Handbook of
Human Symbolic Evolution

Edited by


Massey University,
Palmerston North,
New Zealand


University of Georgia,



These pages are in the process of being re-developed. This page will remain for a while yet (as of 1 December, 1998), but the new version will provide more up-to-date links to central issues in the evolution of human abilities.

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. Some links are beginning to be listed, (but more will be available in the revised version in preparation).

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 Some chapters were withdrawn by their authors, new ones were written in their place, and a full set of second galley proofs were available in July 1995.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.


Part I: Palaeoanthropology

Photogallery of fossil skulls

An outline of human phylogeny

Bernard Campbell

Evolutionary trees of apes and humans from DNA sequences

Peter J. Waddell and David Penny

Evolution of the human brain

Ralph Holloway

Evolution of the hand and bipedality

Mary Marzke

Part II: Social and socio-cultural systems

Editorial introduction to Part II: Social and socio-cultural systems

Part II(a): Comparative perspectives

Primate communication, lies, and ideas

Alison Jolly

Social relations, human ecology, and the evolution of culture: an exploration of concepts and definitions

Tim Ingold

Social relations, communication, and cognition

Andrew Lock and Kim Symes

Part II(b): Palaeoanthropological perspectives

On the evolution of human socio-cultural patterns

Randall White

The evolution of tools and symbolic behaviour

Thomas Wynn

The interpretation of European 'Palaeolithic art': Magic, mythogram, and metaphors for modernity

Margaret Conkey

Photogallery of contemporary hunter-gatherer art
A. Australian Aboriginal art

Andrew Lock and Margaret Nobbs

B. South African Bushman art

David Lewis-Williams, Thomas Dowson, Andrew Lock and Charles Peters

Part III: Ontogeny and symbolism

Editorial introduction to Part III: Ontogeny: symbolic development and symbolic evolution

The role of ontogenesis in human evolution and development

Chris Sinha

The ontogeny and evolution of the brain, cognition, and language

Kathleen Gibson

Early interaction and cognitive skills: implications for the acquisition of culture

David Messer and Glyn Collis

The origins of language and thought in early childhood

George Butterworth

Theories of symbolization and development

Chris Sinha

Children's drawings and the evolution of art

J. Gavin Bremner

Part IV: Language systems

Editorial introduction to Part IV: Language systems in an evolutionary perspective

Spoken language and sign language

Margaret Deuchar

A history of the study of language origins and the gestural primacy hypothesis

Gordon W. Hewes

Cognitive abilities in a comparative perspective

Andrew Lock and Michael Colombo

Animal language and cognition projects

Carolyn Ristau

Symbols and structures in language acquisition

Carolyn Johnson, Henry Davis, and Marlys Macken

The reconstruction of the evolution of human spoken language

Mary LeCron Foster

Theoretical stages in the prehistory of grammar

Leonard Rolfe

Social and cognitive factors in the historical elaboration of writing

David Barton and Mary Hamilton

Part V: Epilogue

Tempo and mode of change in the evolution of symbolism

Charles Peters

Comments to A.J.Lock@massey.ac.nz
Department of Psychology, Massey University , New Zealand
URL: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~ALock/hbook/frontis.htm
last changed Tuesday, 23 February 1999
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Lock, Charles Peters, and contributors listed above

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