Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 1617–1643 | Cite as

Success of a flexible behavior. Considerations on the manufacture of Late Epigravettian lithic projectile implements according to experimental tests

  • Rossella DuchesEmail author
  • Marco Peresani
  • Paolo Pasetti
Original Paper


It is generally recognized that the function and modality of hafting are the main factors influencing mental templates, and consequently, stone tool standardization. But what role do technical knowledge and traditions play? In this study, we investigate the interaction between mental templates and technological choices in the manufacture of Late Epigravettian projectile implements. The examined specimens come from different dwelling phases of the Dalmeri rock shelter (Italian Alps). Technological analyses suggest that lithic production systems gradually simplified their structure over time, implying a shift in technical investment from shaping on the core to a subsequent shaping on the derived flake blank. However, correlations between the dimensions and morphological features among the armatures from the different units suggest that mental templates remained unchanged throughout the Alleröd. Experimentation attests to the frequent combined application of different retouching techniques. Further, the variability in their arrangement denotes the absence of strict rules and the Epigravettian capability to recognize the most situationally suitable method. In the Dalmeri rock shelter, the standardization of lithic projectile implements is therefore a result of flexibility in retouching, framed in a production system characterized by a progressive simplification. A such rapidly produced and responsive technology must have been encouraged by Late Glacial climatic and environmental changes and the occupation of alpine territories previously inaccessible. Thus, the flexibility of technical behaviors turns out to be a key element in the transformation of Late Epigravettian societies during this period, enabling them to adapt and evolve in response to environmental, social, and economic changes.


Lithic projectile implement Late Upper Paleolithic Experimental archeology Retouch technology Italy 



This study was funded by a research grant from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto and was carried out at the MUSE - Museo delle Scienze di Trento and at the Dipartimento degli Studi Umanistici of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara. The authors are grateful to Michele Lanzinger and the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali della Provincia Autonoma di Trento for granting permission to study the material and to Giampaolo Dalmeri for sharing his data and his ideas. We thank Enzo Cocca for the stimulating discussions as well as for helping one of the authors (R.D.) in the experimentation. Finally, the authors are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who helped to improve this manuscript.

Author contributions

R.D. developed the study, carried out the analyses on archeological material, and designed the experimental program; P.P. carried out statistical tests; R.D. and M.P. interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript.

Supplementary material

12520_2017_473_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2024 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MUSE - Museo delle ScienzeTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Studi UmanisticiUniversità degli Studi di FerraraFerraraItaly
  3. 3.Local Health Authority, Department of Public Health, Unit of EpidemiologyFerraraItaly

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