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Biface form and structured behaviour in the Acheulean

Pope, MI; Wells, C; Watson, K; (2006) Biface form and structured behaviour in the Acheulean. Lithics , 27 pp. 44-57. Green open access

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Abstract

According to some perspectives, the standardised nature of biface forms and the rule- governed nature of biface discard reflect a highly structured and static adaptation. Furthermore, it has also been suggested that the Acheulean represents a period of over a million years in which technological and social development were in relative stasis due to social limitations. In this paper we explore the possibility that this apparently static and highly conformable adaptation may have represented a crucial pre-linguistic phase in which humans became adept at engaging with, reacting to and manipulating an early semiotic environment. We also present evidence which suggests that, in addition to symmetry, there may have been an underlying preference for the manufacture of bifaces with proportions conforming to the ‘Golden Section’. The possibility that bifacial tool form and structured archaeological signatures might have combined to produce a self-organising effect on early human land-use behaviour is explored. These behaviours, we argue, formed through simple feedback mechanisms which led to the ordered transformation of artefact scatters over time. We suggest that the apparent homogeneity of Acheulean technology might therefore signal a cognitive phase in which material culture played a semiotic role prior to the development of language.

Type: Article
Title: Biface form and structured behaviour in the Acheulean
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://journal.lithics.org/index.php/lithics/artic...
Language: English
Additional information: Permission to make the article available was kindly granted by the Lithics Journal.
Keywords: Lower Palaeolithic, Acheulean, large cutting tools, symmetry, cognition, language, Boxgrove, biface
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology ASE
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1451379
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