Lithic raw material exploitation between 30,000 BP and 40,000 BP in the Perigord, France
Cole, Stephen C., 1966-
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The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition has been difficult to understand because of its vast scope. Yet, the issues might be solvable with more narrowly focused research. This dissertation tackles the question of whether lithic raw material exploitation (RME) changed significantly between 30,000 BP and 40,000 BP in the Perigord of France. This question is addressed within an evolutionary and ecological framework in which RME is viewed as variable and adaptively significant. Competition would favor increased technological efficiency, which can be effected through RME strategies minimizing acquisition and manufacture costs. Those strategies could include an increased reliance on raw materials with higher fracture predictability. Such strategies would result in higher frequencies of more predictable stone; a lack of correlation between the natural availability of raw materials and their representation in assemblages; and a tighter association between raw materials and several variables including manufacture methods, assemblage technological composition, blade frequencies, and various measures of blank conservation and core reduction intensity.Six assemblages from the Perigord, belonging to the period 42,000 BP to 27,000 BP, were analyzed. Late Mousterian, Chatelperronian, and Aurignacian industries were all represented. Analysis consisted of recording the raw material type, technological type, and weight of each object. The data were analyzed mainly with cross-tabulations and chi-square analysis. A separate analysis of the fracture properties of lithic raw materials collected in the Perigord was also carried out, using a pendulum impact tester to quantify fracture predictability and flaking strength. These data were compared with the above data in order to test hypotheses concerning the use of raw material with particular characteristics. There is a moderate tendency for raw material conservation in all the assemblages, but the strategies of achieving it differ. A pattern of non-random acquisition paired with a lack of blank conservation or core reduction intensity gave way around 34,000--37,000 BP to a pattern of haphazard acquisition paired with raw material conservation. Changes in RME occurred during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, but they were gradational rather than categorical. This leaves many questions about that period unanswered, and raises new questions.
- Anthropology