Cognition and Material Culture: The Archaeology of Symbolic Storage

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Colin Renfrew, Christopher Scarre
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1998 - Social Science - 187 pages
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The fifteen papers in this volume explore how human beliefs have been externalised and `stored' in material form, thus making very intangible ideas exist in a permanent, tangible form. The volume benefits from a culturally and temporally comparative approach. Contents: Mind and matter: cognitive archaeology and external symbolic storage (Colin Renfrew); Hominid enculturation and cognitive evolution (Merlin Donald); Palaeolithic origins of artificial memory systems: an evolutionary perspective (Francesco d'Errico); Material artefacts, symbolism, sociologists and archaeologists (David Halle); Mimesis, imagination and role-play (David Harris); Rock art: handmaiden to studies of cognitive evolution (Thomas Dowson); Digging for memes: the role of material objects in cultural evolution (Mark Lake); Personal experience and belief: the significance of external symbolic storage for the emergence of modern human cognition (E J Lowe); The supernatural beings of prehistory and the external storage of religious ideas (Steven Mithen); Chinese burial patterns: sources of information on thought and belief (Jessica Rawson); Social relations and the idea of externality (Marilyn Strathern); Some problems with the notion of external symbolic storage and the case of Neolithic material culture in Britain (Julian Thomas); Symbolic behaviour: the origin of a spatial perspective (Ezra Zubrow and Patrick Daly); Mind and artefact: a dialectical perpsective (Robert Hinde); Material culture and cognition: concluding thoughts (Merlin Donald).

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