A cultural Perspective on the Acheuleans
Date conversion 29.04.2016 Size 32.52 Kb.
Comparing and integrating sites with no direct connection one to another,
No extant complete site systems
Integrating results for sites distributed over wide geographical
Integrating results for sites occurring within a very long period of time
Perspective tied necessarily to stone tool technology
Overview of Acheulean
Sites and Structures:
Terra Amata (France): Beach settlement with a series of possible oval huts ( 8-16m long, 4-6.5m wide). Two central ridge pole supports, thinner posts around perimeter (controversial)
Lazaret Cave (France):
Cave site with central hearth, defined work areas, and swept sleeping areas. Lean-to like structure against interior cave wall. Much flint debitage outside structure, but little within Terra Amata Hut Lazaret Cave Lean-To Site Type and Architecture
Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): Stone circles in Bed I
Torralba-Ambrona (Spain): Linear arrangement of mammoth bone and stones suggestive of temporary windbreaks.
Olduvai Bed 1 Stone Circles Acheulean Technology
Stone tool technology based on large bifaces (handaxes) and a well developed assortment of flake tool types.
Well made throwing spears (Hoxne, Schöningen)
Wood levers for manipulating carcasses (Torralba)
Early Acheulean Middle Acheulean Late Acheulean
Cagny-la Garenne (France):
Manufacturing site for handaxes and flake tools, including ‘rough outs and blanks’
More than 540 bifaces recovered, also numerous identifiable types of flake tools
Use of Levallois technique
Atelier Commont (France):
Large assemblage of handaxes,
exhibiting a variety of forms
Rich and well developed flake industry
Season of Occupation (frequent, thin occupation layers suggest brief and repeated site use) :
Terra Amata: Late Spring, Early Summer
Lazaret Cave: Late Autumn to Late Spring
Torralba-Ambrona: Spring and/or Autumn
Evidence for economies based on big game hunting:
Elephant ambush site
Olorgesailie (Africa): Baboon kill site
Boxgrove Quarry: Rhinoceros butchering site
Although some concentration on particular species:
Spectrum of large mammals utilized: Hippo, bovids, pigs, rhino
Utilization of non-mammals: birds, reptiles
Torralba and Ambrona
Ambush point along Ambrona Valley, along seasonal
migration route for elephants
Site divided into discrete functional areas
Primary Kill Site:
Larger animals stripped of meat on one side, then flipped over using wood levers
Smaller animals cut up into large chunks and transported to processing stations
Few stone tools found here, although wood spears
and levers were recovered
Located back from marsh edge
Additional dismemberment performed here
Bone heavily broken up (marrow extraction?)
Complementary of bone here and missing from kill area (ribs, long bones, scapulae, pelvi, skulls (broken in for brain extraction)
Secondary Processing Areas
Area with most heavily broken up bone
Most of the recovered flake tools
Area with hearths and temporary structures
Torralba and Ambrona
Now demonstrated that Torralba and Ambrona Sites were not contemporary.
Some sorting of bone elements at Ambrona may be the result of taphonomic processes and not human activity
Nuts and plant seeds
Kalambo Falls (Africa): various wild fruits
considerable reliance on gathered foods
less reliance in more northerly latitudes (or near to ice front)
Possible evidence for Storage:
extensive processing at Torralba given estimated population sizes
Acheulean adaptation appears to favor open country/grasslands rather than more closed forest vegetation
to large mammal procurement
Selection of site locals near rivers, lakes and springs
Impact on faunal populations probably negligible
Alteration of floral communities
for woodland burning
replaced by parkland grasses and weeds
Pollen finds from Hoxne (England) suggest intentional modification
Long-term impact negligible compared to further glacial activity.
Evidence is very sketchy and limited
Among modern hunter-gatherers, bands of 25-50 persons the norm (similar for Chimps).
Some evidence for this size group at Olorgesailie
Some evidence for this size
group in huts at Terra Amata
Necessity of larger cooperative groups for big game hunting and kill processing.
Organization of defined territory into base camps and temporary camps that were repeatedly used.
Existence of a series of special purpose extractive sites
Processing stations (also potentially storage sites)
Tool manufacture and caching sites
Stone quarrying sites
And So... What was Acheulean life and culture like?
Acheulean Life and Culture
Patterns of spatial use and organization more recognizably human
and standardized technology, but less flexible and less innovative than among modern humans
Above all, an adaptation that was highly successful, and which enabled wide and varied new regions to be colonized.
Persisting Chopper/Chopping Tool Industries?
Industries based on relatively rough choppers and chopping tools, probably supplemented with tools of wood and bamboo, persist in some areas with no development toward biface industries.
Continuation and development of early pebble industries, coupled with new industries
contemporary with Acheulean Chopper-Chopping Assemblage
Acheulean and H. erectus While H. erectus is clearly associated with the Acheulean (handaxe) industries, non-handaxe stone industries in Europe and Asia were also the product of H. erectus.
Relatively coarse chopper industry, contemporary with Acheulean, found primarily
in southeastern Britain
Characterized by assemblages of very large, thick flakes with prominent platforms and bulbs of percussion, and very large flint nodules from which flakes are struck
~ 10% choppers, 10% flake tools, 80% waste
wasteful of flint, but in area very rich in high quality and easily obtainable flint Clactonian Flakes
In addition to stone tools
Clacton Spear: shaped spear with fire hardened tip
Microwear studies suggest many Clactonian tools used primarily on wood
Relatively little existing evidence regarding subsistence
So What is the Clactonian
Persisting Mode I technology and subsistence system?
Expedient tool production and use in area of abundant flint resources?
Specialized tool assemblage associated with exploitation of woodland areas?
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