Nineteenth Century Tools for Twenty-First Century Archaeology? Why the Middle Paleolithic Typology of François Bordes Must Be Replaced

  • Michael S. Bisson

Abstract

The artifact typology of François Bordes has been universally applied to European Middle Paleolithic assemblages for the past half-century. Although its utility as a common descriptive language is acknowledged, it is argued that Bordes' type definitions are inadequate for use in modern quantitatively and technologically oriented studies of lithics because they are overly subjective and are an uncontrolled mixture of technological and functional variables acted on by raw material constraints. They also incorporate untested assumptions about the cognitive abilities of Middle Paleolithic hominids. This paper proposes to replace the Bordes typology with a method based on attribute combinations in which artifact descriptions will contain more behaviorally significant information than is afforded by the current system.

Bordes typology systematics attributes 

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  • Michael S. Bisson

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