DISCUSSION 3: The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Transition

  • Paola Villa
Chapter

Abstract

This paper presents a synthesis of the current state of knowledge about the Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition in Western Europe. The European Middle Paleolithic is defined by the appearance of Levallois technology by about 300,000 years ago and associated changes in the conception of tools. The Levallois technology is a major innovation of the Middle Pleistocene. The apparent continuity between the two major phases of the European Paleolithic based on the presence of bifaces in both periods is discussed and rejected. The Middle Paleolithic bifaces are quite different in conception from the classic Acheulian handaxes. The bifacial knives of the Keilmesser group in Central and Eastern Europe and the bifaces of the Mousterian of Acheulian Tradition in SW France have a standardized morphology and specific functions (for the MTA bifaces this is now confirmed by recent microwear analyses; Claud, 2008). Both kinds of tools were resharpened, modified and had a long use life. Other bifacial pieces had one or more working edges and can be typologically assimilated to flake tools. Current speculations about changes in hunting patterns and the reorganization of human societies around base camps in the Middle Pleistocene are discussed.

Keywords

Western Europe Levallois technology Middle Paleolithic Bifaces 

References

  1. Alperson-Afil, N., Richter, D., Goren-Inbar, N., 2007, Phantom hearths and the use of fire at Gesher Benot Ya’akov, Israel. PaleoAnthropology: 1–15.Google Scholar
  2. Alperson-Afil, N., 2008, Ancient flames: Controlled use of fire at the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya’akov, Israel. Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, G.W., Pérez-González, A., Carbonell, E., Arsuaga, J.L., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Ku, T.L., 2008, Luminescence chronology of cave sediments at the Atapuerca paleoanthropological site, Spain. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 300–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boëda, E., Kervazo, B., Mercier, N., Valladas, H., 1996, Barbas C13 (Dordogne). Une industrie bifaciale contemporaine des insdustrie sdu moustérien ancien: une variabilité attendue. In Reduction Processes for the European Mousterian, edited by A. Bietti and S. Grimaldi, pp. 465–504. Quaternaria Nova VI, Rome.Google Scholar
  5. Claud, E., 2008. Le statut fonctionnel des bifaces au Paléolithique moyen récent dans le Sud-Ouest de la France. Doctoral dissertation, University of Bordeaux 1.Google Scholar
  6. Delagnes, A., Meignen, L., 2006, Diversity of lithic production systems during the Middle Paleolithic in France. In Transitions Before the Transition, edited by E. Hovers and S. Kuhn, pp. 85–107. Springer, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Delagnes, A., Lenoble, A., Harmand, S., Brugal, J.P., Prat, S., Tiercelin, J.J., Roche, H., 2006. Interpreting pachyderm single carcass sites in the African lower and early middle Pleistocene record: a multidisciplinary approach to the site of Nadung'a 4 (Kenya). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25: 448–465.Google Scholar
  8. Delagnes, A., Ropars, A., (Eds.), 1996, Paléolithique moyen en pays de Caux (Haute Normandie). Documents d’Archéologie Française no. 56, Paris.Google Scholar
  9. Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Barba, R., Egeland, C.P. (Eds.), 2007. Deconstructing Olduvai: A Taphonomic Study of Bed 1 Sites. Springer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  10. Falguères, C., Bahain, J.J., Pérez-González, A., Mercier, N., Santonja, M., Dolo, J.M., 2006, The Lower Acheulian site of Ambrona, Soria (Spain): ages derived from a combined ESR/U-series model. Journal of Archaeological Science 33: 149–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foley, R., Lahr, M.M., 1997, Mode 3 technologies and the evolution of modern humans. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 7: 3–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gamble, C., 1999, The Palaeolithic Societies of Europe . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. Gibbon, R.J., Granger, D.E., Kuman, K., Partridge, T.C., 2009. Early Acheulean technology in the Rietputs Formation, South Africa, dated with cosmogenic nuclides. Journal of Human Evolution 56: 152–160.Google Scholar
  14. Goren-Inbar, N., Alperson, N., Kislev, E., Simchoni, O., Melamed, Y., Ben-Nun, A., Werker, E., 2004, Evidence of hominin control of fire at Gesher Benot Ya’akov, Israel. Science 304: 725–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gowlett, J.A.J., 2006, The early settlement of northern Europe. Fire history in the context of climate change and the social brain. Comptes Rendus Palévol 5: 299–310.Google Scholar
  16. Jöris, O., 2006, Bifacially backed knives (“Keilmesser”) in the Central European Middle Palaeolithic. In Axe Age. Acheulian Toolmaking from Quarry to Discard, edited by N.Goren-Inbar and G. Sharon. Equinox, London.Google Scholar
  17. Keeley, L.H., 1980, Experimental Determination of Stone Tool Uses. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  18. Keeley, L.H., 1993, The utilization of lithic artifacts. In The Lower Palaeolithic Site at Hoxne, England, edited by R. Singer, B.C.Gladfelter and J.J. Wymer, pp. 129–137. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  19. Mazza, P.P.A., Martini, F., Sala, B., Magi, M., Colombini, M.P., Giachi, G., Landucci, F., Lemorini, C., Modugno, F., Ribechini, E., 2006, A new Palaeolithic discovery: tar-hafted stone tools in a European Mid-Pleistocene bone-bearing bed. Journal of Archaeological Science 33: 1310–1318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moncel, M.H., Moigne, A.M., Combier, J., 2005, Pre-Neandertal behavior during isotopic stage 9 and the beginning of stage 8. New data concerning fauna and lithics in the different occupation levels of Orgnac 3 (Ardèche, south-east France): occupation types. Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1283–1301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roche, H., Brugal, J.P., Delagnes, A., Feibel, C., Harmand, S., Kibunjia, M., Prat, S., Texier, P.-J., 2003, Les sites archéologiques plio-pléistocènes de la formation de Nachukui, Ouest-Turkana, Kenya: bilan synthétique 1997-2001. Comptes Rendus Palévol 2: 663–673.Google Scholar
  22. Rolland, N., 2004, Was the emergence of home bases and domestic fire a punctuated event? A review of the Middle Pleistocene record in Eurasia. Asian Perspectives 43: 248–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Santonja M., Villa P., 2006, The Acheulian of Western Europe. In Axe Age. Acheulian Tool-making from Quarry to Discard, edited by N.Goren-Inbar and G. Sharon, pp. 429–478. Equinox, London.Google Scholar
  24. Schreve, D., 2006, The taphonomy of a Middle Devensian (MIS 3) vertebrate assemblage from Lynford, Norfolk, UK, and its implications for Middle Palaeolithic subsistence strategies. Journal of Quaternary Science 21: 543–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Scott, K., 1986, The bone assemblages of layers 3 and 6. In La Cotte de St. Brelade, 1961-1978, edited by P. Callow and J.M. Cornford, pp. 159–183. Geo Books, Norwich.Google Scholar
  26. Sharon, G., Beaumont, P., 2006, Victoria West: a highly standardized prepared core technology. In Axe Age. Acheulian Tool-making from Quarry to Discard, edited by N.Goren-Inbar and G. Sharon, pp. 181–199. Equinox, London,Google Scholar
  27. Soressi, M., 2002. Le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne du sud-ouest de la France. PhD Dissertation, University of Bordeaux 1.Google Scholar
  28. Soriano, S., 2000, Outillage bifacial et outillage sur éclat au Paléolithique ancien et moyen: coexistence et interaction. Thèse de Doctorat, Université Paris X-Nanterre.Google Scholar
  29. Thieme, H., Veil S., 1985, Neue Untersuchungen zum eemzeitlichen Elefanten-Jagdplaz Lehringen, Ldkr. Verden. Die Kunde N.F. 36: 11–58.Google Scholar
  30. Tryon, C.A., 2006, “Early” Middle Stone Age lithic technology of the Kapthurin Formation (Kenya). Current Anthropology 47: 367–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tryon, C.A., McBrearty, S., 2006, Tephrostratigraphy of the Bedded Tuff Member (Kapthurin Formation, Kenya) and the nature of archaeological change in the later middle Pleistocene. Quaternary Research 65: 492–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Villa, P., Anzidei, A.P., Cerilli, E., 1999. Bones and bone modifications at la Polledrara, a middle Pleistocene site in Italy. In The Role of Early Humans in the Accumulations of Lower and Middle Paleolithic Bone Assemblages, edited by S. Gaudzinski and E. Turner pp. 197–206. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz.Google Scholar
  33. Villa, P., Soto, E., Pérez-González, A., Santonja, M., Mora, R., Parcerisas, Q., Sese, C., 2005, New data from Ambrona (Spain): closing the hunting versus scavenging debate. Quaternary International 126–128: 223–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Villa P., Lenoir M., 2009. Hunting and hunting weapons of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic of Europe. In The Evolution of Hominid Diet: Integrating Approaches to the Study of Palaeolithic Subsistence, edited by M. Richards and J.J. Hublin, pp. 59–84. Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Weber, Th., 2000, The Eemian Elephas antiquus finds with artefacts from Lehringen and Gröbern. ERAUL 51: 177–185. Université de Liège, Liège.Google Scholar
  36. White, M., Ashton, N., 2003, Lower Palaeolithic core technology and the origins of the Levallois methods in northwestern Europe. Current Anthropology 44: 598–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Villa
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Colorado Museum of Natural HistoryBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations