Subjectivity inherent in by-eye symmetry judgements and the large cutting tools at the Cave of Hearths, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 18, .
The Stone Age of South Africa is an area of study due for a renaissance, and there is a real need for unification of the extant evidence. As a beginning to this, new methodologies have been proposed. This paper tackles the issue of symmetry, specifically the subjectivity involved in by-eye judgements. Assumptions of subjectivity, however, are not proof: presented here is a critical analysis of the inherent bias of by-eye symmetry judgements. Ultimately it is clear that the method contains a level of subjectivity which strips it of any analytical value. The by-eye judgement of symmetry is replaced by the more robust Flip Test computer program, and a brief study is made of the Large Cutting Tools (LCT) at a vitally important, yet often overlooked, site dating from the Pleistocene in South Africa, the Cave of Hearths, Limpopo province. The corollary is that the symmetry present in the Cave of Hearths Large Cutting Tools can be studied with some measure of confidence: suggestions are made regarding the nature of tool typologies and the knappers’ ultimate focus on tip shape and utility.
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