The bulb retouchers in the Levant: New insights into Middle Palaeolithic retouching techniques and mobile tool-kit composition

Laura Centi*, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Neta Friedman, Maya Oron, Marion Prévost, Yossi Zaidner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper we describe two assemblages of flint retouchers or “bulb retouchers” retrieved from Nesher Ramla and Quneitra, two Middle Palaeolithic, open-air sites in the Levant. The site of Nesher Ramla yielded the largest assemblage of bulb retouchers (n = 159) currently known, allowing a detailed investigation of this poorly known phenomenon. An extensive experimental program and use-wear analysis enabled us to characterize the different sets of traces related to the retouching activity and to identify different motions applied by the knappers in the course of this action. In both sites, blanks used as bulb retouchers were almost exclusively retouched items, with a special emphasis on convergent morphotypes in Nesher Ramla. The use of retouched items as bulb retouchers is a common trait over different time spans and geographical areas. Our data suggests that bulb retouchers were versatile, multi-purpose tools with a long use-life, transported over long distances as components of the hunter-gatherer mobile tool kit. The high frequencies of bulb retouchers within some archaeological units of Nesher Ramla appear to be connected to the highly curated nature of the lithic assemblages, in turn reflecting a high mobility of the human groups that produced them.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0218859
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume14
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

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