In this paper I aim to define basic characteristics of the Eurasian Middle Paleolithic (MP) and trace their development. I first outline some generalized features of MP material culture and behavior. A key characteristic of the MP is diversity in lithic technology, manifest at various temporal and spatial scales. Looking more closely, this diversity is composed of repeated recurrences of a restricted range of alternatives. Many of the varieties of lithic production common in the MP first appeared during the early MP and some even earlier. Other typical behaviors include frequent use of fire, ochre, and hafting. These are first seen in Eurasia during the later MP (marine isotope stage [MIS] 6 and 7), the period when the entire suite of MP behaviors seems to coalesce. Many shared patterns of MP behavior reflect a set of adaptations shaped by Eurasian habitats and climates. Other aspects of spatial and temporal variation are more likely to reflect demographic conditions or patterns of cultural transmission among and within groups.
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