Social and socio-
Ontogeny and symbolism
On the evolution of human socio-cultural patterns
The reconstruction of the development sequence of human socio- cultural evolution is one of the most important and difficult goals of prehistoric archaeology. Until recently, such reconstruction was accomplished speculatively by extrapolating from the present. Archaeologists have now developed a series of methods, many of them unfamiliar to the lay public, for monitoring changes in social patterns and complexity. Applied to the prehistoric record, these methods make possible a general summary of major trends in the evolution of human social patterns. It is clear that prior to 35 000 years ago hominid social patterns were very different from those of the more recent past. Subsequent to 35 000 years ago hominid behaviours reminiscent of those of the present emerged rapidly, and set the stage for the socially complex world of modern times.