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Mike Brass. Hunting, scavenging and stone tools

To begin this article I would like to give some background to the debate by posting an extract from my book (The Antiquity of Man, pages 25-34), a sub-section written in May 1999. Thereafter follows a summary of an important article written by Sr. Manual Dominguez-Rodrigo and published in the March 2002 edition of the Journal of World Prehistory.



Stone tool patterning

The artifacts referred to by Cremo & Thompson in the quote above are skeletal and stone tool remains. The former will be dealt with in detail in a following chapter. For now it is worthwhile outlining current theories regarding the stone tool usage amongst the early hominins. The term landscape is frequently used by archaeologists to categorise an activity, whether mental or physical, that is engaged in by hominins with their surrounding environment. Therefore landscape, as defined here, refers to the integration of natural and human settings, and the impact thereof. This definition in itself is very broad and it leaves open a large scope for varying degrees of application to and interpretation of the fossil and geological records. Hominin actions occur over both time and space, and therefore the end result examined by archaeologists (and also by other disciplines such as art historians and cultural geographers) is complex.

According to the laws of preservation, the further back in the past scientists investigate, the scantier the fossil, artifactual and habitation evidence they will have to deal with. The challenge faced is how to go about reconstructing the hominins’ interrelationship with their environment. It is a debatable point whether early Homo possessed a capacity for symbolism at c. 1.5 million years ago (mya). Taken together, these factors impose strict limits on various research and interpretative tracks which can be applied to a given problem, thus leaving the door open for novel and innovative methods. Rather than searching for symbolic explanations of the placement of archaeological features in the landscape, archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists instead concentrate on functional, socio-economic probabilities through a combination of recorded studies of our nearest surviving relatives the chimpanzee, through typological analyses of the stone artifacts, through microscopic examinations of the damage exhibited on animal bone remains, and through the range, distribution and clustering density patterns of both the stone tools and animal bones.

The loose definition of landscape archaeology permits contrasting interpretations of the inter-relations between the artifactual remains and the land on which they were imposed. It is impossible to determine with a degree of certainty what kind of hierarchies existed within early Homo habitation and foraging groups, and how these different levels of society used and viewed their place in the landscape by comparison both with their group peers and other groups inhabiting the same landscape, i.e. the relations of production and the dynamics of interaction; and also what obvious or subtle differences, if any, existed between different Homo groups at opposite geographical spectrums of the Rift Valley and their interaction with varying environmental conditions and pressures.

The examination of early hominin land-use patterns is accomplished through varying research programs on the regional distribution of sites, how these sites are inter-related and their ecological contexts. The four models examined here begin from differing premises, yet they all have the same structural theme.

Schick (1987) endeavours to sample specific horizontal archaeological layers at “frozen” moments in time. These frozen moments consist of periods lasting for 100 000 years or longer. Isaac (1978) and Rose & Marshall (1996) produce general models to account for artifact distributions through space and time in the early hominin tool-production period. Peters & Blumenschine (1998) reconstruct paleoenvironments and use it as a basis for predicting the distribution and function of early hominin “sites.”

These exercises have been collectively termed “landscape archaeology.” The aim, with regard to hominin paleoenvironments, is to map the density distribution of artifacts and their compositional degree of spatial variability, and thereby explain their socio-economic function within an interpretative framework of the surrounding ecological context.

Three of the best known occurrences of artifact assemblages, in distinct horizon layers, are the FxJj 20 site complex of Koobi Fora, and the FLK Zinj and the FC West Floor of Olduvai Gorge. They were originally termed “living floors” by the Leakeys, which carried the implications of artifactual debris deposited on a ground surface within either one or more temporally fixed occupations areas (Isaac 1978). A modern analogue would be a hunter-gatherer camp where a particular social group of people would carry out their diverse day-to-day domestic activities of survival, for a limited period.

The model failed to explain adequately how the site formation processes of the “living floor” occurred. This was a challenge taken up subsequently by Isaac (1978) in the development of his “home base” hypothesis. The foundation of the home base hypothesis rests on the assumption that hominin social groups existed who foraged and hunted independently over the surrounding terrain. These groups would have come together at a particular focal point in the landscape for the purpose of various activities. It is this focal point that Isaac classifies as a “home base” (Isaac 1978).

Isaac focused on Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge. A locality at Koobi Fora, termed the hippopotamus/artifact site (HAS) dated to 1.6 mya, has yielded the faunal remains of hippopotami in association with stone tools. Isaac turned to a second site, the Kay Behrensmeyer site (KBS), at Koobi Fora to answer the questions posed about the hominin behavioural patterns in the HAS assemblage. KBS was situated in the same volcanic layer as HAS and thereby provided good stratigraphic analogies between assemblages of comparatively the same age. The nearest suitable material, both in the form of rocky outcrops and naturally occurring stones, for the manufacture of stone tools occurs three kilometres away. The hominins would have needed some form of carrying aid to transport the stone tool materials. In addition, Isaac believed it was unlikely that all the faunal remains were the results of killings that took place within a short time interval at these sites. This led him to tentatively conclude that both the meaty bones and the stone tools were transported to the chosen localities.

Isaac proposed that these behaviours could also account for the dense concentrations of broken-up bones and stone artifacts found by Mary Leakey at the Zinjanthropus site of Olduvai Bed I (1.8 mya). Other stone concentrations at Olduvai Gorge, Koobi Fora and sites like Omo have very few faunal remains. These could either have been stone tool manufacturing sites with other economic and social activities occurring which are not archaeologically visible. Isaac hypothesised that the hominins undertook foraging rounds, during which period they would split up and later regroup at a predetermined locality on the landscape. He took this hypothesis one step further by analogies with modern hunter-gatherer societies in proposing that during the foraging rounds the social group fissured further into males and females. The males hunted and the females collected plant foods. These foods would then be redistributed at the home base for consumption.

Isaac’s home base model, therefore, draws on analogies between the Plio- Pleistocene sites and present-day hunter-gatherer camps. The archaeological material is a combination of primary refuse and materials that had been deposited there for intended future purposes. Criticism has been levelled at this hypothesis as the result of its ahistorical assumption that the land-use patterns and social organisation of modern hunter-gatherer communities remain largely unchanged from early hominin behavioural activities. Also the question of how and why these faunal remains and manuports were created in such dense concentrations is essentially unanswered.

Schick (1987), who approaches the question from a novel angle, took up this challenge. A tool site is where the dumping of stone tools is greater than their removal and this definition is subsequently utilised in building a model explaining the formation of archaeological deposits in concentrated space in any given stratigraphic horizon, the occurrence of vertically diffuse artifactual deposits, and the hominin behavioural patterns which resulted in contrasting spatially large and small concentrations of artifacts in the landscape.

The site of FxJj 50 (Koobi Fora), dated to 1.6 mya, contains 1405 flaked stone artifacts, 76 unshaped cobbles and cobble fragments, in association with 2100 faunal remains. The intensive studies carried out on this site have revealed that the manufacturing activities occurred elsewhere. This raises questions regarding hominid transport patterns.

General experimental replications, and the resultant predictive models, show that the cores present are in the late stage of reduction, and thus were imported from other localities.

The question arises about how and why these artifacts were taken out of the broader equation of the stone transport system. Although some portions can be regarded as “de facto” waste, this would only be applicable to debris with a maximum dimension of less than 2cm that resulted from the on-site flaking processes. It leaves the problem of the cores and core tools unaccounted for. Explanations such as deliberate disposal of tools are unsatisfactory. They are unable to account for the volume of incomplete and complete cores, and large, sharp flakes so visibly in abundance at a great number of sites. Plausible reasons include:

• The necessity to transport other materials, either gathered or processed (such as plant and animal foods, bedding and perhaps wood), as they moved on to their next locality in their hunting-foraging rounds;
• The sudden abandonment, of smaller sites, due to predator threat; and
• The next anticipated hunting-foraging locality having known stone resources which the hominins would have been able to easily exploit.

The localities that were rich in exploitable faunal resources were likely to have been the sites continuously visited periodically for planned huntingforaging activities. The high rates of stone tool transport demanded by Schick’s model are proposed to have occurred due to the uncertainty over suitable raw material availability during the course of the hunting-foraging rounds. When moving onto a locality with known or anticipated high sources of raw materials (see point 3 above) it is hypothesised that the artifacts would have been required as surplus and left at the previous locality. Provided that these sites were visited regularly enough on the hunting-foraging rounds, stone deposition density would occur through a circular feedback mechanism.

Medium density sites would have arisen through more sporadic occupation by the hunter-foragers due to their less attractive surrounding environments. Hominins moving to other hunting-foraging localities within this environment would have had an incentive to carry away with them some of their stone tools, thus increasing the exportation rate and maintaining the artifact density at a moderate level (Schick 1987).

By contrast, low-density depositions are those most frequently recorded in surface surveys. These localities may represent places of infrequent habitation or simply areas where large stone resources were both imported and exported by their hominins inhabitants due to the general scarceness of new stone resources in that particular environment.

Some localities contain vertically diffuse deposits. This may have been caused by frequently visited sites that had rapid rates of sedimentary deposition in comparison with the rate of cultural deposition (Schick 1987). Factors like vertically mixed deposits also have to be taken into consideration. Rock source sites provide an interesting way to test this hypothesis, although most of them are to be found in erosional or non-depositional environments, as well as within stream gravels, which severely hinder preservation.

Schick’s hypothesis accounts for several predictions concerning the formation of stone tool assemblages in differing circumstances: inter-site variability in assemblage size, raw material and technological diversity, and the frequency of visits by the early hominins to the localities. Prime foraging areas are expected, in this model, to have attracted the making of the larger archaeological sites through frequent visitations by the early hominins and, by extension, are more likely to possess variably complex sets of technological systems (Schick 1987). These artifact systems would be comprised of imported artifacts and manuports, on-site manufactured artifacts, and artifacts that were exported from the locality. The frequency of the visits in favourable areas increases the possibility of there being deposited stone tools and unfinished stone tools made from distant source raw materials, sometimes as far as 10km away.

Smaller-scale assemblages would, according to the predictions made by Schick’s hypothesis, develop at sites less frequently visited, and where much debitage might occur with little conjoinable material. At these sites this would be a result of a higher export than import ratio, examples of them being FxJj 1, 10, 11 and 17 at Koobi Fora.

The diverse stone resources available in the vicinity of Olduvai Gorge resulted in the localities’ stone transport patterns exhibiting more complexity by comparison to their Koobi Fora counterparts. The hominins of Olduvai Gorge lived in rich lake margin environments with diverse stone resources. At the Koobi Fora basin the stone tool materials came from cobbles found in and nearby the streams that drained from the east and from the volcanoes to the northeast. These streams decreased in gradient and, with it, the size range of available cobbles to such an extent that the early hominins utilising the localities of FxJj 1, 3 and 10 (which are part of the Lower Member within the channels of the delta distributary adjacent to the lake) would have had to travel an estimated 4km for appropriate raw materials to manufacture their stone tools.

Rose & Marshall (1996) present a revised version of Isaac’s home base hypothesis, which they term the “resource-defence model.” They take a novel approach in examining what the effects of early hominid meat-eating have on their relations with the Plio-Pleistocene carnivore compatriots. One of the central arguments against the home base hypothesis has been the stressing of the potential danger posed to the hominins by the carnivores attracted to the carcasses. Rose & Marshall believe the underlying assumption of this argument is the early hominins possessed a behaviourally limited capacity for hunting and that scavenging was an easy way out (Rose & Marshall 1996). An inference of the critiques of the “home base” hypothesis is these hominins were incapable of defending either their kill or the carcasses to which they first had access. In this way the scavenging and “home base” models have been seen as mutually exclusive behavioural strategies. Rose & Marshall produce a refined version of the “home base” hypothesis in which they envisage carnivore predation and the competition resulting instead in increased co-operative social behaviour.

Due to our incomplete knowledge of habit use by both Plio-Pleistocene carnivores and the hominins, it is difficult to assess their degree of interaction. However, it is unlikely that the hominins would have been exposed to higher risks of predation than some extant primates. Studies of primate behaviour in the face of predation danger are taken as the basis for their model. Living group primates have a wide range of alarm calls and co-operative defensive systems. Rose & Marshall theorise that the early hominins had a similar response mechanism, which developed a step further into intensive cooperation in confrontational behaviour with other animals for food resources.

Rose & Marshall avoid drawing a straight parallel between primate and early hominin behaviour, pointing out that meat comprises only a small portion of primate sustenance. As meat consumption increased with early Homo, so did the risk of increased carnivore competition. Under this threat, without the tree-climbing ability protection enjoyed by their predecessors and some of their contemporaries, Rose & Marshall hypothesise early Homo developed the primate trend towards co-operative defence to a greater degree in order to actively defend both themselves and their resources.

The view of hominins participating in passive scavenging holds that there would have been little meat and bones to take back to a particular locality for processing. However if early Homo were instead engaging in active, also termed “confrontational,” scavenging, they possessed the ability to appropriate carcasses from carnivores. This implies significant amounts of meat could have been obtained for carcass transport, processing and group sharing at a chosen site. The competitive ability would have been sufficient not only in obtaining the carcass or carcasses, but further defending both their food resources and themselves at the focal localities in the landscape.

Furthermore, Rose & Marshall envisage a series of high quality patches which would have been rigorously defended. This selective pressure would have resulted in improvements in nutrition and survival rates. The social structures, in terms of mating, would also have undergone alteration. This is a major revision to Isaac’s model of seeing the origins of modern huntergatherer social divisions in the Plio-Pleistocene.

Fruit trees are spatially fixed resource patches for primates. Rose & Marshall hypothesises that this concept can be extended to early Homo by regarding hunted and scavenged carcasses as movable high quality resource patches requiring defence from both carnivores and other hominid groups. This way of life would also have had to take into account stone tool raw material availability, water, trees for shade and potential sleeping places. Rose & Marshall propose that effective mechanisms would have been in place for the transportation of food and other objects to the safe-havens, where they would be either consumed or worked upon.

The basic principle on which Peters & Blumenschine’s (1998) predictive model, for the lowermost Bed II Olduvai Basin, is built revolves around the variability early Homo would have faced. These different chances would be reflected in the faunal and stone tool assemblages scattered across the landscape.

With the possibility of artifact assemblages created by wood cutting and nut pounding being negligible (although visible at Large Spring on the Eastern Lacustrine Plain), most of the stone tools are predicted to be remnants of early hominid scavenging of larger mammal carcasses, and early hominid hunting of larger mammals. The composition of these assemblages are said to be the result of facet-specific constraints: competition with carnivores as well as other hominins for larger mammal carcasses; and the degree of carnivore predation risk involved in scavenging. These constraints are, in turn, ultimately determined by the geographically ecological variability of cover abundance.

Furthermore, factors of refuge and transport of carcass parts have to be considered. The prediction made is that the transport of stone and the carcass bones would have been minimised by the hominins endeavouring to seek the nearest natural or artificial source of stone raw materials or stone tools, and the transport of some of the tools and the carcass to the nearest facet which would offer relative safety. This is something which Peters & Blumenschine have termed the “least-effort principle.”

The minimising of distance ensured that lost and discarded stones and stone tool could have been reused, but only to the degree that its locality was predictable. The clusters of stone tools that can be reused for butchery and predator defence are not found generally in unwooded localities, but are common in closed areas with a fresh supply of water nearby. It is unclear in the Peters & Blumenschine model whether stone carrying devices were used which would have permitted greater mobility. Moreover it cannot be determined with a degree of certainty whether the visual assemblages are due to the settings having been appropriate safe-havens or whether food was being carried back to various dependents.

For the early hominins transport of artifacts and raw materials for artifact manufacture was an integral part of a well-developed behavioural pattern. Isaac’s model was very influential in its time, being a novel attempt to explain the site formation processes of contextually related artifact and bone assemblages. However, Isaac’s primary weakness was a crucial argument employed within his hypothesis: uncritically using modern hunter-gatherer ethnography as analogy for hominin behaviour 2 mya. Allied with this oversight hindrance is that while Isaac’s home base hypothesis strives to explain the occurrences of the assemblages, it fails to address the question of the interconnectedness of these assemblages in the landscape; i.e. whether their distribution is random or whether there is a detectable patterned use of the landscape by the early hominins in a given archaeological stratigraphic horizon.

The main difference between Isaac’s and Rose & Marshall’s versions of the home base hypothesis, and the cause for Rose & Marshall renaming their version the resource-defence model, lies in the greater body of knowledge currently available on meat consumption and processing patterns of modern carnivores in East Africa from primate perspectives. Rose & Marshall have put forward hypothetical answers to the questions posed over Isaac’s home base model of why and how it happened. They also provide the social perspective glaringly lacking in Schick’s model. Their model essentially irons out the problems highlighted above with Isaac’s model, but in doing so the authors produced another critical problem of their own: it is not timerestricted. What is presented is a general model based mainly on analogies with primate behaviour and sociality. They fail to test their hypothesis on any early hominid time-period environment and the assemblages accrued. Admittedly this could be due to the lack of good excavated horizons yielding the paleo-environment detail necessary, but it does not explain why at least no qualified attempt was made mention of.

Schick contrasts different landscape features and the flow of stone raw materials and artifacts through them, but fails to demonstrate whether there is a relationship between the different assemblages in a particular environment or not. She also does not take into account why an assemblage was sited where it was within the different landscape; i.e. within a wooded environment would the site be in the shade and protection of the trees or would it be where the cover was less dense and more likely closer to good killing and scavenging sites.

Peters & Blumenschine’s predictive model is designed to provide an ecological interpretative framework for future landscape archaeological work at Olduvai Gorge. It examines the differential transport of carcass parts and stone from open, dangerous areas to relatively safe localities. Up to this point their model is in general agreement with the three models outlined above. However, their model differs in that it posits a central locality would only have been useful for hominins where small patches of trees or other covering providing reasonable protection occurred in the landscape. If there was extensive cover available, this would have had the effect of dispersing the hominins and the traces of their activities would thus have been dissipated, resulting in a loose land-usage pattering being archaeologically visible through route foraging. Peters & Blumenschine’s predictive model attempts to reconstruct the differing paleo-environments and which animals would have inhabited them. Based on these results, they go on to make predictions about which animal skeletal parts will be most commonly found at hominin sites and which animals would be represented, in conjunction with predictions made about the variability and placement of these sites in the landscape. These predictions are based on their hypothesised model of hominin behaviour, that the early hominins were primarily non-confrontational scavengers.

The differing hypotheses of Peters & Blumenschine and Marshall are essentially irreconcilable because they start from different premises: nonconfrontational vs. confrontational scavenging and the resulting patterns of hominin behaviour that arise from these competing behavioural and landuse strategies. Schick’s model can potentially combine well with Rose & Marshall’s by not only subjecting Rose & Marshall’s model to a specific time-period test, but by explaining the movement of raw materials utilised by the hominins between the various resource-defence bases. Schick can not be reconciled with Peters & Blumenschine for the simple reason that Peters & Blumenschine view the assemblage occurrences as randomly chosen, utilised and then discarded; in other words, Peters & Blumenschine’s model predicts that early Homo had no concept of central territoriality.

Projecting the concept of landscape archaeology back into the distant past is therefore problematic in some respects: a whole model can be based on a premise as equally valid as a competing premise. The task is made even more frustrating by the last of written records to tell us in greater detail about the movement of these early hominins across the landscape: could all the early Homo groups have been behaving in the same manner 1.8 million years ago? Did they practice seasonal exploitation and, if so, to what extent and how exactly did this affect their movements across the landscape? What kind of hierarchical system did these early hominins have? What kind of territoriality did they practice?


Isaac, G. 1978. The food-sharing behaviour of proto-human hominids. Scientific American 238(4): 90-108

Peters, C. & Blumenschine, R. 1998. Archaeological predictions for hominid land use in the paleo-Olduvai Basin, Tanzania, during lowermost Bed II times. Journal of Human Evolution 34(6): 565-607

Rose, L. & Marshall, F. 1996. Meat eating, hominid sociality, and home bases revisited. Current Anthropology 37: 307-338

Schick, K. 1987. Modeling the Formation of Early Stone Age Artifact Concentrations. Journal of Human Evolution 16:789-808


Hunting and Scavenging by Early Humans: The State of the Debate, by Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo

The abstract of Dominguex-Rodrigo's article states:

"During the last 25 years, there has been a shift towards the belief that early humans were scavengers instead of hunters. This revisionist interpretation has brought a reconciliation with the Darwinian paradigm of gradual progressive evolution that has traditionally guided (and very often, misled) an important part of anthropological thinking.However, empirical support for the scavenging hypothesis is still lacking. Recent data based on bone surface modifications from archaeological faunas suggest, in contrast, that hominids were primary agents of carcass exploitation. Meat seems to have been an important part of Plio-Pleistocene hominid diets. Passive scavenging scenarios show that this kind of opportunistic strategy cannot afford significant meat yields. Therefore, the hunting hypothesis has not yet been disproved. This makes the huntingand- scavenging issue more controversial than before, and calls for a revision of the current interpretive frameworks and ideas about early human behavior."

Dominguez-Rodrigo, hereafter shortened to DR, provides an overview of the history of arguments concerning hominins' hunting abilities from Dart's "osteodontokeratic culture", to Lee and De Vore's "Man the Hunter", to Brain's "The Hunter or the Hunted" and into the debates in the late 1970s and early 1980s surrounding arguments by Glenn Isaac, Binford and Bunn et al. As DR (page 7) points out, "However, our ideas about early hominid behaviour still depend more on our paradigms than on unambigious data-supported arguments. Today, while hunting and scavenging are still in dispute as early humans' basic subsistence behaviour, it is time for an academic revision of the subject."

The mainstay of research into whether animal bone accumulations were scavenged or not is their skeletal part profile, with bone breakage patterns and bone surface modifications incorporated as a secondary analytical procedure. All this impacts upon interpretations as to whether early hominins undertook a degree of hunting or whether they were passive or aggressive scavengers.

However, there is a problem in the underlying assumption of skeletal part profiles that a diagnostic pattern can be ascertained in the way humans transport, accumulate and disarticulate animal carcasses. The Hadza differentially transport portions of animal carcasses depending on what species of animal it is. This pattern varies also for carcasses of different sizes. There is also the bias in bone preservation and bone surface marks to consider.

Primary access by carnivores leaves a high percentage of took marks on bone midshafts, whereas seconardy access lowers the number of midshaft fragments which exhibit these marks. Hominins leave percussion (consequence of bone demarrowing) and butchery marks. If a hominin or a group of hominins is defleshing an animal through primary access to a carcass, the midshafts and near-epiphysels will display cut marks. If small scraps of flesh are being removed through secondary access to the carcass, scrap marks will be exhibited.

Analyses by Blumenschine, Capaldo and Selvaggio concluded, on the basis of tooth and percussion marks, that the animal bone remains at FLK 22 Zinjanthropus, Olduvai, were the result of hominin scavenging. However, the presence of cut marks was not considered as important.

If hominins were scavengers with secondary access, one would expect to find the cut marks to be on the places where meat had been left. Kills made by felids have little or no flesh left on the midshafts, whereas defleshing by the less accomplished hominins would have left a lot of meat scraps for carnivores to finish off. As RD points out on page 23, "One of the most remarkable facts in this study was the observation that most of the carcasses found in [modern] riparian woodlands barely exhibited any scraps of flesh at all...Cut marks found on elements where flesh scraps are nonexistent at carnivore kills should reflect human activities not linked with passive scavenging."

The definition of bone section as used by Blumenschine, Selvaggio and Capaldo is also incorrect, misrepresenting the number of marks on bone sections.

Early access to carcasses results in cut mark percentages being higher in the upper and intermediate limb bones, and this is the same pattern which is evident at FLK Zinj. Also, the large number of complete long bones is contrary to Blumenschine's marrow-scavenging hypothesis. RD conducted an experimental study on partially carnivore demarrowed carcasses and concludes (page 31) "the most important result of this study is that the percentage of tooth-marked midshaft specimens is very similar to that observed in the FLK zinj sample".

In his 1996 study of the bone accumulations at FxJj50 which he summarises in this paper, RD concludes (pages 35 and 45, "Given the fact that midshafts (in general) and upper limb bones are particularly devoid of even scraps of flesh at carnivore kills, the cut-mark pattern from the FxJj50 is indicative of flesh exploitation, and therefore, early access to carcasses by hominids... These results are in accordance with other studies. The analysis made by Monahan (1996) on Olduvai Bed II faunas also shows that upper limb bones are highly ranked among the cut-marked bones in some of the sites, further suggesting that hominids were primary agents in carcass exploitation... "Data from the archaeofaunas at Olduvai and Koobi Fora suggest that hominids had primary access to fleshed carcasses. The strategies they used to obtain these carcasses are still unknown and difficult to test. The (stilluntested) scavenging hypothesis has been assumed by several researchers as the most likely explanation for carcass acquisition by early hominids (Lewin, 1984), and even landscape modeling has been made on this basis (Blumenschine and Peters, 1998; Peters and Blumenschine, 1995). In the current stage of research, the hunting hypothesis cannot be ruled out, and it seems that its heuristic power is greater than that of the passive scavenging scenarios outlined so far. Perhaps we are not far from the threshold of another scientific revolution toward interpretations in which hominids are considered to have been more actively involved in obtaining carcasses."


Dominguez-Rodrigo, M. 2002. Hunting and Scavenging by Early Humans: The State of the Debate. Journal of World Prehistory 16(1)

Two other recent excellent references, which are available from, dealing with these topics are:

Lupo, K. D.& O’Connell, J.F. 2002. Cut and tooth mark distributions on large animal bones: Ethnoarchaeological data from the Hadza and their implications for current ideas about early human carnivory. Journal of Archaeological Science 29: 85-109.

O’Connell, J. F., Hawkes, K., Lupo, K. & Blurton Jones, N.G. 2002. Male strategies and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology. Journal of Human Evolution 43: 831-872.

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