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Social Brain, Distributed Mind$
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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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Herto Brains and Minds: Behaviour of Early Homo sapiens from the Middle Awash

Herto Brains and Minds: Behaviour of Early Homo sapiens from the Middle Awash

(p.43) 3 Herto Brains and Minds: Behaviour of Early Homo sapiens from the Middle Awash
Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Yonas Beyene

British Academy

The discovery of three late Middle Pleistocene hominid crania, Homo sapiens idaltu, at Herto in the Middle Awash research area in Ethiopia in 1997 shed considerable light on this little-known period in Africa. These fossils consist of two adults' and a child's crania. All are morphologically intermediate between geologically earlier African fossils and anatomically modern later Pleistocene humans. The three Herto Homo sapiens idaltu crania show cutmarks indicating defleshing using sharp-edged stone tools. The post-mortem modifications and manipulation of the crania, demonstrated best on the child and broken adult crania, suggest that Homo sapiens idaltu performed ritual mortuary practices of which the dimension, context and meaning might only be revealed by further discoveries.

Keywords:   Ethiopia, Homo sapiens idaltu, stone tools, Pleistocene era, ritual mortuary practices, African fossils

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