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The Learning to be Human Project Nada Khreisheh Photo: Whitlock 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "The Learning to be Human Project Nada Khreisheh Photo: Whitlock 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Learning to be Human Project Nada Khreisheh Photo: Whitlock 2012

2 Skill Acquisition in Flaked Stone Technologies: Role played by aptitude, practice and teaching. Archaeological signatures. Understanding of a task vs physical ability to carry it out. How this relates to evolution of modern human brains and intelligence. Photo: Whitlock 2011

3 The Learning to be Human Project: Leverhulme Trust funded project. Skill acquisition and early hominid cognitive processes. 3 Strands: Emory University, Dietrich Stout – fMRI scans of experimental knappers. UCL, Stuart Page and James Steele – transmission chain design. Exeter – experimental study of flintknapping skill acquisition. Linked by focus on Oldowan, Acheulean and Levallois technologies. Use of same group of experimental knappers.

4 Study Group: 16 people. 3 groups – core, wider beginners and wider experienced. Core: Intensive training. Contact with artefacts. Brain scans. No previous knapping experience. Wider Beginners: Less intensive training – focus on practice. No previous experience. Based at Exeter Wider Experienced: Less intensive training – focus on practice. Range of experience levels. Not all based at Exeter

5 Photos: Whitlock 2011

6 Aptitude: Spatial Ability Tests. Importance of visuospatial representations – Stout et al. 2008. Questionnaires: Age Sex Practical craft experience Contact with flaked stone assemblages Knapping experience Motor Ability Tests – Core only: Importance of fine finger movements and object manipulation – Stout and Chaminade 2007, Stout et al. 2008.


8 Learning: Sessions: Introduction to technology. Demonstration. Practice with input. Practice: 8 hours/month. Recorded via forms. Amount of time. Technology. Instruction. Success.


10 Evaluation: Skill assessed at regular intervals. Score 1-5 for connaissance (knowledge). Score 1-5 for savoir-faire (know-how). Flakes, cores and tools analysed.

11 Porcelain Cores: Mouldable Similar fracture properties to flint Consistent material Readily available Comparatively inexpensive Allows for greater reliability of results Photos: Khreisheh 2012, Whitlock 2012.

12 Skill Levels: Attempt to assign skill level to performance and products. Previous research 2-4 different levels. Lohse 2010: Beginner Adept Crafter Expert Based on amount of knowledge and know-how.

13 Why? Current interest in knapping skill identification: Identification of individuals. Identification of children. Need for longer term studies: Previous studies focus on single knapping sessions. Need for larger number of participants in studies. Skill acquisition across technologies. Oldowan, Acheulean handaxe and Levallois core. Skill acquisition as a factor in human cognitive development. Focus on early technologies Integration of study of learning process with study of brain scans.

14 Summary of results: High-level skill is not simply a result of number of hours practised. Natural aptitude and teaching have a very important role in skill acquisition Connaissance and savoir-faire are related in a more complex way than generally understood. Further work will look at the archaeological signatures and cognitive implications of this. References: Lohse, J. C. 2010: Evidence for learning and skill transmission in Clovis blade production and core maintenance, in Bradley, B. A., Collins, M. B. and Hemmings, A.: Clovis technology. Michigan: International Monographs in Prehistory, 157-176. Pelegrin, J. 1990: Prehistoric lithic technology: some aspects of research, Archaeological Review from Cambridge. 9 (1), 116-25. Stout, D and Chaminade, T. 2007: The evolutionary neuroscience of tool making, Neuropsychologia. 45, 1091- 1100. Stout, D., Toth, N., Shick, K. and Chaminade, T. 2008: Neural correlates of Early Stone Age toolmaking: technology, language and cognition in human evolution, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 363, 1939-49.

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