“Now You See it, Now You Don't”—Modern Human Behavior in the Middle Paleolithic

Erella Hovers, Anna Belfer-Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

91 Scopus citations


An intriguing phenomenon of the Middle Paleolithic archaeological record is the sporadic occurrence of traits commonly associated with alleged modern behavior. Given the antiquity in the hominin lineage of the organic systems that control such behaviors, the question of interest is not whether Middle Paleolithic people were capable of such behaviors, but rather why its occurrence is so haphazard and irregular. We suggest that the archaeological finds reflect only those elements of human knowledge that have been accepted and incorporated into societal normative behaviors, stored and kept for repeated use through canonization and rituals. Instability of demographic systems and population crashes prevented the continuous accumulation of such knowledge in certain regions of the Old World, dictating that technological and symbolic innovations be “re-invented” time and again throughout the Middle Paleolithic period.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTransitions before the transition
Subtitle of host publicationevolution and stability in the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age
EditorsErella Hovers, Steven L Kuhn
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)0387246584, 0387246614, 1280743719, 9786610743711
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameInterdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology
ISSN (Print)1568-2722

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2006, Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.


  • Anthropological Archaeology
  • Archaeological Record
  • Bone Tool
  • Current Anthropology
  • Peabody Museum


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