Lithic tool industries are often the only thing that remains after the original creators have died. Their bodies are covered in many layers of strata and future archaeologists thousands of years later attempt to piece together the daily lives of those people. In the Pleistocene there were multiple tool cultures produced by the hominin species of Europe and Asia however interpreting which species is the inventor of which stone tool culture proves to be a complex task when nothing remains of the individuals that produced them.

While it is obvious that in order to produce a more complex invention one must first have produced a simpler one it does not imply that technological change always occurs in a linear fashion, upwards, with the simplest version being the oldest and the most complex being the most recent.

“the knowledge of a cord must precede the bow and arrow, as the knowledge of gunpowder preceded the musket, and that of the steam-engine preceded the railway and the steamship; so the arts of subsistence followed each other at long intervals of time, and human tools passed through forms of flint and stone before they were formed of iron.” – Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society

Transitional tools of the late  Pleistocene have been the focus of a large body of research in recent years. This has stirred up a ot of debate on who the original owners and inventors of some of these transitional tool cultures were. One of these tool cultures is the Chatelperronian. It has been argued that this particular tool culture is the result of Neanderthal and Early Modern Human mixing and cultural diffusion around the time of EMH migration into Europe from the West. In my opinion it feels likely that this transitional tool type emerged out of contact between Early Modern Humans and Neanderthals. A Study done by Powell, Shennan and Thomas (2009) recreates the demography of the late Pleistocene and attempts to model interactions between Early Modern Humans and Neanderthals. They concluded that when more people are in contact with each other and migration is high that the rate of innovation is at its highest.

Innovations such as the incorporation of blades struck from a core into the Neanderthal toolkit, as can be seen in Chatelperronian tools, indicates that they could have possibly been in contact with a blade making group. Archaeological evidence has shown that Early Modern Humans have been linked to producing blade technologies such as the later Aurignacian however there has also been evidence pointed to in the Uluzzian (another transitional tool culture pointed to originally as a Neanderthal invention but has since been proven to have actually been a Modern Human invention).

Using demography as as a potential source for gathering information on the dates of migration of Modern Humans and Neanderthals may end up providing some valuable insight into the timeline of the extinction of Neanderthals and the population of Europe by Early Modern Humans.

 

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