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The Origin of Modern Humans and the Impact of Chronometric Dating

The Origin of Modern Humans and the Impact of Chronometric Dating

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    The Origin of Modern Humans and the Impact of Chronometric Dating
    Book Description:

    This volume of papers delivered to The Royal Society in February of 1992 explores the debate over the "single center" hypothesis of human origins versus "multi-regional evolution." Over the last five years there has been growing support for a recent "Out of Africa" origin of modern humans--based on fresh interpretations of the palaeoanthropological and archaeological evidence, new applications of physical dating techniques to important sites, and a greatly increased genetic data base on recent human variation and its geographical patterning. But there has also been a parallel growth of doubts about interpretations of the new evidence from some workers. This book provides a review of recent progress and allows some of these doubts to be aired and discussed.

    In addition to the editors, the contributors are O. Bar-Yosef, A. M. Bowcock, P. Brown, H. J. Deacon, L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, J. D. Clark, R. Grün, J.-J. Hublin, A. A. Lin, G. H. Miller, J. L. Mountain, H. P. Schwarcz, N. J. Shackleton, F. H. Smith, and M. Stoneking.

    Originally published in 1993.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5155-3
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Outlining the Problem
    (pp. 3-11)
    P. A. Mellars, M. J. Aitken and C. B. Stringer

    Few topics have generated more debate and controversy in the scientific literature over the past few years than the biological and behavioural origins of anatomically ‘modern’ human populations: i.e. populations belonging to our own form ofHomo sapiens sapiens. What is common ground in all these debates is that populations that were fundamentally ‘modern’ in both a basic anatomical sense, and in at least the majority of cultural and behavioural senses, were effectively established throughout all the major regions of the Old World (i.e. Africa, Asia, Europe and parts of Australasia) by at least 30–35 ka ago (1 ka...

  4. Uranium-Series Dating and the Origin of Modern Man
    (pp. 12-26)
    Henry P. Schwarcz

    Uranium-series dating is based on measurement of the radioactivity of short-lived daughter isotopes of uranium formed in samples which initially contained only the parent uranium. Materials suitable for U-series dating are found in many prehistoric archaeological sites, and include stalagmitic layers (flowstones), and spring-deposited travertines. Some marls and calcretes are also datable using isochron methods, whereas dates on molluscan shells, bones and teeth are less reliable. Ages obtained using alpha counting to determine isotope ratios have errors greater than 5%, and can range from 1 to 350 ka. Mass spectrometric methods slightly increase the range (0.1–500 ka) but greatly...

  5. Luminescence Dating Relevant to Human Origins
    (pp. 27-39)
    M. J. Aitken and H. Valladas

    Luminescence dating provided the first direct and independent evidence that anatomically modern humans had a presence in western Asia earlier than is consistent with the ‘regional continuity’ model. The reliability of the result concerned, 92 (±5) ka for burnt flints from Qafzeh Cave, is excellent and consistent with isochron analysis of the data. Flint dating has also confirmed palaeoenvironmental indications that the Mousterian industry in Europe was present somewhat earlier than the 100 ka limit previously accepted. Burnt quartz and unburnt sediment have also been important in Palaeolithic dating and the latter has a particularly high potential.

    The two commonly...

  6. Electron Spin Resonance (esr) Dating of the Origin of Modern Man
    (pp. 40-48)
    Henry P. Schwarcz and Rainer Grün

    Many materials found in archaeological sites are able to trap electronic charges as a result of bombardment by radioactive radiation from the surrounding sediment. The presence of these trapped charges can be detected by electron spin resonance (esr) spectroscopy: the intensity of the esr signal is a measure of the accumulated dose and thus of the age. Tooth enamel is ubiquitous at archaeological sites and is well suited for esr dating, with a precision of about 10–20%. This method has now been used to date many sites critical to the biological and cultural evolution of modern man. Dates for...

  7. Pleistocene Geochronology and Palaeothermometry from Protein Diagenesis in Ostrich Eggshells: Implications for the Evolution of Modern Humans
    (pp. 49-68)
    Gifford H. Miller, Peter B. Beaumont, A. J. T. Jull and Beverly Johnson

    Proteinaceous residues incorporated within the crystal structure of ostrich eggshells (oes) are retained without loss over geological time exceeding 10 million years. Degradation of the polypeptides, including hydrolysis to smaller peptide fragments and eventual release of free amino acids, decomposition, and racemization and epimerization occur at regular, predictable rates dependent on ambient temperature. The extent of isoleucine epimerization (aIle/Ile ratio) in oes follows linear first-order reversible kinetics in controlled-temperature laboratory simulations of time up to an aIle/Ile ratio in excess of 1.0. The hydrolysis of leucine also follows a predictable pattern, but deviates from first-order kinetics. A non-linear mathematical model...

  8. Evolution of Modern Humans: Evidence From Nuclear DNA Polymorphisms
    (pp. 69-83)
    Joanna L. Mountain, Alice A. Lin, Anne M. Bowcock and L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza

    Previously we have described studies of the evolution of modern humans based upon data for classical genetic markers and for nuclear DNA polymorphisms. Such polymorphisms provide a different point of view regarding human evolution than do mitochondrial DNA sequences. Here we compare revised dates for major migrations of anatomically modern humans, estimated from archaeological data, with separations suggested by a genetic tree constructed from classical marker allele frequencies. Analyses of DNA polymorphisms have now been extended and compared with those of classical markers; genetic trees continue to support the hypothesis of an initial African and non-African divergence for modern humans....

  9. New Approaches to Dating Suggest a Recent Age for the Human mtDNA Ancestor
    (pp. 84-103)
    Mark Stoneking, Stephen T. Sherry, Alan J. Redd and Linda Vigilant

    The most critical and controversial feature of the African origin hypothesis of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evolution is the relatively recent age of about 200 ka inferred for the human mtDNA ancestor. If this age is wrong, and the actual age instead approaches 1 million years ago, then the controversy abates. Reliable estimates of the age of the human mtDNA ancestor and the associated standard error are therefore crucial. However, more recent estimates of the age of the human ancestor rely on comparisons between human and chimpanzee mtDNAs that may not be reliable and for which standard errors are difficult...

  10. Southern Africa and Modern Human Origins
    (pp. 104-117)
    H. J. Deacon

    This paper argues that southern Africa was a remote part of the Old World in the late Pleistocene (125–10 ka ago). Because of this isolated position there was continuity without significant replacement in the resident population. Isolation and the relatively recent spread of agriculture to the region has allowed a section of this population to survive into the present. They are the Bushmen (San). Studies of geographic patterning in conventional genetic markers and mitochondrial DNA indicate that the Bushman clade has a long evolutionary history in southern Africa. Estimates of more than 100 ka for the continued presence of...

  11. Recent Human Evolution in Northwestern Africa
    (pp. 118-131)
    Jean-Jacques Hublin

    The first modern humans in the Maghreb are said to be associated with the Aterian industries which appeared at least 40 ka bp in the northwest. Their predecessors are mainly represented by the Jebel Irhoud (Morocco) specimens. Palaeontological evidence, as well as electron spin resonance (esr) dating, suggests that this series is older than previously published, and should belong to oxygen isotope stage 5 or even 6. There is no evidence of any Neanderthal apomorphy in this group which can no longer be considered as ‘African Nanderthals’. Clear synapomorphies with modern man combined with some plesiomorphic retentions indicate a slightly...

  12. The Role of Western Asia in Modern Human Origins
    (pp. 132-147)
    O. Bar-Yosef

    Western Asia provides the best collection of human skeletal remains relevant to the two basic models for the emergence of modern humans, namely the ‘rapid replacement’ and the ‘regional continuity’ models. Regardless of the taxonomies of particular hominids, their chronology is of crucial importance. Thermoluminescence (tl) and electron spin resonance (esr) dates demonstrate that the Acheulo–Yabrudian and Mousterian entities and their associated fossils (Zuttiyeh, Tabun, Skhul, Qafzeh, Kebara, Shanidar, Amud) span the late Middle and Upper Pleistocene period. These new dates initiated major chronological revisions and renewed discussion of the cultural–archaeological implications. One of the most important conclusions...

  13. African and Asian Perspectives on the Origins of Modern Humans
    (pp. 148-178)
    J. Desmond Clark

    The ways in which the cultural evidence—in its chronological context—can be used to imply behavioural patterning and to identify possible causes of change are discussed. Improved reliability in dating methods, suites of dates from different regional localities, and new, firmly dated fossil hominids from crucial regions such as northeast Africa, the Levant, India and China, are essential for clarification of the origin and spread of the modern genepool. Hominid ancestry in Africa is reviewed, as well as the claims for an independent origin in Asia. The cultural differences and changes within Africa, West and South Asia and the...

  14. Reconstructing Recent Human Evolution
    (pp. 179-195)
    Christopher B. Stringer

    The two most distinct models of recent human evolution, the multiregional and the recent African origin models, have different retrodictions concerning specific archaic–recent population relationships. The former model infers multiple regional archaic–modern connections and the ancient establishment of regional characteristics, whereas the latter model implies only an African archaic–all modern relationship, with recent (late Pleistocene) development of regionality. In this paper, four late archaic groups from Europe, southwest Asia, Africa and East Asia are compared with various fossil and recentHomo sapienscrania or cranial samples. The results of Penrose shape comparisons narrowly favour a late archaic...

  15. Archaeology and the Population-Dispersal Hypothesis of Modern Human Origins in Europe
    (pp. 196-216)
    P. A. Mellars

    The transition from anatomically ‘archaic’ to ‘modern’ populations would seem to have occurred in most regions of Europe broadly betweenca. 40 and 30 ka ago: much later than in most other areas of the world. The archaeological evidence supports the view that this transition was associated with the dispersal of new human populations into Europe, equipped with a new technology (‘Aurignacian’) and a range of radical behavioural and cultural innovations which collectively define the ‘Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition’. In several regions of Europe there is archaeological evidence for a chronological overlap between these populations and the final Neanderthal populations and,...

  16. Recent Human Evolution in East Asia and Australasia
    (pp. 217-233)
    Peter Brown

    In both East Asia and Australasia arguments for evolutionary continuity between middle-late Pleistocene hominid populations and modernHomo sapiensare of long standing. In both regions, however, problems of chronological distribution, dating and preservation of hominid skeletal materials provide an effective barrier to extending regional sequences back to ‘archaic’Homo sapiensorHomo erectus. The earliest securely dated modernHomo sapiensin East Asia are currently represented by Zhoukoudian Upper Cave at a minimum of 29 ka bp. In Australia skeletal remains of modernHomo sapienshave been dated to 26 ka bp, with archaeological materials at 38 to 50...

  17. Models and Realities in Modern Human Origins: The African Fossil Evidence
    (pp. 234-248)
    Fred H. Smith

    The recent application of such chronometric techniques as electron spin resonance (esr), thermoluminescence (tl), and uranium series dating has had a significant impact on perceptions of modern human origins. Claims for the presence of anatomically modern humans in Africa prior to 100 ka and for the transition leading to modern Africans at an even earlier date have been made, partly based on results of these techniques. However, a careful examination of the pertinent record shows that these claims are not unequivocally supported by the available fossil and chronological evidence.

    The concept of a recent African origin for all modern people...