Harvard Anthropology Seminar Series: Abby Desmond (Harvard HEB)
Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023, 3:00pm
Location: Tozzer 203
In the study of human evolution, there is an emerging recognition that organic technologies are underrepresented in our understanding of the remote past. Recent developments in use-trace analysis have shown that bone tools sometimes retain traces diagnostic of particular crafting practices (coiled basketry or hide working, for example). Though baskets and leather goods will not survive at great time depths, sometimes the tools used to produce them can serve as a proxy for their presence. Using North African site of Taforalt as a case-study, I will discuss how traces found on bone tools suggest that the cave’s Palaeolithic inhabitants were creating complex coiled basketry forms in the Moroccan LSA (Desmond 2022). Future applications of this method are potentially profound, as bone tool use-traces can serve as proxies for organic crafting practices and processes, even in deep time.
I am a Palaeolithic archaeologist and a College Fellow in the Human Evolutionary Biology (HEB) Department at Harvard University, where I teach courses related to the evolution of human technology. I received my DPhil and MPhil in Palaeolithic Archaeology from The University of Oxford, and my research focuses on how technology and biology inform one another on human evolutionary timescales.