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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–63 | Cite as

The Clactonian Question: On the Interpretation of Core-and-Flake Assemblages in the British Lower Paleolithic

  • Mark J. White
Article

Abstract

In recent years, the nature, significance, and validity of the British core-and-flake assemblage known as the Clactonian have come under close scrutiny. More traditional ideas, which see the Clactonian as the product of a distinct, non-handax-making technical tradition, are being challenged by notions of a single European knapping repertoire in which the proportion of handaxes varies according to factors such as activity facies, local raw material potential, and landscape use. Furthermore, recent technological studies which show a basic technological parity between the Acheulean and the Clactonian, including claims for rare atypical bifaces within the Clactonian, have been argued as eroding the very rationale for seeing the Clactonian as a separate entity. These challenges have gained widespread acceptance, despite a lack of empirical support in some cases, questionable conclusions, and hints of a widely ignored, yet intriguing chronological recurrence. A review of the empirical basis and interpretation of the Clactonian, in both recent years and the recent past, suggests that the Clactonian is in danger of being explained away, rather than explained.

Lower Paleolithic Clactonian Acheulean core-and-flake technology handaxes Britain 

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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark J. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of DurhamDurhamEngland

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