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Home Bases And Early Hominids

.. er flow. Water flow can produce a large amount of fossil bones and fossil collections built up. Geological processes such as activity of a stream or river can also aggravate stone artifacts. It was found that the sediments of Bed one at Olduvai were deposited by water. The question was now was most of these bones and artifact at theses sites placed there from water flow? Geological studies show that the Olduvai area was a lake basin with distinct zones for the lake, the lake margin, and the stream channel (Potts, 341).

But the evidence for rapid moving water is not present. Bones as well as sediments can be deposited by water, each element responding differently to the energy of the flow. And although the movement of bones in water is affected by a complex array of factors, rapidly flowing water tends to sort skeletal elements according to their hydrodynamic properties. The bones found at the Olduvai Gorge do not show the differential sorting of the bones that would have occurred if there was rapid flowing water. The bones do show some signs of water being present, but it was probably just by a sheet wash of rain.

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However the geological and archaeological evidence shows that water transportation was not the reason for the accumulation of bones and artifacts at Olduvai. The second possibility for the accumulation of animal bones at this site is the death of a large amount of animals in one spot. If this hypothesis is correct the stone tools either were used by hominids on carcasses at the death site or were fortuitously associated with the bones (Potts, 341). To assess this hypothesis they studied animal carcasses in modern savanna habitats. These studies which cover instances of both individual death and mass mortality, identify several distinguishing features of death sites (Potts, 341). It shows that under normal conditions or attritional conditions, mortality a very low degree of bone concentration occurs after only a few weeks (Potts, 341).

Any catastrophic events leave evidence, and lastly vertebrae and other axial skeleton parts tend to remain at a death site. The Olduvai fossil assemblages show none of the features that typify animal death sites. The bones are densely concentrated at each site and there is no evidence of a catastrophic event. This information only can not rule out the possibility of repeated predation of game animals at particular locations. Potts goes on to explain the preponderance of limb bones indicate that some bone-collecting animal was responsible for carrying these remains away from death sites to other specific locations.

The problem remains who that bone collector was. Thing bring us to the third possibility of active carnivores. Some carnivores bring back parts of an animal back to their den and thus produce sizable accumulations. Potts says that it is possible for carnivores to be responsible for the bones found in bed one at Olduvai. But since carnivores do not carry stone tools the hypothesis of carnivore activity just like the previous two hypothesis implies that the stone tools and the bones have become associated together by accident (Potts, 342). Potts goes on explaining about the cut marks by tools on the bone and the tooth marks on the bone.

He says that the studies show predominantly the marks of carnivores teeth and stone tools. Including tool marks that made by slicing, scraping, and chopping just like we talked about in lecture on October twenty-first. He also explains how over time the bones crack and peel as lie on the landscape and how this effects the evidence. He explains that most bones are found fractured and that it can be hard to tell whether the mark came from an animal or a stone tool. He explains how they took a bone from a modern day hyena den and compared to the stone artifacts that are associated with the stone artifacts and show how they are different. Osteological comparisons thus suggest that carnivores were primarily the reason for the one bone and the others were from a different bone-collector, these were the original ones thought to be used by hominids (Potts, 343).

In the next few pages Potts goes on to explain and review the facts that I described to you above. He says that the home base interpretation depends primarily on faunal evidence. Some researchers say that it is the concentration of exotic stone artifacts which demonstrates the presence of home bases in Olduvai (Potts, 345). Potts talks about with the exception of site DK, almost all the stones found at the sites in Bed one were carried there by hominids. And then says that if this is true hominids carrying these stone tools back and forth would have taken a lot of time and energy suggesting, that these camps were relatively permant.

To investigate this they used computer simulation. This indicates that on the other hand that the sites could have been produced by hominids simply as an energy saving strategy (Potts, 345). In almost every stimulation the production and simultaneous use of multiple caches of stone tools rather- than single home base. Thus the accumulation of stone artifacts and animal bones at the same location does not necessarily mean that hominids used these sites as home bases. An alternative to the home base theory must taken into account four factor: evidence for the competition between hominids and carnivores over meat and marrow; the attraction of carnivores to the sites to which hominids transported bones; the incomplete processing of bones and possibly of meat at these sites; and long period over which bones accumulated at each site, as compared with the brief stays of modern hunter-gathers at their campsites (Potts, 345). According to this hypothesis, stone raw materials and manufactured tools were carried and left at various places in the foraging area.

And as a result to this numerous stone cache area were formed from this just like what we talked about in lecture on October seventeenth. He goes on to talk about the possibility of kill site and the way they would have worked, how hominids would carry their tools back for further processing. He talks about how time and energy spent in handling and transporting portions of meat could have been minimized by taking the bones to the nearest cache site, where there remained stone tools and bones from previous visits. These visits were done quickly and this would help the hominids avoid direct confrontation with carnivores. The implications of stone caches are more limited that those of the home base model; nonetheless Potts believes that they are important.

Potts goes on to explain how this idea of home bases is different from nonhuman primates. He explains that the use of these sites just for processing for a short amount of time implies that social activity was not their focus as it is in modern day hunter-gathers. At present, the inferences on which it is based imply that there is not yet good evidence for the existence of hunter-gatherer home bases as early as two million years ago. He concludes by saying that the Olduvai sites provide only a glimpse of early hominids and that the future studies of hominids will have to use the most direct evidence available, the fossils and archaeological records to asses the questions we can not answer now. I believe that most of the information we touched on in class but just not as in depth as in the article. The possibility of cache site and the idea of kill site we mentioned in the lectures about the Lower Pleistocene on October 5.

The information of about the idea of home base is pretty much disagreed with in the article as in the lecture and in the book in chapter ten. I found the article to be a little confusing and very repetitive about the information. The lecture information was more straightforward and comprehendible for me. I would have to agree with the evidence that the early hominids did have some kind of site were they processed their food and ate it but that it was not a home base, but more like a cache area or kill sites. Anthropology.


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