endröd 119

Early Neolithic

pottery

S (pits and unburnt houses)

Ovcharovo-Gorata

Middle Neolithic

figurines and altars

S (pits)

Dimini

Late Neolithic

shell rings

S-O (unburnt house—open area)

Durankulak

Late Copper Age

pottery

C (house—grave)

Shlyakovsky

Late Copper Age

flint

C (grave—grave)

Dolnoslav

Final Copper Age

figurines

C-C (burnt houses)

C-S (house—midden)

C-O (house—open area)

Gubakút

LBK

pottery

S (pits)

Frimmersdorf 122

LBK

pottery

S (pits)

Molino Casarotto

Middle Neolithic

pottery

S (unburnt houses)

Rocca di Rivoli

Late Neolithic

pottery

S (pits)

Windmill Hill

Earlier Neolithic

pottery

S (ditch levels)

Kilverstone

Earlier Neolithic

pottery/flints

S (pits)

Hekelingen

Late Neolithic

flint

S (unburnt houses)

Barnhouse

Late Neolithic

pottery

S (unburnt houses and pits)

Chalain Site 2C

Final Neolithic

pottery

S (unburnt houses)

Shakadô

Middle Jomon

figurines

C (sealed ritual pits)

Phylakopi

Late Bronze Age

pottery and figurines

S (rooms in shrines)

Itford Hill

Middle Bronze Age

pottery

C-S (grave—unburnt house)

Runnymede Bridge

Late Bronze Age

pottery

S-S, S-O (mostly between open areas)

Speckhau cemetery

Early Iron Age

pottery

C (contexts in tumuli)

Nørre Fjand

Early Iron Age

pottery

C (burnt houses)

Wyszogrod Site 2A

Early Medieval

pottery

S (pits)

Awatovi

Western Pueblo

pottery

S (rooms in houses)

Key to types of context: C—closed; S—semi-closed; O—open.

The study of parts missing from settlements that have been totally excavated is almost entirely dominated by lithic re-fitting. Data on the operational chain (châine opératoire [Leroi-Gourhan 1964], defined as a way of defining the stages in making a tool, from the collection of raw material to the finished object) have been used to estimate the quantities of blades detached from cores discarded in one place and exported to other places (Torrence 1982). For ceramics and other non-lithic finds, the identification of fragments with no re-fitting parts is commonly explained by poor preservation, rubbish left lying on the surface, sherd destruction for re-use as temper in pottery, etc. While varying regional climatic conditions and the degree of surface exposure of the artefacts should not be (p.420) underestimated, the widely varying contexts of the data (Table 20.3) show that it would be unwise to identify post-depositional climatic factors as the main variable causing orphan fragments. It begins to look probable that one of the factors in the diminution of these assemblages was the deliberate removal of sherds from the site, whether locally or further away. An alternative practice would involve bringing sherds onto these sites from vessels already broken elsewhere. One of the most serious problems for re-fitting of sherds and Balkan figurines is determining the direction of movement of the fragments. However, whatever the direction of movement of the enchained fragment, the important point to be underlined is the movement of fragments between sites. Thus, the orphan fragment argument complements the cases of inter-site fragment re-fitting even though it may be impossible to identify both places of deposition precisely.

The last category of fragments to consider is the orphan fragments found in closed contexts. Everything said about the movement of orphan fragments from settlements, with their wide range of sometimes problematic contexts, can be stated more definitively for the closed contexts boasting the deposition of once-whole but now incomplete objects. Table 20.4 represents just a sample of the wide range of especially (but not only) mortuary contexts that have been investigated. These examples provide strong evidence for the widespread nature of enchained relations between the mortuary domain and the world of the living in European prehistory (Figure 20.3). The two cases of metalwork deposits are also indicative of wider relations across the landscape, perhaps proving the norm in times/places where so-called ‘scrap-metal’ hoards have been deposited.

Table 20.3. Orphan sherds from settlement contexts

Sites

Date

Material

Type of context

Gyrinos Lake

Mesolithic/Neolithic

flint

S, O

Endröd 119

Early Neolithic

pottery

S

Dimini

Late Neolithic

shell ring

C, S, O

Parṭa tell I

Late Neolithic

pottery

C

Ovcharovo

Copper Age

figurines

C, S, O

Goljamo Delchevo

Copper Age

figurines

C, S, O

Vinitsa

Copper Age

figurines

C, S, O

Sedlare

Late Copper Age

figurines

C, S, O

Dolnoslav

Final Copper Age

figurines

C, S, O

Rocca di Rivoli

Late Neolithic

pottery

S

Kilverstone

Earlier Neolithic

pottery/flints

S

Tremough

Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age

pottery

S, O

Runnymede Bridge

Late Bronze Age

pottery

S, O

Tremough

Romano Cornish

pottery

S, O

AZ I:1:17 (Anasazi)

AD 11th

pottery

S, O

Shoofly Village, AZ

AD 12th–13th

pottery

S, O

Sonora Site 205

Hokoham

pottery

sherds brought onto site

Little Egypt, Georgia

AD 16th 17th

pottery

S, O

Key to types of context: C—closed; S—semi-closed; O—open.

(p.421)

Table 20.4. Orphan fragments from closed (C) and semi-closed (S) contexts

Sites

Date

Material

Type of context

Durankulak cemetery

Late Neolithic–Late Copper Age

shell rings figurines pottery

C (grave)

Varna cemetery

Late Copper Age

shell rings pottery

C (grave)

Tiszapolgár-Basatanya

Early–Middle Copper Age

pottery

C (graves)

Nissehøj

Middle Neolithic

pottery

S (courtyard outside megalith)

Knowth

Neolithic

decorated stones

C (burial mound)

Lockington

Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age

pottery

C (grave)

Mušja Jama

Late Bronze Age

metalwork

C (karst sink-hole)

Trent Valley

Late Bronze Age

bronze sword

S (hilltop deposits)

Speckhau cemetery

Early Iron Age

pottery

C (contexts in tumuli)

Key to types of context: C—closed; S—semi-closed; O—open.

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Figure 20.3. Orphan fragment of Spondylus shell ring, Varna Eneolithic cemetery (drawn by Vessela Yaneva)

(p.422) The Implications of the fragmentation premise

The implications of the fragmentation premise are many and varied (Chapman & Gaydarska 2006, note 14), but probably the most important concern the notions of enchainment and personhood. The dynamic nominalist approach has been proposed to understand the construction of identity through self-categorization (Hacking 1995). In this approach, agency and structure come together in the formation of identities, which may be described as the process of self-description through categorization. This process leads to the emergence of new kinds of persons as they are materialized. This perspective builds on Gamble's understanding of the relation between the body, which is primary, and material culture, which is secondary and derives symbolic meaning from corporeal metaphors (Gamble 2007). It adds a layer of co-evolution to Gamble's precedence of the body over material culture, as bodies that have made new forms of material culture are themselves thereby transformed into new bodies through the acquisition of new corporal skills and competences.

One aspect of personhood whose existence follows from the fragmentation premise is fractal personhood, in which a person emerges out of other people, places and things, materializing relations of enchainment with these other entities through broken as well as complete objects. We have seen, for example, how fragments of the same object linked the newly dead and the world of the living as often as enchainment maintained links between households and settlements. Conceptualizing the fragments of broken things as non-human dividuals helps us to understand the relationship between individuals (viz., complete objects) and dividuals (LiPuma 1998). In this way, the ‘individual’ aspect of personhood stood for the sum of all of the parts of the person's social identity or, as Binford (1971) put it, the ‘social persona’. Enchained relations connect the distributed elements of a social persona, as well as the places and persons to which it is related. Studies of a variety of material forms indicate four important aspects of personhood—personhood and houses, personhood and settlements, personhood and the dead, and personhood and new roles and specializations.

The everyday practices of living in houses and visiting other houses led to a wide variety of relations, some of which were materialized and made visible through deposition. Thus, for example, the inter-household dispersion of re-fitting fragments of fired clay figurines at the Bulgarian Copper Age tell of Dolnoslav helps us draw a picture of households where persons are making whole figurines which embody different stages (p.423) of their life course. These demonstrate a greater likelihood of figurine wear, re-use and fragmentation with increasing age (Figure 20.4). In a fractal perspective, figurines were born into different households, emerging out of the houses and their occupants. The accumulation of figurine collections in and by each household told the story of the persons of that household and perhaps, following Biehl (2003), addressed an additional narrative of the household's own biography. In turn, this materialization of persons created different kinds of person through their embodiment in different forms and through the highly contrasting kinds of fragmentation affecting different figurines.

The most important enchained relations between persons living in separate households were mediated by re-fitting figurine fragments deposited in different houses; the three examples known from Dolnoslav, for example, exhibited three different principles of opposition. The fragmentation of pieces that could be re-fitted later emerged out of these enchained relations between households.

There was a complex relationship between community structure and fractal aspects of personhood, often mediated by the household. The fractal perspective suggests that (in)dividual persons emerged out of faceto-face contacts and exchanges within the community, just as fractal (p.424) objects emerged out of the quotidian enchainment of (in)dividuals. The relative importance of the house and the overall community depended initially on its settlement context. For an extended family living in an isolated homestead, the house was the central focus of identity as symbol and practice—far more so than for a household in a village community. In the former, there were tensions between the potential to create the household's particular local set of material culture and the need to exchange appropriate objects betokening personal identities and membership of the breeding network linking the household to another 30 or 40 homesteads. The spatial dispersal of labour into enchained homesteads constrained the intensified production of relations-and-things. In the village, the multiplication of identical elements (house, oven, storage area, sleeping platform) gave the settlement a coherence that reinforced the identities of each separate household. It also framed the enchained relations within and between households in a consistent way, supporting communally accepted principles of personhood and identity in the wider landscape.

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Figure 20.4. Re-fitting figurine fragments, Dolnoslav Eneolithic tell (photograph by Bisserka Gaydarska)

The mortuary arena stimulated each household, in the light of their fractal relations with the newly dead, to make decisions about which objects to bring to the grave and which to leave at home. Much of the variability in the incidence of grave goods may well have related to these practices, as potential grave goods evoked the memories of past people, places and things, and participated in their history and ancestral qualities as well as their places of origin and routes to the cemetery. While fragments of locally produced ceramics may well have materialized very local histories and everyday enchained links, exotic marine shell fragments were more likely to have recapitulated long-distance relationships and the histories of entire corporate groups.

Personhood was developed not only in contexts of houses, settlements and cemeteries, but also in connection with major changes in community lifeways. The emergence of farming in Eurasia comprised perhaps the most important changes in the last 10 millennia (Price 2000). New types of person were created in these developments, in particular the ‘farmer’ and the ‘herder’, but also the ‘potter’, the ‘polished stone tool-maker’ and perhaps the ‘brewer’. These new types of person co-emerged fractally with new foodstuffs and objects, such as flour, bread, lamb chops, barley beer, pottery and axes—the one could not have occurred without the other. Notions of personhood would have been influenced by the wide range of new, enchained relations, not least gendered relations, which were based upon these identities as well as their interplay with traditional (p.425) types of person—‘hunter’, ‘shellfish-collector’, ‘flint-knapper’ and ‘leather-worker’. The communal values of the new products went hand in hand with the status of their creators. It is probable that, while those dwelling in dispersed homesteads would have included some of these new classes of people, meeting others seasonally, settled villagers would have included the full range of types of persons, with everyday contacts for most people. The discovery of the value of the secondary products of animals (Sherratt 1997) would have ushered in new episodes of personcreation, with ‘dairy producers’ making milk, cheese and yoghurt, and ‘ploughmen’ harnessing animal traction, alongside the diversification of traditional persons such as weavers (now making woollen textiles) and carpenters (now shaping wooden wheels, planks and complex joints for carts). The values assigned to the new things transformed the traditional system of communal values, itself confirming new statuses for new types of person.

Fractal personhood thus embodies the full range of enchained relationships, creating a person from the formative contributions of things, places and other persons. It is noteworthy that such a form of personhood is not uniformly related to deliberate object fragmentation, which is absent in Melanesia and South India, for example. However, such a form of personhood has been demonstrated in many times/places in later European prehistory.

But what of early human evolution in the Palaeolithic? Here, archaeological finds are far less complex than the pottery, figurines, polished stone ornaments and shell jewellery of the farming period, often being limited to stone tools and the by-products of their making, as well as animal bones with traces of modification by hominins. In the following sections, the concepts of fragmentation, enchainment and presencing are used as the basis for exploring the hitherto under-theorized relations between the earliest hominins, their stone tools and their cultural practices.

Fragmentation, Enchainment and Presencing—Perspectives on Hominid Evolution

David Bohm is perhaps best known for his profound statement of ontological holism in Wholeness and the implicate order (1980). Here, he outlines the basis for ‘undivided wholeness in flowing movement’, as best exemplified by a vortex in a running stream. However, and despite the (p.426) holism central to his work, he realized that there is not and cannot be any escape from fragmentation since, ironically, it is the one thing in our lives which is universal. Bohm identifies the concept of fragmentation as very deep and pervasive in human consciousness. For Bohm, to divide up is to simplify—to make manageable the totality of the world and our experience of it. The innocent beginning of the process is to regard conceptual divisions as a useful way of thinking about things. The problems arise when those fragments of consciousness take flight and become independent entities with their own separate existence. The habit of seeing and experiencing the world as composed of fragments can lead to a way of thinking based upon such fragments. The response of seeking to break up the experiences of the world to correspond with such a way of thinking can clearly lead to the proof of the correctness of such a fragmentary worldview (Bohm 1980, 3–4). The Golden Age of wholeness stands as a desired absence on which to look back and contemplate how good things once were. Without it, there is only, pace Munro (1997), the endless labour of division.

Bohm's perspectives on human consciousness can also shed light on things, since breakage, loss and absence would have been part and parcel of Palaeolithic lives. Archaeologists have developed the chaîne opératoire as a way of defining the stages in making a tool, from the collection of raw material to the finished object. This works best with, say, flint tools made using a reduction sequence, where fragments of different types are detached at each operational stage from a series of ever smaller ‘wholes’ (Mellars 1996). Thus, in the Early Palaeolithic examples, our term ‘fragmentation’ carries with it a sense of ‘deliberate’ action only insofar as the reduction sequence is purposive—and not necessarily the sense of ‘deliberate’ re-use of fragments produced in the reduction sequence.

Such reduction sequences for stone and bone tool production would have produced whole objects (tools) and many fragments (débitage). Everyone would have become used to seeing fragments of once-whole things lying around their living area. The opportunistic use of broken objects became part of a way of life—a re-use of things that was in fact an extension of their biographies. Discarded blunt knives were re-used as scrapers, wooden sticks were used as scoops or to dig out pits. Moreover, broken or damaged hand-axes were re-shaped to produce a slimmeddown, shorter working version (McPherron 2000). These were the first steps in the realization that parts of things could be useful and could be used as separate entities in their own right. This was even more clear in the case of the meat removed for consumption by scavenging or butchery. (p.427) The utility of fragments also confirmed the idea that whole and part could somehow be related and that the object now in pieces had once been whole. Away from their own home and visiting a place where tribal lore had it that others once lived there, people would have seen fragments of unknown antiquity and identity that attracted their attention because they were already accustomed to the re-use of fragments in their own lives. The thought that these fragments could be useful may also have been supplemented with the notion that these fragments once belonged to someone else—that there was another identity somehow implicated in the fragments. In the sense of Peircean semiotics (Jones 2007; Peirce 1958 [1904]), the association between the part and the whole was an index; the experience of the one presenced the other.

The presencing of past persons through the re-use of fragmentary material culture was, in itself, a large step that had enormous and surely unintended consequences for future social practices. To the extent that people in the past made variable uses of objects and places from their own past (Bradley 2002),2 those people would have developed an appreciation of both the practical and the symbolic potential of broken things. The growing role of fragments in past lifeways would have altered people's perceptions of wholeness and divisibility, not only in the sense of wholeness being effective and useful (who needs a broken hand-axe?) but also by an acceptance of both parts and wholes as separate entities, reciprocally indexing each other. Under certain circumstances, perhaps characterized by changing views about the nature of relations between persons, the well-known utilitarian idea of fragments being connected to past whole objects could have been linked to another concept—that fragments could have been linked to past persons—to produce a metaphorical link between the relationships among object parts and whole objects, and among persons and their communities. Two forms of logic are important here: relational logic, in which the part somehow stood for the whole object, and rational logic, where the fragment grew out of the whole object. Both forms of logic were probably important, in varying degrees, in various Palaeolithic communities; each form of logic could have led to the further step of linking persons and objects in the creation of things out of people, and also as people in their own right.

(p.428) Moreover, the social group itself may well have undergone seasonal changes in composition (fission-fusion) and the length of the separation of people would also have been critical to the extent of their use of discarded objects, a notion that will be discussed further below. The increasing recognition of not only the usefulness but also the power of fragments led to an acceptance of worldviews in which fragments took their place as one class of entity amongst many.

As it stands, this sketch is based upon post hoc logic and a generalized account of an undated sequence of conjectural changes. But is it possible to connect this possible set of relationships between human consciousness, social practice and the material world to the longue durée of the Palaeolithic? Covering a period extending from in excess of 2.5 million years ago to 500,000 years ago in Africa, this exploration of early fragmentation seeks to do just this—to identify areas in hominid evolution in which the concepts of fragmentation, enchainment and presencing can make a useful contribution to that fledgling species—social archaeology in the Palaeolithic. There are two specific aims: to investigate the question, raised by Bohm's research, of the possible co-evolution of the fragmentation of consciousness and of objects; and to identify ways of overcoming the false dichotomy between the presence/absence of symbolic representations in the Palaeolithic.

This approach takes a bottom-up, interactional look at hominin social life by considering social relations and social structure as properties that emerge through personal negotiation and performance (Gamble & Gittins 2004; Hinde 1976). We seek to go further than Ingold's (1993) principle that techniques of making are embedded in people's experience of shaping things by arguing that, in addition, persons were embedded in the objects that they made by virtue of the objects’ entanglement in interpersonal relations (Strathern 1998). We do this by using the concepts of ‘enchainment’ and ‘presenting’ (Chapman 2000: 30–40).

In Melanesian ethnography, enchainment is ‘a condition of all relations based on the gift’ (Strathern 1988: 161). Thus, giving a gift enchains the gift-giver to the beneficiary, as well as enchaining the object to both persons. Enchainment is thus a key practice by which material culture and social relations constitute and re-constitute personhood. Presencing is concerned to bring the absent person, place or object into focus in a specific social context. An example of presencing is the knapped tool that refers to an absent place—the raw material source—which a member of the group had visited. To the extent that the phenomenon of presencing was already part of primate behaviour (pers. comm., R. I. M. Dunbar), (p.429) early hominins were building on a primate legacy in establishing relations across the landscape. The difference between hominin and non-human animal behaviour was that the presencing between individuals and resources was reciprocal: if the member of a human group member was absent on a foraging trip, the stone tool could presence the person, whereas this does not happen with chimpanzee tools.

The most serious potential obstacle to understanding the relationships between persons and tools in the remote past is the common attitude among specialists in human evolution that meaning and symbolism are an add-on to the more basic functional, economic and secular uses of tools (Henshilwood & Marean 2003). The idea that tools have no necessary implicit communicative functions is used to support the distinction—central to much Palaeolithic research—between modern humans with symbolic behaviour and pre-modern hominids without. In supporting this argument, Wadley (2001, 207) admits that ‘artifacts are not automatically imbued with symbolism: that happens only when they are used to define or mediate social relations’. But our point is exactly this—that the processes of the creation of tools out of persons do indeed define and mediate social relations from the earliest times when objects are used—i.e. some 2.7 million years ago (Figure 20.5). The making of tools cannot be other than a practice which links human individuals into a spatial network of material acquisition and transformation, a temporal pattern of regular action (perhaps a tradition) and a social process of the objectification of persons through the production of tools (Miller 1987). Such relationships between persons and tools are supported by Byers’ argument (1999) that both primate and early hominin tools were not only expressive framing devices but also action-cues for the communication of intentions and desires, to which we would add material metaphors that established relationships.3 The integration of these views leads to the conclusion that external symbolic storage on a simple level goes back to the origins of tool-making (see below for discussion of Merlin Donald's model). This notion will be the focus of the second half of our chapter. Let us approach the question of possible co-evolution from the viewpoint of objects before turning to social groups in their landscapes and, finally, consciousness.

(p.430)

Fragmenting Hominins and the Presencing of Early Palaeolithic Social Worlds

Figure 20.5. Time-line for the Early Palaeolithic (drawn by Bisserka Gaydarska)

(p.431) Objects

The australopithecines

Mithen (1996) has defined a central paradox about Early Palaeolithic hominin lifeways: while the archaeological evidence suggests small groups with minimal social structure, the fossil record and the palaeo-ecological data suggest the potential evolution of a greater degree of complexity and variability. Dunbar (e.g. 1993) emphasizes that a key aspect of the longterm behavioural basis of early humans was living in face-to-face, small bands who communicated with each other in initially limited ways (Buckley & Steele 2002) and cooperated in all social activities (Key & Aiello 1999). Tomasello (1999) makes the key point that early learning was not just from another group member but through that group member, which helped to reinforce shared identity.

On a small, local scale, the material world after 2.7 million years ago was implicated in the formation of group and personal identity through repeated visits to the same raw material source, the carrying of stone, animal products, gathered food and firewood to other places, and the embodiment of the necessary skills to make tools or cut animal flesh or wood. Early Oldowan flake and core tools (Figure 20.6) are characterized by a reductive technique with basic flaking revealing simple spatial relations of knapping (Wynn 2002).

Nevertheless, if one hominin could make a flake tool while another could not, a performative advantage was set up that could enable the removal of meat from a carcass. The consumers of that meat were connected to the tool-using ‘butcher’ in a social as well as a material relationship. This person also became part of a chain of presencing linked to the absent kill-site and its hunters, as well as any absent members of the consuming family.

Lithic transport across the landscape was related to the production of fragments from lumps, nodules or blocks (Stout et al. 2005). The sources of whole nodules—so far restricted to 1 km away from the knapping site (Marwick 2003)—were noted and related through presencing to the useful parts of the nodule themselves, even when these parts were discarded in another, always nearby, place. The return to the same favoured raw material source reinforced the relationship between resource (stone), individual (person) and place, most particularly for those directly involved in the movement and use of raw materials.

(p.432)

Figure 20.6. Oldowan tools: scrapers (1–2), bifacial core (3), pre-determined flakes (4–5) (source: de la Torre et al. 2003, Figs 5, 11, 13)

Thus, early forms of the relationships between persons, places and things were developed in ways that broke down the difference between utilitarian, communicative and symbolic functions. This account underlines the key point that the occurrence of relationships between resource, person and place leads, in the particular social structures and ecological contexts of the Lower Palaeolithic, to the creation and use of metaphorical (p.433) and symbolic understandings of the practices and situations. The increasing intensity of production and use of material culture invariably led to the creation of more and more fragments. It is unlikely that their ubiquity went unnoticed and unexploited for very long.

Figure 20.7. Acheulean tools: hand-axe (1), tranchet flakes (2–3), core (4) and utilized flake (5) (source: Roberts et al. 1997: Figs 26, 29)

What light does fragmentation shed on Mithen's Early Palaeolithic paradox? The perspective developed here suggests that, interestingly, the lamented absence of early complexity is an illusion; it cannot be detected through excavation but it can be theorized in terms of the enchained relationships between persons, places and things. The emergence of relations between persons in different face-to-face groups increased the potential (p.434) for previously undeveloped social complexities by providing a material means for the maintenance of social relations beyond the face-to-face. It is worth considering that this form of australopithecine social relationships was co-present with the earliest tools.

The first species of Homo

A suite of crucial changes in hominin evolution came about beginning ca. 2 million years ago, with the emergence of the first species of the Homo genus (Homo habilis/rudolfensis). This species is characterized by a larger brain size than before, fully bipedal mobility and a fully terrestrial lifestyle (Aiello 1996). Aiello links the new species’ adaptation to open-country environments with an increase in group size spurred on by the need for defence against predators. Cachel and Harris (1998) have detected more complex ranging and foraging behaviours than found in earlier dwelling practices, noting in addition an expansion to upland settlements such as Gadeb in the Ethiopian Highlands. Marwick (2003) notes that the first known instance of hominins moving lithics more than 1 km is dated to ca. 1.9 million years ago while over the period 1.9–1.6 million years ago, the maximum distance of lithic transport increased to 13 km—still within a group's capabilities of direct procurement. Marwick proposes that this distance may well equate to the minimum home range of these early Oldowan-tool-producing hominins.

These disparate lines of evidence converge on the conclusion that there were important changes towards more complex hominin sociality over this long period of time. These changes would have taken the form of larger face-to-face social groups (Rodseth et al. 1991), wider social networks stretching over greater distances across the landscape (Cachel & Harris 1998) and the extension of kinship categories to describe the wider networks (Barnard 1999).

Gamble (1998) has used network analysis to indicate ways in which social relations could have been ‘stretched’ across time and space. It would appear from the Oldowan data that there may well have been limited releases from face-to-face proximity in effective networks at a much earlier date. This suggests that Oldowan enchainment was based upon the movement of tools between sites and raw material transport from source to site. Equally, the high degree of fragmentation involved in Oldowan knapping suggests systematic understanding of the relationship between complete nodules and their fragments.

(p.435) Some time after ca. 1.2 million years ago, there was an increase in the maximum distance that Homo erectus populations in East Africa were moving lithics for the production of Acheulean tools, from 15 km to 100 km (Marwick 2003), if not further in the case of African obsidian (C. Gamble pers. comm.). For Marwick, there were two main implications of this finding: the skills of hominid groups in the acquisition of information about larger areas than previously, and the ability to exploit much wider landscapes than previously, perhaps signalling the emergence of protolanguage for improved face-to-face negotiation. It is also likely that exchange of lithics and perhaps other materials was also predicated on such developments (I. Morley pers. comm.). These longer trips were also surely exploited for other purposes, such as the collection of information on other resources, foraging and hunting.

A concomitant of this wider-ranging lithic transport is a far wider range of absent places, things and persons who have nonetheless been incorporated into hominid social networks. It may be supposed that the scale of spatial interaction envisaged here is consistent with the emergence of Gamble's (1998) extended network. It is hard to imagine that such a growth in social network size could be achieved without new forms of categorization for people in each form of network, including a higher proportion of non-kin than previously. Nettle (1999) has suggested that improvements in language skills would have helped to maintain generalized reciprocity in far larger social networks than face-to-face contacts. It is clear that network-building is an important social task: the dangers of social fragmentation to hunter-gatherer communities have been addressed by Skeates (2005), who suggests that enchainment emphasizes the importance of contacts between increasingly separate groups. In this more extended world, how could group members transcend distance and overcome absence?

Davidson (1991) has discussed the displacement of objects in both time and space, suggesting that reference can be made to an absent object as a memory of a former time. However, it is not only objects but also people and places that can be presenced (the mirror-image of displacement). The formation of materially rooted enchained links between people and places is a means of maintaining, through cultural memory, the solidarity of the group during absences. To the extent that group identity was linked to utilized places, whether for the production, exchange or consumption of resources (e.g. the feasting attested at Olduvai), individuals would have been more likely to return to claim their membership of the group, as well (p.436) as the memories attached to that group and its movements through the landscape. There is emerging evidence of special deposition of objects, such as the later example of the Acheulean hand-axes at Boxgrove, as a way of reinforcing the special nature of the relationship between groups and places, thereby also presencing group members in other places (Hallos 2005; Pope et al. 2007).

In summary, the action-cues of early tools led to a performance-based understanding of the relationship between persons and tools, which incorporated fragmentation of raw materials, animal carcasses and wood at an early stage. Increases in hominid social group size, combined with the increased artefact-agent space (pace Lane & Maxfield 1997) across the landscape, led to the emergence of enchainment between persons and objects as a second practice complementary to, and as important as, that of fragmentation in its creation and perpetuation of links between the social and the material. The third key symbolic development—presencing on a wide scale—was crucial in spanning the gaps in space and absences in time in expanded networks. But what of consciousness?

Cognitive Developments

Let us now turn to the second aspect of the object-consciousness coevolutionary scenario. In the literature on human cognition, there are many stimulating discussions that identify key steps in cognitive evolution, whether the transition to conceptual thinking (Lowe 1998), the extension of intentionality from conspecifics to things (Tomasello 1999), the use of spatial relations to structure time (Boroditsky 2000) and the emergence of the self as a mental construct (Bower 2005; Metzinger 2003). While all of these developents are potentially vital to our understanding of the evolution of mind, the authors have made little attempt to relate these concepts to any kind of archaeological timescale, nor to integrate their thinking with a Bohmian fragmentation perspective. The main exceptions to these strictures are Merlin Donald and Steve Mithen, both of whom have created stadial models of the evolution of the human mind. Before turning to the insights of Donald and Mithen, we shall first investigate the extent to which Bohm's three-stage model of the evolution of consciousness (1980), which he does not relate to archaeological data, supports the co-evolution of materiality and cognition.

As we have read, Bohm postulates a somewhat different three-stage process: (1) fragments of consciousness take flight and become independent (p.437) entities with their own separate existence, leading to: (2) a way of seeing and experiencing the world as composed of fragments, and in turn: (3) a way of thinking based upon such fragments. In terms of the capacities of early hominin conceptualization before the emergence of stone tools, a partial understanding of the environment would be expected given the very local patterns of movement; nonetheless, fragments of consciousness (Bohm's first stage) would have needed to represent the segments of the world observed in nature and in culture for any sense of dwelling in a local place.

Bohm's second stage is more readily recognizable in early hominin practices such as the fabrication of stone and wooden tools. While there are always complete objects (nodules, lava flows, trees), the conversion of these complete things into useful, workable objects normally implies the importance of fragments, if not necessarily their priority over complete things. The example of hand-axe production reminds us that an estimated range of 50–200 flakes (débitage) was created for every single core-tool. But, in comparison with the original flint nodule, the hand-axe is just as much a fragment as a waste flake! Until the development of additive technology, as in the composite tools appearing in the late Middle Pleistocene (McBrearty & Brooks 2000), a very high proportion of all tools were fragments of something greater. How probable was it that lithic knappers did not come to appreciate this practical and ontological fact through their daily embedded practice?

The process of basing one's thought processes on fragments (Bohm's third stage) is at once revolutionary and full of fascinating implications for the relationships between objects and objects, as much as between objects and humans, as well as humans and humans. Three long-term, repeated aspects of the Early Palaeolithic habitus are important for cognitive developments—the opportunities for greater feedback in links between objects and cognition, the question of larger artefact-agent spaces in the landscape and the relation of fragmentation to the fission-fusion mobility pattern.

There is a sense that the vast majority of satisfying and useful ‘products’ in the Early Palaeolithic were fragments derived from greater wholes—whether venison steaks, flake tools, pointed sticks or nuts, honey and berries. It is possible to argue that this visually obvious part of the daily habitus was perhaps so obvious that it provoked the group to no special comment, as did many aspects of the habitus (Bourdieu 1977). However, the ubiquity of fragments could equally have provided a clue for thinking about the world as full of fragments—treating them as entities in their (p.438) own right while retaining their links to a ‘parent body’, whether of flint or antelope. The notion of tools as a metaphorical extension of persons would then be seen as the substitution of one ‘parent body’—the natural—for another—the personal. However, just as small tools were fragments of larger tools, which were in turn parts of large nodules, persons were parts of larger social entities, whether bands or communities. This leads to a consideration of the wider spatial context of hominin networks.

The extension of social networks after 1.2 million years ago to cover distances of up to 100 km or more led to a different form of spatial fragmentation. Some tool fragments came from perhaps unimaginably far away and offered the potential to be conceptualized as exotic objects which presenced social groups beyond normal network contacts. It is clear that exotic tools opened a window onto a more expansive social world—but it was also a more fragmented social world, with more boundaries to cross, fewer kinsfolk to contact but, equally, few opportunities to meet those new people. The existence of a wider social world led to the possibility that this world was conceptualized through material symbols, foremost among them being the exotic fragments. How does this picture of wider social networks relate to dwelling?

To the extent that the hominins that made up early cooperative groups stayed together for most of the time, the notion of the fragmentation of the group would not have been significant. However, interpersonal rivalry or hostility could lead to fission and the loss of any member of an intimate network of 5–7 persons would have been serious to the group. It is probable that tools made by the departed member remained in use in the group as a source of presencing, while their favourite places in the landscape were linked to the absent individual in group memory. The increase in hominid group sizes after 2 million years ago led to a more complex sociality which would have included higher dispute rates as much as a greater potential for cooperative action (Johnson 1982). It is well known that one classic hunter-gatherer strategy for avoiding conflict is to move away; the implication of this strategy for group fragmentation, however, has not been discussed.

A less dramatic form of group fragmentation is represented by the seasonal fission and fusion of groups reliant on more or less clustered food resources through the annual cycle; this was of greater importance than conflict-based fission because this division was permanently built into the temporal structure of the group. But, unlike the ireversible reduction of a knappping sequence, seasonal fission-fusion was cyclical, with the eternal return to a state of nucleation, interspersed by less social if less conflictridden (p.439) episodes of dispersion across the landscape. The cyclical model of seasonal settlement provides a major challenge to Bohm's idea that mental models were dominated by fragments. It is not that processes of division are excluded or indeed unimportant—rather that the wholeness that represents the group ideal is repeatedly re-created and then dissolved. There is much anthropological, and some Palaeolithic, evidence of groups who look forward to nucleation time as the most sociable of times in their year (Yellen 1977). In this sense, practices of seasonal fission and fusion incorporated the undivided whole into the annual cycle as a counterpoint to group division. This may well have become the spatial basis for changing relations between parts and wholes, which could be viewed in two complementary ways: either as fragmentation and re-joining of a social whole constituted by the larger group or as the aggregation and dispersal of numerous smaller wholes (I. Morley pers. comm.).

In summary, David Bohm's three-stage model of cognitive development based upon fragmentation shows a good fit with most of the Early Palaeolithic data, with the exception of the cyclical pattern of fission-fusion in dwelling practice. His first stage is consistent with primate cognition, while the making of stone tools through reduction sequences and from resources separate from dwelling areas introduces the necessary and sufficient conditions for his second stage. The third stage probably arose out of the feedback from the ubiquity of stone tool and other fragments in everyday life, reinforced by the symbolic significance of exotic tool fragments. But the cyclical fission-fusion cycle of dwelling fits uneasily with Bohm's model and requires further study for any possible integration. How do these insights compare with the cognitive evolutionary schemes of Donald and Mithen?

In his neurocognitive approach, Donald (1991) posits four main stages in cognitive evolution, separated by three major changes in physical type. Prior to the earliest hominins, the episodic stage refers to reactive primate cognition, with their representative style tied to environmental events which stimulate a narrow range of expressive outputs. The evolution of early hominins is related to the mimetic stage, which culminates in the abilities of Homo erectus individuals to rehearse, evaluate and refine their own actions. Through this development, it was conscious perception that supervised all bodily actions in an ability which Donald terms ‘non-verbal action modelling’, or mimesis. The evolution of oral-mythic culture and speech over several hundred thousand years led to the third stage, culminating in the speciation of modern Homo sapiens. Here, mythic archetypes and allegories created an oral, public version of reality with direct influence (p.440) over the form of human thought and convention. In this stage, modern sapiens populations created new levels of culture through their introduction of a vast array of new representations and external storage media. It was with the emergence of writing and other state-controlled forms of external symbolic storage that the fourth, theoretic stage developed in later pre—and proto-history.

Mithen's deep awareness of the cognitive literature stimulated a theory of mind that relates concepts of hard-wired, multiple, content-rich types of modular intelligence to archaeological findings (1996). Mithen's research is an outgrowth of Fodor's (1983) concept of modular intelligence, Gardner's (1983) notion of interacting, multiple intelligences and Cosmides and Tooby's model of hard-wired, multiple, content-rich types of intelligence with one specialized module for making quick decisions (Barkow et al. 1992). The result is a three-stage model of human cognitive development, in which the minds of the australopithecines and Homo habilis are dominated by general intelligence (stage I); the minds of Homo erectus and the Neanderthals are the product of general intelligence supplemented by multiple specialized intelligences, such as the social, the natural historical, the technical and the linguistic, working in isolation from each other (stage II); and the minds of modern humans consist of multiple specialized intelligences working together, centrally inegrated yet with a flow of knowledge and ideas between domains (stage III). While the lack of domain integration prevented earlier developments, it was the cognitive fluidity of stage III modern humans that enabled the cultural explosion of the period 60,000–30,000 BC (Mithen 1996). How do the alternative models of Donald and Mithen relate to Bohm's ideas about the fragmentation of consciousness?

The first two stages of Donald's model are the stages most closely related to Bohm's scheme—the primate episodic stage and the mimetic stage of early hominins. One of the defining characteristics of the first, primate stage—complex episodic event-perceptions—is consistent with Bohm's first stage of fragments of consciousness taking flight to become independent entities with their own separate existence. Donald states that the process of enculturation, leading to the collective mind typifying humans living in symbol-using cultures, ‘must have started very slowly, presumably with very gradual increments to a primate knowledge-base’ (Donald 1998, 12). In Donald's list of 15 primate cognitive functions that, he argues, underwent radical transformations in the mimetic stage, two are particularly relevant to the Bohmian scheme—(15) the integration of material culture into the process of explicit knowledge representation, (p.441) and (12) autobiographical memory (Donald 1998, 13). The combination of hominins whose past actions were accessible to themselves and each other was as basic to the creation of enchained relations as the emerging role of material representations was significant for fragmentation practices. Together, these two developments enabled the appreciation of personal, family and group ‘pasts’, as well as the ability to use objects as symbols of other objects and persons (Lowe 1998). Thus, Donald's insights provide a useful cognitive framework for the development of Bohm's second stage of hominids who see and experience the world as composed of fragments—the tools that are physical fragments of larger identities and which are, at the same time, examples of external storage of information about relations between persons, places and things. The third stage in Bohm's model postulates a more abstract level, with hominins developing a way of thinking based upon such fragments. This is not consonant with the key advances of Donald's linguistic-mythic stage but resembles rather the potential of the ‘collective mind’ for understanding the material realities of a fragmented world—as Donald puts it, recoded knowledge driven by public representations (1998, 13). These public representations—the Oldowan and Acheulean tools of the Early and Middle Palaeolithic—framed everyday action for hominin groups, symbolizing an increasingly wide suite of socio-spatial concepts.

Equally, the relationship of Bohm's scheme to Mithen's model of modular minds is one of temporal priority. Early hominins with the generalized intelligence of Mithen's stage I would have developed the capacity to see and experience the world as composed of both wholes and fragments, as well as formulating ways of thinking based upon such wholes and fragments, related to both social groups and the material world. The development of early forms of metaphorical thinking, permitting things and places to be conceptualized as people, would have been aided by the ways in which fragments were thought of in relation to wholes. In Bohmian terms, to divide up for the sake of simplification—to make manageable the totality of the world and our experience of it—is indeed complementary to the concept of modular minds that forms the basis of Mithen's model.

In summary, the three cognitive approaches of Bohm, Donald and Mithen are not mutually exclusive; rather, they offer useful connections to further our understanding of the earliest stages of hominin evolution. These results support the idea of the co-evolution of cognition and objects. Moreover, the removal of the rigid distinction between the presence/absence of symbolic behaviour allows the definition of a more (p.442) nuanced set of relationships between material culture and persons from 2.5 million years ago. The development of strategies of tool-making led then to the recognition of the importance of fragmentation and the relationships between complete and partial objects. These practices led to the capacity to see and experience the world as composed of both wholes and fragments, as well as formulating ways of thinking based upon such wholes and fragments. It was only later, ca. 2 million years ago, that enchained relations based on material culture emerged with the development of larger social groups interacting across wider landscapes, gaining the potential for greater social complexity that parallels the slow evolution ca. 1.7 million years ago of visually distinctive Acheulean tool types.

In summary, the artificially created ‘absence’ of symbolic culture before the evolution of anatomically modern humans ca. 160,000 years BP can be filled in through the use of concepts such as fragmentation, enchainment and presencing—all of which can be used in the construction of a bottom-up picture of social relations negotiated between persons and groups and with the full participation of the material culture that enmeshed early hominid social relations. These practices indicate that early hominin social relations, including the use of symbolism, analogy and metaphor, will have had embryonic, if not relatively developed and complex, forms well before the appearance of the so-called suite of behaviours associated with modern humans in Europe.

Conclusions

In this chapter, we have introduced the fragmentation premise—the idea that the deliberate breakage of a complete object and the re-use of the resultant fragments as new and separate objects ‘after the break’ was a common practice in the past. Despite its initial implausibility, this premise has much to commend it and we present four kinds of supporting archaeological evidence. We also summarize the main implications of the fragmentation premise for the study of enchained social relations and of the creation and development of personhood in the past. To the extent that the boundaries of the human body can be considered permeable and open to the influences of other persons, things and places, personhood can be conceptualized as ‘fractal’, with objects emerging out of persons rather than being in contra-distinction to them, and broken objects considered as non-human dividuals. Enchained relations (p.443) connect the distributed elements of a person's social identity using material culture.

These concepts of fragmentation, enchainment and presencing are used to think through some of the earliest manufactured objects in the world—the hominin tools of the period 2.5–0.5 million years ago. In contrast to the standard separation of symbolic behaviour by anatomically modern humans after 200,000 years ago from non-symbolic behaviour by early pre-sapiens populations, we propose a scenario in which the use of tools and the movement of lithic resources over the landscape led to the emergence of enchained social relations, consonant with increases in brain size following 2 million years ago. We support the notion of the co-evolution of fragmentation in both consciousness and in objects, using Mithen's model of cognitive evolution and Donald's model of external symbolic storage as cognitive scaffolding in this project.

Note. Many thanks to members of the ‘Social Brain’ research group, and especially Clive Gamble, for their kind invitation to present at the British Academy conference. We are also very grateful to Clive Gamble, Robin Dunbar, Stephen Aldhouse-Green, Rob Hosfield, Iain Morley and Freddie Foulds for their valuable comments on our first venture into uncharted Palaeolithic waters. We acknowledge with thanks Vessela Yaneva's illstration of the Varna shell ring (Figure 20.3). We thank Chris Scarre for providing Figure 20.1, Henrieta Todorova for Figure 20.2, I. de la Torre for Figure 20.6 and the Prehistoric Society and Julie Gardiner for Figure 20.7.

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Notes:

Proceedings ofthe British Academy 158, 413–447. © The British Academy 2010.

(1) ‘Enchainment’ is related to, but must be differentiated from, ‘fractality’—the quality of repeated organizational similarities at different scales (Lapidus & van Frankenhuisen, 2004; Sornette 2000; Vicsek 2001). Here, enchained relations can be constructed at three different fractal scales—the fragment, the complete object and the set of objects.

(2) However, there are some prehistorians, such as Stephen Aldhouse-Green (pers. comm.), who would deny the antiquity of a ‘sense of the past’ before 250,000 BP.

(3) The dichotomy between symbolic and non-symbolic is also undermined by the use of Peircean semiotics rather than the Saussurean version which rests on such a distinction (Knappett 2005).