Flashcards for the Evolution of Modern Humans
Topic 5:  Early Modern Human Culture
(15 cards)

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The stage of the Paleolithic in which the advanced stone and bone tool traditions of the Cro-Magnon and other late ice age modern humans belong.

Upper Paleolithic

Spear hunting was revolutionized by the invention of this device that allows a spear to be thrown farther. It was invented by at least 17,000-15,000 years ago.

spear thrower or atlatl

A weapon that further increased the range of projectiles beyond that of spears. It was invented by at least 12,000 years ago but took many thousands of years to spread around the world.

bow and arrow

Thin, roughly parallel-sided flakes of rock that are at least twice as long as they are wide. Their cross-sections are usually either triangular or trapezoidal. They were the basis of many Upper Paleolithic stone tool forms—they were preforms for the manufacture of knives, hide scrapers, spear tips, drills, awls, burins, etc.

blade flakes (or blades)

A technique used to make Upper Paleolithic blade flakes. These nearly standardized shapes were struck off of a prepared core by indirect percussion using an antler tip and some sort of hammer to control the direction and force of the shock wave entering the core.

punch flaking

A tool making technique in which a glass-like rock is struck with a heavy glancing blow from another dense rock (a hammerstone) in order to cause a flake to be removed. An artifact can be shaped by carefully and systematically directing these blows with the hammerstone.

percussion flaking

A tool making technique used in the Upper Paleolithic as a further refinement in shaping glass-like rock artifacts. After preliminary shaping by percussion flaking, a hard pointed object, like the tip of a deer antler, was used in this method to literally push off flakes in the final shaping and thinning process of a tool.

pressure flaking

A narrow gouging chisel made from a blade flake. This tool was used by Upper Paleolithic craftsmen to make, shape, and decoratively engrave bone, tusk, and antler artifacts.


The general term for a tool that has multiple parts. When one part breaks, it can be replaced rather than replacing the entire tool. Upper Paleolithic tools that are in this category included detachable harpoon points and interchangeable spear foreshafts of hard wood attached to spears.

compound tool

Raw materials for tool making that came into much more common use in the late Upper Paleolithic tool traditions. These materials had been used occasionally in earlier tool traditions, but were only modified clumsily by hammering, scraping, and burning. Among the Cro-Magnon people, they progressively replaced wood and stone for many functions.

bone and antler

Small carvings of women that could fit into the hand made by the Cro-Magnon people. They usually were faceless idealized representations of well fed and usually pregnant women with large buttocks. They were made from 35,000 years ago down to the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

Venus figurines

What the Venus figurines made by the Cro-Magnon people are thought to symbolize for those people.

female fertility and health

The most well known thing found at the Cro-Magnon occupied cave sites at Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain.

extensive paintings on the cave walls

The presumed function of the cave art produced by Cro-Magnon people. This is based on the fact that the majority of the figures represented are herd animals that they ate, many of which are shown either wounded or pregnant. In addition the art was made in remote cave areas where few people would encounter it.

sympathetic (or imitative ) hunting and fertility magic

The specialized subsistence pattern based primarily on hunting large animals, especially herbivorous herding mammals such as horses, reindeer, bison, and elephants. This was the source of much of the food consumed by late ice age people in the cold regions of the northern hemisphere.

big game hunting