Impressions and expressions: searching for the origins of basketry
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Fibre-based technologies do not preserve well in the archaeological record, but evidence shows that sophisticated textile technologies date back 30,000 years or more in Europe. This evidence suggests that weaving was not in its infancy but could be considerably older to appear so fully formed during the Upper Palaeolithic. This chapter explores the potential origins of basketry focusing on evidence inferred from impressions or transferred expressions of weaving designs onto more durable materials. Evidence of cross-hatch patterns made on stone, ochre and ostrich eggshell from Africa and dating up to 77,000 years ago, can inform our understanding of the antiquity of basketry. In addition, complex technologies are regarded as a marker of sophisticated cognitive processes and a significant measure for cultural modernity. As such, the evidence alluding to the existence of basketry in Middle Stone Age contexts can potentially inform our model of human cognitive development.