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  1. A Cross-cultural Perspective on Upper Palaeolithic Hand Images with Missing PhalangesMcCauley, Brea - Journal of Paleolothic Archaeology, 2018 - 1 Hypotheses

    The authors use ethnographic data to try to shed light on the prevalence of missing phalanges in Upper Paleolithic cave images. Searching eHRAF World Cultures, they found evidence of finger amputation in 121 societies. These accounts cast doubt on two common theories: 1) that cave images reflect sign language or 2) counting systems. Researchers argue the intentional removal of fingers could be sorted into the 10 following categories: sacrifice (for deities), mourning (for grief), identity (for group membership), medical (to heal sickness), marriage (status marker), punishment (for deeds), veneration (for worship), offering (post mortem for deities), trophy (an enemies fingers), and talisman (assist with magic). They argue that sacrifice was the most likely reason for the missing finger images in Upper Paleolithic caves.

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  2. A cross-cultural survey of on-site fire use by recent hunter-gatherers: Implications for research on Palaeolithic pyrotechnologyMcCauley, Brea - Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology, 2020 - 3 Hypotheses

    This study analyzed fire use in 93 hunter-gatherer groups based on ethnographic texts from eHRAF in order to improve our understanding of early hominin fire use. The researchers collected data on the groups' methods of making fire, the ways they used fire, and when and where they created fires. The study found that some groups either did not know how to make fire using traditional methods or had very few members who knew how to use such methods. The study also found that many groups preferred to preserve fire rather than create it anew, even carrying it between camps. Beyond this, the ways in which fire was created and used varied widely between hunter-gatherer groups. These findings have implications for understanding early pyrotechnology and the interpretation of the presence or absence of fire residues in the Palaeolithic archaeological record. The results suggest that the absence of fire residues may indicate the absence of fire-making knowledge and skills rather than just taphonomic processes, and that the presence of fire residues does not necessarily indicate the ability to manufacture fire.

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