Nicholas Toth

Nicholas Toth
Indiana University Bloomington & Stone Age Institute · Cognitive Science Program

Doctor of Philosophy

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98
Publications
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Publications

Publications (98)
Article
The Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) recovered sequences of Pleistocene lake sediments that correlate with those known from outcrops directly associated with hominin fossil horizons. The sedimentary succession from Core 2A (02° 58' 43'' S, 035° 19' 25.5'' E), which targeted the ancient lake-basinal depocenter, includes stratigraphic intervals (∼...
Article
Volcano-sedimentary cores recovered from Pleistocene Palaeolake Olduvai by the Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) provide a high-resolution record for reconstructing climatic and environmental contexts of hominin evolution. Approximately 612 m were recovered from four cores from three drill sites across the basin depocentre through scientific dril...
Article
Previously, Olduvai Bed I excavations revealed Oldowan assemblages <1.85 Ma, mainly in the eastern gorge. New western gorge excavations locate a much older ~2.0 Ma assemblage between the Coarse Feldspar Crystal Tuff (~2.015 Ma) and Tuff IA (~1.98 Ma) of Lower Bed I, predating the oldest eastern gorge DK assemblage below Tuff IB by ~150 kyr. We char...
Article
Primary carbonate and marl layers and limestone nodular horizons were intersected in OGCP Boreholes 1A, 2A, 3A, 3B, drilled into the depocentre of Palaeolake Olduvai. The various carbonate types were analysed, employing petrographic (including cathodo-luminescence), stable isotope, and sequence stratigraphic techniques, and recorded important infor...
Article
The Olduvai Gorge Coring Project drilled a total of 611.72 m of core (575.48 m recovered) of mostly fluvio- lacustrine and fan-delta volcaniclastic Pleistocene strata at three sites in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania, in 2014. We have developed a chronostratigraphic framework for three of the cores based on 40Ar/39Ar dating of core and outcrop volcanic...
Article
Full-text available
We present data and results of a passive seismic experiment that we operated between June 2016 and May 2018 in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (northern Tanzania), located on the western side of the eastern branch of the Eastern African Rift (EAR) system. The motivation for this experiment is twofold: (1) investigating the extension of the Olduvai...
Article
Full-text available
We present data and results of a passive seismic experiment that we operated between June 2016 and May 2018 in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (northern Tanzania), located on the western side of the eastern branch of the Eastern African Rift (EAR) sys- tem. The motivation for this experiment is twofold: (1) investigating the extension of the Olduv...
Article
Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania contains a fossiliferous, well-characterized Pleistocene sedimentary record and provides the opportunity to study the relationships between a changing climate, ecology, and hominin evolution. The Olduvai Gorge Coring Project drilled four cores (1A, 2A, 3A, and 3B) into the depocenter of Paleolake Olduvai in 2014 t...
Article
For five decades Olduvai Gorge has been a key site to reconstruct and understand the relationship between environmental and landscape conditions and use of affordances by early African hominin populations. Following the first Olduvai Gorge Coring project (OGCP) during 2014, a multiproxy microbiological analysis, which includes phytoliths, pollen, d...
Article
Full-text available
Inter- and intra-rater reliability studies in experimental archaeology promote consistency and replicability in the lithic analysis methods that are applied to interpretations of the archaeological record. Replication attempts to classify a knapper’s hand preference post-hoc using published methodologies that focus on right- and left-oriented flake...
Article
The Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) drilled four boreholes 1A, 2A, 3A, 3B at three sites into the central palaeolake of the Olduvai Basin depocentre. Previously known Beds I, II, III, IV, Masek Beds and Ndutu are identifiable in the upper part of the cores, and from these formations predominantly lacustrine facies associations are recognised. T...
Article
The Olduvai Gorge deposits contain a rich archaeological record documenting the evolution of hominin behavior over the last 2 million years. While archaeological assemblages in the lower sedimentary layers (Beds I-II) are well preserved in relatively secure chronostratigraphic contexts, the age of overlying beds is poorly constrained due to discont...
Article
Sediment cores retrieved from the Pleistocene Olduvai Basin by the Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) provide a high-resolution record of tuffs and other volcaniclastic deposits, together with a lacustrine sedimentary record full of paleoenvironmental indicators. Correlating tuffs between the cores and outcrops at Olduvai, where these tuffs are id...
Article
The analysis of geochemical palaeoclimate and palaeosalinity proxy elements Ti, Mg, and Al, derived from X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scans of Olduvai Beds I and II from Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) borehole Cores 2A and 3A, provides a record of cyclic variation between ~1.3 Ma and ~2.0 Ma. The boreholes were drilled into the depocentre of the O...
Article
This chapter will consider the origins, evolution and adaptive significance of the Acheulean Industrial Complex, based upon experimental replicative and functional studies. It is argued here that the Acheulean emerged as a response to large-mammal carcass acquisition and butchery, where larger, heavier and more ergonomic butchery tools with long, s...
Article
Olduvai Gorge is renowned for discoveries of hominin fossils and tools in a well-resolved sedimentary context, representing one of the foremost sites in East Africa that has afforded critical evidence of hominin evolution. In 2014, the Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) recovered the first deep sediment cores from this location. These cores provid...
Article
A 5.6-km-long line of refraction and reflection seismic data spanning the Pliocene-Pleistocene fill of the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania is presented. The line is oriented along a northwest-southeast profile through the position of Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) Borehole 2A. Our aims are to (1) delineate the geometry of the basin floor by tracing be...
Article
Several hypotheses invoke climatic variability as a driving force for hominin evolution. Thus, high-resolution records of climate and environmental variability from anthropologically significant locations can help test these hypotheses. Sedimentary sequences recovered by the Olduvai Gorge Coring Project (OGCP) help evaluate climatic and environment...
Article
Over the past century, numerous discoveries throughout East Africa have advanced our understanding of hominin evolution and provided substantive evidence that climatic and environmental variability played a critical role in evolutionary developments. Stratigraphic records with high temporal resolution aid in testing evolutionary hypotheses that inv...
Article
Full-text available
This paper focuses on the empirical evidence for the cognitive abilities of early hominins of the Oldowan Industrial Complex (c. ≥2.6 to 1.4 Mya) on the African continent. It profiles various researchers’ approaches to and inferences about the cognitive abilities of Oldowan (Mode 1) toolmakers, based on the excavated archaeological evidence, primat...
Article
The Middle Awash region of Ethiopia contains a rich record of Acheulean occupation spanning from Early Pleistocene times through much of the Middle Pleistocene. Here we will present an overview of some of the major reported features of the Acheulean archaeological record of the Middle Awash (Clark et al., 1994; de Heinzelin et al., 2000) and compar...
Article
The rich record of vertebrate, hominin and archaeological remains recovered from Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania stands in stark contrast to the largely unexplored macroinvertebrate record from the region. Here we examine fossil malacofauna from Olduvai Gorge, inclusive of new discoveries and previous reports, and survey their potential as paleo...
Article
The profound reliance of the human species on tools for its survival and adaptation is unique in the animal world. Prehistoric evidence for tool use as an adaptive strategy in human evolution extends back at least 3.3 million years, when stone tools began to be found at prehistoric sites in Africa in regions containing fossils of early bipedal ance...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Twin Rivers Kopje, Zambia is a Middle and Later Stone Age site first excavated by J. Desmond Clark that has yielded extensive evidence of mineral pigment collection and use dating to as old as 300,000 years ago. In this study, we sampled pigment sources within 25 km of Twin Rivers for digital colorimetry and trace element fingerprinting using Laser...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Twin Rivers Kopje, located southwest of Lusaka, Zambia, is a Middle Stone Age site containing the oldest Lupemban Industry deposits in Central Africa, dating to approximately 300-140 ka. First excavated by J. Desmond Clark, more recent excavations by Lawrence Barham yielded extensive evidence of mineral pigment collection in Lupemban and younger co...
Poster
Full-text available
Twin Rivers Kopje is a Middle and Later Stone Age archaeological site located 24 km southwest of Lusaka, Zambia and contains the oldest Lupemban Industry deposits in Central Africa, dating to approximately 300 – 140 ka during the Middle Pleistocene. The site was first excavated by J. Desmond Clark in 1954-56; more recent excavations by Lawrence Bar...
Article
The evolution of human technology has entailed profound yet gradual changes in our technological systems that have essentially co-evolved with changes in ancestral human biological forms. The two-and-a-half million year old Paleolithic archeological record shows a gradual increase in technological, behavioral, and presumably cognitive abilities in...
Chapter
When considered in the context of animal evolution, the course of human evolution has produced a very unusual species, a profoundly technological organism that has adapted to virtually every biome on our planet through the mediation of material culture. Through the use of tools and technology, materials external to our biological selves that we hav...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter will discuss the relationships between hominin brain evolution (encephalization, reorganization) and the prehistoric archaeological record, most notably prehistoric technological material culture and behavioral patterns, to assess the cognitive capabilities evident within different grades of hominins through time. Seven time intervals,...
Article
We bring together the quite different kinds of evidence available from palaeoanthropology and primatology to better understand the origins of Plio-Pleistocene percussive technology. Accumulated palaeoanthropological discoveries now document the Oldowan Complex as the dominant stone tool making culture between 2.6–1.4 Ma, the earlier part of this co...
Article
The Oldowan was the term first coined by Louis Leakey to describe the world's earliest stone industries, named after the famous site of Olduvai (formerly Oldoway) Gorge in Tanzania. The Oldowan Industrial Complex documents the first definitive evidence of early hominin culture as well as the earliest known archaeological record. This review examine...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter emphasizes the importance of actualistic studies (studies of modern phenomena to gain a better understanding of phenomena in the prehistoric past) in Early Stone Age research, personally drawing on over three decades of research. This retrospective of research includes experimental archaeological studies of stone artifact manufacture a...
Article
This article examines prehistoric evidence for the emergence of bipedal hominids and the emergence of the earliest archaeological traces traditionally called the Early Stone Age in Africa and the Lower Palaeolithic in Eurasia. It explains that it was during this time that the major foundations of the human condition were established, including the...
Chapter
Full-text available
Variation in knapping skill is a potential source of variability in Oldowan artifact assemblages thought to have important cognitive, behavioral and evolutionary implications. However, a uniform method for assessing Oldowan knapping skill has yet to be adopted. Research presented here builds upon previous experimental and archaeological work in pur...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological and palaeontological evidence from the Early Stone Age (ESA) documents parallel trends of brain expansion and technological elaboration in human evolution over a period of more than 2Myr. However, the relationship between these defining trends remains controversial and poorly understood. Here, we present results from a positron emiss...
Chapter
The Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age, comprises over 99 % of human technological history and spans a time range from 2.6 Ma (the earliest recognizable stone tools and archaeological record) to 10,000 years ago (the end of the last ice age). There are three major stages of the Paleolithic: (1) The Early Paleolithic which includes the following: (a) the...
Article
Full-text available
A recent striped hyena den was excavated in the eastern desert of Jordan to examine taphonomic patterning in the bone assemblage. A total of 4,847 specimens of bones and teeth was recovered from a 16 m2 excavation, with the majority of these (94.7%) buried to a depth of up to 20 cm. While large and even complete bones dominated the surface assembla...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter will present an overview of the Oldowan Industrial Complex (hereafter referred to as the Oldowan), discussing its definition, its chronological and geographic context, the nature of the Oldowan archaeological record, contemporaneous hominins, key issues, and recent trends in research over the past few decades. This introduction will pr...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter will present an overview of the Oldowan Industrial Complex (hereafter referred to as the Oldowan), discussing its definition, its chronological and geographic context, the nature of the Oldowan archaeological record, contemporaneous hominins, key issues, and recent trends in research over the past few decades. This introduction will pr...
Chapter
Full-text available
An experimental program was designed to compare and contrast the stone tool-making skills of modern African apes (bonobos or Pan paniscus), of prehistoric toolmakinghominins from the earliest known Palaeolithic sites at Gona, Ethiopia (sites EG 10 and EG 12) dating to approximately 2.6 million years ago (possibly Australopithecusgarhi), and of mode...
Chapter
Full-text available
Functional brain imaging technologies provide human origins researchers with the unique opportunity to examine the actual neural substrates of evolutionarily significant behaviors. This pilot study extends previous brain imaging research on stone toolmaking (Stout et al., 2000; Stout, this volume) by using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to comp...
Article
IIn the 140 years since Darwin first presented his paper on evolution by natural selection to the Linnaean Society (1858), a remarkable mass of evidence has been uncovered to docu­ ment the biological and cultural evolution of the human lineage. This chapter focuses on the archaeology of our earliest ancestors, tracing their emergence as bipedal ho...
Article
This study introduces to archaeology a new experimental technique for examining the relationship between stone tool-making and brain function. The principal focus of this exploratory study was the development of effective methods for the identification and examination of the regions of the modern human brain recruited during the manufacture of simp...
Article
Cutmarks inflicted by a stone tool were observed on the right maxilla of Stw 53, an early hominid partial skull from Sterkfontein "Member 5" (South Africa). The morphology of the marks, their anatomical placement, and the lack of random striae on the specimen all support an interpretation of this linear damage as cutmarks. The location of the marks...
Article
Around two-and-a-half million years ago, some hominid populations in Africa began to modify stones and bones in a manner that can be recognized by prehistorians as artifacts, and, by definition, produced the earliest identifiable archaeological record. It is likely that earlier hominid groups also may have had relatively rich tool-using behavioral...
Chapter
In the 140 years since Darwin first presented his paper on evolution by natural selection to the Linnaean Society (1858), a remarkable mass of evidence has been uncovered to docu­ ment the biological and cultural evolution of the human lineage. This chapter focuses on the archaeology of our earliest ancestors, tracing their emergence as bipedal hon...
Article
A long-term collaborative study by palaeolithic archaeologists and cognitive psychologists has continued in its investigations into the stone tool-making and tool-using abilities of a captive bonobo (a 180 pound male, named Kanzi, aged 12 years at the time of experiments reported here). A major focus of this study has been examination of the lithic...
Article
The activity of 17 hand muscles was monitored by electromyography (EMG) in three subjects during hard hammer percussion manufacture of Oldowan tools. Two of the subjects were archaeologists experienced in the replication of prehistoric stone tools. Simultaneous videotapes recorded grips associated with the muscle activities. The purpose of the stud...
Article
At some Early Palaeolithic sites (e.g. Ain Hanech, Algeria and el ’Ubeidiya, Israel), archaeologists have uncovered interesting and enigmatic artefact forms that have received special attention. These are the faceted limestone “spheroids” (sometimes called “boules à facettes” or “boules polyédriques”). These artefacts, usually between 5 and 10cm in...
Article
We report on experimental and chemical investigation of bamboo and bone residues on used and unused modern stone tools. Flakes used were manufactured from a chert nodule and employed in three ways: splitting of bamboo, scraping and splintering of bone; others were left unused. Specimens were examined using light microscopy, SEM, and EDS elemental a...
Article
Full-text available
A Paleoindian campsite has been uncovered in stratified prehistoric deposits in Caverna da Pedra Pintada at Monte Alegre in the Brazilian Amazon. Fifty-six radiocarbon dates on carbonized plant remains and 13 luminescence dates on lithics and sediment indicate a late Pleistocene age contemporary with North American Paleoindians. Paintings, triangul...
Article
Full-text available
A long-term collaborative study by palaeolithic archaeologists and cognitive psychologists has continued in its investigations into the stone tool-making and tool-using abilities of a captive bonobo (a 180 pound male, named Kanzi, aged 12 years at the time of experiments reported here). A major focus of this study has been examination of the lithic...
Article
A single radiation-sensitive ESR signal at g = 2.0018 occurs in fossil tooth enamel, but not in modern teeth. In dating fossil teeth, the equivalent radiation dose (AD) needed to produce the observed ESR signal is the integral with respect to time of the natural, environmental dose rate (ED) experienced by the tooth during burial. Since the age dep...
Article
The Kim-Yal people of Langda Village, in the mountains of western New Guinea, have made and traded stone axes in almost complete isolation from the outside world until 1984, when one of the authors met them while on an expedition and began to study their stone technology. Photographs and diagrams help to describe the quarrying, flaking, grinding, a...
Article
Paleolithic archaeological sites in the Nihewan Basin (previously Nihowan) in northern China were visited and their excavated materials examined in order to assess their potential for future research. Paleomagnetic studies have indicated that the older sites here may extend back to the late Early Pleistocene (ca. 1 m.y.a.); radiocarbon dates for th...
Article
Scratches found on the Engis 2 cranium have been described as perimortem and interpreted as intentional scalping marks by Russell and LeMort (Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 69:317-323, 1986). These marks are described and compared to damage on other fossil hominids. The Engis marks have been misinterpreted. These marks are sandpaper striae formed during r...
Article
Experimentation demonstrates that the retouched edges of molluscan shells can be used effectively as butchery knives in the absence of lithic raw materials and leave striations on bone surfaces that may be indistinguishable from cut-marks made by stone knives. The potential of such non-lithic cutting tools suggests one new possible category of earl...
Article
In this memorial volume to the former Professor of Quaternary Prehistory in the University of Cambridge, examples are drawn mainly from Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific to demonstrate the way in which analyses of stone artefacts and industries can be used to throw light on human behaviour from earliest times. In addition to detailed exami...
Article
A methodological approach for assessing the nature and palaeographic distribution of early stone artifact assemblages is presented, modeled after an approach originally used for faunal analysis. By combining experimental replicative studies with careful analysis of Palaeolithic archaeological occurrences, it is potentially possible to reconstruct e...
Article
This chapter reviews methodological and theoretical advances in the field of the archaeology of prohuman culture in the first million years. The ultimate goal of the study of protohuman archaeology is to document what happened over time and space and to explain why it happened. Since 1975, studies of the early archaeological record have gone far be...
Article
Analysis of prehistoric stone artifacts from Lower Pleistocene sites at Koobi Fora, Kenya, and Middle Pleistocene horizons at Ambrona, Spain reveals a preferential, clockwise rotation of stone cores during flaking. Experimental studies of early stone artifact manufacture show that this non-random pattern is consistent with that produced by right-ha...
Article
Early Stone Age assemblages called “Oldowan” and early “Developed Oldowan” are discussed, based on the results of a long-term study of Plio-Pleistocene sites at Koobi Fora, Kenya and an extensive experimental research program of replicating and using early stone artifact forms. Five major conclusions are drawn from this investigation: (1) many Oldo...
Article
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of California, Berkeley, 1982. Bibliography: leaves 363-376. Microfiche. s
Article
The functions of the stone artefacts made and used by early hominids has been a matter for speculation. However, recent experimental work has demonstrated that microscopically distinct wear-polishes form on tools of cryptocrystalline silica when used on different materials, and that these microwear polishes survive on ancient implements1–3. We have...
Article
Excavation in the Upper Member of the Koobi Fora Formation in Kenya has revealed a cluster of stone artefacts and broken up bones which accumulated 1–5 million years ago on the banks of a water course. The assemblage had been preserved by layers of silt. The stone artefacts consist of flakes and flake fragments plus simple flaked cobbles. It has be...