The toolkit in the core: There is more to Levallois production than predetermination

Ron Shimelmitz, Steven L Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Levallois technology has been used as both a chronological marker and a sign of cognitive evolution in hominins. The Levallois method is typically described as a specialized form of lithic manufacture, aimed at making products of predetermined shape. Analyses of Levallois technology tend to focus on the phenomenon of predetermination in the manufacture of specific products such as Levallois flakes, blades or points. Although it is widely recognized that some forms of recurrent Levallois technology actually produce diverse sorts of product, this feature is seldom emphasized or explored. We argue that despite similarities in how flaking is organized volumetrically, all varieties of Levallois are not simply equivalent means of creating blanks of predetermined form. In this paper we focus on Levallois production in the early Middle Paleolithic assemblages from Unit IX of Tabun Cave to provide an alternative perspective on some forms of Levallois production. The method used at Tabun is both flexible and efficient, yielding both large numbers of blanks and a range of products while reducing the waste of raw material. In these assemblages blades, flakes, Levallois points, and a variety of other products, were produced through systematic exploitation of different parts of the core's surface (or a series of surfaces). All types of products were transformed for use as tools, though perhaps to serve different ends. The choice to manufacture a range of products out of a single core highlights differences between the preferential and recurrent forms of Levallois technology. They represent fundamentally different approaches to lithic resource management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary International
Volume464
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018

Keywords

  • Levallois technology
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Recurrent
  • Tabun Cave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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