Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 334–367 | Cite as

Searching for Lazy People: the Significance of Expedient Behavior in the Interpretation of Paleolithic Assemblages

  • Manuel VaqueroEmail author
  • Francesca Romagnoli


A quick glance at the evolution of lithic assemblages throughout prehistory highlights a great variability in the time and effort invested in technological activities. This variability has been related to differences in the technological organization of human groups, giving rise to the distinction proposed by Binford between curated and expedient technologies. Curation has been the subject of much discussion with regard to its definition and archaeological implications, but expediency has received comparatively less interest from researchers. Nevertheless, expedient technologies are ubiquitous in the archaeological record and represent a large proportion of prehistoric lithic assemblages, even becoming clearly dominant in certain chronological and/or regional contexts. The aim of this paper is to characterize expedient technologies as low-cost strategies that can be identified in all the stages of the lithic production sequence, from raw material provisioning to tool manufacture. However, we will focus our attention on core reduction technologies, emphasizing the consequences of distinguishing between expedient and formal reduction strategies. Finally, some implications of expediency in archaeological interpretation will be discussed, focusing on the significance of expedient technologies in the cultural ascription of lithic assemblages.


Technological investment Expedient technologies Lithic production Iberian Peninsula 



Funding for this research was provided by a Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad grant (HAR2016-76760-C3-1-P) and an AGAUR grant (2014-SGR-900). F.R. is supported by the European Union H2020 Programme under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 653667. M.V. and F.R. research is funded by CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya. We are also very grateful to Manuel Will and two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Area de PrehistoriaUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain
  2. 2.Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolucio Social (IPHES)TarragonaSpain

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