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Stone toolmaking difficulty and the evolution of hominin technological skills

Muller, Antoine; Shipton, Ceri; Clarkson, Chris; (2022) Stone toolmaking difficulty and the evolution of hominin technological skills. Scientific Reports , 12 , Article 5883. 10.1038/s41598-022-09914-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Stone tools are a manifestation of the complex cognitive and dexterous skills of our hominin ancestors. As such, much research has been devoted to understanding the skill requirements of individual lithic technologies. Yet, comparing skill across different technologies, and thus across the vast timespan of the Palaeolithic, is an elusive goal. We seek to quantify a series of commensurable metrics of knapping skill across four different lithic technologies (discoids, handaxes, Levallois, and prismatic blades). To compare the requisite dexterity, coordination, and care involved in each technology, we analysed video footage and lithic material from a series of replicative knapping experiments to quantify deliberation (strike time), precision (platform area), intricacy (flake size relative to core size), and success (relative blank length). According to these four metrics, discoidal knapping appears to be easiest among the sample. Levallois knapping involved an intricate reduction sequence, but did not require as much motor control as handaxes and especially prismatic blades. Compared with the other Palaeolithic technologies, we conclude that prismatic blade knapping is set apart by being a skill intensive means of producing numerous standardised elongate end-products.

Type: Article
Title: Stone toolmaking difficulty and the evolution of hominin technological skills
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-09914-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-09914-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Animals, Archaeology, Hominidae, Motivation, Technology, Time Perception
UCL classification: 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 > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147074
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