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Journal Articles Quaternary International Year : 2016

Structural continuity and technological change in Lower Pleistocene toolkits


A structural foundation has recently been laid down to describe early stone industries using a four-phase evolutionary sequence: Homogeneity, Variability, Diversity, and Multiplicity. Homogeneity refers to a hypothetical phase predating the earliest recognizable industries (>2.6 Ma) during which stones could have been used for pounding or throwing but controlled knapping was not practiced. The Variability phase, already explored in previous publications, refers to a subsequent stage wherein simple knapping strategies were discovered and tested. It precedes the innovation of shaped tools in Africa and Eurasia within largely divergent timeframes. This paper explores the Diversity phase, during which standardized shaped tools and relatively complex flake production strategies occurred. Presently, flake-core assemblages lacking configured tools are referred to as ‘Oldowan’ or ‘Mode 1’ and those with handaxes and/or cleavers are named ‘Acheulian’ or ‘Mode 2’. The model described here does not propose to replace existing terminology, but presents an alternative approach to the ways in which we perceive of technological change and explores why analogous techno-typological changes occurred diachronically in different areas of the globe where contact between populations was unlikely. The Diversity phase, characterized by techno-typological expansion in stone toolkit components, translates improved hominin capacities to access resources, compete with other carnivores and widen their range of activities. This process intensified exchange between an increasingly complex lifestyles and growing cognitive capacities, leading to Multiplicity; the final phase of this conceptual model for understanding change in early human technologies.
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hal-01291316 , version 1 (21-03-2016)



Eudald Carbonell, Deborah Barsky, Robert Sala, Vincenzo Celiberti. Structural continuity and technological change in Lower Pleistocene toolkits. Quaternary International, 2016, 393, pp. Pages 6-18. ⟨10.1016/j.quaint.2015.04.008⟩. ⟨hal-01291316⟩
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