Digging Cognition: Is it Possible?

Wadley Lyn
Language of the article : English
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2020.1968
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Many archaeologists consider that symbolic behaviour is the key to a satisfactory definition of modern cognition, but items thought to embody  symbolism are rare in the archaeological record and interpretation of their meaning is often theoretically problematic. Cognitive attributes that  psychologists use, such as the ability to switch attention between tasks, analogical reasoning, response inhibition and multi-tasking seem more appropriate for study because they are evident in everyday tasks that are most often represented in the past. Technological data are abundant archaeologically and proxies derived from everyday technology can thus be used to interpret ancient cognition. Items of material culture can yield information about the minds of their makers because certain tasks cannot be performed without appropriate cognitive attributes. Theoretical ways of recognizing complex cognition include establishing which steps in technical processes cannot be undertaken without attributes of complex cognition such as multi-tasking and analogical reasoning. Bridging theories between archaeological data and interpretation of cognitive abilities are essential to the methodology. It also benefits from the application of scientific method and also supporting data retrieved from replication experiments that enable testing of hypotheses.

Pour citer cet article :

Wadley Lyn (2020/2). Digging Cognition: Is it Possible? In A. de Beaune Sophie (Eds), Emergence and evolution of human cognition, Intellectica, 73, (pp.133-158), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2020.1968.