Mousterian Lithic Technology

Mousterian Lithic Technology: An Ecological Perspective

STEVEN L. KUHN
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv59w
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    Mousterian Lithic Technology
    Book Description:

    Human beings depend more on technology than any other animal--the use of tools and weapons is vital to the survival of our species. What processes of biocultural evolution led to this unique dependence? Steven Kuhn turns to the Middle Paleolithic (Mousterian) and to artifacts associated with Neanderthals, the most recent human predecessors. His study examines the ecological, economic, and strategic factors that shaped the behavior of Mousterian tool makers, revealing how these hominids brought technological knowledge to bear on the basic problems of survival.

    Kuhn's main database consists of assemblages of stone artifacts from four caves and a series of open-air localities situated on the western coast of the Italian peninsula. Variations in the ways stone tools were produced, maintained, and discarded demonstrate how Mousterian hominids coped with the problems of keeping mobile groups supplied with the artifacts and raw materials they used on a daily basis. Changes through time in lithic technology were closely tied to shifting strategies for hunting and collecting food. Some of the most provocative findings of this study stem from observations about the behavioral flexibility of Mousterian populations and the role of planning in foraging and technology.

    Originally published in 1995.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6403-4
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. 1 NEANDERTALS AND THE MOUSTERIAN
    (pp. 3-17)

    The research reported in this book is an inquiry into the ecological significance of variation in stone tool technologies during the Upper Pleistocene. Working with information from a series of Italian Middle Paleolithic sites, I explore the relationships between toolmaking and food-getting, and in particular the influence that patterns of land use might have had on the economics of stone tool manufacture and use. Information about three phenomena—flake production technology, artifact reduction or resharpening, and artifact transport—helps to define variation in Mousterian stone technologies. When findings from independent research on patterns of game procurement and exploitation are integrated...

  8. 2 TECHNOLOGY, FORAGING, AND LAND USE: A STRATEGIC APPROACH
    (pp. 18-37)

    In this chapter, I outline one model of how hunter-gatherer technologies are bound up with the concerns of making a living, and how those relationships can be operationalized for the study of technological changes over the course of human evolution. In keeping with the character of the Mousterian technological record, the primary focus of this discussion is on the management of raw material consumption, strategic responses to the problems of keeping mobile populations supplied with tools and toolmaking potential. As the above quotation implies, the issue ofplanning—anticipatory organization in the manufacture and treatment of artifacts—is integral to...

  9. 3 ARCHAEOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT IN WEST-CENTRAL ITALY: BACKGROUND TO RESEARCH
    (pp. 38-80)

    The principal data base for this study consists of Paleolithic stone tool assemblages from a series of cave and open-air sites situated along the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy, not far from the city of Rome (Figure 3.1). Collections from four Middle Paleolithic cave sites furnished the largest part of the data base. Two of the cave sites, Grotta Guattari (Taschini 1979) and Grotta Breuil (Bietti et al. 1988a, 1990–91; Taschini 1970), are located on Monte Circeo, an isolated limestone promontory situated about 100 km southeast of Rome (Figure 3.2). The other two caves, Grotta dei Moscerini (Vitagliano 1984) and...

  10. 4 CORE REDUCTION TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 81-123)

    The first step in creating stone tools, once the necessary raw material has been collected, is the production of blanks from the raw stone. In European Mousterian assemblages, this initial stage generally entailed the manufacture of flakes or blades (elongated flakes) using one of a variety of procedures for preparing cores and detaching subsequent removals. Because it is (for the purpose of this study at least) the first stage of a tool’s life history, blank production technology is the logical place to begin the discussion of Mousterian lithic technology in western Italy.

    Two somewhat distinct schools of thought exist in...

  11. 5 LITHIC RAW MATERIAL ECONOMY
    (pp. 124-156)

    A fundamental premise of this research is that the rate at which raw materials are consumed represents a pivotal limiting factor for lithic technologies. At the most basic level, strategies for exploiting stone are expected to vary in response to the “cost” of obtaining raw material and keeping it on hand. The cost of making raw material available to tool makers and users in turn varies as a function of three main factors: the natural distribution of stone sources, the movement of human groups relative to those sources, and the scheduling of labor investment in foraging. The second and third...

  12. 6 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 157-184)

    In the previous two chapters, I have described how Mousterian groups produced and modified stone tools, and how their tactics of artifact manufacture and maintenance varied according to the availability of raw materials and the way food resources were procured. Changing patterns of land use link lithic technology and subsistence in these cases. Variation in core reduction technology and the economics of lithic raw material exploitation can be explained as responses to the exigencies of keeping people supplied with artifacts under differing mobility regimes. This study is primarily exploratory in nature, an attempt to systematically examine relationships among two domains...

  13. REFERENCES CITED
    (pp. 185-204)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 205-209)