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Before the Acheulean in East Africa: An Overview of the Oldowan Lithic Assemblages

  • Rosalia Gallotti
Chapter
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)

Abstract

In 2009, Hovers and Braun published in Springer’s Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series the volume “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Oldowan,” stemming from the symposium of the 2006 SAA meeting in Puerto Rico. Many contributors focused on the description of the Oldowan as a lithic production system, showing the high technical variability of the techno-complexes. As pointed out by Braun and Hovers (2009: 4), even if most or all scholars agree that the study of Oldowan behaviors is fundamental to understand early hominin evolution, “not all would agree on a definition of the Oldowan.” Forty years after it was first defined (Leakey 1971, 1975), many sites scattered over approximately one million years are labelled as “Oldowan” in large-scale syntheses. While the available data are highly fragmented both in time and space, and the study of lithic assemblages follows different theoretical and methodological approaches, major overviews simply take for granted that a correlation among the East African assemblages is inescapable. However, the term Oldowan is still a vague concept, lacking a comprehensive definition of what an Oldowan technology is. Additionally, who were the authors of the Oldowan stone tools remains an open question.

Nine years after the publication of Hovers and Braun’s volume, this is a short overview and update of the current state of our knowledge of the Oldowan technical behaviors recorded in East Africa, to put in the proper perspective specific sites with “emerging” Acheulean.

Keywords

Oldowan Lithic techno-economy Technological stasis/development Early Pleistocene hominins 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their comments which improved this manuscript. The revised version of this chapter benefited also from the detailed suggestions by Margherita Mussi.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dell’AntichitàSapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly
  2. 2.Italian Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture and BalchitRomeItaly
  3. 3.Université BordeauxPessac CedexFrance

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