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Archaeology-Chapter 9 and 10-Lower and Middle Paleolithic Lifeways Nov 6 2008


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Marcel Danesi

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Chapter 9/10: Lower and Middle Paleolithic Lifeways
Early Hominin Cultures
Tool Tradition
y East Africa (2.5 MYA)
y Percussion Flaking: a tool making technique in which one stone is struck with another to
remove a flake
y Unifacial Tool: a tool worked or flaked on one side only
y Bifacial Tool: a tool worked or flaked on two sides
y Oldowan: the earliest stone tool making tradition, named after tools found in Bed I at
Olduvai Gorge, Tanzia; from about 2.5 MYA. The stone artifacts include core tools and sharp
edged flakes made by striking one stone against another. Flake tools predominate. Among
core tools, so-called choppers are common
y Flakes- slitting animal hides-> dismembering-> whittling wood
y Wooden spear/digging sticks
y Choppers/ scrapers- hack off branches-> cut animal joints
y Made out of wood, bones
y Hunting
y Hominins moved during the year, had ½ main bases/communities
y Did not exactly have home bases but main areas where tools are stored, process food
y Culture; learned/shared
y Skeletal evidence; increased flexion of the Basicranium
y Endocast; structures of brain
y Ape-like anatomy and brains that resemble living apes in both size and external form; no
strong evidence for spoken language
y No support for language capabilities; H Habilis
y Bipedalism; freeing of hands provided ability for increased communication by gestures
among earliest hominins
Homo Erectus Culture
y Oldowan chopper tool technology
y Acheulian: a stone tool making tradition (1.5 MYA). Compared with Oldowan tradition,
Acheulian assemblages have more large tools created according to standardized designs or
shapes. One of the most characterized and prevalent tools Acheulian tool kit is the so called
hand axe, which is a teardrop shaped bifacial flaked tool with a thinned sharp tip. Other large
tools may have been cleavers and picks
The Acheulian Tool Traditions
y Found widely in Africa, Europe, W Asia
y Tools were larger, set of typical designs or shapes
y Sharp edges, made by few blows
y Shaped stone by knocking more flakes off most of the edges
y Made from very large flakes that had been struck from very large cores or boulders
y Scrapers w/ edge
y Hand axes- butchering animals, digging
y Bifacial hand axes, cleavers, picks- SE Asia
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