Thursday, January 21, 2021
Title: Diverse pathways toward modern behavior among early Homo sapiens in Africa: recent findings from Bizmoune Cave (Morocco)
Abstract: Modern humans (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa during the second half of the Middle Pleistocene. Soon afterwards, a series of behavioral traits (ornamentation, art, complex composite technologies) appeared in the African Middle Stone Age (MSA). There is a growing realization that the pace and regularity of behavioral changes varied across Africa during this interval, and that this diversified mosaic of developments was central to the evolution our species. Northwest Africa (the Maghreb) presents a very different trajectory of behavioral change during the MSA than do other parts of the continent, characterized by an apparently high level of cultural stability. Research at Bizmoune cave investigates the reasons behind the comparative stability of Middle Stone Age in northwest Africa. Research at the site is a collaboration between The Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP) and the University of Arizona. Bizmoune cave may contain some of the oldest dated deposits of the Aterian, the typical MSA complex of northwest Africa, and possibly the oldest use of shell ornaments in the world, providing a unique window on behavioral change/stability across multiple climate events.