Manual restrictions on Palaeolithic technological behaviours

Key, Alastair J. M., Dunmore, Christopher J. (2018) Manual restrictions on Palaeolithic technological behaviours. PeerJ, 6 . e5399. ISSN 2167-8359. (doi:10.7717/peerj.5399)

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Abstract

The causes of technological innovation in the Palaeolithic archaeological record are central to understanding Plio-Pleistocene hominin behaviour and temporal trends in artefact variation. Palaeolithic archaeologists frequently investigate the Oldowan-Acheulean transition and technological developments during the subsequent million years of the Acheulean technocomplex. Here, we approach the question of why innovative stone tool production techniques occur in the Lower Palaeolithic archaeological record from an experimental biomechanical and evolutionary perspective. Nine experienced flintknappers reproduced Oldowan flake tools, ‘early Acheulean’ handaxes, and ‘late Acheulean’ handaxes while pressure data were collected from their non-dominant (core-holding) hands. For each flake removal or platform preparation event performed, the percussor used, the stage of reduction, the core securing technique utilised, and the relative success of flake removals were recorded. Results indicate that more heavily reduced, intensively shaped handaxes with greater volumetric controls do not necessarily require significantly greater manual pressure than Oldowan flake tools or earlier ‘rougher’ handaxe forms. Platform preparation events do, however, require significantly greater pressure relative to either soft or hard hammer flake detachments. No significant relationships were identified between flaking success and pressure variation. Our results suggest that the preparation of flake platforms, a technological behaviour associated with the production of late Acheulean handaxes, could plausibly have been restricted prior to the emergence of more forceful precision-manipulative capabilities than those required for earlier lithic technologies.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.7717/peerj.5399
Uncontrolled keywords: Flint knapping, Force, Manipulation, Manual Dexterity, Oldowan—Acheulean transition, Stone tool innovation
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Alastair Key
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2018 12:48 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:58 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/68470 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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