Section 1


Outline of Human Phylogeny

Evolutionary Trees
and DNA

Brain Evolution

Hand and Bipedality

Section 2
Social and socio-
cultural systems

Primate societies

Social relations and the evolution of culture

Social relations, communication and cognition

Human socio-cultural patterns

Tools and symbolic behaviour

Palaeolithic Art

Contemporary hunter-gatherer art

Section 3
Ontogeny and symbolism

Editorial Introduction: Ontogeny & Phylogeny

The role of ontogenesis

Brain, cognition, and language

Early interaction and cognitive skills

Language and thought

Theories of symbolization
and development

Children's drawings and the evolution of art

Section 4
Language systems

Spoken language and
sign language

The gestural primacy hypothesis

Comparative cognition

Animal language and cognition

Language acquisition


The prehistory of grammar

Writing systems


Links Policy

General Links


Handbook of Human Symbolic

Edited by


Massey University,
Palmerston North,
New Zealand


University of Georgia,

Hardback: Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996
ISBN 0 198 52153 7

Paperback: Blackwell, Oxford, 1999
ISBN 0 631 21690 1

This book, which is intended as a reference volume, was published in January 1997 (despite its listing as 1996). The Table of Contents is available, and Chapter Abstracts can be accessed from there or the side bar. Links are beginning to be listed under individual topics.


This book had a long gestation. It was first mooted at a UNESCO conference in Paris in August 1981. An outline was agreed by the editors in mid-1982, and a publisher's contract was concluded in late 1983 with Oxford University Press, stipulating that the manuscript was to be delivered in January 1986. The manuscript was actually delivered in December 1990, with the result that some chapters were considerably more up-to-date than others. The copy editor's queries were dealt with by December 1992, and many chapters were extensively revised during this time.

Half of the chapters were set as galley proofs in late 1993, at which point what were thought to be final revisions were made to all the material assembled. Some chapters were withdrawn by their authors, new ones were written in their place, and a full set of second galley proofs were available in July 1995. Page proofs were commissioned in August 1995, and were with the chapter authors for final checking during September 1995. Publication was anticipated early in 1996, but instead a second set of page proofs were generated in April, 1996, and remaining queries were cleared by July. Publication occured in January 1997. A paperback edition is to be published by Blackwell in mid-1999.

Oxford University Press gave permission for the chapter abstracts to appear on the WWW in July 1995. They and we as editors implicitly realise that the pace of development in the many fields that contribute to an understanding of the evolutionary elaboration of human symbolic abilities is such that a paper-based book publishing technology cannot survive as a reference medium for much longer. The history of this Handbook establishes at least that.

The Web provides an ideal medium for continuously updating the material the Handbook has drawn together. We will be putting the 'systems' in place that allow this process of continuous revision over the next few months.

Comments to
Department of Psychology, Massey University , New Zealand
last changed Tuesday, 7 March 2000
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Lock, Charles Peters, and contributors listed above
These pages are available in a Belorussian translation, courtesy of Nadejda Dobkina

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