How things help us think: Material culture as scaffold for the social brain

This source preferred by Fiona Coward

Authors: Coward, F.

Start date: 16 December 2013

The production of material culture has long been considered a fundamental defining characteristic of modern humans. However, primatologists and ethologists have increasingly demonstrated tool use and even manufacture in many other species, most notably primates but also in only very distantly related lineages of the animal kingdom such as birds. Such findings may seem to question the relevance of technology in definitions of humanity, but while modern human technologies are clearly sharing many features with those of other species, they are nevertheless markedly different in other ways. This paper will identify those features of human material culture that distinguish it from that of other species, focusing on the social and emotional investment in material culture by humans as a unique characteristic of humans, and attempts to identify when and why such investment may have occurred during hominin and human evolution.

The data on this page was last updated at 04:55 on May 22, 2019.