Biface use in the Lower Paleolithic Levant: First insights from late Acheulean Revadim and Jaljulia (Israel)

Andrea Zupancich, Maayan Shemer, Ran Barkai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lower Paleolithic bifaces are one of the most ubiquitous and persistent stone tools in prehistory, proliferating from Africa through Eurasia from as early as 1.75 Mya and remaining in use for over 1.5 million years. Numerous studies have thus far focused on Acheulean handaxes’ technological characteristics, underlining their relevance in terms of early human technology, behavior and cognition. Moreover, many experimental studies have investigated the use of handaxes, highlighting their exceptional efficiency in carcass processing tasks and in other activities. However, issues of preservation have often prevented a thorough and accurate functional interpretation of Lower Paleolithic bifaces, thus limiting our current knowledge regarding their actual use. This paper presents initial results from the functional analysis of two biface assemblages originating from the Late Lower Paleolithic sites of Revadim and Jaljulia (Israel). Our analysis of use wear traces shows that handaxes at both sites appear to have been employed mainly for carcass processing. We identified differences in biface utilization at the two sites, most probably attributable to the type of animal processing activities for which these tools were employed. We also designed a dedicated experimental framework in which biface replicas were utilized in different tasks on animal, vegetal and mineral materials. This made it possible to test the efficiency of the tools and build a use-wear reference collection to which the traces observed on the archaeological specimens were compared. We thus provide a solid and reliable functional interpretation of the use of bifaces at Revadim and Jaljulia, contributing to our current understanding of the role that these tools played in the adaptation of early human groups in the Levant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102877
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume36
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Acheulean
  • Biface
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Levant
  • Use wear

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