Lithic analysis in Southwest France: Middle Paleolithic assemblages from La Quina (Charente).
AuthorBierwirth, Susan Linton.
AdvisorJelinek, Arthur J.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractStone tool assemblages have been central to Middle Paleolithic archaeology because they endure as the most complete cultural record from this period. For many years, the focus of analysis of these lithic materials has been concentrated upon retouched flake tools and variations in their relative frequencies. Although the significance of such variation has been debated for many years, the causes of Mousterian lithic variability have never been fully understood. This analysis of the Middle Paleolithic assemblages from the site of La Quina (Charente) was undertaken to integrate traditional studies with analyses of a more complete range of lithic remains. A total of 6392 artifacts including 1162 tools from thirteen archaeologically-defined strata were classified on the basis of sixteen attributes. Over ten thousand smaller flakes were counted and sorted by material, completeness, and cortical cover. Comparisons of these attribute frequencies between the strata at La Quina were then used to discern variability in Middle Paleolithic stone technology and typology. These findings form the basis for an interpretation of site activity as well as for a model of Middle Paleolithic subsistence in Southwest France. Assemblages that contained a predominance of even edged tools were found to vary differently from those with primarily serrated edged tools. Denticulates were recovered in association with all stages of lithic manufacture debris while scrapers occurred only with products of late stage reduction. This variation is suggested to be associated with different strategies of raw material use and intensity of reduction. These factors are in turn tied to environmental constraints and the mobility of Middle Paleolithic hunter-gather groups.