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Form and function in the Lower Palaeolithic: history, progress, and continued relevance

Key, Alastair J. M., Lycett, Stephen J. (2017) Form and function in the Lower Palaeolithic: history, progress, and continued relevance. Journal of Anthropological Sciences, 95 . pp. 67-108. ISSN 2037-0644. E-ISSN 1827-4765. (doi:10.4436/jass.95017) (KAR id:62490)

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Percussively flaked stone artefacts constitute a major source of evidence relating to hominin behavioural strategies and are, essentially, a product or byproduct of a past individual’s decision to create a tool with respect to some broader goal. Moreover, it has long been noted that both differences and recurrent regularities exist within and between Palaeolithic stone artefact forms. Accordingly, archaeologists have frequently drawn links between form and functionality, with functional objectives and performance often being regarded consequential to a stone tool’s morphological properties. Despite these factors, extensive reviews of the related concepts of form and function with respect to the Lower Palaeolithic remain surprisingly sparse. We attempt to redress this issue. First we stress the historical place of form–function concepts, and their role in establishing basic ideas that echo to this day. We then highlight methodological and conceptual progress in determining artefactual function in more recent years. Thereafter, we evaluate four specific issues that are of direct consequence for evaluating the ongoing relevance of form–function concepts, especially with respect to their relevance for understanding human evolution more generally. Our discussion highlights specifically how recent developments have been able to build on a long historical legacy, and demonstrate that direct, indirect, experimental, and evolutionary perspectives intersect in crucial ways, with each providing specific but essential insights for ongoing questions. We conclude by emphasising that our understanding of these issues and their interaction, has been, and will be, essential to accurately interpret the Lower Palaeolithic archaeological record, tool-form related behaviours of Lower Palaeolithic hominins, and their consequences for (and relationship to) wider questions of human evolution.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.4436/jass.95017
Uncontrolled keywords: Lithic Artefacts, Morphology, Flake, Biface, Handaxe, Stone-tool Function.
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Alastair Key
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2017 11:49 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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