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The Western European Acheulean: Reading variability at a regional scale

García-Medrano, P; Moncel, MH; Maldonado-Garrido, E; Ollé, A; Ashton, N; (2023) The Western European Acheulean: Reading variability at a regional scale. Journal of Human Evolution , 179 , Article 103357. 10.1016/j.jhevol.2023.103357. Green open access

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Abstract

In the context of the Western European Acheulean Project, this study aims to characterize Acheulean technology in Western Europe through the analysis of handaxes and cleavers from 10 key sites (Britain 4, France 4, and Spain 2) to acquire a regional view of the occupation. The historically different systems used to categorize and analyze the data have made it difficult to compare results. Here we apply a unified and simple method (Western European Acheulean Project) that combines the traditional technological and metrical analysis of assemblages containing handaxes and cleavers with an in-depth geometric morphometric approach using three-dimensional models. This approach allows us to achieve a regional interpretation that identifies innovations through time and shaping strategies across the area. Our findings indicate the existence of two main technological groups in the sampled record: 1) northwestern and central France and Britain, from MIS 17/16 to MIS 11, and 2) Atlantic edge (Atapuerca in Spain and Menez-Dregan in France), from MIS 12/11 to MIS 8. Based on our technological analysis, the shaping of handaxes and cleavers was developed through time as a continuum of accumulative actions, with longer and more complex shaping strategies over time. Shaping technology shows traditions of manufacture over both time and geographical areas, which suggest cultural diffusion. Our geometric morphometric analysis further helped to identify not only general trends but also local adaptations in handaxe forms. Based on our findings, there were no apparent sudden innovations, but rather the application and development of specific techniques to refine size and shape.

Type: Article
Title: The Western European Acheulean: Reading variability at a regional scale
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2023.103357
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2023.103357
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: Geometric morphometrics, Handaxes, Lithic technology, Middle Pleistocene, Animals, Reading, Archaeology, Europe, France, Spain, Technology, Hominidae
UCL classification: UCL
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/10187555
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