Assessing mental activity from the material residues of behavior is a crucial and thorny problem for both archeologists and animal cognition scholars. Assessing the behavioral performance that is supposedly guided by such mental activity, and produces the material residue more directly (at least in theory), is however an earlier step that is not easy either. This goes frequently overlooked, for we tend to focus on cognition and its species-typical requirements. In this talk, I offer an overview of the inferential processes that we use to deduce behavioral performance from artifacts. My interest lies specifically in accounting for behavioral performance that exceeds the innovation capacity of a single individual, which has recently been proposed as an evidential criterion for cumulative culture phenomena.
Chiara holds a Master´s degree from the University of Milan and has been working on her PhD thesis "The Evolutionary Role of Imitation in the Hominid Lineage: Time for a Reappraisal" at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand as well as at the Australian National University, Canberra. Having received a Writing-Up Fellowship from the KLI she is currently completing her PhD thesis.