Cambridge Archaeological Journal


On the Nature of Transitions: the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic and the Neolithic Revolution

Ofer Bar-Yosefa1

a1 Department of Anthropology Peabody Museum 11 Divinity Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, USA


This article discusses two major revolutions in the history of humankind, namely, the Neolithic and the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic revolutions. The course of the first one is used as a general analogy to study the second, and the older one. This approach puts aside the issue of biological differences among the human fossils, and concentrates solely on the cultural and technological innovations. It also demonstrates the issues that are common-place to the study of the transition from foraging to cultivation and animal husbandry can be employed as an overarching model for the study of the transition from the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic. The advantage of this approach is that it focuses on the core areas where each of these revolutions began, the ensuing dispersals and their geographic contexts.