Forgotten Knowledge: Basalt Tool-Making in the Lower Palaeolithic Levant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Basalt tool-making was practiced for the production of bifacial tools for hundreds of thousands of years and across a large geographic range. In the Levant, its appearance and disappearance occurred during the Lower Palaeolithic but while the knowledge of biface production remained well structured in the memory of hominin groups, that of basalt exploitation and utilization seems to have been forgotten. In the Levant, the use of the coarse-grained basalt stopped almost drastically and bifacial tools – similar in technology and morphology – were instead modified on finer-grained flint. This phenomenon is illustrated in sites where despite the high availability of basalt, hominins seem to have preferred the use of flint for the production of their bifacial tools. A possible interpretation for the disappearance of basalt tool production is forgetting. Based on ethnographic examples, it is suggested that the relatively drastic shift from the coarser grained basalt to the finer-grained flint for the production of bifacial tools reflects the loss of collective skills resulting from population movements that carried cultural knowledge across space and time, a process which unavoidably led to forgetting.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationForgetting :
Subtitle of host publicationan interdisciplinary conversation
EditorsD Shulman, G Galizia
Place of PublicationJerusalem
PublisherMagnes Press
ISBN (Print)9789654938464
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameMartin Buber society of fellows notebook series


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