Publisher: Université Côte d’Azur (Nice, 2022)
Methodologies: Traceology; Techno-morpho-functional study; Use-wear Analysis
Periods: Lower Palaeolithic; Middle Pleistocene
Related Topics: Lithic industry; Taphonomy; Europe
Abstract: The lithic industries of the European Lower Palaeolithic are characterized by a wide typo-technical diversity that is still poorly understood (bifacial assemblages, flakes, small tools…). This diversity is often explained only by cultural factors. Few researches take into consideration questions relating to the occupation of the sites, their function and their place in the territory. By taking these factors into account, this work participates in a re-evaluation of the interpretations of the lithic assemblages in order to identify the socio-economic behaviours of the considered human groups. The function of ancient tools is the focus of this thesis. In this perspective, in order to approach the tools in their own structure as well as within the lithic assemblage to which they belong, we have combined functional and techno-morpho-functional analysis. The restitution of post-depositional processes, an essential prerequisite to any functional analysis, is examined by the approach of petroarchaeology. This research is based on well-dated sites, which belong to reliable stratigraphic contexts and were studied by means of multidisciplinary analyses. The study focuses on nine archaeological lithic assemblages, which are representative of the typo-technological diversity that characterizes the period and from varied occupation modalities and paleoclimatic contexts : Soucy (France ; MIS 9), Marathousa 1 (Greece ; MIS 12) and Valle Giumentina (Italy ; MIS 15-12). The data suggest that the activities, varied and short, are carried out with tools structured around an active and a prehensile edge. We propose that the composition of the observed lithic assemblages reflects the flexibility of human groups and their adaptation to immediate needs, to diversified local raw materials and to varied paleoenvironmental contexts. This flexibility could be responsible of the remarkable resilience of human groups through the environmental changes and climatic variations characterizing the Lower Palaeolithic.