Were There Elephant Hunters at Torralba?

  • Lewis R. Binford


In recent years there has been growing skepticism among some students of the pre-Sapiens sapiens hominids that the earlier romantic views, which pictured early man as a mighty hunter, are an accurate construction of the past. In fact, the trend in much recent work has been to modify this view and to see as unwarranted much of the evidence previously cited in support of the “mighty hunter” view of the past. Some have begun the serious investigation of the distinct possibility that early man was more commonly a scavenger of animal carcasses than a successful predator. This view, while seriously discussed for the pre-Homo erectus hominids, has not been popularly adopted for the investigation of Homo erectus himself. In fact, many theorists consider Homo erectus to be the author of what is referred to as the “hunting way of life” and believe that this shift may in fact stand behind the species’ successful radiation into new environmental zones (Shipman 1984).


Archaeological Record Stone Tool Faunal Remains Anatomical Part Combine Tool 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Biberson. P. 1964. Torralba et Ambrona. Notes sur deux stations Acheuléenes de chasseurs d’elephants de la Vielle Castille. Diputaciòn Provincial de Barcelona, Instituto de Prehistoria y Arqueologia, Monografìas 6:201–248.Google Scholar
  2. Biberson. P., and E. Aguirre. 1965. Experiences de taille d’outils préhistoriques dan des os d’elépnant. Quaternaria 7:165–183.Google Scholar
  3. Binford, L. R. 1981. Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Binford, L. R. 1983. Working at Archaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Binford, L. R. 1984. Faunal Remains from Klasies River Mouth. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Binford, L. R. 1985. Human ancestors: Changing views of their behavior. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 4:292–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Binford, L. R., and S. R. Binford. 1966. A preliminary analysis of functional variability in the Mousterian of Levallois facies. American Anthropologist 68(2):238–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Binford, L. R., and N. M. Stone. 1986. Zhoukoudian: A closer look. Current Anthropology 27(5):453–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bordes, F. 1963. Le Mousterien a denticules. Arheoloski Vestnik. Acta Archaeologica XIII-XIV:43-49. Ljubljana: Slavik Academy of Arts and Sciences.Google Scholar
  10. Bordes, F. 1968. The Old Stone Age. World University Library, New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  11. Butzer, K. W. 1965. Acheulian occupation sites at Torralba and Ambrona, Spain: Their geology. Science 150:1718–1722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, J. D., and C. V. Haynes. 1970. An elephant butchery site at Mwanganda’s Village, Karonga, Malawi, and its relevance for paleolithic archaeology. World Archaeology 1:390–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de Lumley, H. 1975. Cultural evolution in France in its paleoecological setting during the Middle Pleistocene. In: After the Australopithecines ,ed. K. W. Butzer and G. L. Isaac, 745–808. The Hague: Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman, L. G., Jr. 1975a. Acheulian sites and stratigraphy in Iberia and the Mahgreb. In: After the Australopithecines ,ed. K. W. Butzer and G. L. Isaac, 661–743. The Hague: Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Freeman, L. G., Jr. 1975b. By their works you shall know them: Cultural developments in the Paleolithic. In: Hominisation und Verhalten ,ed. Kurth/Eibl-Eibesfeld, 234–251. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar
  16. Freeman, L. G., Jr. 1978. The analysis of some occupation floor distributions from Earlier and Middle Paleolithic sites in Spain. In: Views of the Past: Essays in Old World Prehistory and Paleoanthropology ,ed. L. G. Freeman, Jr., 57–115. The Hague: Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Freeman, L. G., Jr. 1981. The fat of the land: Notes on Paleolithic diet in Iberia. In: Omnivorous Primates: Gathering and Hunting in Human Evolution ,ed. R. S. O. Harding and G. Telecki, 104–165. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Freeman, L. G., Jr., and K. W. Butzer. 1966. The Acheulean Station of Torralba (Spain): A Progress Report. Quaternaria 8:9–21.Google Scholar
  19. Freeman, L. G., Jr., and F. C. Howell. 1981. Acheulian occupation at Ambrona (Spain). Paper presented at the forty-sixth annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Diego.Google Scholar
  20. Freeman, L. G., Jr., and F. C. Howell. 1982. Acheulian hunters on the Spanish Meseta: Torralba and Ambrona reconsidered. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  21. Frison, G. C., and L. C. Todd. 1986. The Colby Mammoth Site: Taphonomy and Archaeology of a Clovis Kill in Northern Wyoming. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gowlett, J. 1984. Ascent to Civilization: The Archaeology of Early Man. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  23. Guichard, J. 1965. Un facies original de L’Acheuleen: Cantalouette (commune de Creysse). L ‘Anthropologie 69:413–4o4.Google Scholar
  24. Harpending H., and A. Rogers. 1985. Antana: A Package for Multivariate Data Analysis. Ms. available from senior author, Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  25. Howell, F. C. 1965. Early Man. New York: Time-Life Books.Google Scholar
  26. Howell, F. C. 1966. Observations on the Earlier Phases of the European Lower Paleolithic. American Anthropologist 68(2, Part 2):88–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howell, F. C., and L. G. Freeman, Jr. 1982. Ambrona: An early Stone Age site on Spanish Meseta. The L. S. B. Leakey Foundation News 22:11–13.Google Scholar
  28. Howell, F. C., K. W. Butzer and E. Aguirre. 1963. Noticia Preliminar Sobre el Emplazamiento Acheulense de Torralba (Soria). Excavaciones Arqueologicas en Espana 10:1–38.Google Scholar
  29. Jolly, C. J., and F. Plog. 1976. Physical Anthropology and Archaeology. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  30. Klein, R. G., and K. Allwarden. In press. An overview of the Torralba fauna. In: Torralba: An Acheulian Butchering Site on the Spanish Meseta ,ed. L. G. Freeman, Jr., and F. C. Howell. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pfeiffer, J. E. 1978. The Emergence of Man (third edition). New York: Harper &Row.Google Scholar
  32. Schiffer, M. B. 1976. Behavioral Archaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  33. Scott, K. 1980. Two Hunting Episodes of Middle Paleolithic Age at La Cotte de Saint-Brelade, Jersey (Channel Islands). World Archaeology 12(2):137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shipman, P. 1984. Ancestors: Scavenger Hunt. Natural History 93(4):20–27.Google Scholar
  35. Shipman, P., and J. Rose. 1983. Evidence of butchery and hominid activities at Torralba and Ambrona; An evaluation using microscopic techniques. Journal of Archaeological Science 10:465–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Soffer, O. 1985. The Upper Paleolithic of the Central Russian Plain. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis R. Binford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations