Old Stones, New Eyes? Charting future directions in lithic analysis

Stone artefacts account for the vast majority of material evidence available from Paleolithic periods around the world, yet their analysis, while fundamental to knowledge formation in Plio-Pleistocene archaeology, often contributes little to the big narratives and storylines on early human evolution and the emergence of the human condition. Those narratives are instead increasingly framed by bioarcheological results, climate reconstruction and modelling, new fossil discoveries, earlier “dates”, the recovery of novel instances of “symbolic culture”, or aDNA findings and breakthroughs. Has the field of lithic analysis nothing substantial to contribute anymore to reconstructing and imagining the Paleolithic past? Has the “biomolecular” turn in archaeology re-configured the division of labor in the field? And what, then, is the new role of lithic studies in human origins research? Stimulated by the thematic session Old Stones, New Eyes? held at the UISPP World Congress in Paris in 2018, this collection of papers queries these questions and seeks to address impasses and opportunities in modern lithic analysis, to review and assess the unique contribution of lithic knowledge production to understanding earliest human prehistory, and to take some initial steps to reposition lithic research at the core of human origins studies.


  • Marie Soressi

    Marie Soressi is Professor of Hominin diversity archaeology and head of the Human origins research unit in the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her research aims at better reconstructing the demise of the Neanderthals. She has led excavations in several important archaeological sites including Pech-de-l’Azé I, Jonzac, Les Cottés, Auneau L’hermitage and Quincay. In 2020, she was elected Vice-president of the European Society of Human Evolution (ESHE) and was awarded a prestigious NWO VICI grant. She received her doctorate from the University of Bordeaux, France, just before moving to Cape Town in South Africa, and

  • Shumon Hussain

    Shumon Hussain studied archaeology and philosophy in Tübingen (BA) and Cologne (MA) and received his PhD from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is currently Assistant Professor of Paleolithic Archaeology at Aarhus University in Denmark. His research is concerned with the evolution of lithic technical systems in the Paleolithic of Central Europe and the Levant, the epistemological underpinnings of archaeological theory and practice, and the interrogation of multispecies systems in the Pleistocene and early Holocene.

Articles (5 in this collection)