Biology is only part of the story ...

Dwight Read, Sander Van Der Leeuw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The origins and development of human cognition constitute one of the most interesting questions to which archaeology can contribute today. In this paper, we do so by presenting an overview of the evolution of artefact technology from the maker's point of view, and linking that development to some hypotheses on the evolution of human cognitive capacity. Our main hypothesis is that these data indicate that, in the first part of the trajectory, biological limits to cognitive capacity were a major constraint that limited technology, whereas, in the second part, this biological constraint seems to have been lifted and others have come in its place. But these are modifiable by means of conceptual frameworks that facilitate concept innovation and therefore enable learning, thereby permitting acceleration in the pace of change in technology. In the last part of the paper, we elaborate on some of the consequences of that acceleration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1959-1968
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1499
StatePublished - Jun 12 2008


  • Artefact technology
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive constraints
  • Evolution
  • Innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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