DISCUSSION 3: The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Transition

  • Paola Villa


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.


Western Europe Levallois technology Middle Paleolithic Bifaces 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

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

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