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Assessing the role of artefact design within the Middle Palaeolithic repertoire: determining the behavioural potential of blade production strategies

Assessing the role of artefact design within the Middle Palaeolithic repertoire: determining the behavioural potential of blade production strategies
Assessing the role of artefact design within the Middle Palaeolithic repertoire: determining the behavioural potential of blade production strategies
The Middle Palaeolithic of Europe has long been characterised by its rich technological diversity, with an array of core volume management strategies exhibited. In understanding and accounting for this diversity, interpretations of consistent behaviour and technological change have stressed the importance of three factors: social transmission and cultural tradition (Bordian-centric models), site-function and adaptation (Binfordian-centric models), and diachronic change andchronology. In many of these investigations and analyses into the Middle Palaeolithic, little emphasis is placed on commonalities and differences in blank-type, product desirability and their behavioural potential given their morphology. While function may not account for all aspects of technological variability, analyses of functional performance may explain chronological changes in various core volume management strategies which appear, at face value, to produce similar blanks. Undertaking such provides an entry-point into the nature and behaviour of Neanderthal tool-makers and tool-users, and a platform for discussing the role of other factors (e.g. ecological adaptation).
This thesis investigates the behavioural potential of the main methods of ‘technological blade production’, the specific proceduralised sequence of producing stereotyped elongated blanks from a homothetic core morphology: Levallois (unidirectional/bidirectional) elongated recurrent and Laminar sensu stricto systems of blade manufacturing. A thorough technological analysis of blade production systems from eleven Middle Palaeolithic contexts were first undertaken to characterise technological variability of blade production systems throughout the Middle Palaeolithic. Traditional and geometric morphometric analyses of an experimental (n = 499) and archaeological (n = 908) dataset were then undertaken in order to understand differences in: 1) blank shape and form (size plus shape), 2) economisation and efficiency, and 3) product regularity and standardisation. Analyses from the technological framework were then assessed alongside findings from the functional analysis through a goodness-of-fit test, to explain whether a working hypothesis grounded on ‘performance attributes’ (Skibo and Schiffer, 2001) and artefact design could explain the change from a predominantly Levallois method of blade production in the Early Middle Palaeolithic, to a predominantly Laminar method in the Late Middle Palaeolithic, in addition to on-site concurrency (equifinality vs. activity-specific behaviours).
The thesis highlights the expansive evidence for technological blade strategies within the Middle Palaeolithic and highlights the ‘retouch potential’ of Levallois technological blade strategies, given a higher flattening index, increased width and size, and an increased amount of edge per blank, while Laminar blades produce more cutting edge per weight of stone, and blades per core, representing a more portable, economic and expedient technological blade strategy. This is supported through archaeological evidence for extensive preparation and invasive continuous retouch featured on Levallois products, and the lack of retouch observed on Laminar products.
This research also provides a thorough account into the role of raw material in the shape and form of blades produced from both methods, details a quantitative framework suggestive of spatio-temporal relationships of social learning within MOIS 5, supports arguments for a ‘Northwest Technocomplex’ (Depaepe, 2007), and queries the archaeological integrity of the Le Rissori sequence.
University of Southampton
Hoggard, Christian
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Hoggard, Christian
7afc1a7b-4448-4857-8449-89f4f978fd52
Davies, Simon
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Mcnabb, John
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Gamble, Clive
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Hoggard, Christian (2017) Assessing the role of artefact design within the Middle Palaeolithic repertoire: determining the behavioural potential of blade production strategies. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 522pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The Middle Palaeolithic of Europe has long been characterised by its rich technological diversity, with an array of core volume management strategies exhibited. In understanding and accounting for this diversity, interpretations of consistent behaviour and technological change have stressed the importance of three factors: social transmission and cultural tradition (Bordian-centric models), site-function and adaptation (Binfordian-centric models), and diachronic change andchronology. In many of these investigations and analyses into the Middle Palaeolithic, little emphasis is placed on commonalities and differences in blank-type, product desirability and their behavioural potential given their morphology. While function may not account for all aspects of technological variability, analyses of functional performance may explain chronological changes in various core volume management strategies which appear, at face value, to produce similar blanks. Undertaking such provides an entry-point into the nature and behaviour of Neanderthal tool-makers and tool-users, and a platform for discussing the role of other factors (e.g. ecological adaptation).
This thesis investigates the behavioural potential of the main methods of ‘technological blade production’, the specific proceduralised sequence of producing stereotyped elongated blanks from a homothetic core morphology: Levallois (unidirectional/bidirectional) elongated recurrent and Laminar sensu stricto systems of blade manufacturing. A thorough technological analysis of blade production systems from eleven Middle Palaeolithic contexts were first undertaken to characterise technological variability of blade production systems throughout the Middle Palaeolithic. Traditional and geometric morphometric analyses of an experimental (n = 499) and archaeological (n = 908) dataset were then undertaken in order to understand differences in: 1) blank shape and form (size plus shape), 2) economisation and efficiency, and 3) product regularity and standardisation. Analyses from the technological framework were then assessed alongside findings from the functional analysis through a goodness-of-fit test, to explain whether a working hypothesis grounded on ‘performance attributes’ (Skibo and Schiffer, 2001) and artefact design could explain the change from a predominantly Levallois method of blade production in the Early Middle Palaeolithic, to a predominantly Laminar method in the Late Middle Palaeolithic, in addition to on-site concurrency (equifinality vs. activity-specific behaviours).
The thesis highlights the expansive evidence for technological blade strategies within the Middle Palaeolithic and highlights the ‘retouch potential’ of Levallois technological blade strategies, given a higher flattening index, increased width and size, and an increased amount of edge per blank, while Laminar blades produce more cutting edge per weight of stone, and blades per core, representing a more portable, economic and expedient technological blade strategy. This is supported through archaeological evidence for extensive preparation and invasive continuous retouch featured on Levallois products, and the lack of retouch observed on Laminar products.
This research also provides a thorough account into the role of raw material in the shape and form of blades produced from both methods, details a quantitative framework suggestive of spatio-temporal relationships of social learning within MOIS 5, supports arguments for a ‘Northwest Technocomplex’ (Depaepe, 2007), and queries the archaeological integrity of the Le Rissori sequence.

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Assessing the Role of Artefact Design within the Middle Palaeolithic Repertoire: Determining the Behavioural Potential of Blade Production Strategies - Version of Record
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Published date: January 2017
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

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Local EPrints ID: 411871
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/411871
PURE UUID: b3751c67-d229-44b2-a0b9-7280e7e8f301

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Date deposited: 27 Jun 2017 16:31
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 19:47

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