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Design vs. chance: Is this a primitive human artifact?

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Venus of Berekhat Ram, c. 230 kya/Locutus Borg

From Ian Tattersall’s review of Why Only Us: Language and Evolution by Robert C. Berwick and Noam Chomsky at New York Review of Books:

Around 300,000 years ago a conceptually new type of stone implement began to be made in both Africa and Europe… But significantly, in this time range there is only one putative—and hugely arguable—symbolic artifact known: a vaguely anthropomorphic lump of rock from the Golan Heights that may have been slightly modified to look more human. More.

So, readers, is it an artifact? Is it an accident?

Note: The copy quoted is behind a paywall. The whole article is worth the price because it is a good overview of the background to Tom Wolfe’s attack on Chomsky in The Kingdom of Speech.

Note 2: The dating discrepancy between 230 000 (illus.) and 300 000 years ago (text) is due to uncertainty.

See also: Tom Wolfe on Evolution as a Theory of Everything: Wolfe does not sound like an orthodox believer here. He ought not to be thinking for himself like this, ought he?


Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife

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