Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Christian Hoggard (2016)

Keywords: Lithic analysis, technological variability, metrics, statistics, artefact analysis, geometric morphometrics, equifinality, concurrency,


It is now generally recognised that, throughout the Middle Palaeolithic of Eurasia, Neanderthals were proficient in producing a variety of lithic artefacts, with varying (but most often predetermined) shapes, sizes, and form (i.e. size plus shape). The different morphological characteristics which these Neanderthal artefacts possess can be interpreted as desirable for specific activities given the suitability of its form e.g. the nature and shape of the cutting-edge and the degree of blank standardisation. Through this pseudo-Binfordian lens artefacts could be understood through their “morpho-potentials” (Terradillos-Bernal and Rodríguez-Álvarez, 2012), and working hypotheses, through an analysis of these artefact’s shape and form, can be constructed.

This presentation provides initial results into a morpho-potential analysis of the two types of technological blade strategies (i.e. stereotyped elongated products) seen throughout the Middle Palaeolithic: Levallois and Laminar blade production. These two strategies appear on an inter-/intra- context scale both concurrently throughout the Middle Palaeolithic, and in isolation of one another, from c.300,000-71,000 BP. Do these strategies therefore represent equifinal behaviour i.e. products achieving the same “means to an end”, or do they represent artefacts for specific behaviours and activities? Through univariate and multivariate (PCA, DFA, MANOVA) statistical analyses of traditional/lineal and geometric morphometric data initial results suggest that each technique features advantages over the other in their cutting-edge and form.

The future direction of how to analyse properties of lithic shape and form (e.g. Multiple Factorial Analysis of fourier-based outlines) are then finally discussed.

Terradillos-Bernal, M. and Rodríguez-Álvarez, X-P. (2012). “The Lower Palaeolithic on the northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula (sierra de Atapuerca, Ambrona and La Maya I): a technological analysis of the cutting edge and weight of artefacts. Developing an hypothetical model”, Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 1467-1479.