Who invented the Upper Paleolithic? Can you say Neanderthal?

Glenn R. Morton (grmorton@waymark.net)
Sat, 24 Apr 1999 18:18:49 -0500

Until the past few years, evidence seemed to indicate that the upper
paleolithic culture, the culture which was associated with anatomically
modern man, had been invented by modern man. This is a view that many
progressive creationists have taken (see Wilcox, PSCF, 48(1996):88-96)
The art, the upper paleolithic tools (Aurignacian), the life style all
were supposed to be created by Adam's descendants, not the beasts of the
field--neanderthals and their ilk. IN fact, Wilcox says that the
Neanderthals were not inventive at all. (see Wilcox, PSCF, 48(1996):92)
Thus, the prediction of the progressive creation position is that
Anatomically modern man should be the inventive one, and should have
brought the Aurignacian tools and modern behavior with him when he
invaded Europe. But this is not what the current evidence suggests.

I might note that there are two aspects of the upper paleolithic
culture. First there are the tools made by the Upper Paleolithic peoples
which are different from those of the middle Paleolithic. Secondly,
there are seasonal hunting patterns that were believed to be
characteristic of the Upper Paleolithic. IN such hunting patterns,
different prey was caught at different times, with planning for the
migratory habits of the animals. It has been felt that Neanderthal was
incapable of such long range planning. These differences in tools and
behavior were believed to indicate an invasion of anatomically modern
people who replaced the Neanderthals. This view fit well into the
progressive creationist theological view. But an article in the Journal
of Human Evolution this year has cast doubt on all that.

Over the past few years evidence has been accumulating that indicates
that the earliest occurrence of Aurignacian tools occurred in Spain
which was the very last place occupied by anatomically modern man;
indeed, it was not occupied by anatomically modern man until after
34,000 years BP which is the date of the earliest anatomically modern
human. This fossil was found across the continent, far distant from
Spain. It was found in eastern Europe. (Fred H. Smith, "Upper
Pleistocene Hominid Evolution in South-Central Europe: A Review of the
Evidence and Analysis of Trends," Current Anthropology,
23(1982):6:667-703, p. 680). If the upper Paleolithic tools were
imported from Africa with anatomically modern men, we should expect to
find the oldest Aurignacian tools in the Middle East and then in
Europe. That is not what we find.

What we find is that the modern tool kit first appears in Neanderthal
territory far from anatomically modern men. What is more, we find that
there is a gradual transition of technologies from Mousterian (Generally
considered Neanderthal) technology to Aurignacian (generally considered
Anatomically modern human) technology. And this gradual transition also
occurs in the last place the progressive creationist would expect--deep
in Neanderthal Spain, 40,000 years ago!
Anne Pike-Tay et al write in a recent article:

"AMS 14C dates of ca. 40,000 B.P. from El Castillo in Cantabria and
38,000 B.P. from L'Arbreda and the Abric romani in Catalunya represent
the earliest unequivocal Aurignacian appearances in western Europe."
Anne Pike-Tay et al, "Seasonal variations of the Middle-Upper
Paleolithic Transition at El Castillo, Cueva Morin and El Pendo
(Cantabria, Spain)," Journal of Human Evolution, 36(1999):283-317, p.
284

Further, she notes the transitional nature of the Middle to Upper
Paleolithic boundary. They write:
"At these and other Cantabrian sites, Middle Paleolithic tool types are
present in early Upper Paleolithic assemblages, while early Upper
Paleolithic tool types appear in Mousterian assemblages (not as a result
of post-depositional mixing, but of in situ technological development
and continuity). Similarly, Aurignacian tool types are associated with
Gravettian assemblages and vice versa.. . . Overall, we find the
technological transition from the Mousterian to the EUP to be more of a
quantitative change than a qualitative one, marked by a progressive
decrease in the umber of sidescrapers and an increase in the number of
endscrapers and burins."Anne Pike-Tay et al, "Seasonal variations of the
Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition at El Castillo, Cueva Morin and El
Pendo (Cantabria, Spain)," Journal of Human Evolution, 36(1999):283-317,
p. 290

After an analysis of the season of death of butchered animals in several
early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) sites in Spain, she and her colleagues
concluded that not only was this region transitional in tool types from
the Middle Paleolithic to the early Upper Paleolithic, it was also
transitional from ancient to modern behaviors. Thus, the Neanderthals
may have actually been the first modern-behaved people on the planet.

"It would appear, that, like the tool forms, the efficient techniques of
hunting that became pervasive in the Upper Paleolithic made their first
appearances in the Middle Paleolithic of Cantabria." Anne Pike-Tay et
al, "Seasonal variations of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition at
El Castillo, Cueva Morin and El Pendo (Cantabria, Spain)," Journal of
Human Evolution, 36(1999):283-317, p. 312

Cantabria was one of the last places occupied by anatomically modern
men, and yet modern behavior is found where the archaic humans, were
their strongest. This data does not support the progressive creationist
position as currently formulated.

-- 
glenn

Foundation, Fall and Flood Adam, Apes and Anthropology http://www.isource.net/~grmorton/dmd.htm