A very old workshop (and diner?)

Blombos! (BBC)

Today Science publishes a paper by Henshilwood, dErrico et al. following up their Blombos Cave  work. Their abstract:

” The conceptual ability to source, combine, and store substances that enhance technology or social practices represents a benchmark in the evolution of complex human cognition. Excavations in 2008 at Blombos Cave, South Africa, revealed a processing workshop where a liquefied ochre-rich mixture was produced and stored in two Haliotis midae (abalone) shells 100,000 years ago. Ochre, bone, charcoal, grindstones, and hammerstones form a composite part of this production toolkit. The application of the mixture is unknown, but possibilities include decoration and skin protection.”

A production toolkit? It reminded me of G Gigerenzer “adaptive cognitive toolkit”. It raises a “rational” organized landscape for early humans engaged in specific behaviours, at least for those living in SA during the MSA.  It suggests, me, “pockets” of technically advanced humans that spread their knowledge as they move around. Maybe.

In Nature News: “Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand who was not involved in the research, adds that it implies that people at that time could “think in abstract terms” about the quality and quantity of their ingredients. “Making compounds of any kind implies complex cognition,” she says.” A hing that this quote reminds me is  the “emergence” of spontaneous 40-80 h brain electrical oscillations that according to some, “sustain” consciousness, make it appear, sort of, if it is.

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