The origins and early elaboration of projectile technology



Publication Details

O'Driscoll, C. A. & Thompson, J. C. (2018). The origins and early elaboration of projectile technology. Evolutionary Anthropology, 27 (1), 30-45.


The ability of Homo sapiens to kill prey at a distance is arguably one of the catalysts for our current ecological dominance. Many researchers have suggested its origins lie in the African Middle Stone Age or the European Middle Palaeolithic (∼300-30 thousand years ago), but the perishable components of armatures rarely preserve. Most research on this subject therefore emphasises analysis of armature tip size, shape, and diagnostic impacts or residues. Other lines of evidence have included human skeletal anatomy or analyses of the species composition of faunal assemblages. Projectile Impact Marks (PIMs) on archaeofaunal remains offer an ideal complement to this work, but their potential has been restricted mainly to the later Eurasian zooarchaeological record. A review of current evidence and approaches shows that systematic PIM research could add much to our understanding of early projectile technology, especially in Africa.

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