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The efficiency of Middle Palaeolithic technological blade strategies: An experimental investigation

The efficiency of Middle Palaeolithic technological blade strategies: An experimental investigation
The efficiency of Middle Palaeolithic technological blade strategies: An experimental investigation

We present an experimental study that considers the Middle Palaeolithic transition from an earlier, predominantly Levallois method of blade production, to a later, predominantly laminar method, and why at some sites they even co-occur. This paper explores the nature of this spatio-temporal diversity by investigating a possible functional explanation: in this case, the amount of cutting edge per artefact, and cutting edge per weight of raw material. While there have been studies that examine laminar blade cutting edge, and Levallois flake cutting edge more generally, studies have not compared these two strategies through the same experimental framework. This study also uses a hard hammer (direct hard stone) percussive method to produce the experimental dataset (the only attested percussive method for blade production used in the Middle Palaeolithic), a method that has not been employed in experimental studies thus far. Results show that the amount of cutting edge does not differ significantly between Levallois and laminar blades. However, analyses suggest that laminar-based strategies were able to produce larger numbers of smaller blade products, and that a decrease in blade size was associated with greater cutting edge per weight of blade. Future studies comparing these techniques in terms of their economisation of raw material, which analyse the entire production sequence, are recommended in order to further explore the difference in blade production strategy as a choice guided by raw material economisation.

Blade technology, Economisation, Experimental archaeology, Hypothesis testing, Neanderthals
0262-7817
52-67
Hoggard, C. S.
dbf146d9-adf9-424f-a0c6-ae40c5497b9d
Stade, C. M.
14f16f35-da66-4e3d-a021-23d209e170c3
Hoggard, C. S.
dbf146d9-adf9-424f-a0c6-ae40c5497b9d
Stade, C. M.
14f16f35-da66-4e3d-a021-23d209e170c3

Hoggard, C. S. and Stade, C. M. (2019) The efficiency of Middle Palaeolithic technological blade strategies: An experimental investigation. Lithics, (39), 52-67.

Record type: Article

Abstract

We present an experimental study that considers the Middle Palaeolithic transition from an earlier, predominantly Levallois method of blade production, to a later, predominantly laminar method, and why at some sites they even co-occur. This paper explores the nature of this spatio-temporal diversity by investigating a possible functional explanation: in this case, the amount of cutting edge per artefact, and cutting edge per weight of raw material. While there have been studies that examine laminar blade cutting edge, and Levallois flake cutting edge more generally, studies have not compared these two strategies through the same experimental framework. This study also uses a hard hammer (direct hard stone) percussive method to produce the experimental dataset (the only attested percussive method for blade production used in the Middle Palaeolithic), a method that has not been employed in experimental studies thus far. Results show that the amount of cutting edge does not differ significantly between Levallois and laminar blades. However, analyses suggest that laminar-based strategies were able to produce larger numbers of smaller blade products, and that a decrease in blade size was associated with greater cutting edge per weight of blade. Future studies comparing these techniques in terms of their economisation of raw material, which analyse the entire production sequence, are recommended in order to further explore the difference in blade production strategy as a choice guided by raw material economisation.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 26 March 2019
Keywords: Blade technology, Economisation, Experimental archaeology, Hypothesis testing, Neanderthals

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 434661
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/434661
ISSN: 0262-7817
PURE UUID: 0e96962a-5657-44fd-b426-a8aac5d35d85

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Date deposited: 04 Oct 2019 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 00:38

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