Abstract and Keywords
This chapter traces early expressions of symbolic behaviour:—rock art, personal ornaments, occurrences of ochre, notational pieces, and mortuary practices—across the southern arc dispersal route of modern humans out of Africa to Sahul, from some 70–60,000 years ago. These aspects of symbolic behaviour do not display a consistent pattern of appearance along the southern arc, and dates for their appearance/preservation do not become progressively more recent as modern humans moved east out of Africa. These results are explained using the demographic, social, and symbolic framework proposed to account for geographical and chronological patterning observed in the ‘package’ of traits reflecting modern human behaviour. In this model, the appearance of symbolic behaviour is determined by levels of local/regional population pressure necessitating (or not) the need for identity signalling, ‘bonding’ behaviour/open social networks, and ‘bounding’ or emblemic behaviour/closed social networks.
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