chapter  4
15 Pages

Archaeological evidence for modern intelligence Thomas Wynn

Many prehistorians assume that the evolution of anatomically modern humans coincided with the appearance of certain attributes of behavioural complexity in the archaeological record: parietal art, exchange systems, and curated tools to name just a few. Some argue that this complexity reflects a more powerful intelligence and that Homo sapiens sapiens was blessed with a cleverness that gave him a marked advantage over his archaic predecessors. According to Redman, there was ‘a change in adaptive strategies and organizational abilities at the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic. This transition signifies the rapidly increasing ability of human beings to recognize environmental potentials that existed [and] to communicate these potentials to others’ (1978, pp. 512). In a discussion of one aspect of complexity, storage, Binford makes the following contention: ‘It is my impression that the ability to anticipate events and conditions not yet experienced was not one of the strengths of our ancestors prior to the appearance of clear evidence for symboling, e.g. personal ornaments, graphics in the form of painting, ‘art’, and notation (1982, p. 178, emphasis in original). In other words, prior to the Upper Palaeolithic, Homo was incapable of planning very far ahead. Both the supposed foresight of H. sapiens sapiens and his increased organizational ability, if true, must be aspects of a more powerful intelligence.