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2019-04-29 08:39:24   •   ID: 2095

Phylogeny and Convergence in Lithic Technology

Figure 1
Figure 2
figures 1 and 2 show a 9 cm long classic "Quina" scraper made of homogeneous jasper, found in the Western Sahara more than 50 years ago.

Similarities in two distinct technological traditions can be either indicate a common ancestral tradition (Homologies) or are the result of several traditions independently having invented tools with similar forms and/or functions (Convergence).

Without little doubt the artifact of this post is a convergence phenomenon to similar Quina-artifacts in S/W-France.

Overall, there is much evidence to suggest that convergence is much more common than expected and that it can take place at different scales, from particular artifact traits to overall tool shapes, as well as in manufacture techniques.

For the Middle Paleolithic / MSA this holds true for different prepared core techniques, either emerging from the Acheulian or "de novo" of convergent tools, often called "Points"- to name just two prominent examples.

In the Archaeological record there are diagnostic clues for convergence:

  • large spatial distance between similar tools or techniques


  • a considerable chronological gap between similar tools or techniques


  • specific variance between the tools beyond replication failure


The distance between the Western Sahara and S/W-France speaks for convergence, especially regarding the absence of a common ancestral Quina" tradition around the Mediterranean.

Suggested Reading: Convergent Evolution in Stone-Tool Technology edited by Michael J. O’Brien, Briggs Buchanan, and Metin I. Eren (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology) . The MIT Press. A wealth of information about this important issue!




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