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Lethal Threshold: The Evolutionary Implications of Middle Pleistocene Wooden Spears

Milks, Annemieke Giselle; (2018) Lethal Threshold: The Evolutionary Implications of Middle Pleistocene Wooden Spears. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis provides empirical data pertaining to the use of the earliest weapons in the archaeological record, which are a collection of plain wooden spears dating to the Middle Pleistocene. These weapons have been variously interpreted as objects for scavenging, hunting and self-defence. It is important to test these functional interpretations with a multi-disciplinary data-led approach, as these interpretations have implications for theories on the origins of human hunting, shifts in cognition, social structures and language. This is the first time a systematic, holistic approach to these artefacts has been taken, and is timely as several of the key sites of the period are currently undergoing further detailed analysis, resulting in reinterpretations of human behaviours during Middle Pleistocene. In this document the performance of these artefacts is addressed through three research strands. The archaeological strand looks at both wooden spears as well as potential hunting lesions from their use. The approach to these include qualitative and quantitative analyses. The ethnographic strand comprises a review of the literature pertaining to the use of wooden spears in pre-industrialised societies. Alongside this, a morphometric analysis of a large sample of wooden spears from museum collections in the UK and Australia is presented for comparative purposes. The third strand consists of a multi-phase experimental programme, examining human performance when using replicas as thrusting and throwing spears; effectiveness of the spears on large mammals; hunting lesions resulting from use of the spears on large mammals; hammerstone impact damage to scapulae addressing questions of equifinality; and guided free-fall impact drop tests to better understand spear tip design. Results from the different approaches are brought together and compared, to better address the archaeological record from the Middle Pleistocene, including both the weapons themselves and potential zooarchaeological signatures resulting from their use.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Lethal Threshold: The Evolutionary Implications of Middle Pleistocene Wooden Spears
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045809
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